Report tracks progress toward making Minneapolis a more sustainable, livable city

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Minneapolis continues to make progress in becoming a more vital, livable city, but challenges remain. That is the message delivered in Minneapolis – Living Well, the City’s 2008 sustainability report, which was presented on June 1st to the City Council’s Health, Energy, and the Environment Committee.

Living Well is the City’s third annual report taking stock of its work on 24 sustainability indicators, which include things ranging from air quality and solar power, to healthy infants and airport noise. The report tracks targets, trends, and recent activities related to the indicators, which allows Minneapolis to measure its progress and match actions with goals. The report is now available on the City’s Web site at www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/sustainability/.

“We’re tracking a wide range of things. On the surface, it may not seem like testing kids for lead and boosting our number of block clubs have a lot in common. But all of these things speak directly to what kind of place Minneapolis is to call home,” said Mayor R.T. Rybak. “They are all part of making Minneapolis a more sustainable city, and in the end a more livable, vital place to call home.”

“Before we began our sustainability initiative, we knew how important many of these indicators were, but we didn’t have a good way to measure our progress,” said City Council Member Scott Benson, chair of the Council’s Health, Energy, and the Environment Committee. “Now we not only have the ability to track how we’re doing, but we can set specific targets and goals that really help focus our work toward making Minneapolis more sustainable. It’s important to see the targets we’ve met and the progress we’ve made, but it’s just as important to find out about the areas where we still have significant work to do.”

Minneapolis made progress on many goals. Some of the highlights in the Living Well report include:

Testing for lead

In the past year, Minneapolis tested a higher percentage of young children for lead and inspected a higher percentage of homes where lead-poisoned children live.

Youth violence

There was a 27 percent decline in violent crime with juvenile suspects. During this time, Minneapolis implemented its Blueprint for Action to prevent youth violence.

Block clubs

The goal was to have a total of 875 block clubs throughout the city. Instead, we’ve more than doubled that with a total of 1,801 block clubs.

Land cleanup

The city facilitated $5.72 million in grants to clean up brownfields in Minneapolis. That record-setting dollar amount will now go toward improving more than 56 acres of land at 17 different sites.

The report also shows challenges that remain toward achieving some goals. Infant mortality rates, teen pregnancy rates and hospitalizations from asthma rose. Our air quality, water quality and tree canopy face ongoing challenges. Racial and ethnic disparities persist in public health and school achievement. Using multiple, integrated strategies and improved data collection and reporting, the City continues working to close these gaps by finding new ways to protect our health and community resources, and reduce our impact on the planet.

Creating a more sustainable community is a top priority for Minneapolis leaders. The quality of life in Minneapolis is linked to the health and well-being of our community and our environment.

The City’s Sustainability Indicators serve as a means to measure progress, and inspire critical thinking about our priorities and the impacts of our behaviors. All of us – residents, businesses and government – can take actions everyday that will make Minneapolis better today and create a positive legacy for future generations.