Clean water, clean air, green places to walk and play, trees and natural areas near home - each of us needs these to be healthy in our city. When each of us enjoys access to a healthy environment, all of us can thrive.
In Minneapolis, we are proud of our best-in-the-nation parks, our Mississippi River, and our clean energy options. But not everyone now enjoys clean air, renewable energy choices and safe access to parks and trails, in the Third Ward and elsewhere in our city. Places with people living in poverty have increased by close to 50% since 1990, and life expectancy there is eight or more years less than in more affluent areas.
We can change that, for our city’s long-term health. As individuals and with businesses, nonprofit leaders, and city partners, we can focus our efforts and funding and strengthen city policies to clean up pollution, increase green streets, create and care for parks, and ensure access to a healthy environment for all.
Each of us can make choices that improve our environment and health, and help our neighbors, too. The ways each of us uses and reuses resources has a huge impact, not only on our environment, but on our neighbors. The city can support these efforts:
- Greening: Caring for our gardens and boulevards and teaming up with our neighbors to care for shared spaces - streets, greenways and community gardens - add up to a greener, healthier city, and an even more vibrant place to live. I support the city helping more landowners convert to native flowers and grasses and plant trees, promoting the stormwater credit program, and encouraging Public Works staff to promote pollinator-friendly plantings in private and public projects.
- Clean Energy: Choosing clean energy and conserving energy help, too. I support the city continuing to support clean energy options, and expanding promotion of clean energy choices and energy conservation with landlords and renters. It is time for renters to learn how to sign up for community solar and other renewable options.
- Zero Waste: Expanding recycling and composting programs has been terrific. We can do even better by working towards a Zero Waste community, preventing social, environmental and health problems caused by waste.
Businesses and Development:
We can embrace both business and the environment to build a city that is vibrant and enjoys a competitive advantage.
- Green Buildings: New developments should include cost-efficient, environment-friendly features that improve our environment, not just decrease their impact. Examples include using stormwater as an asset, not waste; incorporating compost and waste collection in building design; and building with energy conservation and environmental benefit in design, construction and operations. I support working with city staff, community leaders and developers to establish clear expectations for measuring environmental improvements in developments.
- Make Change Contribute: Growth in the heart of our city and region is critical to protect our environment and quality of life - as long as this growth is designed to create greater vitality and give back to the community. I support growth with preservation - setting clear guidelines for preserving key areas with design guidelines, and encouraging growth and density where transit and other public services are available.
City - Community Green Zone Leadership:
Many neighborhoods in North and Northeast Minneapolis are disproportionately and unfairly affected by our current energy choices, industry, and residential pollution. The City is now facilitating a Green Zone Task Force to recommend priorities for improving clean air and livability in areas hardest hit by environmental burdens.
- Green Zone Policies and Funding: Potential actions span many city departments and private partnerships. Dedicating staff resources and funding is essential to sustain the city’s commitment and to implement Green Zone recommendations, from air monitoring to green job training, from community engagement to green business recruitment.
- Green Zone Partners: Community members, nonprofit organizations, philanthropic partners and businesses are all key partners for shaping and succeeding on Green Zone priorities. I support a sustained city commitment to ensure that these diverse partners remain committed to solving long-standing problems.
Nonprofit - City Urban Agriculture, Urban Trees, and Going Green Leadership:
When I searched for my first apartment here, I looked for a place where I could find fresh food nearby - not just a grocery store, but a place to grow vegetables. People in many Minneapolis neighborhoods live in “food deserts,” places more than a mile from a supermarket, where people live without access to a car.
- Places to Grow Food: I support identifying places where each person can walk to a garden to grow fresh food, just as our city is proud of its public parks within a ten-minute walk of every home. This is critical for places near affordable and low-income housing.
- Training and Support: Our nonprofit partners in Minneapolis have experience engaging people in growing food: addressing environmental contamination, helping immigrants adapt their skills to our climate and customer tastes, and providing garden to market support. I support the city helping these nonprofit partners with grants and recruiting philanthropic leaders to support them, too.
- Green Streets and City: By supporting healthy trees in our neighborhoods and parks, we help address climate change and improve our community health. We are facing a drastic loss of trees on our streets, in our parks, and in our natural areas like the Mississippi River corridor. Neighborhoods with few homeowners are hardest hit, as trees are removed, and people struggle to protect and water saplings. I support the city teaming up with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to water new trees and help businesses, individuals and community groups care for their vulnerable trees.
- Green Transportation Choices: Improving transit and ensuring that all people feel safe bicycling or walking are essential steps to a cleaner, healthier environment for all. I support continuing to improve our walking and bicycling experiences, and advocating for better transit service.
Our city has long been a leader in environmental sustainability. I know that we as individuals, businesses, and communities can do better. Join me in improving the long-term health of our city, and helping us all thrive.