Benefits of Brownfield Programs: Tips to Help Your Community Get Started

Brownfield building

Photo (CC) Ohio Redevelopment Project, on Flickr

When you think of brownfields, we often think of land for which there is little or only limited use. And even the potential cost of contamination cleanup make it hard to move forward.

Kathie Brown, an University of Illinois Extension educator, though encourages communities to take a new look at such sites. She says they may be opportunities and gives, in a blog post, some examples.

To help communities she lists some tips such as potential funding opportunities and encourages the community to take a long-term vision.

Extension in Illinois and across the country is focused on a variety of community development efforts. Check out this example. 

 

Marketing with Videos

Pam Schallhorn, University of Illinois Extension, recently shared a video from Alton, Illinois. the video is a great example of how, without a lot of dollars, businesses and communities can effectively use videos in their marketing.

Videos continue to grow in popularity and use. Two trends in the use of videos make them attractive for marketing. The first trend is that short is great.  This video is around three minutes.

The second trend is that you don’t need a lot of fancy gear, a simple camera or even your smartphone can do the job. Plus you don’t need to do a lot, if any, editing. Even if some editing is needed, there are some programs that most people can pickup and use in just a short period of time.

Check out this video and then, “Lights, camera, and action,” should be your next step.

To here to read Pam’s blog.

The Small Businesses Role in Communities

Small businesses are key to successful communities.

Many of us understand, certainly, the role of the small business in terms of the economic health of a rural community. And this remains true in larger communities as well.

However, less recognized is the role that small businesses hold in supporting a variety of charitable and community events. They also provide a great deal of human resources in terms of volunteers and leaders in local government and other organizations.

These contributions form a core support of strong, resilient communities. It is not uncommon for a community and its members to overlook such resources when looking to grow a community.

This webinar explains further some of what small businesses can offer to a community.

Building Community Through the Little Free Garden

Little Free Garden

Little Free Garden

Thanks to Meghan Myrdal, co-founder of Ugly Food of the North, for sharing this story.

Her story focuses on an effort to bring food and an awareness of food to communities. In it she discusses how the project can bring meaningful connections.

I have the privilege of knowing her and watching her work towards a well-connected food system that, in turn, drives strong, healthy communities.

I hope this idea inspires you to try something new or to try this program in your own area. There are so many different ways it could be done and it could involve some many different groups.

Thanks Megan for sharing.


Grow. Take. Share. – The Little Free Garden Project 

By: Megan Myrdal

This summer you will find small, raised-bed gardens springing up in front yards across Fargo, ND-Moorhead, MN. But there’s something special about the little boxes with the green placard. The food grown within eight-square feet can be taken by anyone. In fact, it’s encouraged!

Ugly Food of the North recently launched the Little Free Garden, a project intended to foster communities committed to growing, sharing and cultivating food in small, raised-bed gardens, designed to fit in residential spaces.  The project launched with an inaugural build event at Concordia College on April 23.

The project was inspired by the Little Free Library project, but instead of sharing books the owners share food. The small, cedar wood, raised-bed gardens (4 x 2 ft, 12” deep) are placed in a household’s front yard, are planted and tended by the homeowners, and all the food grown is to be harvested by anyone who wants it or needs it.

Ugly Food of the North formed in August of last year with the goal of creating a more sustainable, personal food system through education, networking and community organizing. Since the group formation, they’ve held monthly events to bring the community together to learn about and discuss important food issues including food waste, urban agriculture, local food access, and food security.

The creation of the Little Free Garden project was inspired by the idea that the little box symbolizes a simple response to many of the important food issues the group has been working to address — the disconnect between food and agriculture, people lacking access to healthful, locally grown food, a lost sense of value for food and therefore waste and/or overconsumption, and people craving an opportunity to connect with one another around healthful food and positive social experiences.

The project envisions that the little gardens will not only be a free transaction of food, but an littlefreegarden2exchange of personal, meaningful connection – a reason to talk to a neighbor or stranger; a chance to connect with one another in a shared growing experience.

The project launched over 50 gardens in the Fargo-Moorhead area this spring and has been documenting the community growing experience on their social media channel. They hope to follow the first gardens, learn how the process is received, and to launch the project more broadly next year.

You can read more about the Little Free Garden project here including ways to donate and support.

Local Resources and Cooperative Extension Help Build Community

2016-07-05_1004Thanks this week to Pam Schallhorn, both serving as University of Illinois Extension Community Economic Developer Educator, for sharing their blog post.


It is not an uncommon remark someone makes wishing that his or her local community could grow.

Quite often a follow-up comment discusses “if only” we could bring in some new industries to make that happen.

The reality is that the resources, tools and spark plugs for community growth often already exist in the community. I have watched this happen in three counties in south central ND as they have come together around their Germans from Russia cultural heritage.

Pam’s  blog post shows how a community has built from within. Rockford, IL called it “tapping your own creative talent.” Locally grown businesses started based on the needs they saw. It’s a great example showing just what can be done. Cooperative Extension played a role in helping to make this happen.

In the post, Pam writes that the town realized that businesses were not just going to move in to save it. Instead, the people in the community needed to invest their own talent, time, energy, and, yes, even money to make things happen.

So are you ready to make things happen in your community?