The Minnesota Sustainable Communities Network and the NextStep web site were important elements of a Minnesota project to promote moves toward sustainability—meeting our needs today while ensuring that future generations will be able to meet their own needs—from individuals, organizations and on to communities.

Community. The Minnesota Sustainable Communities Network (MnSCN) sought to encourage networking, information exchange, and better access to assistance on broad themes of "sustainability" for people and organizations in Minnesota and the surrounding area. Staff from the Office of Environmental Assistance coordinated this group, facilitated statewide events on themes of sustainability, produced an electronic newsletter, and helped facilitate interactions between like-minded and motivated people. A large network of sponsoring organizations helped promote the network and contribute news and resources.

Online resources. Started in 2000, the NextStep web site grew as a way to support the needs of MnSCN, offering a curated library of online resources, an events calendar, and a base of content that fed the electronic newsletter for network members. Promoting the themes of sustainability helped strengthen local efforts and inspire imitation. Putting resources online helped keep costs down and helped spread information far beyond the borders of the state.

Acknowledgements. A huge debt of gratitude is owed to the many supporters over the years that have made the MnSCN and NextStep possible. Active contributions from sponsors and users built an interesting mix of website resources and content, inspired ambitious events and gatherings, and provided important feedback to state and local leaders on the importance of sustainability to Minnesota's quality of life.

The future is now

Sustainability has gained a lot of traction over the years—information and resources are plentiful. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency programs and staff will continue to promote and advance related themes and ideas through programs like these.

Minnesota GreenCorps is a statewide program to help preserve and protect Minnesota’s environment while training a new generation of environmental professionals.

HTML icon Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a voluntary challenge, assistance, and recognition program to help Minnesota cities achieve their local goals for sustainability and quality of life.

HTML icon SEEK - Sharing Environmental Education Knowledge is dedicated to environmental education in Minnesota.

Living Green 365 is a free monthly e-newsletter for Minnesota residents who are committed to making choices and taking action to lead healthier and more sustainable lives, 365 days a year.

RETAP employs skilled, retired professionals to provide facility assessments and community sustainability assistance to small businesses, institutions, and communities in Minnesota.

The HTML icon MnTAP: Minnesota Technical Assistance Program helps Minnesota businesses develop and implement industry-tailored solutions that prevent pollution, maximize resources, and reduce energy use and costs to improve public health and the environment.

The Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair is a huge collaboration between MPCA and many partners. Twelve days of hands-on activities, demonstrations and education.


Promoting environmental jobs was a very popular feature of NextStep. Here are some resources to inspire job searchers and assist potential employers—happy hunting!