Sunday, October 18, 2015

A modest request

Minnesota's good neighbors to the north are calling for a new, more sustainable approach to governance and development. After reading it several times, and thinking about it even more, I've come to believe that, with some minor editing, adopting a similar manifesto would benefit all of Minnesota. My modest request is that you read, consider, and ultimately endorse and promote (perhaps even insist on) the basic concepts in The Leap Manifesto. Here are some excerpts to get you started:
Duluth at Winter dusk
Duluth at Winter dusk
Photo by J. Harrington

[Minnesota could be] powered entirely by truly just renewable energy, woven together by accessible public transit, in which the jobs and opportunities of this transition are designed to systematically eliminate racial and gender inequality. Caring for one another and caring for the planet could be the economy’s fastest growing sectors. Many more people could have higher wage jobs with fewer work hours, leaving us ample time to enjoy our loved ones and flourish in our communities.

We know that the time for this great transition is short. Climate scientists have told us that this is the decade to take decisive action to prevent catastrophic global warming. That means small steps will no longer get us where we need to go.

There is no longer an excuse for building new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future. The new iron law of energy development must be: if you wouldn’t want it in your backyard, then it doesn’t belong in anyone’s backyard. That applies equally to oil and gas pipelines; fracking ... and to ... mining projects the world over.


northern Minnesota, Sawtooth Mountains
northern Minnesota, Sawtooth Mountains
Photo by J. Harrington

A leap to a non-polluting economy creates countless openings for similar multiple “wins.” We want a universal program to build energy efficient homes, and retrofit existing housing, ensuring that the lowest income communities and neighbourhoods will benefit first and receive job training and opportunities that reduce poverty over the long term. We want training and other resources for workers in carbon-intensive jobs, ensuring they are fully able to take part in the clean energy economy. This transition should involve the democratic participation of workers themselves. High-speed rail powered by just renewables and affordable public transit can unite every community in this [state] – in place of more cars, pipelines and exploding trains that endanger and divide us.

And since we know this leap is beginning late, we need to invest in our decaying public infrastructure so that it can withstand increasingly frequent extreme weather events.
a new dawn for Minnesota?
a new dawn for Minnesota?
Photo by J. Harrington

I don't believe we can get Minnesota where it needs to be by taking lots of small, uncoordinated steps. Good intentions, even the best intentions, won't get the job done. We continue to waste too much energy arguing over who gets to rearrange those (in)famous deck chairs on the Titanic. We've all seen Minnesotans pull together for important causes, especially protecting our environment. Making this "Leap" may be the most critical effort in each of our lives. Our children deserve no less, or do they?

The Animals are Leaving

By Charles Harper Webb 

One by one, like guests at a late party   
They shake our hands and step into the dark:   
Arabian ostrich; Long-eared kit fox; Mysterious starling.

One by one, like sheep counted to close our eyes,   
They leap the fence and disappear into the woods:   
Atlas bear; Passenger pigeon; North Island laughing owl;   
Great auk; Dodo; Eastern wapiti; Badlands bighorn sheep.

One by one, like grade school friends,   
They move away and fade out of memory:   
Portuguese ibex; Blue buck; Auroch; Oregon bison;   
Spanish imperial eagle; Japanese wolf; Hawksbill   

Sea turtle; Cape lion; Heath hen; Raiatea thrush.

One by one, like children at a fire drill, they march outside,   
And keep marching, though teachers cry, “Come back!”   
Waved albatross; White-bearded spider monkey;   
Pygmy chimpanzee; Australian night parrot;   
Turquoise parakeet; Indian cheetah; Korean tiger;   

Eastern harbor seal ; Ceylon elephant ; Great Indian rhinoceros.

One by one, like actors in a play that ran for years   
And wowed the world, they link their hands and bow   
Before the curtain falls.


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