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The MCTC News Blog

Race to Save the Planet—An MCTC Learning Community

Posted on: July 17th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

MCTC learning communityCollaboration is key to solving some of the world’s most challenging issues. Race to Save the Planet is a unique learning option offered by MCTC that gives students an opportunity to collaborate and deeply engage with their instructors—and each other—while learning about issues involving our environment and planet.

This interdisciplinary block of coursesoffered this Fall is set up as an intentional learning community in which students meet three days a week for a block of time each day and earn eight credits across two disciplines: Biology and Political Science.

The lectures, assignments and activities are integrated by the instructors to give students a holistic look at the environment from a broad range of perspectives. The coursework includes public work projects where students apply what they learn in class to actions in their own community.

“I’ve never had a class where people were so willing to open up to each other,” said Kristin Lessard, a former student who took the classes. “Before enrolling in the course, I never had any serious environmental focus, but now I’m going to major in environmental science. It’s the best class I’ve ever had!”

Students will earn credits in Race to Save the Planet that satisfy four Goal Areas of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (Goal Areas 3,5,9,10), providing a pathway to graduation/transfer.

Student-led Urban Garden Flourishes

Posted on: July 14th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Sprouts in the MCTC urban gardenThe MCTC Urban Farm Collective (UFC) student club finished the construction of an on-campus urban garden in late May and recently held its first food distribution event in the T Skyway.

The 8,700 square foot garden was built over the course of the 2014 spring semester in any empty grass plot at Spruce and Yale Place. Dozens of fruits and vegetables including peppers, kale, squash, onions and tomatillos are growing and being harvested weekly to serve to the MCTC community.

“The intention is to show people that urban agriculture is a reliable source of food,” said student Cody Mehlin, UFC president.

Urban gardens, or community gardens, are part of the growing urban agriculture movement. These gardens are plotted and maintained by a community in highly populated locations.
This isn’t the club’s first experience establishing a garden. The club started a garden in 2012 on a plot next to the Gethsemane Episcopal Church in Downtown Minneapolis. Club members distributed some of that food to the community for free and sold the rest at local farmers markets.

“The downtown garden was a huge success but we couldn’t bring the produce back to the students,” said UFC advisor and Biology instructor Katherine Kragtorp.

The College’s Student Senate approved a $65,000 budget for a groundbreaking in December 2013. In the two months since its completion, the garden has begun yielding enough produce to distribute to MCTC students, and club members plan to add a bordering fence, a shed and benches. UFC expects to gain more ground with the garden when more students return for the fall semester and there are more varieties of foods to disburse.

Kragtorp is excited about the garden. She hopes students and community members will learn gardening doesn’t require much work. She’s proud of the students who made it happen.

“I can’t take any credit for this,” she said. “It was entirely the students.”

In 2009 MCTC signed on to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. Student initiatives like the urban garden and the Three-legged Frog environmental club support this initiative through on-campus events, activities and campaigns.
The garden is open to volunteers Monday through Thursday from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Produce from the garden is distributed Wednesdays for free from noon to 1 p.m. in the T Skyway. Visit the club’s Facebook page or email them at MCTCUrbanFarmCollective@gmail.com.

See more photos of the garden on Flickr.

MCTC Receives “Merit Award” for Fine Arts Plaza

Posted on: May 15th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

MCTC Fine Arts PlazaThis spring, the Minnesota chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA-MN) awarded Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) the Merit Award for its Fine Arts Plaza. This award recognizes excellence in design, attention to detail, emphasis on sustainability and other factors. MCTC celebrated the completion of its plaza overhaul last year with a kickoff celebration among students, faculty, staff, neighbors and community partners. Click here for an album of before-and-after photographs of the outdoor plaza.

“MCTC is committed to storm water management and the greening of the campus,” said MCTC Director of Facilities Roger Broz. “Both benefit the MCTC campus community and City of Minneapolis. It is great to be recognized for our efforts.”

The College has made efforts to institute sustainable practices throughout its campus. MCTC was awarded the Downtown Improvement District Greening Award in 2012 and 2013 for its commitment to urban green spaces. The recent outdoor plaza redesign incorporated multiple rain gardens in order to address stormwater runoff. Members of the College Urban Farm Collective club advocated for and are now planting an urban garden in a formerly unused corner lot of the College campus.

MCTC has committed to actively incorporate sustainability and emissions reduction goals into every aspect of the institution. The College signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in December 2007, and currently maintains a Climate Action Plan outlining goals for further emissions reduction, community collaboration and economic investment in sustainable suppliers.

Photo: The MCTC Fine Arts Plaza. Photo credit: Dana Wheelock.

MCTC to Host 10th Annual Sustainability Fair

Posted on: March 28th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

The Raptor Center visits MCTCThe Three-Legged Frog Environmental Club and MCTC Faculty Sustainability Committee invite the MCTC community to attend the tenth annual Sustainability Fair. The Fair, titled “What Is Your Environmental Footprint (and Why Should You Care)?” will host a variety of community environmental organizations, speakers and student clubs to share their expertise, commitment and enthusiasm to inspire greater awareness and action on current environmental issues.

  • April 2
  • 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
  • T Skyway

The fair will offer educational opportunities on climate change, water conservation, sustainable food, recycling and composting, biodiversity preservation, sustainable transportation and sustainable energy—including solar and geothermal energy. Participants will learn ways to reduce their environmental footprint, and have opportunities to get involved and take action on a variety of environmental issues.

The University of Minnesota Raptor Center will return for the fourth year, presenting live raptors, including a bald eagle. (Photo taken at the 2013 Sustainability Fair).

More than 20 environmental and student organizations will be tabling at the fair. The event will provide attendees free pizza with organic ingredients and sodas from a local co-op.

Optimism in the Face of Climate Change

Posted on: March 24th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments
"Bottle Buyology" exhibit at MCTC

The “Bottle Buyology” exhibit came to 2012 as a visual representation of how much plastic waste is created in Minnesota.

On Tuesday, March 25, students and visitors will pick up a few optimistic facts about climate change from J. Drake Hamilton, science policy director at Fresh Energy. Hamilton will speak about Fresh Energy’s work to develop climate policy solutions in Minnesota and provide some optimism in the face of all that is disheartening about climate change. Fresh Energy pursues greater energy efficiency through smart legislation, improvements to current laws, better regulations, savvy financial strategies, market-friendly policies and working with utility partners and service providers to increase energy efficiency implementation. She holds a doctorate in physical geology with an emphasis in climatology and water resources.

Stop by for one of two sessions with J. Drake Hamilton:

  • 9:45–11 a.m. in S.3500, Chemistry for Life class
  • 11:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m. in S.1500, Environmental Science class

See a calendar of all spring events here.