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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Learn - Four Actions for Citizen Engagement

Civic engagement and participatory process can take many different shapes. All involve citizens at some level. Matt Hall has developed a tool that could be helpful for evaluating engagement efforts.

Visit the image and explanation to learn about four easy questions you can ask to define and measure citizen engagement efforts.

Photo credit flickr user nasa_goddard

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Give to the Max Day - Support community leadership!

Give to the Max Day, Minnesota's annual giving extravaganza, is November 12. You can support Extension Leadership Programs by visiting the University's giving portal at and choosing to "Give Now." By using the University's site, know that 100% of your gift will go to support the program of your choice  - there are no administrative fees!

Extension Leadership Funds include the Patricia and Francis Buschette Leadership Fund (statewide support) and the Vijay Sethi Leadership Fund (northwest Minnesota support).

If you have questions about Give to the Max, or about giving any time through the year, contact Jane Johnson, Extension development director.

To learn more about how gifts to Extension research and education can make a difference in Minnesota, visit the Donate to Extension website.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Opportunity - Grants for rural and greater Minnesota

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits recently highlighted a number of grants available through their Grants Alert email (if you would like to receive it, you can sign up for it here).

Two grants specifically targeted rural areas and small towns across Minnesota. They include:

Monday, October 26, 2015

Event Recap - Southwest and Southease Minnesota Water Quality Summit on Civic Engagement

On October 15, 39 water quality professionals from across Southeast and Southwest Minnesota gathered together in Mankato to go deeper into their civic engagement practice. Examining civic engagement as defined in Extension's model, the two facilitators for the day provided examples of participatory practices that have worked to engage the public in improving water quality.

Dr. Ryan Atwell, currently with the National Park Service at Yellowstone as their Social Science Coordinator, shared his experience in using social science and civic engagement techniques to change land practices to improve water quality. His research highlights the layers of social complexity that layer on top of the ecological complexity, necessitating an engaged approach. He advocated for a style of work that allows community members to build a dream together rather than being forced to adopt a pre-determined plan.  Dr. Atwell posed the question that if research suggests adoption of new practices is based primarily on subjective values and social norms diffused through interpersonal networks, what does that mean for the work of water quality specialists?

Extension educator Tobias Spanier reinforced those lessons with an overview of different levels of participation, referencing the Spectrum created by the International Association of Public Participation. He led participants through an activity to depict their engagement with people in their watershed and place it on the spectrum. He wrapped his time by providing participants with a Strategic Doing tool for use with community so that the community can collectively own the work that needs to be done to improve water quality.

At the end of the day, participants left the event with a vision for what civic engagement might look like in their watersheds. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Learn - Tips for Effective Online Participantion

Going Viral presentation - 7 minute highlight reel from IAP2 2015 from MetroQuest on Vimeo.

When embedding civic engagement into your approach to work, it is important that the public can participate through a number of avenues. Dave Biggs here lays out eight practices that have led to successful participation. The video is only seven minutes long so check it out!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Learn - Non-Traditional Leadership: Pictures of Impacts

This post is the third in a series of three detailing the learning and reflections I experienced during Creating Space XII - a conference focused on learning from non-traditional leaders. The first can be found here and the second here.

Only so much can be said about the work of non-traditional leaders. The impacts and tangible results of non-traditional leaders' work speak for themselves. This last post includes pictures from different parts of Detroit, showing the changes and impacts non-traditional leaders are making across their community.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Learn - Non-traditional Leadership: Support

This post is the second in a series of three detailing the learning and reflections I experienced during Creating Space XII - a conference focused on learning from non-traditional leaders. The remaining post in this series will arrive next week. The first can be found here.

Passion drives non-traditional leaders to work collectively to create impact from the grassroots up. They frequently face challenges to their work. Several non-traditional leaders at the conference spoke confidently that they and their communities have the inner capacities and resolve to be successful. At the same time, the question lingered - What kind of supports do non-traditional leaders self-identify as wanting and needing?

As conversations continued throughout the event, the responses sorted into internal and external responses. Non-traditional leaders were quick to share that many of the passions and emotions that drive their work like anger, a desire for justice, and pride leave them feeling burned out over time. The need for self-care came up as a response. This didn't mean better work-life balance or time with family. For those that have faced transgenerational or  historical trauma and still deal with the effects daily, non-traditional leaders spoke about self-care in terms of healing. Jah'Shams Abdul-Mu'mim describes healing as a chance to transform the pain and hurt from trauma into strength. So "it is not healing versus pain; it is healing through our pain." Healing emphasizes the need to acknowledge and process emotions.

Allen Frimpong, an organizer for #blacklivesmatter nyc, talked about how healing is essential for him because the personal is the political. The healthier he is the healthier his leadership is and the healthier his community is.

For external support, non-traditional leaders were clear about the number one interest - connections and networks. Some spoke about this as being able to access the influence not available in their own networks. Others discussed the desire to have a community of other non-traditional leaders to be present to one another in mutual support. Non-traditional leader Billy Hebron saw connections as an access to resources. He and his partner Jerry started a community garden to provide healthy vegetables to neighborhood residents when the local groceries left their neighborhood. They were able to triple the size the of the garden when grant money provided them the opportunity to build two greenhouses.

Samantha Magdaleno, an organizer and educator, talked about the needs for funders or institutions to loosen up if they want to work with non-traditional leaders. "If you want non-traditional leaders, you have to be prepared for mistakes and you have to be prepared to let go." Other non-traditional leaders echoed this in the conference. On a panel talking about measuring the impacts of non-traditional leaders, Dr. Ebony Roberts said it was key that the communities get to define what success is.

Another external support that non-traditional leaders were unified in desiring external partners and funders who encourage non-traditional leaders and communities to exercise their own voices. Where issues of race were concerned, non-traditional leaders of color spoke of tension with white allies when the white allies wanted to insert their voices in places where voices of color should be present.

So what will support look like in your community?

Come back next week for the third part of this series examining some additional reflections and learning regarding non-traditional leaders.
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