Minneapolis grassroots grants fight climate change

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Minneapolis is now accepting applications for the second year of Grassroots Climate Change Micro Grants ($1,500) and Climate Change Innovations Grants ($10,000). Non-profit organizations, neighborhood associations, faith based organizations, business associations, schools, libraries, park/recreational centers, and other public organizations can apply for the grants.

The deadline for 2008 micro-grant ($1,500) applications is March 20. Deadline for $10,000 innovations grants is March 24. Check the City of Minneapolis sustainability Web site. All proposals for 2008 grants must include signing up people to take the Minnesota Energy Challenge (MEC).

The Seward Neighborhood Group (SNG) and the Longfellow Community Council (LCC) jointly received a $10,000 Climate Change Innovations Grant in 2007. The two neighborhoods “held an Inconvenient Truth kickoff event,” which, according Carol Greenwood of SNG, wasn’t well attended. Other efforts proved more successful.

Some 211 participants signed up for the Minnesota Energy Challenge. SNG and LCC distributed 267 free compact fluorescent light bulbs to MEC participants, along with brochures about their use and disposal, as well as “one more neighbor taking the energy challenge” lawn signs. Tracy Singleton, owner of the Birchwood Café, lent out her restaurant one Sunday afternoon for two hours for people to sign up for the MEC.

Thirty-nine families also participated in the launch of a program for electric lawn mower sharing and 45 programmable thermostats were distributed.

When asked if the grant was successful, Greenwood responded that it did a good job getting people involved and informed about the issue of climate change. But she would have rather seen “more significant funds” to do low-interest loans for energy upgrades on homes. The short time period of last year’s grant, from July 2007 to November 2007, also affected what the SNG could do.

Greenwood, who signed up for the MEC herself, said it can take some people quite a while to meet the pledges they have made. She pointed out that this is especially true in the areas of home improvement, given that they may not have the resources to do more involved improvements right away.

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