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Program News and Notes

Sandy Keith (center with ribbon) with current and former CURA staff members from

Sandy Keith (center with ribbon) with current and former CURA staff members from left to right: Jonathan Miller, Mike Greco, Lisa Murillo, Ed Goetz, Mio Ishida, Kathie Doty, Mary Kaye LaPointe, Julia Sytina, Cj Madsen, Jeff Matson, and Tom Scott.

December 11, 2018
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Community GIS worked with the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota to help visualize - what they term - a neighborhood cultural asset inventory. This particular inventory is in the Logan Park neighborhood of northeast Minneapolis. Cultural asset mapping showcases the unique, quirky, and sometimes intangible elements and histories that holistically coalesce to create individual neighborhood character. Using the story map, you can explore the notable places in Logan Park - each story contributes to the Logan Park neighborhood experience and distinct sense of place. View the map online at z.umn.edu/3pir.

CURA Senior Research Associate Dr. Brittany Lewis partnered with KMOJ Host Lissa Jones to develop a 3-part series on evictions in North Minneapolis to help the broader community understand the complexity of the issue – who it impacts, how it impacts all stakeholders, and what is being done to address some of these challenges.

The KMOJ radio show Urban Agenda hosted by Lissa Jones seeks to use the lens of Black History to help listeners contextualize many of the present-day issues African Americans face, in the U.S., and all over the world. Urban Agenda seeks to celebrate black people and black culture, fighting the danger of a single story. Listen to the series at z.umn.edu/3pmq.

The CURA staff past and present, as well as friends, family, and colleagues, gathered on August 7 to say “thank you” to Sandy Keith for her 18 years of work at the Center for Urban & Regional Affairs (CURA) and her five-decade-spanning career at the University of Minnesota. When Sandy started she faced a tough job of getting our budget in line and our programs in complete compliance with University rules. She was a valuable resource for CURA staff to navigate University administration and she did so with a guiding belief in our work. We wish Sandy the best in her retirement.

After six years as CURA’s Director of Community Programs Neeraj Mehta left CURA this June for a position with the McKnight foundation. Here is a note on his departure from CURA Director Ed Goetz. 

“It is with mixed feelings that we here at CURA say goodbye to Neeraj Mehta who is leaving to take an exciting position as director of learning at the McKnight Foundation. The McKnight Foundation has given so much to CURA over the years that we can hardly begrudge them when the flow goes the other way! Neeraj served as our director of community-based programs during his six years at CURA and helped us channel resources to countless community organizations in the metro area and across the state. He also kept CURA in the middle of all of the important discussions taking place in this region regarding equity and development. We wish him the best as he begins his new role at McKnight!”

In August, CURA was pleased to announce that C Terrence Anderson is our Director of Community-Based Research. C Terrence will oversee CURA’s community-based programs, including the Kris Nelson Community-Based Research Program, the Community Assistantship Program, the Artist and Neighborhood Partnership Initiatives, and the Krusell Fellowship.

Previously C Terrence was the Equity Manager at the Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities where he worked with Council staff to incorporate equity perspectives into the policies and programs of the Agency, and was responsible for coordinating equity-related work throughout the Council. Prior to that he was a Community Outreach Coordinator for Metro Transit.

CURA has also had several other staffing changes since the last issue of the Reporter with Sarah Tschida hired as RCP’s Program Coordinator, Mio Ishida as Finance Professional 2 and Julia Sytina as our Administrative Manager.

The Resilient Communities Project (RCP) selected both Ramsey County and Scott County  as its community partners for the 2018–2019 academic year. Due to both finalists’ strong proposals, it marks the first time in its six-year history the program will assist two partners in a given year.

Ramsey County’s proposal identified up to 18 potential projects, including removing transportation barriers to employment, increasing housing stability, building resilience among youth and vulnerable populations, strengthening collaboration on climate resilience, reducing food waste and food insecurity, increasing voter participation, exploring innovative stormwater management practices, and improving access to county service facilities.

Scott County’s proposal identified 14 potential projects, including investigating self-serve libraries, planting edible landscapes, diversifying agricultural production, managing hazardous waste, improving early childhood education, fostering employer-assisted housing, increasing participation in rental-assistance programs, planning for autonomous vehicles, promoting active living, and investigating the cost of services in rural areas.

Beginning in September, the University and counties will collaborate on more than a dozen multidisciplinary projects to advance resilience and sustainability.

Once paired, counties can enhance their capacity to address complex issues by gaining access to thousands of hours of research from hundreds of students and faculty in a wide range of programs and disciplines—from architecture, planning and engineering, to business, environmental sciences and the humanities. Students will present their findings and recommendations at the conclusion of the semester.

RCP will be issuing its next request for proposals this summer for communities interested in applying to be RCP’s 2019-2020 partner. Proposals will be due in spring 2019. To learn more or to be added to the distribution list for the RFP, contact rcp@umn.edu.

In March 2018, the Hennepin-University Partnership (HUP) hosted a 2018 Spring Mixer with Hennepin County’s Community Corrections and Rehabilitation department with an event theme, “Disparities in Community Corrections.” Convened at the Wilson Research Collaboration Studio, the Mixer consisted of three rounds of table discussions that were facilitated by UMN graduate students representing the academic areas of public health, public policy, social work, and sociology. These discussions brought together 63 Hennepin County staff and UMN researchers. Opening remarks were offered by Catherine Johnson, Hennepin County’s Director of the Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation. Kelly Lyn Mitchell, Executive Director of the Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice at the University of Minnesota, provided closing remarks.

Mixer attendees were eligible to follow up on connections made at the mixer with a grant proposal and this grant round yielded seven proposals. The proposal selected as the recipient of the Spring 2018 Hennepin-University Collaborative Grant was “Determining Alignment of Probation Conditions” The partners on this proposal included Kelly Mitchell of the Robina Institute and Danette Buskovick of the Hennepin County Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation (DOCCR).

The UMN has received significant grants from the National Science Foundation around encouraging connections between Universities and cities/counties to research ways to build “smart cities” of the future. In March 2018, Hennepin-University Partnership (HUP) hosted a workshop titled “Intersection between Research and Practice in Public Works” to connect Hennepin County’s Public Works and researchers from the University of Minnesota to explore possible ways Hennepin could contribute data and/or staff expertise to the NSF grant activities. University researchers learned about Hennepin County public works operations, including challenges currently being faced, staff expertise and existing data sets. County staff learned about University research interests and capacity to conduct research of relevance to the County.

In July 2017, Hennepin County Human Resources launched a workforce development initiative to connect University of Minnesota students with opportunities at the county. Scott Vargo, a recent Humphrey School of Public Affairs graduate and former Hennepin-University Partnership graduate assistant, was hired to coordinate the initiative. In his first six months, Scott made strides by connecting with the University’s Community of Scholars Program around recruitment of diverse talent, forming in-roads with many career centers at the University to streamline employment pathways, and set up partnerships with University faculty to engage their classes in service-learning opportunities with the county. This new effort is expected to yield measurable improvements in recruiting University students, particularly those with diverse backgrounds.