BSU seeks community input on climate resilience efforts

BSU seeks community input on climate resilience efforts

BEMIDJI — Bemidji State University’s Climate Action Team is seeking feedback and community input on the university’s ongoing climate resilience planning efforts.

BSU President Faith Hensrud signed the Second Nature Climate Commitment in April 2019, reaffirming the university’s long-standing leadership in campus sustainability. In signing the commitment, Hensrud pledged that Bemidji State would adapt to a changing environment by integrating carbon-usage goals and climate resilience work into its long-term planning initiatives, a release said.

“Bemidji State is excited to work with our communities and strengthen our relationship with the water, land and world around us,” Hensrud said in the release.

Second Nature defines resilience as the ability to survive disruption and to anticipate, adapt and flourish in the face of change. Jordan Lutz, BSU’s sustainability project manager, said the coronavirus outbreak will significantly influence the university’s resiliency planning in the years to come.

“A global pandemic is a great example of the need to think about how we can become more resilient in the face of a changing world,” he said in the release. “Thankfully, our community’s long history of environmental stewardship sets the foundation for our work of assessing and planning for greater campus-community resilience.”

Thanks to a grant from the McKnight Foundation, Bemidji State has partnered with Precipitate, a Minneapolis-based architecture planning and research firm, to develop a Campus & Community Resilience Plan and updated Climate Action Plan. Their work began in July with a data-gathering and assessment process, followed by campus tours with BSU’s long standing Environmental Advisory Committee.

At the same time, conversations began with key stakeholders, exploring their unique perspectives on how Bemidji State can better understand the impact of building climate resilience. Representatives from the city of Bemidji, Beltrami County, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board and Concordia Language Villages, among others, participated in these conversations.

“It’s not only pinpointing the vulnerabilities throughout the community and the ways in which we are not prepared,” Lutz said, ”but also lifting up the ways we are prepared and identifying the things we hold as high value in Bemidji and the broader area.“

Anna Carlson, assistant professor of environmental studies and member of the Environmental Advisory Committee, will be engaging two of her classes this academic year in the resilience-planning process.

“The students will be helping to facilitate community discussions with a number of different stakeholders to help determine the strengths and vulnerabilities people see in this community,” she said. “This will help to determine common themes and potential strategies the university and city might consider as we look to build a more resilient community in the face of many changing conditions.”

The following listening sessions will be held on Zoom in order to gain community feedback:

  • 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 1
  • 3 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 1
  • 7 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 1
  • Noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3
  • 5 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3

To register for a session or to provide Campus Resiliency feedback online, visit bemidjistate.edu/offices/sustainability/bemidji-resiliency-planning/listening-sessions.

Source: The Bemidji Pioneer