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Welcome & Introduction to the Series

In 2021, the Morris Model facilitated a series of discussions centered around community resiliency with community members, community leaders, and experts. The goal was to engage our community and think about what it means for us to be resilient, how we become more resilient, and why it matters. On this page you will find recordings, presentations, and further information from the events. 


This work was made possible through support from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended to the Minnesota Legislature by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) and the West Central Initiative.

What is resiliency?

Resiliency is the ability of a system or a community to survive disruption and to anticipate, adapt, and flourish in the face of change.

Goals of the series:

  1. Community engagement

  2. Expanding local awareness and knowledge capacity for action

  3. Create an actionable resiliency plan for the community for adoption by the Planning Commission and City Council

Topics of the series:

  1. Ongoing trends and future projections of MN weather

  2. Agriculture

  3. Outdoor recreation and natural resources

  4. Community Health

  5. Infrastructure and utilities

  6. Business/industry/finance

  7. Culture and community identity

Resiliency Discussion Series Context

The Morris Model has been hard at work assessing and leading dialogue on how our community can be more resilient and be more prepared for future changes due to changing weather. The Morris Model held a similar discussion series in 2014 called the Rural Climate Dialogue organized by the Jefferson Center and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. This 3-day event brought together Morris residents to discuss the impact of Minnesota’s changing weather and to identify steps they felt our community should take to prepare for it. In March of 2015, the Office of Sustainability at the University of Minnesota, Morris was awarded a grant by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to assist the community in extreme weather and resilience planning. Out of these meetings came the Morris Model Community Resilience Plan in 2016. 

The Morris Model also brought our community partners and leaders together in 2018 for the Climate Smart Municipality Strategic Planning Retreat held at Camp Ripley to discuss goals for our community of Morris, Stevens County, and west-central Minnesota. The retreat was made possible by a West Central Initiative Community Planning Grant. ​Over 30 community leaders and representatives were brought together from city and county government, the Stevens County Economic Improvement Commission (SCEIC), Morris Area Public Schools, UMN Morris, USDA Soils Lab, and WCROC, Denco II ethanol plant, Ottertail Power, Riverview LLP, and Superior Industries. The representatives brainstormed goals and projects for all community partners.


The group then formed and ratified the Morris Model Strategic Plan.

The plan includes the "Big 3" goals:

  1. Produce 80% of the energy consumed in the county by 2030

  2. Reduce energy consumption 30% by 2030

  3. No land-filling of waste generated within the county by 2025

The plan also has goals within 4 areas:

  1. Energy – Generation, Efficiency, and Integration

  2. Transportation – (e.g. Electric and Bio-fuel transition at all levels)

  3. Waste Reduction and Recycling

  4. Energy and Resiliency Education at all levels


Session Recordings

Session 1: Climatic Changes in Minnesota - Ongoing Trends and Future Projections 
February 23, 2021

Hear from Dr. Kenneth (“Kenny”) Blumenfeld and Dr. Heidi Roop about Minnesota's weather trends over that the last few decades to today with future projections shared. Learn what variations exist and why they exist in our weather patterns. In order to be resilient, communities need to be proactive in planning. Learn how inclusive, flexible, and data-driven approaches can be used to help solve current and future problems. 

Watch the recording below. The PowerPoint slides and info on the speakers can be found here.

Part A: Kenny Blumenfeld on Changing Climate

Part B: Dr. Heidi Roop on Adaption & Preparedness

Session 2: Preparedness in Agriculture
March 23, 2021
Hear from Dennis Todey, the Director of the USDA Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, IA on how trends toward warmer, wetter, and more humid conditions provide challenges for agricultural field work, increased pressure from disease and pests, and reduce agricultural yields. These challenges may reach the extent that they can be only partially overcome by technology. These trends also amplify the effects of existing stressors such as invasive species, insect pests, and plant disease on the region’s natural resources. Natural resource managers are taking steps to address these issues by increasing the diversity of trees and introducing species suitable for a changing climate. Source:
Watch the recording below. The PowerPoint slides and info on the speakers can be found here.
Session 3: Preparedness in Outdoor Recreation
April 27, 2021

Hear from Mark Cleveland, Regional Resource Specialist at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, as he discusses the predicted changes to how we interact with and enjoy the outdoors as our regional weather patterns shift to warmer, wetter, and more volatile conditions.


Watch the recording below. The PowerPoint slides and info on the speakers can be found here.

Session 4: Towards a Resilient Energy Infrastructure
May 25, 2021

Hear from industry experts from one of our local utilities, Otter Tail Power, about how the utility conducts its planning process and implements projects to satisfy climate, resiliency, and economic considerations, as well as the technical measures and incentive programs created to mitigate risks by promoting efficiency and conservation.  We will also be joined by Lise Trudeau, Emerging Technology Planning Director at the State Energy Office at the MN Department of Commerce, who will be providing our community with a broad overview of the state's work on forecasting energy needs and completed feasibility studies of what our future grid could look like with a greater emphasis on renewable technologies.


Watch the recording below. The PowerPoint slides and info on the speakers can be found here.

Part A: Otter Tail Power representatives discuss current system status and considerations for future grid planning

Part B: Lise Trudeau, State Energy Office in the Department of Commerce, discusses recent state projects and studies envisioning a future grid incorporating more renewable technologies

Session 5: Climate and Cultural Identity
June 22, 2021

This was an in-person event held at the Morris Community Center.

Session 6: Preparedness and Adaptation in Rural Business Operations
Aug 17, 2021

This series kicked off with a briefing from David Zanoni, Senior Underwriter at the USDA Risk Management Agency, on how the USDA calculates, designs, and administers the federal crop insurance program.  Learn how payments are estimated and allocated, how they have changed over time, and how they can be reasonably expected to change further in the context of increasing growing seasons experiencing volatile weather such as the current extreme drought.  Following this are two presentations from Fritz Ebinger, Rural Energy Development Manager at Clean Energy Resource Teams, and Brian Ross, Vice President of the Great Plains Institute, as they discuss the opportunities to diversify rural land use practices to generate cost savings and additional revenue from the development of on-site renewable energy generation technologies or implementing energy efficiency upgrades.  They will provide a run-down of existing policies and programs that can assist  businesses or homeowners in funding these projects, benefits for customers and the local economy, and discuss the zoning and land use implications for larger scale project development.

Part A: David Zanoni, USDA Risk Management Agency, discusses federal crop insurance program design and evolution

Part B: Fritz Ebinger, Clean Energy Resource Teams and U of MN Extension, discusses benefits and funding opportunities for implementing clean energy projects for farms and rural businesses

Part C: Brian Ross, Great Plains Institute, provides an overview of the economic and environmental benefits available to local communities from properly sited large-scale renewable energy projects


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