The University of Minnesota Extension Southwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (Southwest RSDP) is a community-driven board of directors working with community members across the region to create and sustain healthy ecosystems, strong local economies and vibrant, self-reliant rural towns.
Southwest RSDP launches education and research that help people understand and achieve sustainability across southwestern Minnesota. We support projects that demonstrate public purpose and build partnerships with residents of the region, and link these projects to local assets and University of Minnesota research and educational resources.
The Southwest region includes the counties of Big Stone, Brown, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Douglas, Grant, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, McLeod, Meeker, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Pope, Redwood, Sibley, Renville, Rock, Stevens, Swift, Traverse, Watonwan and Yellow Medicine, and shares geography with the Upper Sioux and Lower Sioux sovereign Native nations.
Southwest RSDP has been serving rural Minnesota for two decades. From 1998 through 2011, the West Central RSDP operated as a 12-county region. The geographic region was expanded in 2012 to include all counties in the southwest part of Minnesota, and the program renamed Southwest RSDP. New members of the board of directors were elected to represent the newly included counties.
The Mary J. Page Community-University Partnerships Fund honors former Olivia Mayor, Renville County Commissioner and University of Minnesota Regent Mary Page for her contributions to community-driven sustainability projects across Southwest Minnesota and beyond. Mary helped create, and then served on, the founding board of the West Central RSDP from 1999-2007, and gave statewide leadership to RSDP until 2009.
A traditional wata, or Dakota dugout canoe, was carved this summer at the Lower Sioux Community near Redwood Falls, with support of Southwest RSDP. The work was done in partnership with Micronesian community members from the western Minnesota town of Milan. Both the Dakota culture and the Micronesian culture have traditions of building and navigating watercraft. Read more in Willmar’s West Central Tribune.
This fall, collaboration between the Center for Small Towns and Southwest RSDP is making it possible for five University of Minnesota - Morris students to work on community-driven projects. Two students are working to identify resources for community members who want to revitalize underutilized spaces in small towns. Two students are documenting developable properties in the region. One student is creating communication strategies for a community meals program. Partners on the projects include the Department of Public Transformation, Upper Minnesota Regional Development Commission, the Montevideo Community Meal, and others.
MNYou Youth Gardens in Willmar wants to understand the unique demands of building and operating a Deep Winter Greenhouse in a non-farm setting. With the support of Southwest RSDP, University of Minnesota graduate student Zoe Masterpole is in the process of responding to MNYou’s questions by researching examples of DWGs run by nonprofits, educational institutions, and coalitions. Look for a report on Zoe’s findings this winter.
Learn more about projects supported by Southwest RSDP in our storymap.
What's your idea?
Southwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership is open for sustainable development project ideas through February 14, 2020.
Southwest RSDP supports local innovation by connecting community ideas to University of Minnesota knowledge and seed funding. Community members work on diverse project teams that research, design and plan local sustainability projects with University students, faculty and staff.
Happenings and reports from the Southwest RSDP:
- Board members and work group members from Clinton to St. James and from Pipestone to Hutchinson gathered in Clara City in November for SWRSDP’s annual priority-setting meeting. People involved in all five of the Southwest region’s work groups (Local Foods/Sustainable Ag, Natural Resources, Resilient Communities, Southwest CERT Steering Committee, and West Central CERT Steering Committee) joined together to share ideas and develop priorities for Southwest RSDP in 2020. The resulting priorities will be incorporated in early 2020 as SWRSDP seeks new ideas for projects.
- A team including Southwest RSDP staff is looking at the market for Halal and Kosher meats in Minnesota. The project’s goal is to outline the current market scope, as well as market segmentation, growth trends, and potential for expansion within the region, with the ultimate goal of supporting Minnesota farmers and consumers. The project is being led by the University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and AURI. Stay tuned for a report to be published this autumn.
Project ideas are submitted to one or more of RSDP’s regional boards based on the location of the project. These project ideas are reviewed based on the following shared criteria. Southwest RSDP encourages idea submissions by February 10 for the following fiscal year period of July 1 to June 30.
- Community members identify project goals in one or more of the four RSDP sustainable development focus areas.
- The project involves meaningful roles for both local community members and University of Minnesota faculty, staff and/or students.
- The project engages diverse populations and advances new community collaborations.
- The project supports environmental, social and economic sustainability for public purpose or benefit. Project learning or actions will be shared.
- Community partners provide leadership and support throughout the life of the project.
- Priority may be given to projects that leverage funds or other contributions.
Southwest RSDP board members
- David Benson, firstname.lastname@example.org - Bigelow, MN
- Jodi DeJong-Hughes, email@example.com - Willmar, MN
- DeeAnn Gieseke, firstname.lastname@example.org - Sleepy Eye, MN
- Sara Gronfeld, email@example.com - Graceville, MN
- Kathryn Kelly, firstname.lastname@example.org - Olivia, MN
- Eric L'Abbé, email@example.com - Worthington, MN
- David Lieser, firstname.lastname@example.org - Montevideo, MN
- Linda Meschke, email@example.com - Fairmont, MN
- Cheyanne St. John, firstname.lastname@example.org - Morton, MN
- Sean (Xiong) Xang, email@example.com - Walnut Grove, MN
- Becky Yust, firstname.lastname@example.org - St. Paul, MN