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GreenStep City Best Practices Resilient Economic & Community Development

Benchmarks and Community Engagement
no. 24

Adopt outcome measures for GreenStep and other city sustainability efforts, and engage community members in ongoing education, dialogue, and campaigns.
  Best Practice Action 5      [ 1 2 3 4 5 6 ]       [all actions]

Conduct or support a community education, visioning and planning initiative using a sustainability framework such as:

a.  Strong Towns, resiliency, transition.
b.  Eco-municipalities, Smart Cities.
c.  Healthy communities, environmental justice, race equity.
  • Community engagement and visioning assistance is available from a number of organizations in Minnesota, including:
  • A Strong Town approach emphasizes obtaining a higher return on existing infrastructure investments, to support a model for community sustainability that allows cities to become financially strong and self-sufficient rather than inducing continual growth to pay off deferred/unbudgeted maintenance on previous development projects. This approach to growth and development does not require placing huge bets (indebtedness) on the future, oversizing infrastructure in service of multi-decade growth projections, but instead invests in high return, incremental (fractal) endeavors where the likelihood of success is great and less prone to failure due to modeling error.
  • The Resilient Communities Project at the University of MN and the Sustainable Communities Partnership at the University of St. Thomas work with several Minnesota cities each year to match community-identified sustainability planning, research and implementation projects with academic classes.
  • The Transition Town movement aims to create a more resilient, sustainable and positive local future in light of climate change and ultimately declining global oil use/production. The related community focus on resilience, as framed by Resilient America, aims to create cities able to overcome extreme weather, energy and economic challenges.
  • The eco-municipality framework, based on the system conditions of The Natural Step (cyclical resource flows, relying on current solar income, strength through ecological, economic and social diversity), are presented in Toward a Sustainable Community: A Toolkit for Local Government (University of Wisconsin Extension: 2013).
  • The International City/County Management Association defines a Smart City as one that uses information and communications technology to enhance its livability, workability, and sustainability. With a focus on infrastructure, large companies such as Siemens work on Smart City projects.
  • A healthy communities framework is informed by The Precautionary Principle and is congruent with the World Health Organization's approach, which asserts that the fundamental conditions and resources for health are peace, shelter, education, food, income, a stable economy, sustainable resources, social justice and equity. AARP, along with WHO, supports an Age-Friendly Communities Program. See related Health Impact Assessment (HIA) and health/community design materials at the MN Dept. of Health.
  • An environmental justice framework aims to make sure that pollution does not have a disproportionate impact on any group of people, and that all people benefit from equal levels of environmental protection and have opportunities to participate in decisions that may affect their environment or health. An MPCA map of areas of concern for environmental justice allows users to identify Census tracks where additional consideration or effort is warranted to evaluate the potential for disproportionate adverse impacts. LMC helps cities work on race equity awareness-raising, planning and implementation through the Center for Social Inclusion's Governmental Alliance on Race Equity (GARE). See also Sustainable Connecticut's Equity Toolkit.
  • Other sustainability frameworks include ecological footprinting urban metabolism and permaculture.
Host a community meeting/event that explictly uses a sustainability framework.
Create or support an on-going local effort around one of these sustainability frameworks.
Achieve 2-star rating and adopt a sustainability plan or other implementation plan and/or goals and document concrete actions taken toward achieving them; work with LMC on race equity training & planning. Report adopted energy or climate plans under action 6.5


Date action report first entered:   05/01/2015
Date of last report update:   05/01/2015

Implementation details:
Bemidji Sustainability Committee articles in local paper- The Pioneer. Members of committee submit one article about sustainability initiatives per month to paper for publication. Themes range but include permaculture. Monthly; started Feb. 2015 BP 24, 5.c: Permaculture Design Charrette was held to give participants an introduction to Permaculture, and to provide a design for an urban homeowner. 8/2014 Designed an 8 hour PC course to be conducted at a home. Participants learned about permaculture through lecture and hands on activities and came up with the final design. & Permaculture Tuesdays once a month at RRFS - part of Sustainable Tuesday programs. Each month we have 5+ participants and a different topics. Ongoing.

For more information contact:
Diana Kuklinski (Community volunteer)   |   dianamk50@gmail.com   |   218-760-1557

BSU Sustainability Office, RRFS, BSU Sustainability Office, IEN, Solarrhythms Permaculture

View All Bemidji Actions


Date action report first entered:   02/01/2012
Date of last report update:   08/12/2015

Implementation details:
Crookston InMotion is a community lead initiative that is comprised of citizens and city counsel members that are interested in improving Crookston. This initiative is broken down into 4 Destiny Drivers with 5 guiding principles. The 4 Destiny Drivers are downtown vitality, expanding housing, economic opportunity, sustainability. Sustainability has 5 guiding principles that are build from the inside out, improve energy efficiency in design/ retrofit of homes and community layout, more walkable community, local, good food production, and celebrate our rich natural resources.

Outcome measures/metrics:
After several Planning to Action Sessions, plans for a downtown square were created. Unused land near the downtown area was purchased by the city and through a series of design charettes, a design was created by the community and city leaders. The pavilion that now exists hosts our farmers market events. The Trails, River, & Active Living Group took their meeting outside and cleared trails for easier access to the community.

Descriptive links: https://www.facebook.com/Crookstoninmotion?ref=bookmarks             view file

For more information contact:
DeAndra Navratil (City staff)   |   oconn587@Umn.edu   |   701-330-5226

Crookston InMotion

View All Crookston Actions


Date action report first entered:   05/08/2017
Date of last report update:   05/08/2017
Year action initially completed:   2015
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
Through the Morris Model efforts, we use the initiative of resiliency to frame our work on community education and planning for a better future.

Descriptive links: https://www.morrismodel.org/community-resilience

For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff)   |   bhill@ci.morris.mn.us   |   320-589-3141

View All Morris Actions

Saint Cloud

Date action report first entered:   06/02/2011

Implementation details:
The development process of the St. Cloud Area Sustainability Plan actively engaged the community to establish a baseline and establish a local vision, goals and initiatives. The process also included a number of education sessions on sustainability and the Natural Step Framework. The community celebrated the passage of the first sustainability plan with a Sustainability Event in April, 2011. The event featured free food produced by local farmers, educational workshops on topics ranging from rain barrels to chemical-free gardening, the presentation of the first annual sustainability award, live music and even a yak! Given the success of the event, plans to make in an annual event highlighting sustainability and celebrating local efforts are already in the works.

Descriptive links: http://mn-stcloud.civicplus.com/1222/Sustainability

For more information contact:
Liz Kramer (City staff)   |   elizabeth.kramer@ci.stcloud.mn.us   |   320-255-7226

View All Saint Cloud Actions

Belle Plaine

Date action report first entered:   04/16/2018
Date of last report update:   04/16/2018
Year action initially completed:   2018
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   Yes

Implementation details:
"Destination 2040" the City of Belle Plaine's 2040 Comprehensive Plan update includes a community health, wellness, and resilience element (copy attached). The element was reviewed at several public meetings and by representatives from various City boards, committees, and commissions. The fundamental components of the plan element are weaved throughout other elements of the plan from land use to parks, trails, and recreation. The community health, wellness, and resilience element supports livability, stewardship, sustainability, social equity, and economic prosperity outcomes on which Destination 2040 is based.

            view file

For more information contact:
Laura Blue (City staff)   |   lblue@ci.belleplaine.mn.us   |   952-873-5553

View All Belle Plaine Actions


Date action report first entered:   10/13/2014
Date of last report update:   10/13/2014

Implementation details:
We have an active Strong Towns campaign going on right now.

For more information contact:
Sarah Hayden Shaw (Community volunteer)   |   sjhaay@gmail.com   |   218-760-6837

View All Brainerd Actions

Coon Rapids

Date action report first entered:   11/01/2014
Date of last report update:   11/01/2014

Implementation details:
Coon Rapids hosts various workshops to support community education related to specific topics like permaculture, local food options, winterization techniques and energy reduction practices. Forums are marketed to all city residents and work to create multi-generational learning for a community with various age demographics. Coon Rapids participated in the State Health Improvement Program (SHIP). Each year the city also hosts a Green Expo which works to bring various sustainability related vendors together to provide education, ideas and resources to the local community. In 2014, the Expo expanded to partner with the City of Blaine and the National Sports Center.

For more information contact:
Colleen Sinclair (City staff)   |   csinclair@coonrapidsmn.gov   |   763-767-6485

View All Coon Rapids Actions


Date action report first entered:   06/04/2014
Date of last report update:   06/04/2014

Implementation details:
The City of Duluth is a supporting organization for Sustainable Twin Ports (STP), a non-profit, 501(c3)organization that provides science based training in the Natural Step process to achieve sustainablity. Two City employee teams have participated in the six-month or longer training conducted by STP, along with thirty other Twin Ports organizations.

For more information contact:
Alex Jackson, Energy Coordinator (City staff)   |   ajackson@DuluthMN.gov   |   218-730-4433

View All Duluth Actions

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Date action report first entered:   04/16/2015
Date of last report update:   04/16/2015

Implementation details:
Green Team projects include Composting education, community and residential gardens, local food locator map, monthly sustainable food classes, seasonal camps, renewable energy education and general sustainable practices among tribe members. There are also Classes reconnecting traditional knowledge and skills.

For more information contact:
Brandy Toft (City staff)   |   air@lldrm.org   |   218-335-7429

View All Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Actions


Date action report first entered:   11/15/2010

Implementation details:
Northfield is the first Transition Town in Minnesota. Transition Northfield recently hosted Richard Heinberg for a talk on community planning in a changing world. This event was co-sponsored by the Blandin Foundation and involved alumni of the Blandin Community Leadership Program.

Descriptive links: http://transitionnorthfield.org/

For more information contact:
Tim Behrendt (City staff)   |   tim.behrendt@ci.northfield.mn.us   |   507-645-3027

View All Northfield Actions

Pine River

Date action report first entered:   11/08/2010

Implementation details:
Pine River residents collaborated with the Initiative Foundation to host a community visioning in June 2009...

View All Pine River Actions


Date action report first entered:   01/26/2016
Date of last report update:   01/26/2016

Implementation details:
The city helped support the development of the St. Cloud Area Sustainability Plan in 2010. The plan establishes goals and visions for the St. Cloud Area. The plan outlines 17 Best Practice Areas. Some example practice areas include: greenhouse gas reductions, Environmentally Preferable Purchasing, sustainable land use policies, alternative energy, energy efficiency and more!

            view file

For more information contact:
Nate Keller (City staff)   |   nate.keller@sartellmn.com   |   320-258-7316

View All Sartell Actions


Date action report first entered:   01/10/2019
Date of last report update:   01/10/2019
Year action initially completed:   2019
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   Yes

Implementation details:
The city of Warren created a group to follow thru on the goals established at the Walkability Workshop conducted by the MN Dept. of Health

Outcome measures/metrics:
Short term goals are identified to encourage people to walk more and a grant will be applied for to execute the goal.

For more information contact:
Shannon Mortenson (City staff)   |   shannonm@warrenminnesota.com   |   218-745-5343

North Valley Public Health; WAO School District

View All Warren Actions


Date action report first entered:   05/02/2012

Implementation details:
Floating Best Practice - The City of Edina participated in a Natural Step workshop for City staff, City Council, City Commissioners and residents at large on July 27, 2009 and Aug. 6, 2009. Thereafter various City Commissioners, residents and City Council members attend the quarterly workshops sponsored by the Sustainability Alliance.

For more information contact:
Tara Brown (City staff)   |   tbrown@edinamn.gov   |   952-826-1621

View All Edina Actions


Date action report first entered:   05/16/2011

Implementation details:
In Fall 2007, early in the city's comprehensive planning process, the City held two, half-day Natural Step workshops to raise awareness of sustainability issues and to discuss opportunities of how Mahtomedi could integrate principles of sustainability into the Comprehensive Plan.

            view file

For more information contact:
Marnie McInnis (Community volunteer)   |   marniemcinnis@comcast.net   |   6517739730

View All Mahtomedi Actions


Date action report first entered:   01/28/2019
Date of last report update:   01/28/2019
Year action initially completed:   2018
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   Yes

Implementation details:
The City of Moorhead co-hosted a film screening of “The Power of Minnesota,” which detailed how clean energy is strengthening local economies throughout the state, in partnership with NDSU Extension, Prairie Public, Clean Energy Resource Teams, and University of Minnesota extension. Dan Mahli presented a GreenStep Cities Update, followed by Dennis Eisenbraun from Moorhead Public Service to update the community on the local, ongoing renewable energy and conservation efforts in the City of Moorhead.

Descriptive links: https://www.fargomoorhead.org/event/power-red-river-valley-film-screening-conversation/             view file

For more information contact:
Dan Mahli (City staff)   |   dan.mahli@cityofmoorhead.com   |   218-299-5314

NDSU Extension, University of Minnesota Extension, Clean Energy Resource Teams

View All Moorhead Actions


Date action report first entered:   05/01/2013

Implementation details:
e. The City of Shoreview hosted “Creating Communities for All Ages: Generational Differences and Similarities” in May 2013. During this event, attendees participated in a conversation while learning about generational differences and how individuals in our communities feel welcomed. Our goal is to bring people who live, work, attend school and/or worship in the northern suburbs of Ramsey County together to engage in a dialogue that bridges differences and builds greater understanding across generations, to promote cooperation and community unity. The Shoreview Community Foundation and Roseville Human Rights Commission joined the Shoreview Human Rights Commission in organizing and sponsoring the City’s fourth Community Dialogue.

Descriptive links: http://www.shoreviewmn.gov/news/community-dialogue---may-9

For more information contact:
Ellen Brenna (City staff)   |   ebrenna@shoreviewmn.gov   |   651-490-4665

View All Shoreview Actions

Red Wing pending

Date action report first entered:   01/30/2013

Implementation details:
Live Healthy Red Wing

For more information contact:
Paul Drotos (City staff)   |   paul.drotos@ci.red-wing.mn.us   |   651-410-6744

View All Red Wing Actions

Royalton pending

Date action report first entered:   05/11/2011

Implementation details:
In March the city began adding a GreenStep Royalton to its city newsletter as a way to educate residents about energy efficiency measures the city is taking and offer ways for residents to adopt a green lifestyle also.

Outcome measures/metrics:
More people are aware that Royalton is a GreenStep City and understand how they too can make energy efficient changes in their homes/businesses.

Descriptive links: http://www.royaltonmn.com/2011%20MarApr.pdf             view file

For more information contact:
Andrea Lauer (Elected official)   |   mayor@royaltonmn.com   |   320-630-2229

View All Royalton Actions

pending means a star rating has not yet been assigned to this city

greenstep advisor
Philipp Muessig, GreenStep Cities Program Coordinator, MN Pollution Control Agency: 651/757-2594, philipp.muessig@state.mn.us

Sean Gosiewski, Alliance for Sustainability, for work with citizen & student groups and faith organizations: 612/331-1099, sean@AforS.org, http://www.AforS.org