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Thread: Semi-political campus organization looking to influence town move to sustainability

  1. #1
    May 2006
    Chicago, Illinois

    Semi-political campus organization looking to influence town move to sustainability

    I have recently become involved in our Campus Greens club, which is loosly affiliated with the Green Party of Minnesota, it's more like we exude the same principles. Our plan for this year is to focus on Sustainability, particularlyin the school and town. We are located in rural Minnesota, and the school has been around for 150 yrs, the town for 100. Obviously they were once self sustaining. Now the school and attached monestary/abby imports most of it goods and the town does a lot of buisiness and shopping in nearby Saint Cloud (15min away). The town also has an increasing amount of sprawl style housing. We're planning on campaigning the students to shop more at the local grocery store than the store in St. Cloud by comparing prices and adding in gas and time. Also pushing for the local grocery store to buy more from local farmers. With the school itself (actually themselves, two schools acting as one) we currently occasionally have a "local food day". We're going to to push for monthy, weekly, and eventually constant local foods only in the cafeterias. We'll probably fight for bike racks in the old downtown but we don't know how to make a push for the town to redevelope the old downtown rather than continue to put strip malls and giant properties on the county highway into St. Cloud. What idea's does anyone have?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    May 2005
    New Town
    These are exciting ideas and I am glad to see the school addressing it with such fervor. Its good not to be too jaded in undertaking projects like this. I think you will need to put a lot of effort into establishing alliances with individuals and groups in the town by finding common points of concern, though. Otherwise, you run the risk of alienating this population who may view you all as "do-gooder, priveliged college kids" and thereby reject your good ideas outright. This should be a big priority.

    As far as downtown revitalization, have you looked into your state's Mainstreet program? It will take a lot of effort to turn the tide on this stuff and the national program at least has a proven track record of successful approaches to reviving downtown cores. Here is the national site:

    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  3. #3
    Aug 2005
    Funky Town, CO.
    The main street program is an excellent place to start. You don't have to be an official "main street" to use their ideas. You don't have to use all their ideas, just the ones that are managable by your group and/or volunteers. There may even be a state office or a main street town near-by that you could visit or at least talk to.

    Farmer's markets are often included in any traditional small downtown promotion. If there isn't one already, you might organize and manage a local farmers' market. It seems to follow your group's current trend of promoting local food and it puts local money in the hands of the local growers.

    Best of luck and remember the issues you are trying to address didn't happen over night and they don't get fix very quickly either. Even professional organizations take years or even decades to turn a declining central business district around. Measure your success with small victories and celebrate them.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    Sadly, the "official" Main Street Program in Minnesota bit the dust, and is being sustained by those communities who were members. There is no support from the state.

    I'd like to congratulate you on taking measures which are not merely student radicalism, but are logical, attainable goals. Sell them on improving scjool/local relationships and the economic advantage of implementing these goals. Nobody can argue that it is a bad thing to spend more money locally.
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