The University of Minnesota Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership has named Shannon Stassen as its new program associate for clean energy and resilient communities.
The former Crookston city administrator will help local governments, nonprofit organizations and foundations connect sustainability projects to research, education and resources at the University of Minnesota, according to University of Minnesota Extension. Northwest Minnesota is one of five regions of the U of M Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships supporting local sustainability projects across the state. The RSDP focuses on clean energy, sustainable agriculture and food systems, natural resources and resilient communities.
“I will be working in the northwest region of Minnesota and working to connect communities, people with resources that exist within the University of Minnesota,” Stassen said.
For example, he will inform communities about the opportunities available to help them become more resilient and energy resistant and help them improve sewer and water infrastructure so they are better able to handle adverse weather events and respond to emergencies, Stassen said.
Stassen also will work on clean energy projects, such as GreenStep Cities. East Grand Forks plans to join five other northwest Minnesota cities that have joined the program designed to make them more sustainable. The voluntary, no-cost program focuses on cost savings and energy use reduction.
“GreenStep Cities is definitely a big piece of what I will do,” Stassen said.
Stassen already has been traveling across northwest Minnesota meeting people for his new job, he said.
Being the University of Minnesota Northwest RSDP program associate for clean energy and resilient communities fits well with his skill set, Stassen said. When he worked for the city of Crookston, he helped develop community gardens, install LED lighting and make the city easier to navigate by bicycle, he said.
“All of those things fit into the resilient community piece,” Stassen said.
Meanwhile, he and his two young sons for the past few summers have grown herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables which they sell at local farmers markets and from their Crookston home.
“It fits personally and professionally,” Stassen said. “The local foods have been pretty important to us. It all kind of dovetails together.”