Best Practice Action Detail

Best Practice Action 24.5

GreenStep City Best Practices: Resilient Economic and 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

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 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). 
  • Broader equity and sustainability resources developed by the Sustainable States Network are a 13-page Equity & Sustainability Toolkit for cities and an Equity in Action Database, a sortable spreadsheet with 5 tabs that display: 94 equity indicators; 101 equity actions; an annotated/hot-linked list of 27 frameworks & tools; an annotated/hot-linked list of 12 data web sites; links to 13 sample equity plans.
        
1 star Host a community meeting/event that explictly uses a sustainability framework; conduct a health impact assessment of city plans/policies/development.
2 star Create or support an on-going local effort around one of these sustainability frameworks; provide diversity, equity and inclusion training for city staff, electeds and volunteers.
3 star 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

Who's doing it

Bemidji - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
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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.
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Permaculture Tuesdays once a month at RRFS - part of Sustainable Tuesday programs. Each month we have 5+ participants and a different topics. Ongoing.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Diana Kuklinski (Community volunteer) | dianamk50@gmail.com | 218-760-1557
Partners: BSU Sustainability Office, RRFS, BSU Sustainability Office, IEN, Solarrhythms Permaculture
Crookston - 3 star
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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/money saved:
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 File: view file
For more information contact:
DeAndra Navratil (City staff) | oconn587@Umn.edu | 701-330-5226
Partners: Crookston InMotion
Moorhead - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
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Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
Moorhead Community Resilience Task Force Created in 2019, the Moorhead Community Resilience Task Force is a collaboration of education, local government, private & nonprofit organizations that have decided to work together to create a more resilient community. Our focus is to prepare for extreme weather and reduce the vulnerability of people and our community. We intend to do this by being proactive and collaborative. Last month (in early 2020) the Bush Foundation awarded the Moorhead Community Resilience Task Force a Community Innovation grant to develop a community resilience action plan and take initial steps to become better prepared to face the impacts of climate change. The Moorhead Community Resilience Task Force will lead this work through a process of cooperation and deliberative community problem-solving. Working groups with the Moorhead Community Resilience Task Force are now in the process of developing actionable sets of goals in specific areas of resilience: infrastructure, ecosystems, health and wellness, governance & social equity, and economic health. The work is engaged and seeks participation from all parts of the Moorhead community.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Dan Mahli (City staff) | dan.mahli@cityofmoorhead.com | 218-299-5314
Partners: The Moorhead Community Resilience Task Force
Morris - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
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Year action initially completed: 2015
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.
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For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141
Partners:
Saint Cloud - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
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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.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
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For more information contact:
Liz Kramer (City staff) | elizabeth.kramer@ci.stcloud.mn.us | 320-255-7226
Partners:
Belle Plaine - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
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Year action initially completed: 2018
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.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Laura Blue (City staff) | lblue@ci.belleplaine.mn.us | 952-873-5553
Partners:
Brainerd - 2 star
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We have an active Strong Towns campaign going on right now.
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For more information contact:
Sarah Hayden Shaw (Community volunteer) | sjhaay@gmail.com | 218-760-6837
Partners:
Coon Rapids - 2 star
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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.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Colleen Sinclair (City staff) | csinclair@coonrapidsmn.gov | 763-767-6485
Partners:
Duluth - 2 star
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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.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
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For more information contact:
Alex Jackson, Energy Coordinator (City staff) | ajackson@DuluthMN.gov | 218-730-4433
Partners:
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe - 2 star
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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.
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For more information contact:
Brandy Toft (City staff) | air@lldrm.org | 218-335-7429
Partners:
Northfield - 2 star
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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.
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For more information contact:
Beth Kallestad (City staff) | beth.kallestad@ci.northfield.mn.us | 507-645-3074
Partners:
Pine River - 2 star
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Pine River residents collaborated with the Initiative Foundation to host a community visioning in June 2009...
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For more information contact:
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Sartell - 2 star
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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!
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Nate Keller (City staff) | nate.keller@sartellmn.com | 320-258-7316
Partners:
Warren - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
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Year action initially completed: 2019
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/money saved:
Short term goals are identified to encourage people to walk more and a grant will be applied for to execute the goal.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Shannon Mortenson (City staff) | shannonm@warrenminnesota.com | 218-745-5343
Partners: North Valley Public Health; WAO School District
Edina - 1 star
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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.
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For more information contact:
Tara Brown (City staff) | tbrown@edinamn.gov | 952-826-1621
Partners:
Mahtomedi - 1 star
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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.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Marnie McInnis (Community volunteer) | marniemcinnis@comcast.net | 6517739730
Partners:
Rosemount - 1 star
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Year action initially completed: 2018
Implementation details:
The City's energy action plan was developed to identify baseline data regarding energy usage.
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For more information contact:
Anthony Nemcek (City staff) | anthony.nemcek@ci.rosemount.mn.us | 651-322-2090
Partners: Xcel Energy Partners in Energy Program
Royalton - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2018
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.
The City held a visioning session in preparation for the re-write of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan 2018-2028. Information from the sessions are included in the plan.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
More people are aware that Royalton is a GreenStep City and understand how they too can make energy efficient changes in their homes/businesses.
More people provided guidance and input for the comprehensive plan 2018-2028
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Andrea Lauer (Elected official) | mayor@royaltonmn.com | 320-630-2229
Partners: Royalton community members
Shoreview - 1 star
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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.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
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For more information contact:
Ellen Brenna (City staff) | ebrenna@shoreviewmn.gov | 651-490-4665
Partners: