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ENEWS: A Momentous Earth Day, Agribiz Needs Immigrants, GiveAtHomeMN

Date Published: 04/22/2020

Author: Dane Smith

50th Earth Day and Minnesota’s 1970 Solidarity

The 50th anniversary of Earth Day finds the globe in a heightened state of awareness about the interdependence of earthlings and our ecosystems, the fragility of human and planetary health, and the consequences of both environmental degradation and economic injustice.   Minnesota’s place in this momentous anniversary was highlighted in a Star Tribune article this week, revealing how Minneapolis school teacher Bryce Hamilton was instrumental in organizing that first Earth Day on April 22, 1970.   An important lesson from that time was how bipartisan that early environmentalism was in the North Star State, and in the nation.   Progressive DFLers may have led the charge, but Republican Gov. Harold LeVander participated in the first Earth Day with a speech to a high school class, and Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency had been created under his administration three years earlier.  Republican President Richard Nixon proposed creation of the Environmental Protection Agency just weeks after Earth Day.    For this coming next decade and beyond, our Minnesota Equity Blueprint accentuates the importance of climate action, clean water, and wilderness protection for a future of shared prosperity.   The Blueprint recommends numerous policies and practices that can be embraced by state decision-makers and local communities, regardless of partisan or ideological allegiance.

Agribusiness Needs Our Immigrants

On the same day this week that headlines blared President Trump’s intention to impose a further draconian shutdown of immigration and issuance of green cards, a former top executive of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce emphasized that immigrants are vital contributors to our state’s hugely important agribusiness sector.    In a recent Star Tribune op-ed, Blazar urged passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act by the U.S. Senate.  This legislation gives unauthorized immigrant farmworkers a path to an ag work visa that is good for five years and renewable. It also streamlines the process that farmers use to bring workers to the United States, Blazar wrote.  “Its passage will be a huge “thank you” and green light to more than 1 million farmworkers who are more fearful than ever about their ability to live and work in the U.S.”  

Help G&J Guide Minnesota to Equitable Recovery

Like every non-profit these days, Growth & Justice faces financial challenges related to the pandemic.  Donations are down as our fellow Minnesotans struggle economically.   We understand, as you do, too, that fundraising for immediate needs to combat COVID-19 and support vulnerable populations take priority. In fact, we encourage giving this spring through #GiveAtHomeMN.  A virtual fundraising event will take place there May 1 - 8 for nonprofits and schools all across the state, via the GiveMN fundraising platform.  GiveMN is currently donating its portion of the processing fee—about 2%—back to the organizations raising money thru May 2020.  And, as we mount our annual spring fundraising campaign, please help G & J continue our work together with you, as you can, through your financial support and advice. We need to continue to reinforce and disseminate our comprehensive framework and advocacy for inclusive and equitable outcomes – including reforms in both health care and economic security. Our work is more relevant than ever as Minnesota seeks to recover in the months and years ahead.    You can donate either through our GiveMN Growth & Justice page or directly to G & J at https://www.growthandjustice.org/support. Thank you so much!


“The convergence of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with this daunting pandemic crisis puts a spotlight on the ongoing challenges we face in our relationship with the physical world, both natural and human-made...As business leaders, designers, students, and ordinary citizens embrace an attitude of stewardship and shared purpose, I am deeply optimistic, even as we collectively respond to the challenges of the current crisis, about the ability of humans to come together and build a future of sustainable prosperity.-- Jack Dangermond,  founder and president of Esri, the world’s sixth largest privately held software company, from his commentary in Forbes, “Pandemic: Our Earth as the Missing Stakeholder.”

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