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ENEWS: Gratitude for you; hope for our democracy

Date Published: 11/24/2021

Author: Jane Leonard

Gratitude for you; hope for our democracy 

As we approach Thanksgiving Day 2021, I offer deep gratitude to all of you who have supported Growth & Justice this past year with your contributions of ideas, participation, and financial support. We celebrate our 20th anniversary in 2022 and hope you will join us in a retrospective and forward-facing recognition event in early spring. Stay tuned for more details to come! 

The anniversary event will use the Minnesota Equity Blueprint as a frame for discussion, and we’ll focus on democracy, a theme woven throughout the Blueprint. Without a healthy civic society and a fully participatory democratic system, with free and fair elections, we cannot solve the enormous challenges we face now, nor advance opportunities the future holds.  

In 2022, we face life-altering choices with our local, state, and national elections. In selecting leaders at all levels, do we choose those who believe in and practice democracy no matter their party affiliation, or those who side with and fuel authoritarianism?  

Democracy must win in 2022. Consider this troubling development: The United States for the first time was added to a list of “backsliding democracies” in a global state of democracy report released this Monday by the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. The U.S., "the bastion of global democracy, fell victim to authoritarian tendencies itself...knocked down a significant number of steps on the democratic scale,” the 2021 report said. 

This December 9-10, President Biden will host the first of two Summits for Democracy organized by the U.S. Department of State, committing to his February 2021 statement, that “Democracy doesn’t happen by accident. We have to defend it, fight for it, strengthen it, renew it.”  

I’m thankful the Summit is happening, and hopeful that as it states, “will kick off a year of action by participants to make democracies more responsive and resilient, and to build a broader community of partners committed to global democratic renewal.” Here at home let’s do the same— everyday— so that next November, democracy wins.  

— Jane Leonard, President of Growth & Justice

To read: “Buttressing Democracy in Minnesota”

Check out “Buttressing Democracy in Minnesota” by Liz Fedor in Twin Cities Business. It delves into the two Justice & Democracy Centers coming to Minneapolis and St. Paul in the coming two years. The article weaves in an interview with U.S. District Court Judge John Tunheim, who also spoke last week in Minneapolis about how the centers aim to address threats to U.S. democracy. In the article, Tunheim talks about how the centers “will fill a gap in civics education and why children and adults need to pay more attention to understanding their government and restoring respect for democratic institutions” as well as the crucial need for the business sector “to be able to operate within a functioning democracy.” Read the full article for more details about the future centers and their goal to foster stronger civics and democracy education. 

Rural Minnesota women talking about leading a more equitable future 

If you’re interested in watching a recording of the recent TRUE Tuesday session hosted by 100 Rural Women, you can watch a YouTube video of the session here. Four rural Minnesota women share their stories and discuss leading the way to a more equitable future. 

Save the date: Little Falls Wayfinding Project

Local organizations of the Little Falls partnered with Indigenous women artists to create 15 signs that will be installed at parks around the Little Falls area. On January 27, Region Five Development Commission will host an event at Great River Arts to share the Welcoming Communities/Wayfinding project with the Little Falls community. For more information, you can listen to this podcast episode from R5DC, which does a deep dive into the project. We will include more info about this event and the artists and organizations involved in upcoming newsletters. 

MN Equity Map spotlight

This week’s featured Minnesota Equity Map story is on Partners for Affordable Housing in Mankato, MN! You can read a brief summary of the story below (from our Twitter), and if you would like to know more, you can read the full story on the map. Tune into our social media for more summaries! And as always— share the map with anyone who you think would like to submit their work to be featured on it. 

Partners for Affordable Housing (Mankato, MN) addresses homelessness + poverty in Mankato. They run three shelters & a free store with household items, provide support for transitional and rent controlled housing, & support clients through other hurdles. (Story written by Noelle Muzzy)


"It is not enough to merely defend democracy. To defend it may be to lose it; to extend it is to strengthen it. Democracy is not property; it is an idea." Hubert H. Humphrey

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