NextStep e-newsletter September 27, 2012, Issue #305

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In this issue
  • 2012 Minnesota Solar Tour
  • MSP Housing + Transportation Cost Calculator
  • Urban Farming Certification Program
  • Food Waste Prevention Resources
  • Resilient Communities Project
  • Master of Arts in Sustainable Design
  • Should Saving Water be an Olympic Event?
  • Funding and Technical Assistance opportunities
  • Jobs
  • Events

Greetings NextStep e-newsletter subscribers!

Welcome to the September issue of the NextStep e-newsletter. 

We also are continuing to post and update resources on the NextStep web site in an ongoing manner, and welcome your suggestions and inquiries.

To contact us, please send messages to (instead of replying to this message)

Thanks for your interest!

-- Erin Barnes-Driscoll, NextStep newsletter co-editor
-- Paul Moss, NextStep newsletter co-editor

2012 Minnesota Solar Tour

The following is adapted from the website below:

Sponsored by the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES), the self-guided, public Minnesota Solar Tour, taking place statewide on Saturday, October 6th,  features 50+ exemplary homes, businesses, and institutions that have incorporated renewable energy into the design and operation of their buildings.

From geothermal heat pumps using the earth as a huge thermal buffer to wind turbines elegantly spinning in the breeze and the many incarnations of solar energy between earth and sky, this event offers local residents an opportunity to find out how their neighbors are trimming their energy bills, increasing their energy independence, and taking steps to address global warming.

A highlight of this year's event is a bike tour of South Minneapolis neighborhoods. A variety of technologies will be featured on this subset of the larger tour, including: PV panels, solar hot water, solar air heat and geothermal heating/cooling. Additional highlights include various examples of sustainable living, ranging from a green roof to chickens in the city, and an electric car.

This is an excellent and free opportunity for those interested in solar and other renewable energies to view installations and talk with building owners, builders, architects, and planners about their experiences.

For more information or to register, visit the website above.

MSP Housing + Transportation Cost Calculator

The following is adapted from the website below:

The Urban Land Institute recently launched an online, customizable tool to help individuals, households, planners, and municipalities in the Twin Cities area understand the true costs of housing and transportation, as well as how these costs can vary from place to place.

 Designed specifically for the 13-county region, the Housing + Transportation Calculator allows users to easily estimate their combined housing and transportation costs and compare details with the average cost in their neighborhood and the region.

 Whether it's a move to a new neighborhood, a move into the area, a new job, a change in income, the purchase or sale of an automobile, or just an effort to use transit more and drive less, the H+T Calculator will provide individuals and households the information they need to understand the true affordability of their location and choices.

For more information or to access the calculator, visit the website above.

PRI 2013 Urban Farming Certification Program

The following is adapted from the following website:

Would you like to work as an urban farmer? Are you interested in learning how to earn an income and produce high-quality, organic food for the expanding local foods market in the Twin Cities?
The Urban Farming Certification Program, a creation of the Permaculture Research Institute (PRI) Cold Climate, is currently accepting applications for 2013.  The comprehensive 9-month training program weaves together in-class and outdoor practical farming and design courses needed to turn any urban lot into a certified, highly productive urban farm.

With customized learning opportunities alongside professional permaculture designers, urban farmers, and urban farming mentors in the Twin Cities region, 2013 trainees will have the rare opportunity of entering into a supportive community of peers and professionals as they learn from a range of local wisdom throughout the season. With over 40 workshops and classes to choose from, participants will have the opportunity to custom design a schedule that fits their lifestyles and needs.

The early bird application deadline is November 15, 2012. For more information or to apply for the 2013 program, visit the website above.

Food Waste Prevention Resources

According to the US EPA, 33 million tons of food waste was discarded in 2010 in this country, making it the single largest component of MSW reaching landfills and incinerators. The waste of food has economic and social impacts as well as environmental ones. Among other consequences is the generation of methane, a significant green house gas, which occurs when food decomposes in landfills.

A new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council titled “Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm” asserts that the equivalent of 20 lbs. per person per month of uneaten food is discarded in the US. In addition to the food loss itself, there are huge amounts of chemicals, energy, water, land, and money ($165 billion/year) used in the production, processing, and distribution of this food that are consequently lost if the food is not consumed. And while composting helps to reduce the final waste stream, it does not decrease these “upstream” resource inputs.

With the help of an MPCA Environmental Assistance grant, Eureka Recycling has developed informative new online tools to help consumers minimize or prevent food waste. The resources, available at, include food storage tips for a wide variety of food types (including produce, meat, oils, herbs, and nuts, among others). Practical and instructional meal planning information specifically designed to counteract food wastage (and indirectly save time and money!) is included as well.

Another tool developed by the West Coast Climate and Materials Management Forum, an EPA-led partnership of western cities and states, serves as a resource for state and local governments and/or community groups and is currently undergoing nationwide piloting. Designed as a community-based social marketing campaign, the Food: Too Good to Waste pilot toolkit includes an implementation guide, behavior change tools (including a workshop presentation, shopping template, and poster), measurement tools, and a research report. Plans are to revise the toolkit based on pilot results.

Local governments and community organizations in Minnesota with an interest in participating in the pilot phase of the toolkit can contact Madalyn Cioci, MPCA,, for more information.

Resilient Communities Project

The following is adapted from the website above.

The Resilient Communities Project is a direct response to the growing need to find sustainability solutions to issues facing Minnesota communities, by connecting the wide-ranging expertise of University of Minnesota faculty and students with cities, businesses, and organizations in Minnesota. RCP is an initiative of the Graduate Sustainability Education Network at the U of M, with funding and administrative support provided by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) and the Institute on the Environment. The program is modeled on the Sustainable City Year Program at the University of Oregon.

Each academic year, RCP chooses a partner city through a competitive request-for-proposal process. Working with a wide range of city staff and stakeholders in the selected community, RCP helps to identify potential projects based on community-identified sustainability issues and needs. RCP then serves as a centralized “matchmaker,” connecting the city’s project needs with existing graduate and upper-level undergraduate courses at the U of M. RCP is currently partnering with the City of Minnetonka on eight projects that will engage more than 150 students in eleven courses across seven schools and colleges at the University of Minnesota.

For communities, RCP provides access to hundreds of students and faculty members across a range of academic disciplines―from architecture, planning, and engineering to business, environmental sciences, and the humanities. Expertise is available related to all aspects of sustainability, including analysis, planning, design, implementation, and evaluation.

RCP plans to release a new Request-for-Proposal and community application in October. For more information or to apply to be a community partner, visit

Master of Arts in Sustainable Design

The following is adapted from the website above.

Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) recently launched a two-year Master of Arts in Sustainable Design degree program geared towards working professionals. The advanced-study program, which is on an online platform, is an interdisciplinary, studio design-oriented degree that requires 36-credits of advanced study in the fields of sustainable design, creative leadership and global innovation.

According to program information, the MA in sustainable design integrates the themes of systems thinking, life-cycle analysis and biomimicry, and combines theory, practice, and leadership courses with training and experience.

For more information on the program, visit the website above.

Should Saving Water Be an Olympic Event?

Taking shorter showers has for generations been touted as a practical strategy for reducing the use and waste of household water.

In many households (especially ones with teenagers or, in this writer's case, a teen who, unfortunately, tries to sneak-in some Zzz s while showering ), this can prove to be a challenge.

In "Showering for Glory", an amusing mockumentary with a message produced by Do the Green Thing--a not-for-profit that describes itself as "an inspiration feed of creative ideas to turn green living from something you ought to do to something that people want to do"-- a key may be to "resurrect"  the "Short Sharp Shower."

Is it possible more teens would accede to their parents' behests to cut the shower time if short showering was elevated to an Olympic event? ;>)

Just a thought...

Funding and Technical Assistance opportunities

EPA  Sustainable Growth Assistance for Communities- apply by October 26, 2012.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency invites communities to apply for technical assistance to foster sustainable growth in their area. EPA is offering assistance through the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program, which offers tools that can be applied in rural, suburban, and urban areas, including:
  • Smart growth and economic development to help communities get better financial results from public and private investments;
  • Green street strategies for managing polluted stormwater;
  • Land use strategies to protect water quality;
  • Parking audits to make the best use of parking for existing and planned land uses;
  • Bikeshare system planning to create alternative commuting options;
  • Community design for aging populations to ensure residents can live at home as long as possible;
  • Green building toolkit to overcome common barriers; and
  • Strategies to help small cities and rural areas develop in ways that retain unique community characteristics.
Communities apply for assistance with one of the specific tools and, if selected, work with an EPA-supported team of experts on applying those tools during a two-day workshop. Along with the policies and practices highlighted in each tool, participants will learn more about smart growth development strategies.
EPA will select up to 44 communities through a competitive process for this latest round of assistance. The selections will be made in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

Applications will be accepted between September 26 and October 26, 2012. More information and application instructions for the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program are available at

Green Partners Environmental Education Program - apply by November 16, 2012 (Seed and Root Group)

The Green Partners Program supports organizations to actively educate and engage Hennepin County residents in making positive environmental changes in their daily lives by:
  • Inspiring individuals in their communities to reduce waste, recycle, reduce toxicity, conserve energy and/or protect water resources;
  • Collaborating with Hennepin County and peer organizations on environmental education;
  • Connecting with free environmental resources, trainings and networking opportunities offered by Hennepin County; and
  • Engaging in a group – Seed, Root, or Branch—that best supports their organization.
 The Green Partners Program consists of three groups with varying levels of support and requirements. Eligible organizations include non-profit organizations, community and youth groups, multicultural organizations, congregations, private and public schools, and park districts.
  •  Seed Group:  Receive free field trip transportation and activity supplies.
  • Root Group: Receive up to $8,000 to implement a project based on existing resources.
  • Branch Group: Receive up to $15,000 to implement an innovative project.
Root and Branch Proposals are due by noon on November 16, 2012. Find the RFP and application instructions at

Seed Action Plans are accepted anytime.
Hennepin County anticipates announcing the Green Partners awards by March 2013.

Walmart Foundation Local Giving Program - apply by December 1, 2012

The Walmart Foundation supports programs and initiatives addressing education, workforce development, economic sustainability, and health and wellness.

Multiple awards ranging from $250-$5,000 are available for select applicants. Nonprofit organizations, K-12 schools, church or faith based organizations, and government entities are eligible to apply.

The deadline for applying is December 1. For more information or to apply, visit

Subaru Healthy Sprouts Award - apply by October 31, 2012

The 2012 Subaru Healthy Sprouts Award is aimed at supporting schools or organizations that plan to garden with at least 15 children between the ages of 3 and 18. The selection of winners is based on the demonstrated relationship between the garden program and education related to environmental, nutrition and hunger issues in the United States.

Fifty awards are available to select schools or organizations. Each program will receive a $400 gift certificate to the Gardening With Kids catalog; National Gardening Association's Eat a Rainbow Kit which includes nutrition lessons and education; and a curriculum package from the National Gardening Association.

The deadline for applying is October 31, 2012.

Contact the National Gardening Association for more information and to apply:

For more web sites of grant/loan programs, see:


See the NextStep job board for a variety of organizational postings including these below, as well as other job sites that post jobs in the field of sustainability.

Current jobs available include, among others:

Washington Conservation District: Water Resource Engineer, (open until filled)
Community Design Center of Minnesota: Garden Program Manager, (deadline October 5)
ReGo Electric Conversions: Sales and Customer Service Representative, (open until filled)
Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Council of Governments: Transportation Planner, (deadline October 12)
Minnesota Waste Wise: Executive Director, (open until filled)


See the NextStep calendar at for details on the events listed below, as well as many others.

* 9/29 Farm Bike Tour: A Pedal-Powered Tour of 7 Northfield Farms
* 9/29 Vermillion River, National Public Lands Day Cleanup
* 10/1-10/2 Minnesota Leaders in Food and Health: 4th Annual Research Symposium
* 10/3 Future of Food: Innovations for Sustainable Food Production
* 10/4 Excess Nitrogen: A Confounding Problem for Energy Use, Food Production, the Water we Drink, the Air we Breathe
* 10/4 SolarWorks Workshop in Rosemount
* 10/4 Worm Composting During the Minnesota Winter
* 10/6 2012 Minnesota Solar Tour
* 10/6 Heritage Village Wetland Planting Event
* 10/6 Solar Bike Tour
* 10/7-10/10 International Bioenergy Days Conference
* 10/8 Build a Solar-Cell Phone Charger Class
* 10/9 Grow Solar Minneapolis Bulk Buy Presentation
* 10/13 Intro to Permaculture
* 10/16 -10/17 Minnesota Water Resources Conference

About the NextStep e-newsletter and MnSCN

This email newsletter is sent today to 3,350 sustainability professionals and others interested in building sustainable communities, most of whom live in Minnesota. It was prepared by staff in the Sustainable Development Unit of the Resource Management and Assistance Division at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

We hope that you find this information useful; please send us an e-mail at if you need help using the resources presented here. (We will not receive replies sent to this e-mail message.)  You are encouraged to enter events and jobs directly onto the NextStep web site.

The NextStep web site has an on-line directory of those who would like to post their contact information, sustainability interests and expertise and then subscribe to the newsletter. To add yourself to the directory, visit

We welcome your participation there as part of the Minnesota Sustainable Communities Network (MnSCN). The goal of MnSCN and NextStep is to encourage networking, information exchange, and better access to assistance. This network consists of an even mix of over 3,000 individuals, many of whom are affiliated with local governments, non-profit organizations, businesses, and educational institutions in Minnesota (and bordering areas) who are interested in moving toward sustainability.

For further information and questions about MnSCN, see
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