NextStep E-Newsletter March 22, 2013 - Issue 311

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In this issue

Greetings NextStep e-newsletter subscribers!

Welcome to the March 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 and Paul Moss,  NextStep newsletter co-editors

LCCMR Request for Proposal Issued

The Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) has issued its 2014 Request for Proposal (RFP) for funding from Minnesota’s Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund beginning July 1, 2014. The Trust Fund represents the money that, since its inception in 1991, has been generated by the Minnesota State Lottery to provide a constitutionally dedicated funding source for protection of the state’s unique natural resources.

Approximately $29.6 million is expected to be available for projects being sought in environment and natural resource areas that will provide multiple ecological and other public benefits. Proposals responding to the 2014 RFP are due Friday, June 7, 2013.

Proposals are being requested in the following seven areas:

1. Foundational Natural Resource Data and Information

2. Water Resources

3. Environmental Education

4. Aquatic and Terrestrial Invasive Species

5. Air Quality, Climate Change, and Renewable Energy

6. Methods to Protect, Restore, and Enhance Land, Water, and Habitat

7. Land Acquisition for Habitat and Recreation

The 2014 RFP contains detailed instructions for submitting a proposal to the LCCMR as well as additional explanation of the LCCMR’s proposal and funding process. Anyone with a project idea consistent with the RFP may submit a proposal for consideration by the LCCMR. LCCMR staff are available to review proposal drafts and assist in proposal development. Lobbying or professional grant-writing experience is not necessary for success.

During September and October, 2013, the LCCMR will consider all proposals received in response to the 2014 RFP and make final selection of projects to include in its recommendations to the Legislature for the 2014 session. Funded projects can begin July 1, 2014.

For more information on the LCCMR funding process or the 2014 RFP, please visit

Apply to be a MN GreenCorps Host Site!

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is now accepting applications from organizations interested in participating as a host site for the 2013 - 2014 year of the Minnesota GreenCorps program.

Applications from eligible organizations interested in hosting Minnesota GreenCorps members are due by 5:00 pm on Monday May 6, 2013.

Minnesota GreenCorps is an environmentally-focused AmeriCorps program coordinated by the MPCA, which places AmeriCorps members with organizations around the state to spend a year of service addressing critical environmental issues, while gaining experience and learning valuable job skills.

Host site application packets, including a detailed guidance document and the application, are only available by e-mailing your request to  Please direct all questions to this e-mail.

Eligible organizations include public entities (local, regional, state, tribal), school districts, not for profit institutions of higher education, and 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Organizations may apply for Minnesota GreenCorps members who will serve on projects in the areas of:

  • Energy Conservation
  • Waste Prevention and Recycling
  • Living Green Outreach (including Air Quality Improvement/Active Transportation and Local Foods)
  • Green Infrastructure (including Stormwater Management and Urban Forestry)

MPCA is planning to place up to 28 full time members with various host sites for the 2013-2014 year. Members serve approximately 40 hours a week for 11 months beginning in mid to late September 2013 through August 2014.

For more information on the program, including descriptions of host site projects from previous years, please visit

Member application materials for individuals interested in serving with the program will be available online in the coming weeks.

Please note, operation of the 2013-2014 program year is contingent on receiving funds. Confirmation of funds may not be available prior to the application deadline.

Fix-a-Leak Week and Beyond

The MPCA is calling on residents to check their toilets for leaks this spring, beginning with national WaterSense®  Fix a Leak Week March 18-24th (THIS WEEK!). Toward that goal, the agency is distributing a FREE packet of leak detection tablets to interested households.

In Minnesota, the current drought coupled with growing water demands is putting a strain on our water resources. Nationally, the U.S. EPA estimates that 1 trillion gallons of water are wasted each year through household leaks—enough to supply the needs of Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles combined. Toilets are especially leak-prone (20% of all toilets leak), but because they are often silent, these leaks typically go unnoticed.

Experts recommend that toilets be checked for leaks on a semiannual or annual basis. A silent toilet leak can quietly “rob” a home of 50 to 300 or more gallons of water each day. This can lead to higher water and sewer bills and the waste of a finite natural resource.  Leaks can also shorten the lives of septic systems and private wells.

Leak detection tablets can be ordered at or by calling or emailing 651-757-2999, 

The MPCA is a promotional partner of WaterSense®, an EPA program that promotes the value of water efficiency and water-efficient products to consumers.  For information on WaterSense® and Fix-a-Leak Week, visit

Raingarden Workshops

The following is adapted from the website above.

Metro Blooms is holding twelve raingarden "how-to" workshops in Minneapolis and several Hennepin County locations this spring.

Raingardens and Beyond: Healthy Yard, Clean Water explores healthy yard care practices combined with the do-it-yourself approach to raingarden design and installation. In some areas, it includes an introduction to shoreline plantings. Participants will learn about watershed management, stormwater runoff, and raingarden basics including design, installation and maintenance of raingardens using native plants.  In the second half of the session participants will receive hands-on assistance in planning a raingarden project. The cost to attend this three-hour workshop is $15.

Workshops will be held in the following locations:

- Brooklyn Park Community Center, April 24, 6 PM

- St. Louis Park Recreation Center, April 25, 6 PM

- Audubon Park, Minneapolis, April 27, 10 AM

- Chanhassen Public Works Building, May 7, 6 PM

- Nokomis Park Recreation Center, Minneapolis,  May 9, 6 PM

- Longfellow Recreation Center, Minneapolis, May 11, 9 AM

- Brooklyn Center Community Center, May 14, 6 PM

- Brookview Community Center, Golden Valley, May 15, 6 PM

- St. Mary's Greek Orthodox Church, Minneapolis, May 16, 6 PM

- St. Barnabas Lutheran Church, Plymouth, May 21, 6 PM

- North Regional Library, Minneapolis, June 1, 1 PM

- Staring Lake Outdoor Center, Eden Prairie, 6:30 PM

Metro Blooms is also holding a 90-minute introductory workshop on the do-it-yourself approach to raingardens in Vadnais Heights, MN on May 8th.

For information on these workshops or to register, visit

Raingardens are designed and planted to capture rainwater so it can penetrate deep into the soil to help protect and restore water quality.  This helps to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff that would otherwise take pollutants from the air, our yards, and the streets and carry them into our lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Typically, raingardens contain deep-rooted native perennial-plants that require little maintenance and can thrive without fertilizer or pesticides.

Iron Range Earth Fest

The following is adapted from the website above.

The Iron Range Partnership for Sustainability hosts an annual Earth Fest celebration of local traditions and practical resources for sustainable living on the Iron Range of Northeastern Minnesota.  The event offers opportunities to:

- Explore options for living more sustainably in our homes and communities, our economy and our environment

- Learn about new and existing technological approaches as well as rediscover some long-standing local traditions

- Tap into the knowledge of cutting-edge experts as well as local indigenous knowledge through exhibits, demonstrations, speakers and vendors

- Showcase local products, services, foods, entertainment, and wilderness

Earth Fest 2013 is happening Saturday, April 6, 2013, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mt. Iron Community Center, Messiah Lutheran Church & Merritt Elementary, all located next to one another on Hwy 169 in Mt. Iron, MN.

Cost: Under 18 – FREE; Over 18 - $2

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

Metro CERT Spring Resource & Networking Event

The following is adapted from the website above.

Metro Clean Energy Resource Team is celebrating its 6th year of connecting communities to resources at an event on April 17th, 4-8 PM, at the Science Museum in St. Paul. Come hear about Metro CERT’s work and exciting energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, and find out how you can work to reduce your energy footprint. 


Electric Vehicles in Minnesota: Jukka Kukkonen, PlugInConnect

Wright-Hennepin Community Solar: Steve Nisbet, Wright-Hennepin Electric Cooperative.

Metro CERT Affiliate Action: Jen McLoughlin, City of Woodbury

Year in Review: Diana McKeown, Metro CERT Director

The program will be followed by a resource fair, cash bar, light appetizers, and networking.

The event is FREE, but registration is required. For more information or to register, visit the website above.

Gardening Matters - Local Food Resource Hub Memberships Now Open

Registration is now open for Twin Cities residents who are interested in joining their local neighborhood gardening network, where they can connect with other gardeners and get access to low-cost seeds and plants.

This is the third year of the Local Food Resource Hubs program. The Hubs are designed to provide household gardeners and community gardeners the tools and education they need to grow, preserve, cook and compost their own fresh produce by offering supplies, classes and connections. Hubs benefit neighborhoods by increasing community connection and increasing access to healthy food.

Four Hubs have been established in Minneapolis: North Minneapolis, South Minneapolis, Phillips/Ventura Village, and Northeast/Southeast Minneapolis, and three Hubs will be active in St. Paul this year: Midway, East Side, and West 7th/West Side. The East Side and W. 7th/West Side Hubs are new this year!

Members will pick up their seeds and seedlings at their local Hub’s distribution events this spring. Small garden packages include 10 packets of seed and 12 seedlings, medium garden packages include 20 packets of seeds and 24 seedlings, and large garden packages include 40 packs of seeds and 72 seedlings. Seed distributions are scheduled for various weekends in March or April, and all Hubs’ plants will be distributed May 18. Gardening classes, skill shares, and social events will also be scheduled throughout the year in each neighborhood. More information about distribution events will be sent to members and will be available at

Residents can join a Local Food Resource Hub and select one of four types of membership. Prices vary and scholarships are available. Memberships are available on a first-come, first-served basis. To reserve a membership spot, residents can contact Gardening Matters at 612-821-2358, download the membership form (in English, Spanish, or Hmong), or sign up online at

If questions or for more information, contact Nadja Berneche, Gardening Matters, 612-821-2358 or

Conservation Innovation Grants

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has announced the availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies.  NRCS anticipates that the amount available for support of this program in FY 2013 will be up to $25 million.

The purpose of CIG is to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies, while leveraging the Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection in conjunction with agricultural production. CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches into NRCS policy, technical manuals, guides, and references, or to the private sector.

Applications are requested from eligible governmental or non-governmental organizations or individuals for competitive consideration of grant awards for projects between one and three years in duration.

Funds will be awarded through a two-phase nationwide competitive grants process that will include (1) a pre-proposal process and (2) a full proposal process. The full proposal process will only be open to applicants whose pre-proposal applications are selected by NRCS.

For FY 2013, NRCS will consider Mississippi River Basin Category pre-proposals for projects that will be conducted within the Mississippi River Basin.

The application deadline for pre-proposals is April 1, 2013. For more information on the program, see (click on Financial Assistance).

Sustainable Community Engagement Fund

The following is adapted from the webpage above.

The Minnesota Housing Partnership's Sustainable Community Engagement Fund (SCEF) helps communities develop sustainably by linking affordable housing to transportation, jobs, and services.  SCEF encourages collaboration and a comprehensive planning approach to address local affordable housing needs.

SCEF awardees have access to direct technical assistance, thereby helping them to become strong, successful affordable housing providers.

To be eligible, projects must be located outside the seven-county Twin Cities metro area and Duluth. The maximum grant amount is $10,000 and requires, at minimum, a 1:1 match.

Remaining application due dates in 2013 are April 29, June 24, and August 26.

See the program guidelines at the webpage above for more information on eligibility and funding criteria.

SARE Professional Development Grant Program

The following is adapted from the website above.

The NCR-SARE  Professional Development Grant Program call for pre-proposals is now available. Pre-proposals must be submitted by 4pm CDT on May 16, 2013.

The North Central Region SARE (NCR-SARE) Professional Development Grant Program supports state professional development programs and competitive grants for training agricultural professionals.

Professional Development Program (PDP) competitive grants emphasize training agricultural educators in extension, Natural Resources Conservation Service, private and not-for-profit sectors, using farmers as educators and addressing emerging issues in the farm community.


  • Professional Development Program awards range from $30,000 to $75,000
  • Projects may last up to 36 months.
  • About 5-10 projects are funded each year.

Applicants are educators who often represent, but are not limited to, Extension, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and non-profit groups.

PDP competitive grants are awarded for state and multi-state PDP projects that emphasize cross-agency training, using farmers as educators and addressing emerging issues in the farm community.

For more information, visit the website above.


For more details as well as other positions, see

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association: Executive Director (deadline March 26)

Cycles for Change: Public Relations and Community Organizing Assistant (deadline March 26)

Conservation Corps MN and IA: Home Energy Squad Members (deadline April 12)

Friends of the Parks and Trails of St. Paul and Ramsey County: Executive Director (deadline April 15)

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board: Assistant Superintendent for Environmental Stewardship - Operations (deadline April 16)

Becker County: Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator (deadline April 19)

Fresh Energy: Communications Associate (open until filled)


Vadnais Lake Area Water Management Organization: Summer Watershed Intern (paid; deadline April 3)


For more details as well as other events, see

Sustainable Tuesdays: Celebration of World Water Day, March 26, Bemidji, MN

Ensia Live: Energy Expert Peggy Liu, March 27, Minneapolis, MN

Farm to Cafeteria Workshop, April 3, Staples, MN

International Biomass Conference and Expo, April 8-10, Minneapolis, MN

Workshop: Native Plants, Rain Gardens and Lawn Care for Water Quality, April 10, St. Paul, MN

Ensia Live: Global Architect Peter Williams, April 11, Minneapolis, MN

Commissioners Forum: Environmental Priorities in 2013, April 12, St. Paul, MN

Hennepin County Fix-It Clinic at South Mpls Housing Fair, April 13, Minneapolis, MN

Photovoltaics 101, April 13, White Bear Lake, MN

The Truth About Organic Gardening, April 15, Maplewood, MN

Saint Cloud Area Sustainability Expo, April 21, St. Cloud, MN

Careers in Renewable Energy, April 27, White Bear Lake, MN

Not Just for Scientists Anymore: Why the Public Should Care About the Connection Between Groundwater and Lakes, Streams and Wetlands, May 1, St. Paul, MN

About the NextStep e-newsletter and MnSCN

 This email newsletter is sent today to 3506 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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