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ENEWS: On One Minnesota, Ag Future, and the Wealth Divide

Date Published: 09/20/2017

Author: Dane Smith

Cable Interview Focus on “One Minnesota”

We are often invited to talk about our work on public access television and we’ve been particularly frequent guests on Alan Miller’s “Access to Democracy” show, serving cable viewers in Dakota County. In a Sept. 8 interview, President Dane Smith and Policy & Projects Director Matt Schmit talk at length about the so-called “rural-metro divide” and our emerging effort to foster a “One Minnesota” mindset, embracing the interdependence of our rural, suburban, and urban communities.

Future of Midwest Agriculture

We participated recently in a rich exploration of what the future might hold for the ag economy and rural communities in the Upper Midwest, hosted by the University of Minnesota and Future IQ.  The Future of Midwest Agriculture Think Tank Workshop explored four different scenarios, outlined in this detailed summary of the input from experts in agribusiness, agronomy, environmental science and sustainable agriculture.  The four alternative possible futures were labeled Local Ecotopia, Agriculture 4.0, Heading Down and Out, and Global Bread Basket.  For a quick read, take a look at this two-page brochure.

Median Incomes Improve, But…

We’ve always emphasized that policies fostering economic justice are good for business growth, and vice-versa, that business growth can be good for middle and low-income families.  Widely reported income statistics for last year showed an encouraging spike in median incomes after eight years of slow but steady recovery following the Great Recession of 2008-09.  Breaking out the champagne is not advisable, however. An insightful analysis in the Star Tribune shows just how uneven this recovery was across the racial divide in Minnesota.  For example: median income for white families stands at $101,000 and for black families at $41,000. Moreover, assets and wealth may be a more important measure of overall economic condition than income.  The Inequality.org website features a comprehensive new report, “The Road to Zero Wealth,” that shows a much wider racial gap on wealth than on income  For example: median household wealth for white families stands at $134,000, and for black families at $11,000.

Northside Storyville Reflects Hope

We applaud the launch this summer of Northside Storyville, a website sponsored by the Northside Funders Group,  which turns the tables on “a consistently negative narrative that has shaped the perceptions of many who view the Northside (of Minneapolis) as a blight of the Twin Cities.” The webpage features creative and optimistic Northsiders who are working on improving their neighborhood and showing results, and “relating stories of resilience, innovation and progress.”

Quote of the Week

“It’s in everyone’s interest to reverse these trends. Growing racial wealth inequality is bringing down median American middle class wealth, and with it shrinking the middle class — especially as Americans of color make up an increasing share of the U.S. population.”—Dedrick Asante-Muhamed and Chuck Collins, in the introduction to “The Road to Zero Wealth,” report cited above.

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