Community Based Research (CBR): Community Assistantship Program Reports

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    Solar Thermal ROI Calculator
    (2022-08) Mathy, Tanner
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    LaCrescent Food Forest Concept Development
    (University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, 2023-05) Handeen, Daniel; Leberecht, Chris
    A community-based design process by and for the City of La Crescent, MN
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    Safe Drinking Water at the Kitchen Tap
    (University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP), and Minnesota Well Owners Organization (MNWOO), 2023-05) Castillo-Castillo, Adriana
    Ensuring good quality drinking water for Minnesota households through private wells requires both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Throughout this graduate assistantship (Summer 2022 and Spring 2023), we compiled existing information from Minnesota Well Owners Organization (MNWOO), with existing data sources such as American Community Survey to better understand water quality and access measures throughout the state. With this data, we were able to identify how MNWOO can better incentivize drinking water improvements in Minnesota households and incentivise people to improve their drinking water sources.
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    CornerStone – Youth Entrepreneurship & Programming Research
    (2023-05) Hussein, Dalila
    The CornerStone Youth Entrepreneurship research project studied models of youth centers promoting entrepreneurship in the Midwest specifically, and the United States generally to design a youth center model suitable for Frazee's youth and community needs. The research is driven by the community's desire to address the high incidence of depression, hopelessness, and suicidal intentions among Frazee's youth, as well as the lack of secure and supportive spaces outside of school for youth to spend time together. The research project has established several goals and objectives, including conducting a literature review of youth entrepreneurship and programming models, researching successful youth programming models in Minnesota and beyond, and identifying appropriate programming models for CornerStone based on the community's needs assessment. The project recognizes the importance of youth entrepreneurship in empowering young people, improving their self-belief, fostering positive connections with mentors, and promoting positive life outcomes. Through primary and secondary tools, the research investigated the three main components at CornerStone: the youth program, the makerspace, and the retail and gift shop. Preliminary findings suggest that youth programs in Minnesota have diverse focus areas, including arts and culture, entrepreneurship, and capacity development. These programs often involve peer-to-peer mentorship, promotion of youth ownership and involvement, as well as uplifting their work and creativity. Research findings suggest having an art jury to facilitate the decision making around art exhibition at the gallery for both youth and established artists.
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    Community Heating Feasibility Study
    (2022) Ren, Lifeng
    One hundred sixty Lower Sioux Indian Community households currently use propane as their primary fuel source to heat their homes. To help the families and households reduce the financial burden of utility bills, Lower Sioux Indian Community discussed two options for the future. The first option is adding a natural gas line to the community to which each house can connect. The second option is to upgrade the homes’ heating and cooling systems by installing cold climate air source heat pumps (ccASHPs). In this study, we hope to analyze the feasibility of each option, especially considering the uniqueness of the Lower Sioux Indian Community.
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    Empowering Women to Lead Conference Evaluation
    (2023-01) Hands, Busisiwe
    The Empowering Women to Lead Conference was held on September 16, 2022, at the Northern Lights Casino in Walker, Minnesota. It was hosted by the GFWC Nevis Women’s Club in partnership with various sponsors from north-central Minnesota. The main objectives of the conference were: ● To expose rural women to women leaders, role models and potential mentors ● To provide rural women with the opportunity to form new friendships and networks ● To support women in validating themselves while also being presented with new ideas on how to advance ● To serve as a catalyst for future women’s services and development initiatives in rural Minnesota
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    Multilingual Journalism Course Evaluation
    (2022-05) Hussein, Dalila
    In Willmar, Minnesota, almost one-third of the population comes from the non-native-English-speaking community. The immigrant population is challenged by having an equitable access to information in their native languages. Ridgewater College and Mid-Minnesota Development Commission joined forces to propose the Multilingual Journalism Program to increase the availability of native language communication by equipping leaders with journalistic skills in collecting, producing and disseminating information. A pilot round of the Multilingual Journalism Course was conducted in March and April 2022. A quantitative and qualitative evaluation used data points from course graduates, potential course participants and the program team to identify findings related to recruitment, participant satisfaction and content and delivery.
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    100 in 100: Summer Convenings
    (The Regents of the University of Minnesota, 2021-08) Anderson, Delaine
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    100 in 100: A Learning Tour of 100 Rural Women
    (The Regents of the University of Minnesota, 2021-06) Stower, Kathryn
    This is a co-publication of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, and 100 Rural Women. Project funding was provided by the University of Minnesota’s CURA Compact Fund, and the Mary J. Page Community-University Partnership Fund. The Community Assistantship Program (CAP) is a cross-college, cross-campus University of Minnesota initiative coordinated by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) and the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP). The content of this report is the responsibility of the author and is not necessarily endorsed by CAP, CURA, RSDP or the University of Minnesota. The Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership brings together local talent and resources with University of Minnesota knowledge to drive sustainability in agriculture and food systems, tourism and resilient communities, natural resources and clean energy. The Partnerships are part of University of Minnesota Extension. 100 Rural Women serves and supports rural women by identifying, connecting and creating relationships, models of networking, leadership, mentorship and civic engagement.
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    Access to SOAR: Final Report
    (The Regents of the University of Minnesota, 2022-01) Register, Tessa
    This is a co-publication of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), the Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, and the Friends of Tamarac. Project funding was provided by the Mary J. Page Community-University Partnership Fund. The Community Assistantship Program (CAP) is a cross-college, cross-campus University of Minnesota initiative coordinated by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) and the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP). The content of this report is the responsibility of the author and is not necessarily endorsed by CAP, CURA, RSDP or the University of Minnesota. Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships bring together local talent and resources with University of Minnesota knowledge to drive sustainability in agriculture and food systems, tourism and resilient communities, natural resources and clean energy. The Partnerships are part of University of Minnesota Extension. Tamarac Refuge lies in the heart of one of the most diverse transition zones in North America. Here Eastern deciduous hardwoods, Northern coniferous forests and Western tall grass prairie converge, creating a rich assemblage of both plants and animals. Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge was established as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife by Executive Order 7902, dated May 31, 1938. The Friends of Tamarac sponsor educational programs and events, build observation platforms and pathways, generate thousands of grant dollars for water quality and habitat projects, host a popular nature photography contest, and so much more. They are an advocate for wildlife refuges and passionate about protecting wild places for generations.
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    Understanding Minnesota's Wool Economy
    (2022-02) Johnson, Lily
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    Intergenerational Village, Slayton, MN
    (2020) Atha, Rajeev; Singh, Virajita
    This project, led by the non-profit organization Operation Prairie Venture (OPV) and partners, envisions an intergenerational village in Slayton, Minnesota with independent and assisted living options, community engagement spaces, and other amenities, including a childcare center. Working with other partners in Murray County and beyond, it aims to establish an intergenerational village that offers residences for older adults, assisted living, memory care, and a childcare center.
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    Moorhead Asset/Networking Mapping Project
    (2021) Harsch, Trey
    The Moorhead Asset/Network Mapping Project occurred over a three month period during the summer of 2021. In cooperation with Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), the Moorhead Asset/Network Mapping Project was able to provide the Moorhead Community Resilience Task Force with a better picture of the organizations, resources, and networks in the community through the creation of asset maps and a network connections map. The Moorhead Community Resilience Task Force consists of 21 organizations working to determine how to best increase Moorhead's resilience in the face of climate impacts. Supported by a Bush Foundation Community Innovation grant, the Task Force aims to create a community that can anticipate, adapt, and flourish in our changing world.
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    Feasibility Report: Electric Vehicle Car-Sharing Program for Use by Low and Mid Income Communities in North-Central Minnesota, USA
    (2021) Johnson, Lily
    Carsharing programs have been developed and improved by researchers and scientists throughout the past few decades and have developed into a viable alternative vehicle-use method. Carsharing reduces the need for private vehicle ownership, in turn reducing vehicle purchase and maintenance costs to individuals and families. According to one program study in New York, through replacing routine personal car trips with use of a carshare program, families saved an average of $154 to $435 per month. These cost benefits are true across the board, but are especially present when considering rural mileage. Electric carsharing programs have begun emerging over the past decade, which save users money otherwise spent on fuel, as well as reduce environmental impact through the use of electric zero-emission vehicles. Now is an important time to pay attention to electric vehicles, as they are quickly integrating into consumer culture with the current Presidential administration announcing a plan to implement 500,000 L3 chargers nationally in the next decade . Currently, the state of Minnesota currently has 1,192 publicly available charging sites. Nearly 35% of the region has either one or zero vehicle access. Nearly 35% of the population is a cost-burden household (30% of income goes toward rent/housing payment). Including over 50% of renters. 13% of Beltrami County citizens live in severely cost burdened households (when 50% or more of income goes toward rent/housing payment). 43% of Bemidji, last of the 99 largest MN cities, in cost burden households. Cost burden results in less money available for transportation; less transportation results in a reduced quality of life. Reducing the barriers to access of sufficient transportation is important, especially because rural communities can be ‘left behind’ in technological advancement. This feasibility study investigates the possibility for the implementation of an electric rural vehicle sharing program in north central Minnesota. Included in this study are potential operation models, funding models, and implementation recommendations. A graduate researcher from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities conducted this feasibility study in cooperation with the Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (RSDP) through the University of Minnesota Extension, and the Headwaters Regional Development Commission (HRDC) staff. The HRDC is a quasi-government agency that serves communities in the counties of Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Lake of The Woods, and Mahnomen. The study will be a product for the Headwaters Regional Transportation Coordination Council, a MnDOT funded program to improve accessibility and mobility for transportation disadvantaged individuals. RSDP Supports localized sustainability projects through the partnerships of communities and the University of Minnesota. Energy resources have been provided through Clean Energy Resource Teams, an organization committed to helping increase energy sustainability in Minnesota. Research methods included collecting information and data from similar studies, conducting internet surveys, and conducting informational interviews with industry professionals and community members.
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    Farmers Market Relocation and Expansion: A Community-Based Process by and for the City of Austin, MN
    (2021-03) Handeen, Daniel; Hughey, Mathias
    A farmers market has operated for many years in Austin, even though it has changed locations, sizes, and organizational structure numerous times over the years. Austin residents identify many positive attributes of the farmers market, including access to local foods and being able to support local farmers and businesses. However, there is opportunity to expand the size of facilities, variety of offerings, and diversity of activities. Survey results indicate that respondents would like to see a greater variety of products and vendors, different or more operating hours, and entertainment and educational opportunities. This document outlines process and outcomes of an effort that sought to engage citizens and stakeholders in the community of Austin to help explore, envision, and shape the possibilities of what a larger farmers market development could become.
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    Lake of the Woods Solid Waste Policy Report
    (2020-08) Krause, Lindsey
    Research was conducted for Lake of the Woods County to find policy solutions for the budgetary deficits the county solid waste system and emergency services received in winter of 2020. The deficits were due to the record high solid waste collected and emergency service calls received during the season. Lake of the Woods, a popular ice fishing destination in the county, received record-high traffic due to more favorable ice conditions compared to other lakes further south. A literature search, meetings, a survey, and interviews were all used to gather data on the issue. Three policy options were created from findings: including sleeper houses in unit counts and prorating for winter, requiring all resorts and ice road operators to have dumpsters for customers, and issuing permits for wheelhouses on Lake of the Woods. Policy options were qualitatively analyzed with SWOT analyses and compared to one another. These options were presented to the county board who discussed them briefly after the presentation. It was recommended that the county waits at least one more season before beginning any new policy implementation.
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    The Case for Low-Income Solar: Exploring the Obstacles to Solar for LMI Households and Potential Opportunities to Advance Access
    (2020-08) Phua, Peiyu
    Solar energy — most people would associate it with the wealthy or people who are particularly concerned with the environment. So when they hear the term low-income solar power, they balk at the idea, thinking “what business do low-income families have with solar power?” But after extensive research and interviews with experts and stakeholders in the industry, it is evident that low-income solar is not just about increasing the accessibility of renewable energy; it is part of a broader solution to achieving environmental justice and economic equity in the United States.
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    Taking Advantage of this Moment and Opportunity
    (2020) Reno, Emily
    This project was supported by RSDP (Regional Sustainable Development Partnership). With the help of a graduate student from the University of Minnesota, Agua Gorda Cooperative undertook a project from February to May of 2020 with the following objectives: 1. Research and develop a market analysis for Cooperativa Agua Gorda’s local produce. 2. Develop a marketing plan for the Cooperative identifying opportunities for establishing and growing business partnerships. 3. Outline Cooperativa Agua Gorda’s key network opportunities and recommendations for Central Minnesota region. The motivation for this project came from seeking other options to sell Agua Gorda’s products in and around Long Prairie, Minnesota. We used a 60 mile radius to determine the region for our market analysis and the following question to guide the research project: How can Agua Gorda Cooperative use a marketing strategy and a regional market analysis to illustrate the value of their farm to the community, build partnerships with stakeholders, and take advantage of the social and capital resources available to farmers in the region?