A documentary showcasing our work, “Thriving by Design: Rural and Urban Together,” is airing on Pioneer Public TV in western and southwestern Minnesota. The half-hour video includes extended excerpts of presentations at our 2018 convening in Granite Falls, featuring State Demographer Susan Brower and by G&J Policy Research Director Kate Searls. Brower describes a Greater Minnesota rapidly becoming more culturally and racially diverse, and Searls establishes how inseparable and interdependent rural and metro economies have become. Also featured on that Pioneer TV link is a separate interview with Growth & Justice President Jane Leonard and our partner in the Thriving by Design project, Brett Buckner, managing director of OneMN.org. Yet another Pioneer TV feature we recommend is their documentary on the Grow Our Own project in southwestern Minnesota, a movement Growth & Justice has promoted since its launch in 2016. Grow Our Own focuses on racial and economic equity and is helping rural communities build five pillars a child needs to succeed: stable families and parenting, quality early childhood experiences, engagement during the K-12 years, safe and caring communities and pathways to successful careers.
Growth & Justice is part of a large coalition of community groups advocating for a thorough and complete count of all our people for the 2020 Census, and against measures such as a citizenship question that would discourage participation. A recent Pioneer Press article makes the case for a complete count, noting how the numbers are essential for business planning, securing our proper share of federal and state government tax dollars, and ensuring fair representation in Washington D.C. and St. Paul. Consult the State Demographer’s website to learn more about how you might participate in a local Complete Count Committee. And check out this statement by Blandin Foundation President Kathy Annette, state co-chair of the Complete Count effort, on why introducing a citizenship question is a “last-minute curve ball’’ that will discourage participation.
Growth & Justice is sometimes called a “think tank.’’ Rightfully so, and we’ve worked hard to build a reputation for thoughtful and constructive advocacy of policies that move Minnesota toward more equitable growth and climate action. For our deep-thinking supporters, we highly recommend a couple of articulate essays recently that address crucial philosophical questions in the body politic right now. The first is by Doug Wilhide, a Minneapolis writer, in an op-ed headlined “American Individualism: That’s our Myth After Self-Sufficiency Kicks In and Until Luck Runs Out.’’ Wilhide poetically captures the reality of utter dependence on others for children, the sick and the elderly, a state all of us inhabit at some point. He introduces the concept that all of us in the productive prime of life, prone to thinking of ourselves as self-reliant and victimized by the needy, are really just “temporarily able-bodied.’’ The other piece we recommend is a Star Tribune Opinion Exchange Sunday cover piece by Ron Way, “Democratic Socialism: The Devil You Know.” Way sorts brilliantly through the stark differences between “Democratic socialism’’ that reigns successfully in most affluent free-market democracies (including our own) and the brutal totalitarian and undemocratic Marxist regimes that give socialism a bad name. Way concludes: “Free enterprise defines America; most feel it can work quite well and want it to continue. But there’s longing in the body politic for ways to bridle capitalism’s conspicuous excesses, especially inequitable wealth concentration. The idea that America perhaps should be more of a ‘democratic socialist’ country is gaining respectability. The agenda it represents will be part of what’s sure to be a spirited public debate.”
“As a nation we are interdependent on each other and the environment we inhabit. The decisions we make, whether we make them for selfish or selfless motives, affect others and their decisions affect us. We survive together or not at all.’’ -- Doug Wilhide, in op-ed described above.