Best of Neighborhood News 2/26/2019: Youth-led climate movement taken to the State Capitol

Youth-led climate movement taken to the State CapitolMinnesota Can’t Wait, a broad coalition of youth, has changed the course of Minnesota’s progressive climate politics when they packed the State Capitol in early February to enshrine the Minnesota Green New Deal. Modeled after the eponymously named federal legislative version, spearheaded by U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), the Minnesota Green New Deal also proposes similar programs addressing climate change through the remaking of the economy. The Green New Deal demands an “equitable” transition to renewable energy sources by 2030; it now makes its way through the state legislature. This moment in Minnesota’s nascent climate justice movement is what one young activist calls “a model for other states and the Federal Government to bring about additional Green New Deal legislation.”

To learn more, read the Southwest Journal. Amplifying voices: The SEAD Project uses storytelling to capture historyStorytelling and art are the centerpieces of a recent initiative led by the Southeast Asian Diaspora (SEAD) Project to highlight the forgotten histories of the millions who were borne out of the U.S. involvement in the French Indochina wars. 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

‘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

For lasting climate-change reform, focus on consumption

Last month, MinnPost’s Ron Meador outlined climate change’s likely impact on Minnesota over the course of the coming century. Meador’s article, and the study to which it referred, adds a sobering close-to-home detail to our collective knowledge about the risks associated with climate change.Meador’s article, and others like it, should spur us to action. To date, governments and others at national and local levels have offered a variety of fix-it plans. These plans include increasing efficiency standards of cars, moving to renewable energy sources, designing carbon capture models, geoengineering, and implementation of new “green” construction standards, among other related suggestions.Markedly absent in mainstream conversations are suggestions that Americans simply consume less. Ideas that do circulate about lifestyle change tend to be either “back to the land” proposals or framed in the language of “giving people options”: bicycle lanes give people the option to get out of their cars; condos provide snazzy options for young people and empty nesters. Continue Reading

City may adopt new fossil fuel stance

A group of students and other Minneapolis residents gathered at City Hall on Monday in support of the city’s continued divestment from fossil fuels and urged other state agencies to follow.City officials passed a motion at a Health, Environment, and Community Engagement Committee meeting that asks the city to take a clear stance against the use of high-carbon energy and refrain from investing in fossil fuel corporations in the future. It also aims to push other bodies, including the state of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota, to divest.Councilmembers Cam Gordon and Alondra Cano, of Wards 2 and 9 respectively, proposed the resolution, which the full council will vote on March 20. More than 15 students and community members were present for the hearing portion of the meeting, and six speakers were current or former University students.Cano said the turnout at Monday’s public hearing was a sign of support for the resolution. She said she’s proud of the young people who speak out against fossil fuels, and the priority of this resolution was to establish the city’s stance against fossil fuel companies.If the state were to pass legislation and approve divestment, Gordon said, it would be following the precedent set in the 1980s when Minnesota divested from apartheid South Africa.Noah Shavit-Lonstein, an officer of the University student group Fossil Free Minnesota, said it’s important to get people in positions of power to pressure other groups to divest, causing a ripple effect.Shavit-Lonstein said Fossil Free Minnesota started with the help of Minnesota 350, a nonprofit dedicated to divestment from fossil fuels.He said the plan to get the city to support divestment started last year when Minnesota 350 and Fossil Free Minnesota contacted city officials.Patty O’Keefe, divestment coordinator for Minnesota 350, said Fossil Free Minnesota and the proposal are all part of the same movement.Minnesota 350 started in 2010 to combat climate change, O’Keefe said, but the push for divestment from coal, oil and natural gas gained traction in 2012.“Climate change is threatening all life on this planet … including humans, and the fossil fuel industry is … driving us further and further into this crisis,” O’Keefe said.At the committee meeting Monday, O’Keefe said $50 billion is currently dedicated to divestment nationwide. And although the motion by city officials is largely only symbolic, she said it’s a step in the right direction.“The city of Minneapolis, along with its residents and activists and organizers are leaders in this area,” Cano said. “Being a leader isn’t easy … it’s really important that we take this step and show the nation that this can be done.”  [See original article here: http://www.mndaily.com/news/metro-state/2015/03/02/city-may-adopt-new-fossil-fuel-stance] Continue Reading

Performance artist Peterson Toscano on LGBTQ and climate justice intersectionality October 29th

While at the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21st I had the pleasure of personally meeting performance artist Peterson Toscano, and hearing about his “The Queer Response to Climate Change” creation. He will be using storytelling, humor and skilled facilitation to perform “Climate Change: What’s faith got to do with it?” October 29th at 7 PM at All God’s Children MC Church 3100 Park Ave S as well as “Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible” 30 October 2014 7:00 pm at Richfield United Methodist Church This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.As someone who has done spoken word comedy performances about global warming myself, I can attest that it is exciting and uplifting to bring together the diverse interests of faith community building, LGBTQ liberation and climate justice. Peterson recently wrote that he addressed these three important issues “always with the goal to hold out hope and to encourage us to dream and scheme about how we can envision and achieve a future world that is more just, clean, and stable for all.“ Peterson’s optimistic vision can only be held up by taking robust, coordinated action to address the climate crisis which I “voted” for by putting my body in the street for the People’s Climate March. While each climate march up to this point has been sponsored by a much small handful of organizations, this climate march was unprecedented as a diversity of over a hundred groups and organizations took part. A whole new meaning opened up for me when I saw a website about one of the groups in the march called “Queers for the Climate”. Continue Reading

Minneapolis and utilities establish unique “Clean Energy Partnership”

On Oct. 6 a public hearing took place at City Hall to review tentative utility franchise agreements reached between the City of Minneapolis and utility companies Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy. The agreements, if approved by the Minneapolis City Council on Oct. 17, would set in motion a first-in-the-nation, public-private “Clean Energy Partnership.” Proponents said the partnership between the city and utility companies would aim to meet the city’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and make energy more affordable, reliable, efficient and renewable, as laid out in the city’s 2013 Clean Action Plan.Franchise agreements are negotiations to determine conditions in which private utility companies can use public property to provide services in the community. Fees are negotiated and paid by utility companies to the city, in exchange for the use of public right of way, such as streets and alleys.The previous franchise agreements between the City of Minneapolis and utilities were made 20 years ago, and are set to expire at the end of 2014; the agreements mostly covered public right of way issues. Continue Reading

The not-so-common Loon: New study warns of decline

By 2080, Minnesota may be without its state bird during the summer months.The National Audubon Society released a study this month examining the impact of climate change on future bird ranges across North America, including the common Loon — and the findings are bleak. The study asserts that over half of all bird species found in Minnesota are threatened by climate change, with some extinctions possible.“When you have a disruptive shift of 50 percent or more of a climate suitable range for a bird species in 35 years, that’s what’s got us concerned,” said Matt Anderson, Executive Director of Audubon Minnesota.According to a press release issued by Anderson’s office, of the 588 bird species examined in the seven-year study, 314 species are at risk of habitat range reduction as a result of climate change. Of those 314, 126 species are at risk of severe declines by 2050, and another 188 species face severe decline by 2080.The study was conducted by Audubon scientists in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, using 40 years of data from Christmas bird counts and breeding bird surveys. Scientists examined 17 bioclimatic variables such as precipitation and high/low temperatures and their effects on bird life, to determine where these bird species would be able to survive, if climate trends continue through the rest of the century.(An Audubon map shows the Loon’s habitat range in 2000 against the projected range in 2080)Specifically examining the common loon, Minnesota summers are predicted to be too warm for the bird’s survival. “Basically it is getting too hot such that the future climates spaces do not match the current climate temperatures,” said Audubon chief scientist Dr. Gary Langham.Cornell Lab of Ornithology director John Fitzpatrick, who was not involved in the Audubon study, advised that these assertions should be interpreted cautiously. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Twin Cities Climate Resiliency: A Lesson from Bamako, Mali

When I walked off Air France’s stairwell onto the tarmac in Bamako, I took a deep breath in. I immediately noticed the intensity of the hot, dry air in an environment so unlike Minneapolis where I live. I recall the air having some familiarity,10 hours west of Minneapolis in the Bad Lands.   Bamako’s air tightened my skin pores to preserve the moisture retained from sucking down water and ginger ale during my night flight in.  It was hot and dry on a Tuesday Night – near 90 degrees at 10:00 p.m.  This was a “more comfortable night” for the Malians, and foreigners who made Bamako their home.  Lucky me, my feet touched the ground in late February… it was summertime. But as one woman put it, “there is summer, and then there is hell…” Come March, hell enters Bamako and remains until October.Located in the sub-Saharan region of Northern Africa, Bamako sits in the southwest part of the country and serves as Mali’s capital.  Because of its location, the notion of climate resiliency was at the forefront of my mind.  The idea of “resiliency” or “acclimation” in a changing world known to my indigenous Taino ancestors in the Americas began in 1492, introduced by the double heads of colonialism and capitalism. For indigenous peoples, this forced acclimation extends to present day.We’ve witnessed how a consolidated economy, concentrated in the hands of a very few, yields an unrelenting global military economic power achieved through colonialism. Continue Reading