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Rural Design Conference

Thriving by Design II
Achieving Rural - Urban Economic and Community Health

WHAT  This Rural Design Conference event, titled Thriving by Design II, will bring together people from diverse disciplines to experience design and design thinking as essential to catalyze planning and development for rural economic prosperity. Emphasizing the connections, interactions, and inter-dependencies between rural and urban people and places, Thriving by Design II will be held at the University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC). To see a schedule go here.


Wednesday evening, July 30, 2014, through the afternoon of Thursday, July 31st, 2014.

Community leaders, elected officials, and planners, especially those from rural and small urban areas, designers, and anyone interested in learning about the use of design and design thinking as a problem-solving opportunity.

You will gain experience in visualizing and using design to achieve, sustain, and strengthen community vitality across our region. By using design and design thinking techniques, you will help create, select, and frame ideas and goals that can inform Minnesota's community development.

is available online here. To print a registration form to send by US mail, please go here. (Early registration fee is $60; registration fee after July 7, 2014 is $75). 

In-person registration for the conference opens Wednesday, July 30, 2014, at 4 p.m. and Thursday, July 31 at 7:30 a.m. in Bede Ballroom in Sargent Student Center at UMC. View a map (PDF) of the University of Minnesota Crookston.

A reception and light dinner will begin at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 30, 2014. The program begins at 7 p.m. with opening remarks by Dean Beverly Durgan (University of Minnesota Extension) and a keynote address by Dean Thomas Fisher (University of Minnesota College of Design).

Afterward, attendees will screen the documentary "If You Build It", which chronicles two designers as they lead ten teens through a year-long design project that generates new hope in their rural North Carolina town.

On Thursday at 8:30 a.m., the conference continues with plenary session in morning and design workshop in the afternoon. Workshop topics include nature-based recreation and tourism, food systems and role of Extension in the future of our communities (Extension Reconsidered).

The University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, a part of UMN Extension; the UMN Center for Rural Design; University of Minnesota Crookston; the EDA Center at the University of Minnesota Crookston. 

This event is supported in part through the Center for Prevention's  Community Engagement Innovation Funding initiative. 

MORE INFORMATION  Contact Linda Kingery at 218-281-8697.

Visit the City of Crookston page.  On-campus lodging is also available in Evergreen Hall and Heritage Hall; reserve an on-campus room on the registration page.  

On Wednesday, July 30 from 1:00-4:00 pm, attendees can take part in a tour of regional activities, including paddling on the Red Lake River, learning about birds and flood mitigation in Warren, and learning about fruit trees and high tunnels in Mentor. Space is limited depending on the tour, please register ahead of time to secure your spot. View tour summaries (PDF).

What does design have to do with community and economic development, the priorities of most community leaders?  Places and even entire countries are turning to design to creatively solve problems and harness opportunities across sectors. In New Zealand, the country-wide Better by Design initiative unlocks better business: better thinking, better insights, better products and services, and better customer experiences. Companies, organizations, and governments there use design and design thinking to become more innovative, efficient and internationally competitive.  Communities can, too.

In fact, a design-based economy is emerging as communities and businesses turn to the innovations, problem-solving methods, and interdisciplinary creative processes of design to compete and thrive in an ever more complex and sophisticated world.

Thriving by Design II follows up on two previous events. In 2007, the "Thriving by Design" Rural Summit opened Minnesota's Statehood Sesquicentennial commemoration asking reflective questions on topics like socioeconomic and spatial choices that affect us even today. Questions about the quality of life for future generations and how the choices we make now will impact the future were also considered.

The success of the 2007 event spurred efforts to host another gathering. In 2010, the UMN Center for Rural Design hosted the International Symposium of Rural Design and brought together representatives from academia, non-profit organizations, and professionals from many disciplines to explore an interdisciplinary professional approach to addressing rural issues through design.

Design thinking can help our communities, our states, and our region
"thrive by design" in a global economy.
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