I wrote in my new Sustainable We column in Southwest Journal about the inspirational people I am interviewing who are building a stronger environment in Minneapolis.
“We are better served by having the educated, aware, thoughtful and passionate individuals we have in Minneapolis who want to do the right thing in a better way than we are now.”
I have been impressed by the individual drive of:
- landlord Tim Springer to lead a more progressive attitude in real estate ownership;
- City Councilman Kevin Reich to build a greener public school;
- CEED co-founders Shalini Gupta and Cecilia Martinez and young energy advocate Timothy DenHerder-Thomas to make cost savings available to low-income communities.
Yet, we know that passionate individuals who care can clash over solutions. Such as the difficulty of creating a stronger public transportation system in our city. And the struggle between decision-makers and residents over airport noise.
- I saw that firsthand at a discussion between Park Board members and Loring Park residents over the use of pesticides.
- I hear it in the ongoing Q&A series I am doing with sustainable designers in the city, who are trying new things yet running across officials who aren’t used to new things.
- I hear it in the frustration of those who are working to reduce our garbage and stop putting toxic chemicals on green lawns.
Can We Have Smart, Collaborative Conversations?
The reason I started MPLSGreen is because I am someone who tunes out when I feel hopeless, or am asked to do more than I’m already doing — and because I am a longtime journalist who bemoans the general state of communications today. We all know how easy it is to complain without seeking solutions, share information without knowing facts, point fingers, yell, defend, judge, get confused by mixed information, mistrust the integrity of sources. And we know how difficult it is in our busy lives to try to understand complex, important issues — or to create useful measures for accountability.
Yet, to have impact — and thrive as a community — we need to be a collective. We need to move from Me to We, as hokey as that sounds.
I want to be part of the solution to our looming environmental issues. And, as a writer, I’ve been privileged to interview and meet many locals who feel the same.
More Than Changing Light Bulbs
What can we do that will make a bigger difference in the climate havoc we’re encountering that is more impactful than changing to (important) LED light bulbs?
And… how, as a community, are we going to do the right thing, when — as one Q&A designer told me recently — many of us cannot afford to do anything?
There are great city/county informational sessions, and neighborhood groups, and non-profit grassroots organizations, providing education around specific issues.
What I am ready to do — and I hope you will join me — is to host a series of moderated panel discussions — for and by people who live here — so that we can truly learn what we need to know from each other, as fellow residents who care, about interconnected issues related to our garbage, energy use, toxins, stormwater management. How can we be better informed when we chat with neighbors, parents, children, teachers/classmates, city officials, legislators, contractors?
I want to have a conversation not about what I should do as an individual, but about what we can do as a community.
We’re intelligent people who care, and want to understand what makes a difference, and what does not.
Forum Description Ideas to Date
As Minneapolis prepares to enhance its reputation as a Sustainable We City – with its 2030 Climate Action Plan goals and Mayor Betsy Hodges’ recent visit to the Vatican as backdrop – there are interesting conversations we need to have as a community.
- Why do several sustainable home designers in Minneapolis have little faith that the city will reach its 2030 Climate Action Plan goals? What do they suggest we should be doing to reduce carbon emissions from our buildings? Can passive house, zero energy, and geothermal systems work in our climate?
- How does the Park Board’s use of pesticides work in conjunction with the City’s new protection measures for pollinators? Are there necessary pesticides? Who is creating less toxic solutions?
- What do teenage residents wish adults in the city would get off their butts and do differently?
- Who are the creative Re-Use experts finding good things to do with our garbage? Why should we reduce our garbage?
- What are we recycling wrong? And… what products are we making — and able to buy — with our repurposed plastics, metals, and deconstruction materials?
- How has Longfellow built a sustainable community that connects with each other? How is Prospect Park trying to do the same? Can we build dense, multifamily units that reduce energy use, while keeping locals happy with the resulting changes in the look of their neighborhoods? Can we develop affordable multigenerational spaces for newer, larger families — not simply for the young professional?
- What toxins are we unwittingly spreading into other communities, and how? Why should we install rain-gardens and permeable pavers?
- Why should we buy locally grown food? What does organic food have to do with climate change?
- What should we know about the developers who want us to subscribe to community solar garden plans? Why doesn’t the new Vikings stadium we’re paying for have solar panels? What new technologies are coming — or here — in renewable energies?
If you are interested in helping extend the Sustainable We forums — perhaps in suggesting people to participate in eloquent, respectful and passionate discussions that more of us will listen to — please subscribe (upper left) so we can stay in touch. Use the Contact form (upper menu) to offer speaker, site and sponsor recommendations. We’ve started the process, but want these conversations to include many more diverse communities than we’ve tapped so far!
— Mikki Morrissette, founder, MPLSGreen