Our historic gathering in western Minnesota this summer will feature some of the most knowledgeable people in the entire region on our demographic and economic disparities, and how to fix them. Among our outstanding speakers will be: Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey; State Demographer Susan Brower; Cornelia Flora Butler, co-creator of the Community Capitals Framework and a highly respected expert in rural community development; and Craig Helmstetter, managing director of the American Public Media Research Lab. Tane Danger (Growth & Justice board member) and his Theater of Public Policy troupe will be in residence and presenting a show on June 28. Another Growth & Justice board member, the Honorable Paul Anderson, retired MN Supreme Court Justice, will co-lead the closing summary on June 29. Attendees will learn more about all our damaging divisions -- regional, racial, economic and environmental – and hear from folks who have local & regional solutions. Out of this “data download,” attendees will begin creating a comprehensive new policy framework -- a unifying “One Minnesota Equity Blueprint’’ -- a social contract that heals our divisions and strives for more equitable economic growth and climate action over the next decade. We need you there! Registration is now open for this signature event, entitled “Thriving by Design, Rural & Urban Together,” June 27-29, hosted at the Upper Sioux Community’s Prairie’s Edge Casino Resort & in Granite Falls. Registration options include participating as an official delegate to the kick-off gathering in June and in the six-month blueprint development, or as a general participant in the kick-off gathering only. 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.
Growth & Justice, in alliance with many of our state’s corporate and business leaders, has emphasized the importance of welcoming immigrants and people of color to all our communities, and helping all our people realize their full potential. One of the 12 top priorities of our 2018 Legislative Agenda is “Attracting and Investing in Newcomers.’’ Last Sunday, an insightful story by Dan Browning on the front page of the Star Tribune documented how many cities, particularly in Greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities suburbs are becoming “Welcoming Cities” and joining the Inclusion Network. The article further notes that despite strong community and business consensus for these efforts, the movement has provoked angry pushback from a few ultra-conservative groups, including some with ties to white nationalist websites like Breitbart News. Among the errant voices in the Star Tribune was a woman who compared St. Cloud’s welcoming efforts to conditions in Iran, and another man who described white “homogeneity’’ as the key asset for rural communities.
Repair of “Clean Water Infrastructure” is also among our top priorities on our 2018 Minnesota Legislative Agenda, and MinnPost reporter Briana Bierschbach recently authored an overview of exactly how severe these needs are in Greater Minnesota, just for wastewater systems. Bottom line is that even though there is bipartisan agreement for about $167 million for some of cities approaching crisis mode with their wastewater treatment systems, that amount of money is nowhere near enough. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency projects a $5 billion need for wastewater treatment across the state over the next two decades.
“I’m interested in a quote that says ‘If you’ve been the most fortunate or if you have plenty, then you should build a longer table, not a higher fence,’ ”-- Tim Sackett, a chaplain with Transport for Christ, a national ministry for truckers, and who attends meetings of both the Inclusion Alliance and the Citizens for the St. Croix Valley (opponents of Welcoming Cities), hoping to find common ground (from Star Tribune article cited above.)