There is nothing I can imagine more fulfilling than the work I’ve been able to do as a journalist/writer, largely since birth. I launched a neighborhood “newspaper” in 6th grade, was an editor at the Minnesota Daily college newspaper, and embarked on a publishing career in New York City for nearly two decades. My book about “Choosing Single Motherhood” launched a website and workshop series for the past decade.
For me, the passion comes from being able to dive into new areas — like a mini college course — by talking to experts, reading extensively, and turning what I’m learning into something shareable to a wider community.
What I’m learning now as founder of MPLS Green is about the creative, passionate forces behind Minneapolis and its stewards of sustainability, climate change action and design.
Sustainability in action
I meet, on a regular basis, people who care deeply about what we are unwittingly and knowingly doing to our environment.
— I recently sat in on an informal conversation with Parks Board representatives at Loring Park, where residents voiced deep concerns about its use of pesticides in a pollinator-friendly environment. My article about that discussion has been shared with more than 400 residents who care about the issue.
— I have been privileged to sit for hours of conversation with impassioned architects about what they wish they were able to do to help the city reach its Climate Action Plan goals of carbon emissions by 2030. I expect to host a forum on that in the near future.
— I know people who are working tirelessly to remind us why it’s important to throw less away — by thinking about what we’re buying, taking advantage of compost and recycling, and considering re-use options.
— I have written stories about organic farmers, pollinator experts, raingarden specialists, and spotlighted the 34 farmers markets we have in the city.
I know that we are better served by having the educated, aware, thoughtful and passionate individuals we have in Minneapolis who want to do the right thing in a better way than we are now.
One person I talked to is Northeast architect Tim Eian, who has used, in his 15 years here, passive house construction methods learned in his native Germany. Despite frustrations with “how things are done,” he remains optimistic. He sees good people trying new programs. LEED, GreenStar Building, net-zero energy, passive house standards — all methods of retro-fitting and new construction that try to minimize the damage we are doing to the environment.
“The reason I am totally optimistic is that every day my colleagues and I are setting new standards in building — or, trying to, given the current rules,” Eian said. “The answers are already out there about how to build more efficient structures, design sustainable spaces, and create a better bang for our buck. The good news is, we don’t have to wait for some fusion reactor to be built.”
Eian indicated that there are only two blockades — and they are the hard ones:
1) making more people aware of what we should and could be doing, and 2) dealing with the economics of the current real estate development culture.
Why Sustainable We?
The mission of “Sustainable We” — my new monthly column in Southwest Journal that stems from MPLS Green conversations — is to lift up the stories of good work by good people. And how they need our help.
To be Sustainable is to be a We.
Whether it is the team trying to build a live-work-play-pedestrian-oriented community in Prospect Park, or the organic farmers working to create diverse and sustainable produce for our local markets, or the neighbors of Longfellow working to develop a Transition Town concept that emphasizes community social events to get people out of their individual homes, there is a concerted need for all of us to participate in being a local, interconnected community that can rely on each other well into the future.
Personally, I believe in our ability to come together. I am as prone to happy isolation and independence as any introverted single mom could be — and seeing the world with black-and-white glasses when it comes to certain issues. However, I lived 20 blocks from the World Trade Center when those buildings fell in 2001, and I felt a very different kind of energy in the days surrounding the tragedy. Coming together as a non-politicized community is what I believe we are capable of.
There are great ideas, great innovators, great minds in our midst that are working together to find solutions when we need them. And… we need them.
To be sustainable, we need our collective power to transition Me households and businesses into We communities.
Mikki Morrissette is founder of www.MPLSGreen.com, a best practices sustainability resource for Minneapolis residents. Please follow this column, and MPLSGreen.com, to learn what we can do together.