In reflection of the strides made in 2023, Sustainable Stillwater MN (SSMN) is proud to share the achievements of our hardworking volunteer workgroups and unveil their ambitious goals for 2024.
The commitment to sustainability and community engagement remains steadfast as the organization continues to work towards a greener and healthier Stillwater.
Climate Work Area
Climate Action Workgroup
In the realm of Climate Action, the workgroup in 2023 advocated for comprehensive policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and engaged in Residential Energy Emission Reduction projects at Cimarron. In 2024, the focus will remain on advocating for local policies, expanding residential energy emission reduction efforts, aiding in the communication of energy reduction programs in Stillwater with Xcel, and supporting the Circulator Bus initiative for traffic emission reduction.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Workgroup
This newly formed DEI workgroup will focus on learning, educating, and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within our organization and internal practices and procedures as well as within our Stillwater area community. Every Minnesotan — regardless of income, gender, race, ethnicity, color, or national origin — has the right to healthy air, sustainable lands, clean water, and a better climate.
Emissions Reduction Team
The newly formed Emission Reduction Team aims to develop a work plan with support from a liaison to the city. Partners in Energy (PIE) will assist for 18 months. They seek approval from the city council in February or March, plan to connect with community partners, and are exploring social media outreach.
Transportation Work Area
Bicycle-Friendly Community Workgroup
The Bicycle Friendly Community Workgroup celebrated successful events in 2023, such as Bike to School Day involving five elementary schools, a Community Bike Collection that amassed 125 bikes, and a Bike Rodeo with Cimarron bike giveaway. The Bridge the Valley - Bike Rally in August 2023 attracted 640 riders, and there were improvements to downtown trail signage in September.
Looking forward to 2024, the goals include expanding Bike to School Day to more than five elementary schools, conducting a Community Bike Collection with Lakeview Hospital involving over 100 bikes, a Bike Rodeo with a Cimarron bike giveaway and more than 10 bikes, and upgrading trail signage by more than 10 signs.
The group plans to recertify Stillwater as a Bicycle Friendly Community with a Silver designation and initiate an elementary school bicycle education curriculum in the first quarter of 2024. Engaging three downtown businesses for Bicycle Friendly Business certification is also on the agenda.
EV Charger Workgroup
The EV Charger Workgroup, in 2023, applied for a grant from MPCA (though declined) and initiated discussions with a Stillwater Motors Manager regarding GM EV Charger programs. In 2024, the group aims to secure an agreement with the City of Stillwater for public parking slots, finalize quotes and agreements for EV charger installations, and pursue grants for charging units. The ultimate goal for 2026 is to have 10 dual Level 2 Charging units within the Stillwater city limits.
Economy Work Area
Green Business Directory Workgroup
The Green Business Directory Workgroup successfully certified 143 businesses in the directory and launched the Plant a Seed green business organization. A new social media director, Kristin Prideaux, was hired, and a partnership with the University of St. Thomas for revenue generation was initiated. In 2024, the focus will be on renewing certifications for all businesses, maintaining momentum with Plant A Seed meetings, increasing revenues, and promoting directory usage. Plans also include restarting the Green Flash newsletter and potentially creating a Green Business Directory video.
Environment Work Area
Bird City Stillwater Workgroup
The Bird City Stillwater Workgroup achieved several milestones in 2023, including organizing a winter bird tour hike, collaborating with Next Bend Bird Tours, and making presentations to Sunrise Rotary on "Lights Out" initiatives to prevent window/glass collisions. The group hosted a Community Celebration and Bird Fest in partnership with Browns Creek Watershed District. They also collaborated with the Rain Garden Workgroup on buckthorn removal at Lily Lake and developed a Bird City Stillwater brochure.
The goals for 2024 include continued volunteer recruitment, developing a Bird City Stillwater Tour Guide, and sustaining efforts to prevent light pollution and window collisions. The group also plans to collaborate with the city, Wild Rivers Conservancy/NPS on the development of Aiple/Lumberjack Park, explore grants, and work on a professional permanent poster for Bird City Stillwater.
Cigarette Boxes/Collection Workgroup
The Cigarette Boxes/Collection Workgroup plans to assess the active boxes, explore budget possibilities with Philip Morris/Make America Beautiful, collaborate with the city for program visibility, and potentially integrate the program into the Green Business Directory certification process.
Rain Gardens Workgroup
The Rain Gardens Workgroup, in 2024, seeks to categorize 84 rain gardens based on criteria like adopter status, condition, and location, while addressing invasive species like jumping worms. Financial requests for plant ID signs and rods are also part of the 2024 plan along with recruiting and training new adopters for the remaining gardens needing care. The rain garden group also plans to continue the partnership with Washington Conservation District to achieve water quality improvement goals together and host rain garden events in 2024.
Storm Drain Workgroup
The Storm Drain Workgroup witnessed success in promoting the Adopt-A-Drain Program, resulting in the adoption of 243 drains by the community. Looking ahead to 2024, the focus will be on partnering with the Washington Conservation District’s water quality goals by improving the status of Long Lake, which is currently on the impaired list due to high chloride levels. The goal is to expand the Adopt-A-Drain program to reach 500 drains, with a specific emphasis on areas near Long Lake. Quarterly education for residents and green businesses will cover topics such as salt impact, spring clean-up, minimal chemical use on lawns, and leaf clean-up.
What's That Plant Workgroup
The "What's That Plant" Workgroup hosted four successful plant ID events in 2023 along Brown’s Creek to help visitors learn more about the native and invasive plants in our area. This workgroup aims to enhance social media, trail signage, acquire permits, and utilize Google Analytics for tracking visitors to the plant ID events in 2024.
As Sustainable Stillwater MN reflects on the past year's accomplishments and propels itself toward the goals of 2024, the organization remains committed to fostering environmental consciousness, community engagement, and sustainable practices in Stillwater and beyond for a better future for all.