The 2011 Rural Community Conference “Mobilizing Rural Communities” will be Sept. 13-15, 2011 in Great Falls, MT. MSU Extension is proud to collaborate with Rural Dynamics, Inc who will be taking the lead role in organizing this upcoming conference. Save the Date!
Also, plans are underway for our first Community Development Update for MSU Extension Agents, Specialists, and Staff in Bozeman on May 17-18, 2011. The planning team is working on preparing an agenda and your input is welcome and encouraged. Stay tuned for more details!
Global Coal Use Slows for First Time in a Decade
Worldwatch Institute reports that global use of coal fell by just under 0.5 percent in 2009 to 3,278 million tons of oil equivalent (mtoe) from the all-time high of 3,286 mtoe in 2008, interrupting the trend of rapid growth—an average of 4.3 percent annually—that has defined global coal markets over the last decade. The global commodity boom that drove coal consumption and prices up in 2008 ended, sending prices plummeting over 40 percent in some markets. The decline in consumption reflected diverging trends in North America, Europe, and Japan on the one hand, where the recession, low natural gas prices, and environmental concerns drove coal use down at least 10 percent, and China and India on the other hand, where coal demand remained strong. Because these two major coal-dependent economies buffered global coal markets against the recession, use of coal fell less than use of any other fossil fuel, and coal’s share of global primary energy consumption rose to 29.4 percent in 2009, its highest level since 1970. China continued to be the largest and one of the fastest-growing coal markets in the world, with usage rising 9.6 percent to 1,537 mtoe in 2009, or 46.9 percent of total world coal consumption. The graph below illustrates these trends.
Unemployment and Precarious Employment Increase
As reported by Worldwatch Institute, after declining from 2004 to 2007, global unemployment took an upturn in 2008 and then sharply rose to 212 million in 2009. For mid-2010, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 210 million people were unemployed. This compares with a range of 170–190 million jobless persons during the previous decade. The global unemployment rate rose from 5.7 percent in 2007 to 6.6 percent in 2009. The total number of people with employment worldwide did rise—from about 2.6 billion in 1999 to roughly 3 billion in 2009—but not enough to keep pace with the growth in the working-age population. Governments took a range of steps to counter the impacts of the recent economic crisis, including stimulus packages, job retention measures, and increased reliance on part-time employment. These measures are estimated to have either saved or created some 20 million jobs worldwide. Despite such efforts, industrial economies suffered a jump in the unemployment rate of 2.4 percentage points from 2007 to 2009, followed by the countries in Europe that do not belong to the European Union and by the former Soviet Union (2.0 points) and then by Latin America and the Caribbean (1.2 points). Other parts of the world saw more limited increases in unemployment rates (0.5 points or less). The following graph illustrates these trends.
Rural America Leads Economic Recovery
As reported by The Daily Yonder, the rural unemployment rate dropped for the third month in a row in September, according to county job figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rural unemployment rate of 8.9% in September remains below both the urban rate of 9.3% and the national rate of 9.2%. This map below shows the unemployment rates in all rural counties relative to the national average of 9.2% in September. Blue counties have rates below the national average; purple counties are above.
Most rural counties (1,269 out of 2,038, or 62%) had unemployment rates in September below the national average, as seen in the graph below.
Federal Budget Cuts and Rural America
As reported by The Daily Yonder, a draft report on federal deficit reduction issued by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has several elements that have a particular impact on rural communities. One of the proposed measures is gradually increasing the retirement age to 69 by 2075, which may disproportionately affect rural Americans since the gap between urban and rural mortality rates has been growing since 1990. People in urban areas are living longer than those who reside in many rural counties, and the decline in longevity is particularly evident among women in the South and in Appalachia. As a result, an increase in retirement age is a disproportionate cut in benefits in the many rural counties where people are living shorter lives. The map below shows the counties, largely rural, where life expectancy has not changed or has declined.
Many Outmigration Counties Prosperous
Nearly half of today’s nonmetropolitan counties lost population through net outmigration over the past 20 years; for over 700 counties, this loss has exceeded 10 percent. Outmigration counties fall into two distinct types with very different sets of characteristics. One type, with poverty rates exceeding 25 percent in 1999, is clearly hampered by a lack of economic opportunities. High school completion rates are low, poverty rates average over 30 percent, and unemployment rates are chronically high in these high-poverty outmigration counties. The other set of counties, however, is generally prosperous. Overall, these counties have higher educational attainment and lower unemployment than rural counties without high outmigration. These counties tend to be remote, thinly settled, and lacking in scenic appeal for prospective residents or tourists. Quality-of-life considerations appear to be a main drawback for these (low-poverty outmigration) counties. The map below shows the rural counties that lost 10% or more of their population through outmigration. The dark blue counties had poverty rates above 25%.
The rural counties with the most attractive landscape were also most attractive to those moving from metro areas to rural counties. The map below indicates county landscape scores. The darker the green on this map, the more attractive the county's landscape.
Carbon Offsets 101
December 7-8, Missoula
This two-day class will cover the entire start-to-finish process of creating a carbon offset project. This class will begin with scoping a potential idea, determining eligibility under the various carbon standards and trading markets, and discussing financing options for performing the necessary work.
Super Science Saturday
December 11, 1-3pm, MSU Strand Union Building, Bozeman
Montana State University will host Super Science Saturday, a science fair-style event featuring MSU engineering, chemistry, biology, architecture, wildlife science, and other topics. The event is free and open to kids and families of all ages.
Sage Mountain Center Tour
December 12, 1-3pm, Whitehall
Feel like an adventure into the mountains of Montana to see solar electricity, solar hot water, wind generation, straw bale/cordwood building technologies, and an environment designed to nurture the spirit? Sage Mountain Center offers free tours of their facility the second Sunday of every month. For directions to Sage Mountain Center, click here, , or call (406) 494-9875. No reservations required.
State of Montana Housing Plan Webinar
December 16, 10am
The Consolidated Plan is used by federal agencies to make appropriation decisions regarding resources made available to Montana for addressing issues related to affordable housing, homelessness, infrastructure, public facilities, economic development, and other community development needs. Click here to register for the webinar, space is limited.
ISSRM Call for Abstracts
June 4-8, 2011, Madison, Wisconsin
The International Symposium on Society & Resource Management is accepting abstracts to present individual papers, posters, or to lead organized paper or panel sessions. This year's theme is "Integrating Conservation and Sustainable Living." More information about the symposium and online submission of abstracts can be found here. Contact the with additional questions. Abstract submission deadline is February 15, 2011.
General Mills Champions for Healthy Kids Grants
Deadline: December 15
The goal of General Mills Champions for Healthy Kids Grant Program is to encourage U.S. communities to improve the eating and physical activity patterns of young people, ages 2-18. In 2011, the program will award 50 grants of $10,000 each to nonprofit organizations, schools, and government agencies throughout the country that offer innovative programs to help youth adopt a balanced diet and physically active lifestyle.
NCST Small Grant Program
Deadline: December 16
The National Center on Senior Transportation is inviting applications to develop or enhance community collaboratives that focus on the mobility needs of culturally and ethnically diverse older adult populations. The NCST expects to make four to six awards of $10,000 to $20,000 each. Projects are for a maximum of six to nine months. Successful applicants will receive individually tailored technical assistance from the NCST. Only private, nonprofit or governmental agencies may apply.
Captain Planet Foundation Grants
Deadline: December 31
The mission of the Captain Planet Foundation is to fund and support hands-on, environmental projects for children and youths. The Foundation is interested in funding innovative programs that empower children and youth to work towards solving environmental problems in their neighborhoods and communities. All funded projects must involve young people ages 6-18 (elementary through high school). Nonprofit organizations and public schools worldwide are eligible to apply for grants of $250 to $2,500.
The Eisner Prize for Excellence in Intergenerational Work
Deadline: January 31, 2011
The Eisner Foundation has announced the launch of the inaugural Eisner Prize and is currently soliciting nominations of individuals or non-profit organizations. The Eisner Prize is a cash award of $100,000 and is designed to recognize excellence by an individual or a non-profit organization in uniting and utilizing multiple generations, especially seniors and youth, to bring about positive and lasting changes in their community.
NeighborWorks Housing Funds
NeighborWorks Montana's Real Estate Acquisition and Development Loan Funds are available to lend for housing projects in Montana. The loan funds can be used for acquisition of land, predevelopment, and development of housing projects sponsored by non-profit and public organizations. If you are working on a project and would like to see if it fits, or if you know of projects that are looking for short term funds, please or call Maureen Rude at 406-458-8704.
Walk Score Rates 2,500 New Cities
In 2007, to promote walkable neighborhoods, Matt Lerner and Mike Mathieu, two former Microsoft employees, came up with Walk Score. Using a novel 100-point scale, the Walk Score website gives neighborhoods a walkability rating based on the nearby availability of grocery stores, restaurants, schools, and other important everyday needs. It allows renters, realtors, community activists, and curious citizens to compare how pedestrian-friendly a neighborhood is. Walk Score was initially available in 40 U.S. cities, but today it announced a huge new expansion. After getting requests from people in cities like Minneapolis and Pittsburgh who wanted to look up the walkability in neighborhoods in their cities, Walk Score has expanded to cover the 2,500 largest cities. The following image indicates the walkability rating of the Twin Cities area, with green indicating a high degree of walkability and red indicating a low walkability rating.
Does America Have "Developing States"?
As reported by The Daily Good, the Human Development Index is a metric that measures the life expectancy, education, and standard of living in an area. It's usually used to sort the world into "developing countries," like Bangladesh and Burundi, and "developed countries" like the United States and Western Europe. But this interactive infographic actually uses the Human Development Index to show differences between the states here in America. The highest on the list are Connecticut, Massachusetts, and other states in the northeast. The lowest are the Appalachian states.
USDA Releases Farmer's Market Map and Datasets
In 2010, the USDA National Farmers Market Directory counted over 6,200 operational farmers markets in the country. That’s more than a 16 percent growth in farmers markets from 2009. In every state and season, shoppers flock to nearby farmers markets in search of healthy, fresh foods. Farmers markets can offer it all: from seasonal, fresh produce to local meats, dairy products to locally baked bread and fragrant cut flowers. A new mapping feature on the USDA National Farmers Market Directory allows users to pull up state-by-state maps of farmers markets listed in the USDA National Farmers Market Directory and zoom in to see detailed location. Information about farmers markets is easily accessed via convenient hotlinks right from the map. The Directory is also searchable by state, county, zip code and participation in federal nutrition assistance programs, such as the Women, Infants and Children program or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Results from the USDA National Farmers Market Directory are based on voluntary reporting from farmers market managers. A raw data set from the USDA National Farmers Market Directory on Data.gov is available for app designers and researchers to develop even more sophisticated or fine-tuned uses of the USDA Farmers Market Directory. The data set, which includes farmers market names and physical street locations, is available as a downloadable Excel file. CNN has already put this data to good use as part of a series called Eatocracy: Mind, Body and Wallet, which included a partnership with the social networking site Foursquare to create a healthy eating badge for frequent farmers market shoppers.
Community Development “In the News”
Organic Farmers Find Innovative Ways to Fight Pests
There’s a small burst of new research into organic farming techniques as a result of the 2008 farm bill, which finances a range of agricultural programs at a total of $307 billion. For years such research was financed at $3 million a year, and though the funds are still minuscule compared with conventional agricultural research, it’s now $20 million annually for the next few years, and may increase further. Instead of five to seven research grants per year, there are now two dozen. New York Times; Nov. 30.
Corporate Profits Hit Record Highs
The nation’s workers may be struggling, but American companies just had their best quarter ever. American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago, at least in nominal or noninflation-adjusted terms. New York Times; Nov. 23.
Food Companies Offer "Traceability" To Consumers
Savvy food companies, driven by the spate of high-profile recalls and an increasingly competitive market, have begun publicly flaunting their farm-to-fork “traceability”. Retailers across the U.S. are trying to gain a competitive advantage by using high-tech stickers that allow consumers who buy the products to download specific harvest and slaughter dates, GPS field and fishing locations -- even farmer biographies. Toronto Globe and Mail; Nov. 22.
Obama Administration Examines Environmental Justice
Obama administration officials are looking at hazardous waste storage, toxic air emissions and an array of other contaminants to try to determine whether low-income and minority communities are disproportionately exposed to them. The Environmental Protection Agency's administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, has made the issue one of her top policy priorities, alarming manufacturing and business interests. New York Times; Nov. 21.
Materials Use Up
Global use of materials—the food, feed, forest products, metals, and minerals that constitute the foundation of modern economies—was up 2.7 percent in 2007, the latest year for which global data are available. The 2007 pre-recession expansion was the fifth consecutive year of relatively robust global growth in materials use. Materials in the global economy broadly consist of two types: nonrenewables, which include construction minerals, industrial minerals, and metals, and renewables, typically the biomass harvested for feed, food, and forestry as well as animal products. Nonrenewables extraction was up 3.2 percent in 2007, while biomass extraction increased 1.9 percent. Worldwatch Institute; Nov. 18.
International Retail Designs Offer Alternative to Shopping Malls
America may have brought the world the regional mall. But now innovative projects popping up overseas are taking that and other retail concepts into new and innovative directions, setting a lead that U.S. firms may increasingly want to follow. Retail Traffic; Nov. 18.
Streetcars Increasing in Popularity
The streetcar bandwagon, which has picked up dozens of cities nationwide, including Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, and Santa Ana, is fueled not only by nostalgia but also by new attitudes about both urbanism and transportation planning. California Planning & Development Report; Nov. 17.
Despite New Jobs, Unemployment Rate Remains 9.6%
Employers added the most jobs in five months in October, with the education and health care sectors leading the way. But the unemployment rate, measured by a separate survey of households, remained stuck at 9.6 percent for the third straight month. Denver Post; Nov. 5
Missoula Company Receives IBM Innovation Award
TerraEchos, a Missoula company owned by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, received IBM's CTO Technology Award for their development of a supersensitive sound sensor. Missoulian; Nov. 29.
MSU Announces Finalists for Wildlife Crossing Competition
Promoters of a design competition to produce a "next generation" wildlife crossing for spanning Interstate 70 in the Vail area have revealed submissions from five finalists bidding for the award. The Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University is sponsoring the ARC International Wildlife Crossing design competition, which settled on the finalists from 36 submissions that came in from nine countries. The teams included 100 design firms from around the world. Physical models of the five designs of finalists will be displayed at the Western Governors' Wildlife Council meeting in Denver. Denver Post; Nov. 28.
Study Examines Economic Effects of Montana Ski Industry
Montana ski resort operators are hoping to get a little more help from the state after a survey conducted last year showed the industry contributed an estimated $49.5 million into the economy from out-of-state and supported more than 1,000 jobs. Montana Standard; Nov. 26.
Boeing Purchases Montana Company
A Helena company that began 13 years ago with four employees in a small building on the south side of the airport on Monday became part of the largest aerospace firm in the world. Boeing announced Monday morning its acquisition of Summit Aeronautics Group, a precision manufacturing firm that today employs 135 at its local manufacturing plant. Helena Independent Record; Nov. 23.
BP Retires Oil and Gas Leases Near Glacier National Park
The oil company BP voluntarily gave up its rights to explore for energy along the western border of Glacier National Park, U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester announced Friday. The deal takes 1,853 acres out of potential exploration, including a 394-acre parcel near the Polebridge entrance to Glacier National Park. Missoulian, Nov. 19.
Senate Approves Small Producer Exemption to Food Safety Bill
Federal lawmakers pulled a food safety bill off their menu Thursday, but not before signing off on a compromise amendment to protect small producers. The amendment sponsored by Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., makes exceptions for small producers selling their food to local restaurants, grocers or directly to consumers. It will either be rolled into the Food Safety and Modernization Act or voted on, up or down, separately. Billings Gazette; Nov. 18.
Northrop Grumman to Use Butte Supercomputer for Renewable Energy Development
Rocky Mountain Supercomputing Center has partnered with Northrop Grumman on a long-term project to help businesses identify the best sites for wind and solar energy production. The partnership could help expand both green energy in Montana and the capabilities of Big Sky, the Butte-based supercomputer. Montana Standard; Nov. 16.
Six Montana Companies Receive Federal Biotech Grants
Six Montana biotech companies will benefit from a new federal program aimed at expanding research, creating jobs and supporting biotechnology innovation through tax breaks and federal grants, U.S. Sen. Max Baucus announced. The goal of the program is to support biomedical research that pushes "the limits of modern medicine," leads to technological advancements that make "cost-prohibitive treatments affordable," according to the statement. Bozeman Daily Chronicle; Nov. 5.
'Garden of Buddhas' Grows on Flathead Reservation
On a rural American Indian reservation, amid grazing horses and cattle, a Buddhist lama from the other side of the world is nearing completion of a $1.6 million meditative garden that he hopes will draw spiritual pilgrims. New York Times; Oct. 31.
Montana DEQ Award Grant for Algae Greenhouse Project
Whitefish-based Algae Aquaculture Technologies has received a $350,000 grant from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to build a commercial algae greenhouse that converts waste wood chips into organic fertilizer. The 5,500-square-foot greenhouse will be constructed on the grounds of F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber Co. near Columbia Falls in a joint venture of the two companies. Daily Inter Lake; Oct. 31.