These can be contentious issues in good times, and when there is pressure on the economy they become even thornier. But the area is one of some 45 places in the country chosen by several federal agencies to receive money to engage in a several-year planning effort to deal with them. The Region 5 Development Commission is spearheading the project, officially known as the Central Minnesota Sustainable Development Plan, and the University of Minnesota and the Initiative Foundation have been heavily involved. So, far hundreds of residents have participated in one way or another.
The second conversation hosted by MPR News' Ground Level project in conjunction with the central Minnesota "Resilient Region" project deals with the availability of affordable housing in the five-county area and centers on these three questions:
Should there be better roads? More housing? More people? More jobs? Cleaner lakes? Better business climate? Less of anything? Is there tension between business or recreational opportunity and environmental protection?
Answering questions like these for the 168,000 residents of Todd, Cass, Morrison, Wadena and Crow Wing counties is complicated. So we invited some of the people involved in a two-year planning effort to share their thoughts by responding to the questions.Take a look at the responses so far and give us your response»
At a meeting in Baxter on Tuesday, more than 100 people gathered to comment on draft recommendations for a central Minnesota regional plan.
If your economy depends on clean water, how do you make sure the water stays clean while you take advantage of it?
In 2011, 130 people voted on what they wanted central Minnesota to look like in 25 years and what they thought it was worth investing in and planning for.
For the next two years, a couple hundred people in central Minnesota will be arguing -- with civility they hope -- about how to fix transportation, housing, land use and the economy.
MPR News is following the effort through our Ground Level project, using the Ground Level Blog as a means to encourage central Minnesota residents to join the conversation about the project. This page serves as an entry point for residents to get involved.
Support for Ground Level is provided
by the Bush Foundation.