Community Overview

Location
Hennepin County, Minnesota

Community Challenges
Clean transportation and community engagement 

Primary Technical Assistance Focus
Clean transportation planning and investment
 

Communities LEAP logo

Community at a Glance

Hennepin County, Minnesota and the cities of Brooklyn Park and Minneapolis are exploring electric mobility solutions to lower air pollution and provide more affordable, accessible, and equitable transportation options in historically underserved areas. Within the county, these two cities were found to be economically underserved, socially disadvantaged, and disproportionately vulnerable to environmental hazards like traffic pollution, based on analysis using the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) EJScreen tool, the Center for Disease Control’s Social Vulnerability Index, and data from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

County and city representatives are seeking to engage residents to help determine priorities and inform decision-making for potential investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, electric buses, and electric micromobility such as e-bikes and scooters. However, residents have become weary and fatigued after previous experiences engaging with government planning efforts, largely because of the overwhelming amount of information and uncertainty about how their participation shaped the outcomes.

To address these challenges, county and city agencies are partnering with the Communities Local Energy Action Program (LEAP) pilot technical assistance (TA) provider network, led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, to develop a transparent, equitable, replicable, and scalable community engagement model that will also help identify the community’s transportation electrification priorities.

Why Communities LEAP?

Hennepin County, Brooklyn Park, and Minneapolis have set goals to decarbonize their transportation infrastructure, and they applied for Communities LEAP to support development of a replicable and scalable community engagement model that establishes feedback loops between underserved communities and decision makers. The model will be developed using lessons learned from past engagement efforts and input from community-based organizations and community members. The resulting model—and the relationships built throughout the engagement process—will inform transportation planning efforts at the city, regional, and state level in Minnesota.

What does Communities LEAP support include?

The TA provided through Communities LEAP will focus on local knowledge and best practices for community engagement with underserved communities, in partnership with community-based organizations. The community-identified transportation priorities will inform policymakers on the technologies, projects, and locations the community values most, and it will demonstrate how communities can participate to meet their current and future transportation needs.

Planned TA through Communities LEAP includes:

  • Conducting community engagement to identify transportation electrification priorities.
  • Building trust with the communities by improving communication from local government about transportation planning and decision-making.
  • Community-informed decision-making that transparently demonstrates to underserved communities how their voices guide transportation electrification projects.
  • Creating a replicable, scalable, and equitable model for ongoing community engagement to shape transportation planning and decision-making.
  • Improving access to transportation electrification data for communities, planners, and decision makers to better inform technology deployment.

Community Highlights

  • EPA Collaboration: The project team has collaborated with EPA and Renaissance Planning as they support local Brooklyn Park community leaders preparing and planning for federal transportation electrification opportunities.  Feedback from these leaders will be incorporated in the transportation electrification priorities and community engagement model. This collaboration forms part of the institutional feedback loop connecting federal opportunities to local community needs, priorities, and aspirations.

Resources

Communities LEAP analysis for Hennepin County, Minnesota:

Communities LEAP Project Partners

  • City of Brooklyn Park will provide project management to support outreach and engagement with residents as well as coordination with community-based organizations. They will also advise on scope of TA and package findings into community engagement materials.
  • City of Minneapolis advised on TA and ensured alignment with the City’s efforts and strategies for transportation electrification and decarbonization.
  • Hennepin County will provide project coordination and administration, facilitate engagement and project management, provide technical support, and compilate and prepare findings from the TA.
  • Minnesota Clean Cities will provide technical support and training on the topic of transportation electrification.
  • Great Plains Institute will lead development of community questionnaire and listening sessions.