The Center for Small Towns and the University of Minnesota, Morris were recently featured in Minnesota Campus Compact’s book Asset-Based Community Engagement in Higher Education edited by John Hamerlinck and Julie Plaut. The book features a series of essays about asset-based community outreach efforts and strategies from across the region and the nation. Not only does the collection feature essays about the application of community focused outreach strategies, but also breaks down what asset-based outreach is, and how universities can better explore and practice it. Hamerlinck and Plaut write that asset-based work “should discover and mobilize the skills, talents, and resources that exist right now in local people, associations, and institutions”.
In Hamerlinck’s essay (the last case study in part two of the book), “The University of Minnesota Morris as an Asset-Based Institution” he highlights UMM’s focus on community engagement as well as the Center for Small Town’s engagement with surrounding communities in a variety of ways. They bring up CST alum Sam Bruno‘s great work with Wheaton, as well as the partnerships formed between Hoffman economic development director Muriel Krusemark. The book does an excellent job highlighting the kind and style of work that CST is most dedicated to saying that “[t]rust builders like the Center for Small Towns staff are critical when working in a community development atmosphere that operates more on personal relationships and associations than it does on contractual agreements between institutions”.
Hamerlinck also concisely summarizes what makes us so proud of our community and our work, “The prairie of Minnesota may not have a large population or tremendous wealth, but it does have plenty of wind, corn, sunshine, and people who know how to make the most of their own assets and aggregate demand for additional assets that improve their quality of life.”
You can buy the book online as well as check out Minnesota Campus Compact to see more of the neat work they’re doing.