Protecting a gift from the creator: Anishinabe harvest wild rice to test their treaty rights

What’s a person supposed to do when they are trying to engage in an act of civil disobedience and the authorities refuse to arrest them, let alone issue a citation? That’s the predicament a group of protesters from the 1855 Treaty Authority found themselves in when the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) decided to allow certain members of the group to harvest wild rice without licenses outside of reservation land, on the very day the protest took place. The plan was to harvest wild rice without a permit, outside of reservation land. The arrest and/or citation was hoped to draw a federal court case which would help to force a judge to uphold the tribe’s right to hunt, fish and gather on land they ceded over the course of several treaties in the 1800s. The cornerstone of those treaties, the Treaty of 1837, unequivocally grants the right to hunt, fish and gather in the entire amount of land the Anishinabe gave up. Continue Reading

City moves forward with water yard site in Phillips

In a 10- 3 vote, Minneapolis city council members decided to move forward with acquiring the former Roof Depot site for a city owned water treatment facility, despite neighborhood opposition. Council members Johnson, Gordon and Cano voted against it. Members of the Phillips community, where the site would be located, say the proposed facility is yet another industrial site in a neighborhood plagued with pollution and environmental justice concerns. See the story in Monday’s Daily Planet for more background. There was a brief discussion about adopting an amendment put forth by ward nine council member Alondra Cano, which would have required city staff and departments to work with community members when developing the site. Continue Reading

Phillips neighbors oppose new Water Yard site

People in the Phillips neighborhoods of Minneapolis are incensed about a new proposed water-maintenance site (or, a water yard) they say will add to the pollution of the area. Seeing little promise of new jobs from the new site, neighbors will be packing the Ways and Means committee meeting of the City Council on Monday to urge council members to vote no on allowing city staff to enter into negotiations over purchasing the property. “Phillips has been dumping grounds and forget-me-nots of polluters for several years now,” says Jose Luis Villasenor, the Executive Director of the local nonprofit Tamales y Bicicletas. He’s been a resident of East Phillips for 19-20 years. “We have been working with the community and local stakeholders about how to get rid of the polluters.”

The community group East Phillips Improvement Coalition (EPIC) had two realizations when it came to the site, Villasenor said. Continue Reading

Community in the Air: Frogtown Farm’s Backyard Fair

Frogtown Farm started out as a dream – a very big dream that some believed could never come to fruition. But longtime residents of the area formally known as the Thomas-Dale neighborhood or Planning District 7 (located within the boundaries of Lexington Avenue on the west, Burlington Northern Railroad on the north, Highway 35E on the east, and University Avenue on the south) were determined to turn a 12.7 acre parcel of land into part of the burgeoning urban agriculture movement. Community members worked tirelessly with The Trust for Public Land, the City of Saint Paul and the Wilder Foundation to turn their vision into reality – and on Saturday, May 30, neighbors gathered under a sunny sky to celebrate at the Backyard Farm Fair on the SE side of Frogtown Park and Farm, off of Victoria and Lafond Avenues. A smiling Katie Novotny of the Hamline-Midway neighborhood said, “This is new to me – I found out about it on Facebook!”

As volunteers welcomed community members, organizers shared plans for the park and farm. “I love the idea of this farm,” said Frogtown resident and volunteer Filson Ibraham, who stood behind an information table, signing up her neighbors. Continue Reading

Great Lakes Brewing Company Gives Back

Craft beer culture often has a focus on community issues and giving back beyond the beer. That charitable bent isn’t limited to the immediate community, though. As breweries grow and reach further across the country, that impact is felt beyond municipality borders. Great Lakes Brewing Company, established in 1988 in Cleveland, OH, is a clear example of that philanthropy with their 2015 Green Tour.Ranked as the 23rd largest craft brewery in the country, Great Lakes adheres to a “triple bottom line philosophy,” described by the brewery’s Marissa DeSantis as “our company’s commitment to environmental, social, and financial responsibility.” As their beer reaches markets far outside Cleveland, they’re taking that eco-awareness to other markets, including Minneapolis on April 25. In partnership with Friends of the Mississippi River, volunteers will help clean up the riverbank from 9:30am-12pm, followed by an after party at Sea Salt Eatery. “This cleanup is an Earth Day tradition in the Minneapolis River Gorge,” explains Field Sales Representative Adam Essman, who will lead festivities. Continue Reading

Wagenius: MN House energy omnibus bill sabotages solar

On her blog, Minnesota state representative Jean Wagenius warns in The worst energy bill ever sabotages solar. And that’s not all:Rep. Pat Garofalo has introduced his draft Omnibus Energy Bill. d0b80283-da3f-4839-baf9-551613c2b6d9.pdf   Since he is Chair of the House Jobs Creation and Energy Affordability Committee, his bill is the Republican bill.The Garofalo bill incorporates the energy-related ideas and bills that had been heard in his committee. Rep. Garofalo then found more bad ideas to include. This post would be much too long if it did more than scratch the surface. So it just covers the worst of the worst. Continue Reading

36 Lyn Refuel Station in Minneapolis saves big with LED lighting improvements

The Clean Energy Resources Teams (CERTs) is spearheading a statewide campaign,Light Up Your Station & Save, to help convenience stores reduce energy and maintenance costs and improve their businesses with LED lighting. We spoke with Lonnie McQuirter, owner of the 36 Lyn Refuel Station at 36th Street & Lyndale Avenue in south Minneapolis.  Joel Haskard: Why did you decide to upgrade your canopy lights to LEDs?We have been familiar with LED technology for some time. However, price and financial incentives as well as the long-term reliability of LED lights became clear to us a couple years ago (2013). I was tired of pulling out our 24-foot ladder in the brisk winters to change out our old metal halide bulbs. The ballasts, which use even more energy beyond the bulb itself, also were a pain to deal with.Joel Haskard: Have you seen a reduction in your energy bills?Lonnie McQuirter: We have seen a significant reduction in our energy bills, despite us using our current lights for longer periods than we had with the old metal halide bulbs. Continue Reading

‘We can’t do this without you!’ Mayor Hodges sets her agenda in State of the City address

“One Minneapolis” was the central theme in Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’s State of the City Address on April 2, at the American Swedish Institute, where she discussed how the community working together can address challenges the city of Minneapolis is currently facing.“The genius we have now, right here, will make us the great city of the 21st century if we are willing to do what it takes to make sure we leave none of that genius on the table,” Hodges said.In her second State of the City Address, Hodges made a call-to-action to encourage community leaders to become graduation coaches for young men. She wants to narrow the gap between low-income and middle class families through collective bargaining in the private sector. She wants to raise the minimum wage and launch the Minneapolis Climate Champs Challenge, which will provide steps and tips as to how citizens in Minneapolis can help stop climate change.“Minneapolis, the question before us now is how much genius are we going to leave on the table?” Hodges asked.Hodges set her sights on early education, bridging the divide when it comes to income inequality and addresses climate change.Education In order to efficiently use the genius of people in the community, Hodges said it starts when a child in the community is young. When it comes to youth development, Hodges cited the fact that 80% of a person’s brain is developed by the age of 3.“What we do for our kids early on matters,” Hodges said.The city will budget $1 million for housing so many children who are low-income, could have stable living conditions. She said the focus on child development is to make sure they are ready for the workforce; however, she also wants them to be engaged in their community.“We need our kids to be more than workforce ready, we needs kids who are ready to build one Minneapolis. Continue Reading