Values take center stage at reNEW Minnesota event


by Nancy Larson | September 27, 2009 • Yesterday afternoon, over 750 people turned out for a different kind of political event – one that focused on values and a state-wide vision of governance rather than individual candidates or party politics-as-usual business meetings.

All the DFL candidates for governor attended the meeting organized by TakeAction Minnesota and the reNEW Minnesota Campaign. instead of pitching their cases to those gathered, they spent most of their time listening to stories told from the stage and by the people seated alongside them at tables in Saint Paul’s Arlington Senior High School meeting hall.

Bluestem Prairie is a hip (but not cynical) rural magazine for those who prefer take their corn with a progressive chaser and tongue planted firmly in cheek.

The candidates also heard the reNEW Minnesota Vision, which had been created by groups of people gathering in homes and meeting rooms throughout the state over the past nine months. During those meetings, people from all parts of society, but with common goals, talked about what they believed in, what values they wanted to see as the foundation for their communities and state, and about how those common values could unite them.

After hearing why those assembled wanted their candidates to run on this vision and govern out of this vision,  the gubernatorial candidates were given the opportunity to speak. Each of the eleven candidates was given three minutes to answer one question “How does this vision connect to your life experience?”.  Later, the candidates’ impressions of the new vision were captured on videotape to be included on the www.reNEW.MN website.

Most people attending the event had anticipated something different, a desire evident in their comments as they entered the hall and with the visible excitement and energy demonstrated by the crowd. It was a wonderfully diverse group of people, with long-time political activists sitting alongside people who had never before been involved in politics, with people from family farms and rural towns to the state’s suburbs and cities, and with people from all walks of life. They were united by the need to work together to endorse, support and elect a governor whose mission would be to advance their shared values.

The reNEW Minnesota Vision includes beliefs uniting those who create it and rejects the damaging ideology of the last 20 years, which has strained families, divided neighborhoods and created needless suffering. The vision states that those creating the vision want to live in a Minnesota:

where we are all in this together,

where we make decisions now to improve the lives of our children’s children,

where the inherent worth and dignity of every person is recognized without exception,

where we embrace a politics of inclusion and justice for all, and

where there is a fair, equitable economy that benefits everyone.

The vision also asked for a governor who will not work alone but one who will co-govern with the people of Minnesota and whose mission is to advance our shared values. Only time will tell if reNEW Minnesota is successful in fulfilling its vision, but it is obvious that many people are enthused about a new way of approaching politics and a new way of approaching governance, and that might bode well for those seeking a more just society and a more inclusive and vibrant Minnesota.

(A resident of rural Dassel, Minnesota, Nancy Larson is a member of the reNEW Minnesota founding board.)