Modeling Success

University of Minnesota Morris Sustainability Director Troy Goodnough, Center for Small Town Program Coordinator Kelly Asche, and student employees of the Office of Sustainability and the Center for Small Towns. Front row (from left to right): Goodnough, Sydney Bauer; Maeve Maron; Haley Gill; Mckenzie Dice; Sophie Bishop; Alexa Barta; Katie Ledermann. Back row (from left to right): Matthew Ebaugh and Asche. Photo courtesy of Kari Adams.

The University of Minnesota Morris’ Office of Sustainability and Center for Small Towns are working with the West Central Research and Outreach Center, University of Minnesota Extension's Southwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, the City of Morris, Stevens County, and community partners to implement the “Morris Model,” a three-part initiative aimed at promoting energy conservation, clean energy, community resilience, and cultural exchange in the west central Minnesota community.

The model’s Clean Energy Hub explores financing solutions for clean energy projects in rural areas. A sister-city relationship with Saerbeck, Germany promotes the sharing of ideas and technology focused on climate protection through clean energy and conservation projects. The project’s nine resiliency goals guide the Morris Model Planning Initiative, which involves incorporating student interns, community members, and policy makers in a Community-University partnership that encourages community-wide engagement.

According to Troy Goodnough, University of Minnesota Morris campus sustainability director, “the Morris Model is about our shared aspiration to be a model community in Minnesota and an international destination for clean energy and agriculture. We are working locally, statewide and internationally to exchange information and resources so that we can learn new things and so that other communities might learn about our work.”

As a result of the partnership, the City of Morris has won a number of awards, including the Environmental Initiative’s 2015 Community Action award and the Minnesota Department of Commerce 2016 Minnesota Clean Energy Community Award for outstanding work in clean energy and sustainability.