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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Join the Center for Community Vitality Team!

The Center for Community Vitality is looking for a new team member!  We are currently seeing a half-time web production assistant to join our energetic communication team.  In this role you will work with a variety of people throughout the Center to create web content that engages stakeholders and the public to learn about the different types of work we do.  To learn more about the position visit  The Center for Community Vitality is a fun and committed group of people working to help communities choose their future.  Be part of this exciting work and apply today!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Statistics in the Community

Do you know the benefits of statistical consulting?  Statisticians have helped large businesses and organizations make decisions to guide programs and development for many years by studying trends and developing surveys that gather the right data.  This is a resource that small communities and organizations need but typically can’t afford.  The University of Minnesota Chapter of Statistics in the Community (STATCOM) can change that.  STATCOM is a student-run volunteer organization endorsed and supported by University of Minnesota’s School of Statistics.  Its mission is to provide free statistical consulting to local non-profit, governmental, and community service organizations, by engaging students in voluntary, service-oriented statistical consulting and leadership.  STATCOM will connect your group to a team of Master and PhD students or other volunteer statisticians who are mentored by professors in the School of Statistics and other departments within the University of Minnesota.  STATCOM can assist your organization or community in making better decisions with data, designing surveys or experiments that get you the information you want, evaluate the effectiveness of programs or campaigns, or learn how to maximize resources.  They have been involved with many great projects that have benefited a variety of organizations.  To learn more about how to create a partnership with STATCOM visit their website.  

Friday, August 5, 2016

Data Tools for Starting Community Development Conversations in Your Community

Have you ever wanted to open a conversation about the potential development opportunities in your community, but lacked data that supports your idea? Below are a few data resources that could help trigger conversations in your community regarding its future. They are very broadly grouped into tools that can be used to start conversations about health, workforce and resident recruitment, and poverty and income issues in your community. The best way to start these conversations is to take a data point from one of these resources and ask your local elected officials if they are aware of that statistic. If they were not aware of it, the next step is to ask what could be done to increase awareness about it or address it.  If you are a public official, you can bring these data points to the attention of your fellow officials or staff to initiate conversations about the results.

The important thing to remember though is that once you start the conversation, don’t let it stop. The more people think and converse about an issue, the more likely a solution can be found. Another thing to keep in mind is that these data points can be tracked over time and used monitor progress towards envisioned change. The sources for much of this data are federal or state agencies like the U.S. Census, US Bureau of Labor Statistics, or Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. To facilitate more in-depth conversations on these topics or dig deeper into the economic effects of issues in your local community, you can also tap in to the services offered by the Community Economics Program of the University of Minnesota. Whatever your developmental idea is, we hope that the resources provided below can help it blossom into a community conversation that engages your public officials, neighbors and friends as well.

Tools for Health Conversations

(Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

(University of Michigan)

Tools for Workforce, and Resident Recruitment Conversations

(Minnesota Employment and Economic Development)

(US Department of the Interior Indian Affairs)

On The Map - Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics, where do people live who work in your community?)
(United States Census Bureau)

(U.S. Bancorp)

Tools for Poverty and Income Conversations

The Rural Data Portal - Taking stock of People, Poverty, and Housing In Your Community    (Housing Assistance Council)

(National Association of Counties)

(Corporation for Enterprise Development)

(Economic Innovation Group)

Thank you Rani for this great information!  Visit the Community Economics website to learn more about the important work that Rani and her colleagues are doing and how you can use them as resources in your community.  

We will be bringing more guest posts to the LCE Alumni Blog.  If there is a specific topic you are interested in please leave a comment!

Photo credit flickr DouglasDuffield

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Center For Small Towns Connects Communities to Resources

Many times communities and organizations have great ideas but need specific resources to help them move towards action.  University of Minnesota, Morris Center for Small Towns (CST) has the resources and expertise you might be looking for through their Connecting Students and Communities Program.  This program is a joint partnership between the Center for Small Towns and the UMN Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships.  This program assists communities and organizations on community identified issues and projects while creating unique opportunities for University of Minnesota Morris students to engage with and contribute to small communities.   Past projects have addressed a variety of issues including housing, youth development, diversity, arts and culture just to name a few.  To read more about projects that have been completed and get ideas for your community visit the Center For Small Town Community Project Examples page.  The proposal deadline is August 15, 2016 and projects will begin in fall 2016. 

Photo credit flickr Chrissy H 

Monday, August 1, 2016

LEARN - Leading and Following Across Generations

The 2016 Leadership series is coming to a close but we are going to go out with a bang!  Our final three webinars are part of a series that will help us learn how to both lead and follow as we work with people from different generations.  The Leading and Following Across Generations series examines ways to move beyond stereotypes and potential conflict to bridge across generations which can increase creativity, problem solving, and learning.

Webinars are from 8:30 to 10:00 AM (CDT) on the following dates:
  • Friday, September 9 - Lisa Hinz will start the series by exploring the unique mindset, expectations, and work styles of each generation.
  • Friday, October 7 - Jody Horntvedt will share tips and tools for communicating and connecting across generations to create valuable collaborations that will strengthen community building efforts.
  • Friday, November 4 - Brian Fredrickson will close the series by helping participants explore ways of harnessing the strengths of each generation to lead and follow more effectively in order to maximize the most from the attitudes and skills of each generation to strengthen our communities.
Participants will receive materials to review one week prior to each session. Participants will also be guided on how to have across generational conversations that will be used in the October and November sessions.

Registration is open now through September 1 at 11:00 PM (CDT) for this exciting and informative series.  You will only need to register one time to participate in all three sessions.  Register at

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Exploring Hidden Thoughts through the D.I.E. Method

Today we continue our exploration of Leading with Cultural Competence by considering ways to understand interactions and our own feelings.  

We  can risk cultural collisions every day if we do not take active steps to increase our understanding of not only cultural competency issues but also our own underlying attitudes, beliefs, and values.  These attitudes, beliefs, and values are the issues that lie underneath the surface and can cause the biggest problems in our ability to understand those that we are working with and learning from.  Just as the crew of the Titanic did not adequately estimate the size of the iceberg that laid under water, if we don’t check our attitudes and beliefs we can underestimate the amount of work we need to do to become culturally competent.

One method to use in increasing your cultural competence is the Describe, Interpret, Evaluate Method introduced by Janet Bennett and Milton Bennett in the 1970s while doctoral students at the University of Minnesota.  This method encourages individuals to take time to explore the who, what, where rather than immediately jumping to a conclusion based on our biases and long held beliefs.  Here are some types on using the D.I.E. Method:  
  • When you describe the event, situation, or individual remain factual.   Use concrete terms and thoughts to give shape to what you witnessed or experienced. 
  • As you move to interpret you should push yourself to develop three possible interpretations for what occurred.  This step is also a great time to seek input from a member of the culture you are interacting with to develop possible interpretations and understand the interaction from a new perspective.
  • Evaluate the situation by examining what you think and feel about the experience based on the interpretations and new knowledge you may have into the culture.  Acknowledge your feelings both positive and negative and also think about how the situation was viewed by the person from the other culture. 
  • As you use the D.I.E. method take time to work through each stage trying hard not to jump from describing to evaluating. 

There are new thoughts around moving to a model that is Describe, Analyze, Evaluate.  Supporters of this model believe that using analysis rather than interpretation as the second step moves farther away from subjective reactions which can lead to judgement.  Analysis of an issue lends itself to deeper discussions and moving the conversation forward to explore underlying issues.  DAE is also a Korean word that carries many meanings such as “foundation” and also “the opposite.”  What a great word to use to describe wanting people to change their foundation of thinking in relation to past attitudes and assumptions.   To learn more about the thoughts behind the DAE model check out Nam & Condon in the International Journal of Intercultural Relations. 

Photo Credit Flickr user Dan (catching up)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Join the Team as a Program Coordinator

We are excited to announce a new position for a team member in Northwest Minnesota.  This newly created position is for a Leadership and Civic Engagement Cohort Program Coordinator to work with the Red River Valley Emerging Leadership Program (RRV ELP) as well as the National Extension Leadership Development (NELD) Program.  This part time position will be housed within one of the NW Regional Extension Centers (Roseau, Crookston, Moorhead, or Morris).  For more information, check out the full posting.
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