Update from Sustainability Project Coordinator, Morris, MN

Morris Community organizations, partners, businesses, and residents,

My name Is Griffin Peck and I am the Sustainability Project Coordinator for the City of Morris and I also coordinate the Morris Model Partnership.

This is my second email to this group of stakeholders- with the addition of more stakeholders identified by Morris Model partners since my last communication. So for anyone who didn’t see my first email, a brief overview.

But first some Key details:

Who: YOU- Important Community Leaders and Stakeholders.

What: You are invited to engage in sustainability strategic planning events in Mid-November 2023

**When: Community Workshop 1: November 8th, 2023 from 3:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Community Feedback Event 2: November 17th, 2023 from 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM **

Where: Old No.1 Southside

Why: Our initial strategic plan is 5 years old and we want to update it to be as inclusive as possible. Topics will include Food security, good health and wellness, decent work and economic growth, responsible consumption and production, quality education opportunities, and many more.

In 2018 the Morris Model completed its first strategic plan after a retreat at Fort Ripley. This strategic plan produced our list of 100 aspirational projects and our Big Three Goals. Since this initial sustainability strategic planning 34/100 projects have been completed with an additional 16 in progress- meaning we were able to start and/or complete half of the aspirational projects we produced just 5 years ago. Given this progress and the passage landmark federal funding (IIJA and IRA) for sustainability initiatives, I have worked with West Central Initiative and out climate smart municipalities partnership to secure funding and plan sustainability strategic planning 2.0. However, there are many key differences between this round of strategic planning and the last.

First and foremost, we are casting a wider net. Using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a framework we are working to include folks with insights from wider background of experiences. Instead of asking folks who think about industry to try and think about renewable energy- let’s put their expertise in industry to work by working on the Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure goal area. The second way this will be different from the first round of strategic planning is this will take place over 1 community workshop, 1 community event, and individual meetings with strategic Morris Model partners. And it this will all happen over 14 days instead of a weekend retreat. We will also have the privilege of hosting Guido Wallraven- the community planner from our sister city of Saerbeck. His insights into strategic planning will help the Morris Model create a more robust plan with clearer goals for different UN SDG areas.

We have reserved Old No. 1 Southside for our community workshop and our community event. The first of these events will be a community stakeholder workshop hosted on November 8th, 2023 from 3:00 PM – 7:30 PM. There will be a meal and refreshments served throughout this event and it will focus on communicating the progress over the last 5 years and brainstorming with other community stakeholders to identify Assets-Vulnerabilities-Goals- Projects within each of the goal area(s). Every person on this email is invited and highly encouraged to come and participate- this is YOUR opportunity to have your voice heard and to contribute your ideas for how our community can sustain itself and continue to develop and grow.

Between the two community events- Guido and Griffin will meet with core Morris model partnership members and other groups within the community to learn about their specific ideas and opportunities for sustainable development. These meetings will help shape community/sector level goals for distributed energy production, opportunities to reduce overall electricity use or increase efficiency, and finding methods to limit waste and promote circularity.

The second community event will take place on Friday November 17th, 2023 from 5:00 PM- 7:30 PM. The purpose of this event will be to share the draft strategic plan with this entire group of people and anyone else in the community who is interested in this work and want to provide feedback. We will ask for your honest feedback and make necessary updates before publishing the updated plan by the end of 2023.

Speaking more to the funding landscape- under new programs, businesses interested in solar, wind, and battery storage and access up 70% tax credits. This greatly reduces initial capital costs while also providing an energy asset that will last for 25-35 years and provide energy at a fixed cost. Additionally there are billions of dollars of direct rebates available for home energy efficiency upgrades for low and moderate income residents, and tax credits for residents that don’t qualify for the income based rebates. And you may ask what the benefit of a tax credit is if you don’t have a large enough tax appetite- Under the IRA these tax credits are now transferable and able to be traded on the market for tax-free cash. There are also interesting opportunities for landlords with low income renters. If your renters are considered low income under a new program- you could get money to perform energy efficiency upgrades and to add solar at little to no cost to the property owner. This win-win model allows landlords to increase the value of their property with upgrades while residents will benefit from lowered utility costs.

I am hoping that because we are planning these events 2 months in advance that most, if not all of the people on this call will be able to engage with this refreshed strategic planning in one capacity or another. I feel so grateful that I get to serve this community and for all of the amazing people already doing great work to make Morris a place for everyone and a regional leader in sustainability. I can’t wait to see what innovative and cutting edge projects and goals we will be able to co-create.

If you have any questions please reach out to me directly to discuss further.


Griffin Peck, griffin@ci.morris.mn.us


Sustainability Project Coordinator- City of Morris

Morris Model Coordinator

West Central Clean Energy Resource Teams Steering Committee

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