Sustainable We forum #1, on Everyday Toxins

“Sustainable We” is about more than experts talking at us… it is about learning new things about how our community connects, and how to jointly repair some disconnections. Forum #1: Our backyards, food, bees, lungs, water, overall health can be affected by many things. How do pesticides and other toxic products in our everyday lives play a role?

Topic #1: “Parks, Pollinators and Pesticides”

Our city-wide series of “Sustainable We” conversations launched October 20th with a panel discussion at First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis on Mount Curve (behind Walker Art Museum), 7-9pm. It was step #1 in building a city network of neighbors who care deeply about how we connect as an ecosystem of people and environment.

“We are well served by having the educated, aware, thoughtful and passionate individuals we have in Minneapolis who want to collectively do in a better way. How are we designing a sustainable environment together? Join us!”

What We Talked About

The crowd of 40 participants, including 5 panelists and 3 Park Board commissioners, shared insights, questions and concerns about the Park system’s policy around pesticide use, the yields of chemical vs. organic community garden experiments at St. Thomas, how toxic chemicals are regulated, and what we wish we were doing differently around these issues.

We started the conversation with an overview of Park Board policy from commissioner Brad Bourn. Here is one clip:

Here are summaries of the discussion.

  • Do Minneapolis residents care about appearances in parks, golf courses and ballfields?
  • Q&A with Adam Kay — audio clips on what St. Thomas students are learning about garden yields, thoughts on what local efforts can contribute to global food security concerns, and aesthetics of Minneapolis.
  • Dr. Vera Krischik, University of Minnesota, and submitted information from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, on the regulation of pesticides — Why are regulations in Minnesota different than California? Why does Europe seem to regulate more strictly than the U.S.? Who do we trust to assess safety and risk of products like Roundup?
  • COMING: More insights from Park commissioner Brad Bourn about Park policy around pesticides
  • COMING: Kathleen Schuler — How has Healthy Legacy made an impact on local product safety, and what does she hope could be enacted but hasn’t yet?
  • COMING: Maisy Martin, Southwest High School green team, co-host of evening — What she wishes adults would do.

First Hour Q&A Panelists 

  • Brad Bourn, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board commissioner, District 6, on Park Board policy and conflict.
  • Adam Kay, professor, Biology/Environmental Science, St. Thomas, on results of his ongoing Science Stewardship team research into urban land use for sustainable food production.
  • Dr. Vera Krischik, professor, University of Minnesota Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability (CUES), on sustainable methods in environmental stewardship.
  • Kathleen Schuler, MPH, co-director of Healthy Legacy, which has worked with the Minnesota legislature since 2006 to ban certain toxic chemicals from kids products.
  • Russ Henry, Co-Chair of Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council and owner of Giving Tree Gardens landscaping service, on regulating for pollinator and other environmental impacts.
  • Co-hosts Maisy Martin, Southwest High School Green Team, and Mikki Morrissette, founder,
  • Forum#1FlyerPDF

Second Hour Community Conversation

Discussion participants included affiliates of Minnehaha Creek Watershed, Freshwater Society, Humming for Bees, Beez Kneez, students, landscape specialists, organic food producers, and other engaged neighbors.

About the “Sustainable We” series

There is not always one right answer, and we don’t all have to be persuaded toward one point of view. These conversations are designed not as debate, but for informed conversation and perspectives on complex issues. All of the moderated “Sustainable We” discussions, co-hosted by a young adult, are created for curious, engaged and/or confused residents who want to make decisions as individuals who live in a collective, interconnected community.

The Series

  • November 2015: The Life Cycle of Waste 
  • December 2015: 5 City Designers/Builders on Building a Better City
  • January 2016: Where Does the Sun Shine on Renewable Energy?
  • COMING: April 19, 2016: The Visibility Cloak. How are we making the rape and brutality of our land/air/water and people visible? An open temporary installation — part of the Fierce Lament Earth Day collective — about the power of data, imagery, citizen video, personal storytelling. 7-8pm forum: We’ll hear from Healthy Legacy and the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy about toxins. We’ll spotlight Sarah Super’s “Break the Silence” movement around rape. And more.
  • Being a Sustainable We. Celebratory event of highlights, calls to action, networking, music — and recognitions for four non-profit leaders helping the Twin Cities build a more sustainable future. Surly Brewery, July 5, 2016
  • Fall 2016: Building a Sustainable Community. How has Longfellow built a sustainable community that connects with each other? Can we build dense, multifamily units, while keeping locals happy with the resulting changes? Can we develop affordable multigenerational spaces for larger families, not simply for young professionals?
  • Fall 2016: Creativity With Garbage. What are creative re-use ideas for our garbage? Why should we reduce our garbage?

Click here to donate to the Sustainable We forums and help us get build a strong July 5 celebration.

Related Resources

Philosophy of the Sustainable We forums

Who is creating a Sustainable We culture in Minneapolis?

The “Sustainable We” columns in Southwest Journal





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