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Small towns symposium to explore 'Communities 2050'

The 7th annual Symposium on Small Towns will explore "Communities 2050: Building a Livable, Renewable and Responsible Future!" when the symposium convenes June 2-3 at the University of Minnesota, Morris.

The symposium will focus on rebuilding local economies, educating and motivating communities, capitalizing on political change and celebrating rural living.

The event will be hosted by the University of Minnesota, Morris Center for Small Towns, in partnership with Minnesota Public Radio, University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, Minnesota Association of Small Cities, City of Morris, University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center and the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

This year's symposium will be preceded by a conference of Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability (UMACS) institutions, May 31-June 1, on the Morris campus. UMACS is a non-profit organization focusing on sustainability in higher education institutions throughout the region.

The UMACS conference is intended for faculty members, students, administrators and operations personnel, who will also be invited to attend the Symposium on Small Towns.

Participants during the UMACS conference will see how the Morris campus has partnered with local organizations such as the U.S.D.A. North Central Soil Conservation Research Lab and the West Central Research and Outreach Center to create the Green Prairie Alliance. UMACS attendees can learn how each of their schools is engaged in sustainability.

"These two events--first the higher education conference, which will then transition into the annual Symposium--offer an opportunity to bring current and future decision makers together," explained Troy Goodnough, Morris campus sustainability coordinator.

It's a novel scenario, added Goodnough, with a chance to showcase the renewable and sustainable education offered at Morris while bringing a cross-section of innovative solutions and discussion to the table.

"Cities and schools face similar challenges; in fact, universities and colleges basically exist as small cities," he said. The adjacent conferences will offer information and have the potential to create linkages between colleges and cities, said Goodnough.

For more information about these conferences and to register, visit or call (320) 589-6451. Also visit