Across Minnesota and throughout the country, there is a growing interest in new approaches to community sustainability related to a wide range of local issues, including transportation. In the past, many communities have connected with nearby research universities for one-time projects and partnerships.
However, the Resilient Communities Project (RCP), a new program at the University of Minnesota, aims to build the practice of sustainability through deeper and broader community connections.
The RCP was launched in 2012, largely through the grassroots effort of the University of Minnesota Sustainability Faculty Network—a group of more than 60 faculty members from diverse disciplines engaged in sustainability education. Initial support also came from the U’s Institute on the Environment and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs.
In the RCP’s first year, a pilot partnership with the City of Minnetonka yielded several transportation-related projects, including one examining transportation demand management and another looking at transit-oriented development in the suburban environment.
For the 2013-2014 academic year, the RCP is partnering with the City of North St. Paul on 21 community sustainability projects. RCP anticipates matching these projects with more than 30 separate courses throughout the University. Transportation-related projects include building connections within the city’s trail system and implementing the city’s Living Streets plan.
RCP participants anticipate long-lasting benefits for their communities. Perhaps most importantly, this new model for community collaboration will provide far-reaching benefits that extend well beyond the partner communities.
Read the full article in the December issue of Catalyst.