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, but is not strictly limited to, activities in the following counties: 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.
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.
Southwest Minnesota’s Hmong community is making plans to put down roots in a new community center. With local organization Project Uniting Southwest Hmong (PUSH) leading the way, in partnership with SWRSDP and the College of Design’s Center for Sustainable Building Research, residents developed a clear vision for a community gathering space that celebrates Hmong culture in the region.
Southwest RSDP provided fruit and nut-bearing perennials and supplies for the installation of a food forest and demonstration buffer strip in Luverne. The plantings are part of the volunteer-run Prairie Ally Outdoor Center and were completed in partnership with Gary Wyatt, Extension forestry educator. Learn more about options for productive buffers from Extension’s forestry team.
Water resources are at the heart of western Minnesota’s landscape. Southwest RSDP partnered with Bonanza Education Center and other partners to make possible “Big Stone Lake Stories,” a free summer camp that combined art, science, music, and GIS technology with water exploration for youth.
Learn more about projects supported by Southwest RSDP in our storymap.
You might be interested in these happenings and reports from the Southwest RSDP:
“Power of Minnesota” is a documentary that highlights clean energy development across Minnesota. Clean Energy Resource Teams hosted a film screening and community conversation in Canby.
A new master plan titled "Southwest Hmong Community Center: Tsev Njeeb on the Prairie," presents a vision for a new community center based on input from Hmong residents and other community members in Tracy and Walnut Grove.
Opportunities for cost-savings and carbon reductions are highlighted in this report by Ever-Green Energy, a District Energy Feasibility Briefing developed for University of Minnesota Morris and partners.
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.
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