Bob Backman, a member of the University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) Statewide Coordinating Committee (SCC) and Northwest RSDP Board of Directors, has had an interesting life. I (Elizabeth) always enjoy listening to people’s stories when I interview them, and I was amazed by the variety of things Backman has done.
Lake Pepin is the endpoint of the most polluted stretch of the Mississippi River in the state. Nearly 1 million tons of sediment are deposited each year, primarily from the Minnesota River. Sedimentation rates are 10 times higher than they were 150 years ago, and by the end of the century the entire upper end of Lake Pepin will be completely filled if no restorative efforts occur.
In June 2016 a new user manual on solar thermal heating became publicly available. The manual explains how pool facilities can use RETScreen, a free software program that helps businesses learn whether it would be feasible to use solar power to heat pools.
RSDP is excited to welcome Mary Hannemann onto the team. Hannemann is the Sustainability Education Project Coordinator for the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment (IonE). Because of this new partnership, she is currently spending a quarter of her time working with RSDP to help us work with students more effectively.
A team of University students led by Louis Mielke, through the club Students for Sustainability, created the West Bank Community Garden right in the heart of the urban West Bank campus. In addition to local, healthy food, the garden provides educational opportunities, pollinator habitat and connections to a broader partnership throughout the area.
A town's grocery store is the root of its community, supplying local jobs and serving as a resource beyond job creation. Small town grocery stores are the town meeting place, they're the cheerleaders of the school and community events, and they both serve and purchase from other businesses in the community, recirculating local dollars.
To Connie Carlson, relationships are everything. Whether she’s traveling the state for the University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) or serving on a community board at home in Buffalo, she builds connections between people.
In his bestselling book Last Child in the Woods (2008), author Richard Louv spotlighted a phenomenon he called "nature-deficit disorder." Co-founder of the Children & Nature Network, Louv maintains that exposure to our natural world is integral to healthy childhood development and emotional and physical well-being. As Louv writes, "a growing body of research links our mental, physical, and spiritual health directly to our association with nature - in positive ways," yet at the same time children are spending less time in their natural surroundings.