Monday Minute, February 1, 2010

Dear Colleagues,

Partnership seems to be the watchword these days.

Friday I served on a panel with other University colleagues and Hennepin County officials, discussing ways we could partner to do more with less. I heard the same plea for new partnering relationships when I gave a talk several weeks ago before the Association of Minnesota Counties. The recession appears to have provided a powerful incentive for organizations and communities to reach out to others, knowing that none of us can do all that we need to do amidst shrinking financial resources. Figuring out how to do that remains, I think, one of the great creative challenges we face.

I saw a premiere example of partnership this past weekend, at Greenlight's charrette on developing housing, retail, and open space next to a lake and wetland in St. Paul. Faculty, students, practitioners, and community members came together to present their work, creating tremendous value as they gathered to address a complex problem. Workshops like those of Greenlight could become a model of how we might partner with communities as well as offer additional educational opportunities for our students.

Everyone lacks financial resources, but universities and communities have an abundance of human assets: dedicated, creative, and knowledgeable people who remain the real wealth in every organization. Leveraging that wealth involves engaging people in meaningful, creative work, something that I saw in abundance on Friday and Saturday.