Monthly Archives: January 2010

Your cell phone is a more powerful tool than you may realize

By John Hamerlinck

There are more cell phone users in Africa than there are in North America. India has more than 470 million mobile phone users. China has more than 700 million!

Some people refer to mobile phones as a “leapfrog technology,” allowing developing nations to move their communications from 19th century technology to 21st century technology without having to invest in massive infrastructure projects. This is significant for high-poverty nations. Jennifer Openshaw writes in the Huffington Post, about how one application, Obopay, a phone-based money transfer system, can impact the lives of low income people. “In India, where many people don’t have access to an address or a bank account, cell phones are the new means for government or an employer to send payments. Once the money is deposited into the recipient’s ‘account,’ he/she can then remit money internationally, send funds to his family, or pay bills — all right from the phone. Obopay’s system also eliminates the risk of theft in cash-based economies.” phones are also serving as critical tools in promoting significant social change worldwide. I’m not just talking about text message fundraising. The site MobileActive tracks social impact through mobile phone use. The site has dozens of stories  where phones are a key component in AIDS, literacy, economic development, health and other initiatives. For example, in South Africa, the organization Cell-Life is using phones in multiple projects to address the growing AIDS epidemic.

At colleges and universities in this country where nearly every student has a phone, how might we leverage this simple reality to the benefit of the community? How might we look to the developing world for clues on addressing issues like homelessness and poverty?

On February 12, we’ll be hosting a webinar titled, Civic Engagement: Engaging Students and Communities through Technology. We’ll discuss not only phones, but Twitter (did you know that in Myanmar, thousands of monks took to the streets in pro-democracy demonstrations by communicating through twitter via their cell phones?), Google Maps mash-ups, and many other promising tools for campus-community partnerships. Please join us.

Normandale Students Help Make a Wish Come True

By Meghan Aanenson

Normandale CC students photo by Meghan AanensonIn honor of MLK Day, twelve Normandale Community College students gathered at Make-a-Wish Foundation to assemble wish bags for children who have been diagnosed with a life threatening medical condition.  After a wonderful orientation highlighting the organization’s history, the process of granting a wish, the critical role of volunteers, and the stories of incredible wishes granted to children around the world, the students were excited to start their projects.

Wish bags are brought to the child at the very first meeting between the family and Wish Granting volunteer.  This volunteer works directly with the family to help plan the child’s wish from start to finish. Filled with age-appropriate books, toys, and gifts, wish bags help the child open up and get comfortable with the volunteer.

The Normandale students also decorated boxes, each filled with a paper chain link, that are sent to a child’s home 30 days before their wish takes place. The paper chain is a great visual countdown; each day a link is removed until the day the child’s wish is granted.

So much of Make-a-Wish-Foundation’s work is driven by volunteers.  Because of the dedication of individuals and groups like the Normandale students, over 3,000 wishes have been granted in Normandale CC students photo by Meghan AanensonMinnesota over the past 28 years.

MLK Day in St. Paul

By Maria Ortiz

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

The message I heard so strongly at the annual Martin Luther King Day celebration in St. Paul, was that “there is a serious urgency to act NOW! That we should not put off for tomorrow what you can be done today. Because time is not on our side, we have but precious moments to be the change we want to see in this world. We must seize the moment and act as individuals “rising above the narrow confines of our individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”  We need to regain a capacity to listen, to hear, and to discern the implications of the pains and possibilities of our Nation. The fierce urgency is now, will you make that change?beginning of the march

The day, themed, The Fierce Urgency of NOW- “Make That Change,” began with a rally in the auditorium of Central High School. People of all ages, races, religious backgrounds gathered together to once again be inspired by the words, images and work all in the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. Speakers reminded all to support youth, our future leaders, in the continued fight for our human rights in a righteous manner. Reverend Christopher Henry, Champlin Park Step Team, and other speakers, musical, and dance performances kicked off the Rally. With a strong message of urgency.

By 10:30am the half-mile march from Central High School to Concordia University began. The march was a re-enactment of the 1965 March from Selma to Montgomery.  During the march we were joined by many people, including hometown hero, Representative Keith Ellison.  About 2,000 people participated in the march this year. Students and organizations displayed positive, creative and colorful banners along the way.

Upon arriving at the Gangelhoff Center marchingat Concordia University for the main program we were greeted by Congresswoman Betty McCollum, who came to show support. We were also joined by Senator Amy Klobuchar, Governor Tim Pawlenty, Mayor RT Ryback,  Mayor Chris Coleman, and other elected officials. A number of people spoke of the legacy of Dr. King. It was inspiring to see so many elected officials spending their time and energy to show support for this community.

This year’s MLK Day Celebration featured a keynote address from Nekima Levy-Pounds, Professor from University of St. Thomas Law School. Her knowledge of the criminal justice system shed light on so many more issues that need be addressed. Her words of wisdom and encouragement no doubt left many inspired to act and act now. The program also included musical, dance, spoken-word and poetry performances, as well as awards and the unveiling of a new postage stamp in honor of the African American struggle in the United States. Following the main program an Education Fair was held at the Gangelhoff Center with numerous booths available to share information. program

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically… Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Designing Community Pride

By Maria Ortiz

Minnesota Campus Compact supported a collaboration between the nonprofit Juxtaposition Arts, the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) and the University of Minnesota’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Design Institute, dedicated to the revitalization of Northeast Minneapolis. Their work began with the West Broadway Gateway Project. This project created murals, sculptures, seating and other people-centered amenities meant to transform the community into a welcoming and aesthetically attractive commercial avenue. The partners and community members focused on the environment, geographical prospective, ownership, zoning issues and public art. All aspects of the project were modeled after other successful projects around the United States.

As the project developed so did its support, scope and goals, eventually being renamed Remix: Creating Place for People on West Broadway. The project completed the installation of a sculpture garden at the West Broadway East Gateway Area. Where artists, architects, landscape professionals and university students and faculty designed and fabricated public art and landscaping elements in a former parking lot. Neighborhood youth and artists also created light post street banners with images of their artwork that were hung along the five block West Broadway commercial district.

The Remix: Creating Place for People on West Broadway project is the kind of project that advocates for community-based place making. The activities created reasons for people to visit to particular places and raised awareness and interest in those places. This project not only brought beauty, but also brought people together in building this place, their community. MORE

Mobilizing Students to Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Julia Quanrud

In just a few days, Minnesota Campus Compact and seven of its member institutions will kick off a series of service projects to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter), Anoka-Ramsey Community College (Coon Rapids), Concordia University (St. Paul), Lake Superior College (Duluth), North Hennepin Community College (Minneapolis), Normandale Community College (Bloomington), and Saint Mary’s University (Winona) were all awarded a micro-grant from Minnesota Campus Compact to support student-led service projects that honor the life and work of Dr. King.

Students with banner

Concordia University MLK Day 2009

The first service project will launch on Thursday, January 14th, when students from Normandale Community College host a youth carnival for children at Ginew Golden Eagles, a program that helps American Indian youth make positive decisions through life skill training.  The following day, Normandale students will head to Richfield with students and teachers from Richfield Middle School where they will help ARC Value Village set up for its MLK Day Sale.  At the completion of their project, the volunteers will all have lunch together and reflect on their service activity.  On the official MLK Day Holiday (1/18/10), Normandale students, led by a group of Citizen-Scholar Fellows students, will also sort gifts for the Make a Wish Foundation and organize and convert space for the Ginew Golden Eagles.

Students from the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity at Gustavus Adolphus College will also be hosting a service event on the MLK Holiday.  Together with community members, students will host activities and read stories that reflect the life and work of Dr. King to local elementary school students.  Lake Superior College in Duluth also intends to work with local school children on MLK Day, facilitating activities and projects that commemorate Dr. King’s Life such as reflection, poetry, and collages.

After a city-wide celebration of Dr. King on the 18th, students at Concordia University in St. Paul will be challenged on the 19th to complete service projects at various St. Paul community organizations.  Meanwhile, over in Minneapolis, students from North Hennepin Community College will be reading and acting out stories for patients at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital, while volunteers also help the children to create their own story books.

The North Hennepin Students and students from Anoka-Ramsey Community College will help pack meals for malnourished children across the globe at Feed My Starving Children on the 21st and 28th, respectively.  Students from Anoka-Ramsey will also be invited to reflect on their experiences and the life of Dr. King in a post-service presentation and reflection session.

Making cookies

Concordia University MLK Day 2009

The service activities will conclude with a month-long project in Winona, hosted by Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.  Working together with New Beginnings in Church, students from Saint Mary’s will help complete construction on a home for recently-released inmates.  Combining secure housing with social services, the facility promises to provide inmates with a chance to reenter society successfully.

In total, these seven campuses have organized eleven projects in seven cities spanning 46 days.  Together, they are working together towards mobilizing at least 500 volunteers across the state.  To learn how you can join the movement, email or visit

A Community Celebrates Water

By Maria Ortiz

In 2008, Minnesota Campus Compact put out a call for multi-campus initiatives through the Community Service-Learning & Campus-Community Collaboration Initiative Grant program. In response, Winona State University proposed, Our Drinking Fountain, Our Water, a project centered on the theme of water quality, ownership and stewardship. The project combined a variety of arts, sciences and other academic disciplines around community activism with a goal to inspire a thoughtful reverence for water that is instrumental toward building educated and engaged citizenry and policy makers for the stewardship of water. The process was a unique opportunity for experiential education about some of the water concerns that plague the world.

Collaborators included: the City of Winona, Southeast Minnesota Resources Board, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre of Minneapolis (HOBT), and the three higher-education institutions in Winona: Winona State University (WSU), Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota (SMU), and Minnesota State College Southeast Technical.

Over 6,000 people (approximately 3,000 students and 3,000 community members) were involved in the project, Individual events offered many opportunities for individuals on any level to gain a relevant education related to water issues. Highlights of the collaboration included:

In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre Residencies
HOBT artists spent a week at both WSU and SMU, conducting a full residency with students and community members. Highlights included mask and puppet-making workshops with students and community members; creation and performance of Water Dance pieces involving dance students, faculty, students in a general-education dance class, and community members; creation of masks; and the creation of an advertising campaign by students and faculty in Graphics Design class.

Lake Park Drinking Fountain Renovation
A competition was set up to renovate a public drinking fountain in Winona. Regional artists were invited to submit a design, seven full designs were received. A jury of committee members and community artists decided on three finalists. Those finalists were then showcased on the project Web site and a voting system was set up for community members to vote on their favorite design. Over 800 people voted in the competition. MORE

Water Taste Test
At two events- Earth Day in 2008 and the Frozen River Film Festival in 2009- the City of Winona sponsored at “water taste test” where people were able to compare the taste of city water to three commercial bottle water samples. There events served to increase awareness of the hype around bottled water and also served to surprise many people about how good they thought city water actually tasted.

A Drinking Water booth was set up at two events, Earth Day in 2008 and the Frozen River Film Festival in 2009. As part of the booth, participants were able to taste test Winona’s tap water and three bottled waters. The test results indicated that Winona’s tap water rated higher in taste than all three bottled waters.

Every Child Deserves a Playground

By John Hamerlinck

In 2001, St. Cloud State University received a grant from the Minnesota Campus Compact administered Community Service-Learning & Campus-Community Collaboration Initiatives program. That initial investment of $14,000 has leveraged many times that amount in contributions. It has also provided an invaluable community asset and valuable educational experiences for hundreds of St. Cloud State University students. For more information see the SCSU Web site and this story on the Kaboom! site.