CURA Reporter Spring 2013
Impacts of CURA Projects [2009-2010].
This report presents the results of contacting more than 100 people involved in CURA-sponsored projects during the 2009-2010 academic year. Each person completed an online survey that asked both quantitative and qualitative questions. The report provides community and student answers to specific questions, followed by sample quotes from individuals that provide details about his or her project and the impact it has had.
CURA Reporter Fall/Winter 2012
Overcoming Barriers to Forest Bioenergy Production in Minnesota.
As a state with no coal, oil, or natural gas production, the development of renewable energy is vital to Minnesota’s future. Forest biomass used for heating, electricity, and biofuel production is one potential source of energy that could significantly reduce carbon emissions and dependence on energy imports while reinvesting in local communities. Yet bioenergy investments have been slow to materialize despite an assortment of state and federal incentives.
Something Old and Something New: Forest Bioenergy Production in Minnesota.
As a state with no coal, oil, or natural gas production, the development of renewable energy is vital to Minnesota’s future. Forest biomass used for heating, electricity, and biofuel production is one potential source of energy that could significantly reduce our dependence on energy imports while reinvesting in local communities. Appropriately scaled and using the latest technology, it could also enhance forest productivity and reduce carbon emissions. Yet bioenergy investments have been slow to materialize despite an assortment of state and federal incentives.
Smaller Minnesota Cities Are Holding Up Well Economically.
This follow-up to “Trade-Center Hierarchy in Greater Minnesota,” which appeared in the Fall/Winter 2011 CURA Reporter, uses a new data set from the Minnesota Department of Revenue that includes an additional 82 cities with populations ranging from 1,000 to 6,000 and sales-tax data for a wider range of goods and services. Analysis of this expanded data set provides a relatively complete picture of the smaller trade centers in Greater Minnesota and supports our earlier finding that smaller cities are doing well.
Urban Competitiveness and the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area.
Traditionally, discussions of “competitiveness” have focused on firms or national economies. Recently, this conceptualization has been extended to urban economies and their role in promoting economic development for local jurisdictions. This article defines urban competitiveness and the indicators that are most commonly used to measure competitiveness, compares the performance of the Twin Cities metropolitan region to seven peer metropolitan areas on a range of urban-competitiveness indicators, and discusses the potential policy implications of this analysis.
Hydrogen Generation Using Magnetite to Store Energy from Alternative Sources.
Demand for alternative energy sources arises from the need to reduce both carbon emissions that cause climate change and U.S. dependence on fossil fuels from foreign sources. The leading alternative energy sources, wind and solar, however, are intermittent; the wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine. Thus, it is necessary to find ways to store the electrical energy obtained from these sources.
Who Seeks Home Foreclosure-Prevention Counseling?
The primary goal of this study was to examine whether individuals facing home foreclosure who seek financial counseling differ from those who choose not to seek financial counseling. The author surveyed homeowners who had received preforeclosure notices regarding their financial-counseling behaviors and perceptions of services received. Results indicated that older, more educated homeowners facing foreclosure were more likely to seek counseling.
Twin Cities Neighborhood Maps.
This article presents the first in a series of neighborhood maps for the central cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.The maps show current housing values, as well as declines in value since 2007, the peak year before the housing market crash. The data come from county tax records of estimated market values. Future issues of the CURA Reporter will present additional thematic maps on such topics as transit, recreation, safety, diversity, and schools.
CURA Reporter Summer 2012
CURA Annual Report, 2011–2012
This report provides an overview of the 191 projects and events CURA conducted during the 2011-2012 academic year. The projects served more than 30 different University departments, and more than 150 different local and state community organizations.
Ward 1 Community Survey Plan.
Recycling Asphalt Roofing Shingles in Asphalt Pavements.
Up to one-fifth of construction and demolition waste in the Twin Cities metropolitan area consists of tear-off shingle scrap (TOSS), which is postcon¬sumer roofing material that is removed when a home is reroofed. Of the 60,000 tons of TOSS generated annually in the metro region, more than 90% is potentially recyclable for use in asphalt pavement. At the beginning of 2010, the Minnesota Department of Transportation released a draft specification that would allow up to 5% TOSS to be used in asphalt.
Assembly and Uses of a Housing Data-Sharing Network in Minneapolis.
Like many cities across the country caught up in the previous decade’s housing boom and bust, Minneapolis is experiencing mortgage-default problems on a scale not seen since the Great Depression. Foreclosed properties and vacant homes are dotted across the city, with concentrations in some particularly hard-hit lower income areas. In dealing with the slew of direct and indirect consequences, Minneapolis has benefited from a history of openness and information-sharing among local nonprofits, neighborhood organizations, City and County agencies, and academic institutions.
Project Update: Mutual Adaptation between Karen Refugees and a Rural Minnesota Community.
This article reports on a project to identify key success factors for the Karen—a minority ethnic group from Burma’s eastern border along Thailand—in their relocation to Worthington, Minnesota. Based on in-depth interviews with refugees, civic, business, education, social-service, and faith-community leaders, several success factors were identified:
Digital Inclusion and the Twin Cities Homeless Community.
Digital literacy is an essential skill in the 21st century, especially for homeless individuals searching for housing and other resources to leave the streets. In partnership with Open Access Connections, this project investigated whether homeless individuals in the Twin Cities metropolitan area felt that existing computer-based social services were available and accessible to them.
Commentary: Small Towns in Minnesota are Still Growing.
Many people think that small towns are losing their population and slowly disappearing, but they are wrong. The 2010 U.S. Census found that the population actually increased by more than 5% in two-fifths of the incorporated places in Minnesota between 2000 and 2010, remained stable in one-third, and decreased more than 5% in a mere one-quarter. Between 2000 and 2010, a greater share of the smaller places in Minnesota lost population, and a greater share of the larger places gained, with a steady progression from smallest to largest.
Trucks and SUVs in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area: How Dangerous Are They?
Light or heavy trucks and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) are increasingly popular, in part because they provide improved protection to their own passengers in an accident. However, when an accident occurs, these vehicles also cause greater injury to passengers of other vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. Because the costs of these injuries are external costs in no-fault auto-liability systems such as those used in Minnesota, consumers may have inefficiently high incentives to purchase light/heavy trucks and SUVs.
CURA Reporter Spring 2012