Almost a decade ago the bi-partisan Commission to End Poverty in Minnesota by 2020 issued a report with dozens of sound policy recommendations. Growth & Justice since then has been allied with several organizations, including the Minnesota Asset Building Coalition and A Minnesota Without Poverty, advancing those original recommendations and many others that foster a more equitable economy and society. Recently another of our allies, the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, published a progress report, providing evidence of both hopeful progress and obvious failure achieving that ultimate and audacious goal. Progress includes: the overall poverty rate is slightly declining in recent years (from about 12 percent in 2011, after the Great Recession, to under 10 percent in 2016); the percentage of individuals without health insurance has been sharply reduced (to 6.4 percent in 2017); and good progress has been made reducing homelessness for youth and veterans. Failures include: more than 500,000 Minnesotans, 13 percent of children, and 18 percent of those with disabilities, still live in official poverty; transportation and housing remain unaffordable for too many housheholds; and racial disparities abound on nearly every measure of poverty and prosperity. Bottom line: “As we approach the year 2020, Minnesota is not on track to achieve the Commission’s goals.”
In rural and Greater Minnesota, hearts and minds are changing on climate change and support is growing for climate action and conversion to renewable energy. Among the key players in this conversion is Climate Generation(founded by Minnesota’s own legendary polar explorer, Will Steger) and its Youth Convening Minnesota inititative. YCM is a seven-month leadership opportunity beginning in November 2017 and culminating in the spring of 2018 with a community-wide public convening on climate change, planned and informed by YCM youth leaders. During the 2017-18 school year, Climate Generation will be working across greater Minnesota with YCM youth leaders in the communities of Carlton, Moorhead, New London Spicer, Rochester, and Warba. As the YCM webpage declares: “Young people are inheriting the consequences from decades of poor decision making, yet they are also powerfully positioned to bring their communities together to lead conversations on climate change and insist on action.’’
Former Growth & Justice President Dane Smith has been a frequent guest over the last decade on Access to Democracy, a cable TV show mostly serving the southern Twin Cities metro area and focusing on public policy and politics. The producers offered Smith a unique opportunity to interview his successor, Jane Leonard, about the direction of the organization, its ongoing efforts toward inclusive prosperity, bridging the so-called rural-metro divide , and to create a policy blueprint that unifies the state and embraces our interdependence and equity. Check out the half-hour “Jane & Dane Show” for this in-depth conversation.
"Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth…these are one and the same fight." – Ban Ki-moon, Eighth Secretary General of the United Nations, serving from 2007 to 2016.