HeightsNEXT is a sustainable community movement in Columbia Heights, MN. Public events introduce neighbors, network volunteers, and engage civic leaders. Working across organizations, HeightsNEXT promotes green technology, resilience, sustainability, justice, and equality.
Columbia Heights, MN
Solar panels are installed on municipal buildings. Residents own a growing number of electric vehicles.
Residents use extra large recycling bins, extra small garbage bins, and compost bins for food scraps and yard waste. All 3 bins are collected curbside. The city’s recycling center also accepts plastic bags, white styrofoam, motor oil, steel, large cardboard, and many other materials. Events use compostable plates, bowls, cups, and utensils. Items that need repair are kept out of landfills through community Fix-It clinics.
Yards, parks, schools, and municipal properties have native plants, rain gardens, and pollinator habitats. Several residents keep bees, chickens, and vegetable gardens. The school features an edible schoolyard and outdoor classroom. Gardeners exchange plants twice a year. A food forest is currently being planted in a city park. Free documentary screenings and guest speakers teach about conservation, innovation, and sustainability.
Columbia Heights prides itself as one of the most culturally diverse cities in the state. Restaurants of many nationalities are popular. A public tasting event features samples from each. Residents can learn about each other through public storytellings, block parties, art shows, and library events. Equality is also celebrated at an annual PRIDE festival.
Streets and parks are cleaned up twice a year by many groups of residents. Fresh produce is given to residents who need assistance. Pet beds are hand made and donated to a local animal rescue organization. At city events, volunteers guide recycling and compost to their proper bins. The city recycling center is completely staffed by volunteers. Partnerships between community groups, churches, and volunteer organizations are common.
The annual Columbia Heights Jamboree is a popular mid-year festival including a community picnic, parade, carnival, and fireworks display. Peak bloom marks an impressive residential garden tour. Dog day is celebrated in late summer, followed by a Halloween haunted house, and a showcase of land, water, and air vehicles from the fire department, hospital, and public works. Winter attractions include a stop from the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train, and an ice plunge.