From meeting Brendan Jordan you wouldn’t guess he’s a giant. His voice is not loud, his feet are not big and he doesn’t live in a castle. His footprints are quiet but they are very deep. This gentleman holds no public office, chairs no major corporation and leads no big congregation. Yet like earth tremors, his influence is being felt throughout the community.
Studying biology as an undergrad, Jordan realized he had more to do than run and rerun studies over and over. Pursuing a thesis became very tedious. So at the University of Minnesota he earned his Master’s Degree in public policy. With this kind of an education Jordan had a variety of career choices. You’d think he’d be out there making more money in the commercial world. But he responds with something he learned as an Eagle Scout, “always leave a place better than you found it.” That and the fact his family has a history of philanthropy minded individuals has led him in the direction of making the world a better place to be in.
A few years of temporary assignments eventually led to a job at The Great Plains Institute (GPI) (www.gpisd.net).
The organization corrals groups of what they call “energy diplomats” into meetings. The sole purpose is to get them to agree on needed policy to promote the transition to a renewable and low-carbon energy system through consensus policy, technology deployment, education and research. The meetings are done quietly to encourage members to speak their mind off of the record. This motivates individuals to talk openly about everything on the table with each issue. The regional, non-partisan, nonprofit corporation is based in Minneapolis. It serves 12 midwestern states and the province of Manitoba, works with national govern-ment organizations, environmental groups and government organizations. Essentially the GPI wants “buy-in” from the groups that will have to live with the policy that is finally established. Jordan says it saves a lot of time and energy getting them involved and talking early on. His work there allows him to do grant writing and mediating among other things. His says its a great place to work because they’re results-oriented.
In his spare time he’s a member of the CARAG Board, CARAG Transportation and Energy Committee, the Midtown Greenway Coalition and currently co-leading a group for an Uptown Market project. (See story on page 1.)
He and his family currently rent in CARAG and are looking to buy there. He enjoys living in Uptown and has always liked “living in vibrant and connected places.” He believes Uptown has a lot of the good qualities of a strong walkable community but notes that it could be even better. In order for the community to better benefit from environmental improvements it will have to get comfortable with more density. He says “people think density is a dirty word, but density doesn’t have to be ugly and it can be done right so it isn’t disruptive.” He believes density will afford the community not only more of the “quality of life” characteristics like a post office but also make it easier to lower its carbon footprint by attracting alternative transportation options like light rail and conserving utilities by living in closer proximity.
Some of his ideal cities include Budapest, Portland and Washington D.C. for their density, planning and public transit. He says Minneapolis has a long way to go by comparison but the good news is “we have a very strong bikeway infrastructure.”
One of the many benefits of being a giant is ignoring the pebbles underfoot by greater focus on the horizon ahead. His ultimate goal is “50-80% global carbon output reduction by mid-century.”