Damaging and wasteful disparities – regional, racial, economic and environmental – threaten our long-term future in Minnesota. We’re working on it, and developing a comprehensive policy framework that strives for more equitable economic growth and climate action. We need your help! Registration is now open for our signature event of 2018, a statewide convening June 27-29 in the historic and scenic western Minnesota area around and in Granite Falls. Participants in this event will help start the co-creation 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 degradation. 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.
As the 2018 Legislature enters the homestretch, we’ll be making the case at the Capitol for our legislative priorities and public investments that foster more equitable economic growth in every part of the state. Broadband, transportation, and workforce upgrades lead that list, but few investments pay a larger return than high-quality early childhood care and development for low-income children. Demand exceeds supply in rural areas for both early childhood development needs and quality child-care, and the mismatch has been deemed a “crisis” by the Center for Rural Policy & Development. Growth & Justice has called for the Legislature to “invest in a full toolbox of early childhood options and flexible funding streams’’ so that our youngest children and their parents can access what they need to get a good start in those most crucial early years. Our concern for this priority was echoed recently by the Star Tribune editorial staff and in an op-ed by Art Rolnick, former director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
Earth Day -- launched at the dawn of the modern environmental movement on April 22, 1970, almost 50 years ago -- grows in importance every year as the effects of climate change begin to compound. We agree with the assertion by climate action activists and other environmentalists that “Earth Day Is Every Day’’ and Growth & Justice is committed year-round to advancing public policy in Minnesota that improves our precious natural environment, particularly a shift to renewable energy. As we say in our 2018 Minnesota Rural Equity Project legislative priorities, “the transition now underway in Minnesota away from dependence on imported fossil fuels and toward our own abundant wind and solar power represents tremendous potential for rural job growth and healthier self-reliant communities in Greater Minnesota.” We also recommend this recent recap by MPR about progress toward renewables, as well as summaries of last week’s Earth Day activity by Clean Energy Resource Teams and OneBluWorld.
“If Minnesota continues to turn a blind eye to our opportunity gaps and achievement gaps, our children, communities and economy will suffer, and that ultimately means all Minnesotans will suffer. We desperately need well-educated Minnesotans in order to compete in the global economy and maintain our strong communities. The time to build for that future is now.” --Art Rolnick, a senior fellow at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs and former director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.