Minnesota GreenCorps, managed by the MN Pollution Control Agency, places AmeriCorps members with local governments, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations around Minnesota, where they serve for 11 months on focused environmental projects.
The Friendly Front Yard Toolkit helps community members and city placemakers to remake the common and generally underutilized residential front yard - and commercial sidewalk - into a community engagement space - a space that fosters serendipitous social interactions in service of community-building. Created by The Musicant Group, a Minnesota placemaking and public space management firm, the Toolkit can engage neighbors and retailers in different and easier ways than blocks clubs and neighborhood associations.
See MPCA resources to help schools improve their environmental health and performance, covering facility operations and purchasing, waste and recycling, toxicity, and environmental education. See also SEEK (Sharing Environmental Education Knowledge): Minnesota's interactive directory of environmental education resources.
Youth Environmental Activists of MN is a program of Climate Generation, founded by Will Steger. Youth Eco Solutions was founded by Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center and the Southwest Initiative Foundation. The iMatter Youth Climate Action Program facilitates youth to press for meaningful climate action in their city. All of these organizations empower youth to work in their schools, and community. The non-profit organization Spark-Y empowers youth with hands-on education rooted in sustainability and entrepreneurship (with a focus on urban agriculture), helping develop the greenest K-12 school campuses in the Twin Cities area.
The national Green Ribbon Schools program highlights K-12 schools in Minnesota and across the nation that are saving energy and reducing operating costs, creating environmentally friendly learning spaces, promoting student health and providing environmental education to incorporate sustainability into their curricula. A Minnesota GreenStep Schools program, based upon Green Ribbon Schools and GreenStep Cities, is in development and currently encouraging public and private K-12 schools/school districts to join.
See a monthly e-mailed (and archived) Living Green 365 newsletter on individual sustainability actions, from the MPCA, and see mostly energy-related resources listed under action 2.1
At least two informational/educational activities or creation of a group to work on such; promotion of/assistance with Friendly Front Yards, block clubs, neighborhood associations. Report under action 2.1 marketing & outreach programs that are limited to promoting/achieving residential energy use reduction and energy efficiency; report business outreach campaigns under BP 25; report youth/student engagement in city government under 24.6; report other targeted campaigns under topic-specific actions, e.g. 23.3
Sustained activities covering a range of topics (active living, food, water, energy, electric vehicles, etc.) that have some challenge, assistance and/or measurement elements; documented accomplishments such as Green Ribbon School recognition, GreenStep Schools participation, Friendly Fronts apartment building certification; city work that supports schools/youth to improve their schools (through an ecology club, school green team, IPL youth team).
Sustained activities and multiple reported outcomes such as increased multi-modal commuting, increased electric vehicle adoption, reduced water and energy use, increased local food production, increased business vitality, etc.
Who's doing it
Marshall - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
On April 27th, 2019 Healthy56258 and GreenStep Cities partnered to bring the first annual Healthy and Green Living Expo event to Marshall. The purpose of this event was to encourage sustainable, healthy lifestyles and environmental protection.
2019 update: A bee club has been established in the City of Marshall that meets monthly to discuss beekeeping and encouraging more people to provide habit for pollinators. Southwest Minnesota State University has agreed to host a bee yard on their campus that now includes 20+ hives.
2019 update: The City of Marshall offered community education courses on gardening "Vegetables for Everyone" and "Garden Food Safety" with the intent to educate community members on gardening tips/techniques as well as reducing the risk of unintentional contamination of fresh produce in the garden setting.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
There were 40 exhibitors that represented sustainable, healthy lifestyles and environmental protection. Approximately 300 community members were in attendance at this event. The goal is to continue this event and it's purpose annually to encourage healthy and green living.
2019 update: Southwest Minnesota State University established an Environmental Sustainability Workgroup in 2019 that is comprised of students, faculty, administration and staff. It was established to research, discuss and investigate the current sustainability practices on campus; evaluate the commitment of the university to these initiatives; identify other opportunities to increase sustainability on campus.
Better Energy is a community-wide energy efficiency initiative that offers free home energy workshops, and comprehensive home visits which include energy assessments and direct installs of efficiency measures.
In April 2016, Mayor Nagel engaged the community in a challenge to reduce our region's water use by an average of 40 gallons per person, per day. A separate mailer within the utility bill outlined the pledge and challenge information. The Pledge was taken online as well as offered in paper format (provided by City office).
In June, the City of Arlington will host its first organized farmers market. With upstart funds from SHIP and Sibley County Public Health, the weekly market has been marketed, meetings with vendors and organizers have taken place, and we have planned a summer calendar of educational, musical and social events to coincide with the market.
We look forward to a great summer of community, healthy eating and healthy living initiatives. Our Community Ed/Rec Coordinator will feature an ongoing series of classes on the night of the market that include topics such as gardening, healthy eating classes, composting, yoga, canning, etc.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
In the June, 2016 newsletter, results from the water challenge were shared with the residents:
"Congratulations Arlington! Together you pledged to save over 900 gallons/day by adopting water-saving practices. It is never too late to see how many gallons of water you can save by taking the pledge challenge at www.40gallonchallenge.org By fixing a leaky faucet, shortening your shower by two minutes and turning off the water while brushing your teeth, you can save up to 28 gallons of water per day!"
Sustainable Tuesdays is a partnership program with the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Minnesota GreenCorps, the Rail River Folk School, and Bemidji State University’s Sustainability Office. The mission of Sustainable Tuesdays is to draw on the strengths of the diversity in our region to create a sustainable Bemidji. This program provides a variety of sustainable learning opportunities, ranging from workshops where community members learn sustainable practices to apply in their lives, to discussions focused on environmental issues in our region and the world. This program covers a range of topics, like energy conservation, local food, water quality, green living, and much more. Sustainable Tuesdays is a community event that is free and open to the public. Programming is offered every Tuesday from 5:30 to 7:30pm at the Rail River Folk School.
The Green Living Bemidji blog contains an archive of Sustainable Tuesday events and includes weekly coverage of the programming. The Green Living Bemidji blog is shared on the Bemidji Pioneer’s website and is also shared on a weekly listserv to over 250 community members.
With a member of the Minnesota GreenCorps, the City has started a campaign for broad sustainability education throughout the city. We have created a Sustainability Task Force who will work on engaging more community members in various tasks and campaigns. Our GreenCorps member regularly sends out environmental education materials on topics as varied as energy efficiency, food waste, general definitions of sustainability etc. She is also working with the schools to start a Food Recovery Program, teaching students about conservation, and expanding local food options.
Throughout this year (2013-2014), our MN GreenCorps member has piloted many community education initiatives. Two programs directly involve students. One program has involved the 4th grade students in learning about, and participating in, a water conservation poster contest for MRWA. Another program is a 3 session after school program teaching elementary school students a variety of sustainable habits through experiments and creative activities focusing on energy and water conservation, and reusing resources. She has involved the community by hosting numerous booths at community events. She has hosted a booth publicizing energy and water conservation by handing out faucet aerators and fliers for energy conservation in the winter. She has also hosted a booth at a heath fair educating community members simple ways to change their behavior that will help reduce their environmental footprint and help improve their health. The city will decide which of these initiatives had the greatest impact and will continue those events in the future.
Outreach at each community event, ads and articles in newspaper and radio show on KOJB, the Tribal radio station. The Summer Youth Experience Program and environmental staff present to local schools on various environmental topics.
The Marine on St. Croix GreenStep Cities committee, a small group of residents, hosts community education programs at the Village Hall. Programs to date are a Raingarden Workshop with Washington Conservation District and Master Gardeners, and "Solar Power Hour" with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, co-hosted with Marine Community Library.
Since 1998, the nonprofit Mill Stream Association of Marine on St. Croix has sponsored the annual Mill Stream Day on the third Sunday in May. The event features nature oriented exhibits, a brook trout lunch, local musicians, and culminating in the raising of a Maypole, complete with ribbons and dancing. The Association also supports environmental education and other related projects.
The City of Rogers is currently hosting its third MN GreenCorps member. The past two members have completed projects revolving around local foods and energy efficiency, while the current member is focusing on stormwater management.
In 2009 and 2010, the first MN GreenCorps member helped the city start a community garden and farmer's market. Through this process, the city worked with its City Council, Park Board, Public Works, and Community Education to get the initiatives off the ground. The City hosted local foods listening sessions with gardeners, students, and other interested residents and created a Farmers Market Steering Committee to support the Farmers Market. Throughout the market season, a weekly newsletter is sent out to all participants and interested residents. The Farmers Market and Community Gardens are still thriving and are entering their fifth year.
In addition to the gardens and farmers market, the community garden space was used for two K-5 summer community education programs in 2010, with 100 kids in attendance. The students learned about gardening and the local food systems. Two adult classes were also offered at a local farm and winery to learn about local wines and wine-making.
The current MN GreenCorps member will be starting a rain barrel program within the City this spring and conducting public outreach and education surrounding stormwater.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Two community gardens, totaling 5,454 sq ft.
Around 800 residents involved in the farmers market and community gardens in the first year.
150 kids and adults involved in the community education classes at the community gardens/local farm.
The city's Environment and Sustainability taskforce is conducting an ongoing educational campaign by visiting different groups throughout the community including schools, churches, and all residents at different community events.
The City GreenStep team held several gatherings for the public in early 2020. The first one centered around the plastic problem with a video and discussion. The second was on water with a similar format and attendance by members of the public and Mayor. Other gatherings have been planned including special earth day programming and a future expo both of which have been postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Specialists and experts were contacted to participate in these gatherings and we met with the school superintendent to get school involvement. The local Lions Club donated funds. These efforts will continue when circumstances permit.
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.
The city supported the creation of the St. Cloud Area Sustainability Plan which was published around 2011. Out of this plan grew the Sustainability Expo. The Sustainability Expo is held every year and the expo provides educational workshops, presentations and awards given in sustainability. Topics covered at past events include: rain gardens, rain barrels, clean water, local food growing, active living, limiting the use of chemicals on lawns, reducing consumption, and more. Recently this expo has been renamed the St. Cloud Greater Expo and re-branded. Sustainability is still a huge portion of the event but other topic areas will encompass the event and allow attendees to branch out into other areas. The city also works with Better Living Exercise & Nutrition Daily (BLEND) on helping promote active living.
SR Green has offered support to the green committees at the high school and middle school. An SR Green member has served as liaison between the schools and committee for many years. The middle school has been recognized for creating a school garden, which continues to expand and serve the school.
The Friends of Scandia Parks and Trails (FSPT) group has presented (free) speaker events to the public in 2018 -2019 that include experts speaking on recycling related issues, wasps, building resiliency to climate change - on your land and in your community, Minnesota’s giant silkworm moths, and changes in Minnesota birds and how we can help. In partnership with the Marine Community Library there were two speaker events: Carrol Henderson, long-time biologist with the DNR and some key projects and Peter Reich, U of M Regents Professor of Forestry discussing how climate change is affecting Minnesota’s trees and how we can all be better stewards of our climate. FSPT plans to continue to host similar community speaker events.
The Environmental Quality Committee hosts an annual Speaker Series January-May. (CTV for past events http://www.ctv15.org/index.php/shoreview-videos.html)
The Environmental Quality Committee also hosts the Green Community Awards annually. The Green Community Awards began in 2007 as a program to find, recognize and reward residential, non-profit, and commercial property owners that demonstrate Best Management Practices (BMPs) for water quality. In 2013, the Committee expanded the award program to recognize individual and corporate efforts in three general areas: Water, Energy, and other General Initiatives.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
In 2012, 17 private properties were recognized for outstanding best managment practices for water quality. In 2013 the program will be expanded.
Silver Bay has implemented aspects of sustainability into their elementary education curriculum. The school program has established gardens for students to learn how to grow and sell their own produce. In addition to the learning about sustainable food systems, the school also has a "forest classroom" where students learn about many aspects of environmental sustainability.
The partnership with UMD through Victus Farm has also helped Silver Bay to be involved with sustainable education on a post-secondary level.
The city of Victoria offers a variety of education classes through the parks and recreation department. These classes include activities such as safety, fitness and local gardening.
The city of Victoria offers the community to participate in Water Conservation Challenge Month. The Mayor is asking residents to make a commitment to conserve water and cut pollution by taking part in a national water conservation challenge. http://www.ci.victoria.mn.us/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=222
In previous best practices we've listed water quality education and local food promotion campaigns. The City does promote a variety of other sustainability and action campaigns. The City promotes the National Mayor’s Water Conservation Challenge to promote water conservation. The City offers free composting opportunities for residents to compost their leaves and other yard waste. Victoria is the City of Lakes and Parks and supports recreational activities to promote active living.
The City provides a variety of educational materials on the sustainability website at: www.woodburysustainability.com.
The city’s Public Works department spearheaded an educational campaign to promote water conservation through a rain senor giveaway. They also offered free audits to the high water users within the community.
The Environmental Advisory Commission participates in a number of annual events to promote sustainability and environmental education, including:
- Hosting a booth at the Woodbury Community Expo
- Partnering with the city’s licensed haulers to provide curbside recycling of bulky items at a discounted rate
- Sustainability and Landscape Workshops
- Native Plant Market
- Hosting a Solar Works Workshop
- Hosting a tour of the Tamarack Nature Preserve in Woodbury
- Rain barrel and compost bin sales
The City's Energy and Environment Commission is hosting a booth at Showcase Eagan, a community-wide event that typically has aproximately 1,200 residnets in attendance. The Commission has partnered with local utilities to distribute educational materials about ways to save energy and how to take advantage of energy saving rebates through Dakota Electric, Xcel Energy, and MN Energy Resources.
The City of Edina continuously engages members of the public through various activities organized by the Education and Outreach Working Group of the EEC. The EEC works with energy utilities to organize energy audits for residents. Working with a task force of EEC members, representatives from Xcel Energy, Centerpoint Energy and the Center for Energy and the Environment (MN Energy Challenge staff) attention was focused on two Edina neighborhoods for Summer and Fall of 2010 to promote the HES (Home Energy Squad) Program. The Morningside Neighborhood Association (MNA) assisted efforts to mobilize residents to attend HES educational meetings to enroll households in participating in the HES program in the Summer of 2010. In the Fall of 2010 focused on the Highlands Neighborhood of Edina. Summer 2010 awareness was raised about the HES program.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Edina has one of the highest participation rates in HES in the metro.
Project Conserve was started last year as a pilot and has won numerous awards. This year, the program has been opened to all homeowners and currently has over 300 participants. Project Conserve teaches homeowners that they can reduce their carbon footprint and save money through utilizing simple methods and gaining knowledge.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
In the first year, some members reduced their energy usage by 25% and saved up to $500 a year in expenses.
To help our residents implement energy conservation/sustainability we include in our quarterly newsletter tips as well as contacts for composting & recycling . We have also built rain gardens throughout the city to assist with storm water run off. Our social media page is utilized to update residents on these items and to notify them of upcoming events such as spring/fall clean up days that are held each year.
City staff presented at Minnesota State University, Mankato 1st annual Sustainability Expo on April 5th, 2014, and staffed booth at expo to discuss local sustainability efforts and projects. Staff also presented to Regional Energy Task Force tour in October of 2013, at session at Courtyard Hotel in Mankato.
Maplewood continually conducts sustainability education and campaigns. The latest large scale sustainability campaign is the Maplewood Partners in Energy campaign. This program will have many different facets in which existing energy programs will be available for different groups within the city of Maplewood. While the program will work with the entire community, the main focus areas will include congregations, neighborhoods, and local businesses. While this partnership focuses energy there are other opportunities to increase information available about other sustainable practices such as stormwater management,local food production, and increased business access to sustainable practice information.
The Nature Center offers a wide variety of programming, including sustainability education. One program example includes naturalists visiting a neighborhood to conduct on-site buckthorn (invasive species) education and training. Neighbors come together as a group for the training and then work together to remove buckthorn in the neighborhood. The City then coordinates buckthorn curbside collection with our public works crew for easy disposal.
The City had a booth at its annual Pioneer Day festival in 2012. The booth included a display outlining how residents can be green through their everyday lives and other facts about recycling in Minnesota. The City also has this information linked on its website.
A new joint initiative called the “Get-Up-And-Save Congregational Energy Challenge” is being launched by the City of Red Wing in partnership with Xcel Energy. This educational campaign is a fun competition between local churches to promote environmental stewardship. Reducing energy usage equates to a cleaner “Green Wing” community -- all the while, saving money!
The organizer of the Congregational Energy Challenge is local Red Wing native, Jill Fanslow. Each congregation is requested to have a designated point person for carrying the campaign within the congregation.
Throughout the Challenge, residents and congregations will be provided with opportunities to bring energy and cost savings home. The Challenge will run from April 1st through May 15th. Participating congregations will earn points for congregates completing actions who report their activities.
The top two places-of-worship with the most points will receive free Energy Audits ($600 value) and the third-place congregation will receive a pizza party/treats for their youth group or congregation. Point. Congregation representatives who organize activities at their church will receive a FREE home energy audit ($100 value)!
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The kick-off meeting for the Energy Challenge was on March 21st. Representatives from any congregation in “Green” Wing were welcome to participate and to learn more. Currently four congregations are in the competition.
The Green Wing joint partnership was developed by the community of Red Wing in collaboration with Xcel Energy to encourage less energy use and the creation of more renewable sources across Red Wing. For more information visit red-wing.org/greenwing.
Students from the U of M prepared a comprehensive report, “A Sustainable Home Improvement Guide for the City of Richfield,” with over 100 pages of useful tips to help homeowners become more sustainable. As directed by City staff, the scope of the guide addressed actions that were most available, easily implemented, and most cost effective. The guide’s 4 sections include: Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Supplies and Products, Sustainable Landscaping, and Water Conservation.
The City of St. Paul Park promotes its Rain Garden Pilot Program on its website. In partnership with the South Washington Water Shed District, funds were allocated and labor assistance provided that allowed numerous rain gardens to be installed on the properties of willing participants. The program provided an opportunity to educate residents on the benefits of rain gardens and resulted in decreased storm water runnoff on these properties.
The City's Storm Drain Stenciling program helps inform citizens of St. Paul Park that the storm drains they see on their streets are not connected to a treatment facility and that they drain to the river. Storm drain stenciling projects offer an excellent opportunity to educate the public about the link between the storm drain system and drinking water quality. Organizations that wish to assist the City in labeling strom drains may can contact the Public Works Department.
During winter 2015-16 a Firewise Committee was created to explore the dangers of wildfires in the City. The Committee organized an active educational campaign to alert all Sunfish Lake residents to wildfire dangers. Sunfish Lake is a community with large grassland and woodland areas surrounding individual homes. The educational campaign included: five mailings, articles in the City newsletter, handouts at the Arbor Day Green Fair, a Saturday drive-through with four fire trucks staffed with fire department volunteers and Firewise Committee members, and personal follow-up contacts as needed.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Every residence in the City was visited during the Firewise Drive-Through event and fire safety information was shared with all City residents. Many residents have improved driveway emergency vehicle access following the educational campaign.