Our Thriving by Design – Rural & Urban Together convening in western Minnesota in two weeks is generating buzz and keen interest from many quarters. Jane Leonard and Dane Smith, current and former presidents of Growth & Justice, were invited recently to talk about the event and its broader purpose by Roberta Martin, host of the Community Empowerment cable TV show, serving the northwestern metro area. Please register now for the June 27-29 gathering – space is filling up for this signature event of 2018, heldat the Upper Sioux Community and in Granite Falls. Participants will co-create the beginnings of a unifying “One Minnesota Equity Blueprint,’’ a new social contract that heals our divisions: the rural-metro divide, racial injustice, overall economic inequality and environmental ruin. Registration options include participating as an official delegate in the six-month blueprint development, or as a general participant in the Granite Falls kick-off gathering. More information on the gathering, entitled “Thriving by Design, Rural & Urban Together,” is available on our website. Our partner in this event is OneMN.org, an organization focused statewide on building our “ethnic capital” and working toward racial equity in business and economic development. Their motto -- “Building Shared Sustainable Prosperity’’ -- resonates strongly with our own mission statement. Please spread the word, even if you cannot attend.
A scary drama is unfolding downriver in Mississippi, a classic low-tax state that has been forced to close some 83 bridges recently because it has run out of transportation revenue. A Governing magazine article, “How Long Can a State Go Without Repairing Roads and Bridges?” explains the unfolding disaster in detail. Minnesota business and government leaders for years have been demanding a major new funding bill for transportation and transit and we’ll continue to push for it in 2019 and beyond. Our policy priorities for a more equitable Minnesota have always included aggressive investments in our public physical infrastructure, the basic stuff on which our communities and businesses depend. These “public works’’ include transit systems and highways, water and sewer works, broadband and internet access, affordable housing and clean energy systems. Taxes pay for these necessities and we’ve provided a strong voice for ample revenue raised fairly for these purposes. A “lack of timely attention to reasonable public infrastructure investment hinders economic development, safety, and quality of life in Minnesota,” advise our colleagues at MN2050, a coalition of engineering and infrastructure professional organizations working in the public, private, and educational sectors striving to provide Minnesota citizens with acceptable infrastructure that meets the needs of the 21st century. They will be presenting their story at theThriving by Design event this month.
Growth & Justice salutes Great River Energy for its recently announced audacious goal of producing half its electricity from renewable resources by 2030, doubling the already impressive current level of 25 percent. Great River, based in Maple Grove, is one of the nation’s largest wholesale power co-ops and its partners supply most of the energy to Greater Minnesota. A Star Tribune article on the new goal notes that “the growth of wind power in the Upper Midwest — at many utilities — is increasingly dictating the dispatch of electricity on the grid. When the wind is blowing, it’s the cheapest source of power.” We also recommend an inspiring narrative on the McKnight Foundation website, describing the grassroots movement led by Will Steger and his youthful cadre to build momentum at the local level for climate action. Climate Generation, the organization founded by Steger, offers a compilation of uplifting stories about these local efforts.
“Less carbon, more electricity — that’s the future for smart utilities.” Rolf Nordstrom, head of the Great Plains Institute, a nonprofit energy research group, in the Star Tribune article cited above.