Following the tragic news across our country these last few weeks, and wrestling with feelings of grief and heartache, I’ve been struck by the urgency of two key words: here and now. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel paralyzed by these tragedies, but we know our work remains critical in affecting positive change that protects people’s health, creates clean energy jobs and advances equitable solutions to climate change. If we focus on the here and now, we can find hope, companionship and the courage to move forward to effect real change by working together. What may have gotten lost in the news recently, but something I’ve been following, is an ongoing series of heartening articles that show we are literally living through the clean energy transition. It is important to recognize that while the present might seem fraught with tension, there remain acts of love and courage that motivate us to continue our work towards building a better world. Here are a few things that continue to sustain my positive energy:
Earlier this year, the Department of Commerce reported that Minnesota now receives 21% of its electricity from renewable sources, and is on track to exceed the goal of 25% by 2025, thanks to a growing industry and the cost competitiveness of both wind and solar energy.
Our Public Utilities Commission is setting the state on a clean energy path, and encouraging utilities to move to a more decentralized system – a system where energy efficiency, conservation and “renewables first” is the new normal. The PUC recently required Minnesota Power to speed up its retirement of aging coal plants, and to dramatically increase the amount of clean energy being provided to the grid and ultimately to us, as customers and users of that energy. The PUC also required Minnesota Power to initiate a request for proposals for 100 to 300 megawatts of wind energy by 2017.
These steps put us on a path towards an energy system that takes advantage of lower cost, pollution-free resources available today, and ensures we protect our health, climate and economy.
I am proud to know that our organization is playing a vital role in this climate and clean energy progress. During our 11th Summer Institute for Climate Change Education last month, Advisory Board member and climate scientist Dr. Ben Santer told our educators: “You are doing the most important work. You are in the trenches educating future generations to be scientifically and climate literate, so that they have the knowledge and tools to make the decisions needed ahead.” Indeed, as I heard, talked with and listened to educators during the Institute, I was reminded that the changes we seek are happening in a variety of systems – from our energy system to our education system. Climate change is here and now. And so are the solutions.
Nicole Rom, Executive Director
Summer Institute attendees gain interdisciplinary perspective on climate change
Last month, over 40 educators from around the country convened at Macalester College for the 2016 Summer Institute for Climate Change Education – a four-day conference focused on gaining the skills to bring the increasingly relevant and significant topic of climate change to today’s youth. The attendees this year came from a variety of backgrounds; from formal science teachers to informal educators, from pre-K to higher education, and this diversity provided rich dialogue as well as the ability to dig deep into the interdisciplinary nature of climate change. The Summer Institute offered the space for educators to learn deeply about an issue that intersects with every aspect of our lives. Take a virtual tour of the week here!
Kristen Poppleton selected to join national climate change advisory committee
We are thrilled for our Director of Education, Kristen Poppleton, who was recently appointed to a newly formed Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment. On June 29th, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the appointment of 15 members to the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, which will advise NOAA as well as the U.S. Global Change Research Program to prepare for the effects of climate change and facilitate ongoing dialogue between scientists and stakeholders across regions and sectors.
Reflecting back on the YEA! MN 2015-16 learning arc
This school year, the YEA! MN program followed an arc of learning and growth, which centered around elements of identity, environmental justice, climate literacy, storytelling and taking action. This progression offered a sequence of learning that builds and informs the ways young people can act to address climate change in their communities. The learning arc instills a curiosity in learning about who we are as people, the multiple identities we hold, and how our identities differ and relate to others. It also creates space to build a deeper understanding and connection to the issue of climate change, and how it intersects with other struggles we see playing out in our communities. Students action projects took shape with guidance and support from the elements of the learning arc. Read more about the action projects, and the year in review, in Nicole Ektnitphong’s reflection blog.
A fond farewell to Savannah and Kyra
This month we said goodbye to two wonderful Emerging Leaders team members. Youth Climate Coordinator Savannah Duby transitioned out of her role after three dedicated years of building our mentorship program. Her thoughtful, positive imprint on our organization will live on, as will the resources she developed for a co-mentorship experience, which will soon be on our website. Youth Policy Organizer Kyra Brown ended her contract in June as well, after spending the past six months recruiting and leading a Youth Policy Cohort to advocate for a strong and just implementation of the Clean Power Plan in Minnesota. We wish them well in their next steps.
Nominate a young leader for Midwest Energy News’ 40 Under 40!
Back for its second year, Midwest Energy News’ 40 Under 40 awards program recognizes emerging clean energy leaders throughout the region, and their contributions to the Midwest’s clean energy transition. The cohort of nominees and award recipients is intended to reflect Midwest-based leaders and innovators from all sectors, including industry, government, regulatory, business, academic and nonprofit settings. Know someone who deserves to be recognized? Nominate someone here through August 5. Last year, our Executive Director, Nicole Rom, was selected as one of the 40 Under 40 Leaders in their first cohort and she serves as a member of their selection advisory committee this year.
Support our work while celebrating Kräftskiva 2016
Food by The Bachelor Farmer! Drinks by Marvel Bar and Fulton! Live music by Metric and more! Join Askov Finlayson, 89.3 The Current, and fellow Twin Citizens for the Kräftskiva 2016 festival, coming up Saturday, August 6th. This year, all proceeds will be going to support our work at Climate Generation. Buy tickets for $25 now: http://www.kraftskiva2016.com/.
Thank you to our 10-Year Celebration Host Committee and sponsors!
The planning process for our 10-Year celebration event at the end of the year is underway, and we want to say a huge thanks to our 10-year host committee and sponsors that we’ve lined up so far. Visit our website if you’re interested in being a sponsor or purchasing a table!
Corporate Sponsors: Aveda, Askov Finlayson, Best Buy, Andersen Corporation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, Elness Swenson Graham Architects, Inc.
VIP Table Sponsor: Bridget and Ross Levin, Jud Dayton, Darby Ringer
Host Committee: Fourth Sector Consulting, Chuck Bennett, David Brown, Lynn Gordon and French Meadow Bakery & Cafe, Ron and Kimberly Kroese, Heidi Bing, Kim Knutson, Julie Ristau and friends, Joe and Michael Bailey, Josephine and Gordon Bailey, Will and Claudia Kaul, Leigh and Peter Currie, Cathryn Kennedy Consulting Ltd., R. Michael and Sharon Conley, Joann and Dan Knuth, Don Shelby, Kate and Stuart Nielsen, Jim and Susan Lenfestey, Jessica Hellmann and Institute on the Environment, Tim and Denise Seck, Kate and Sam Knuth and friends.
On June 29th, NOAA announced the appointment of 15 members to the newly formed Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, and our Director of Education Kristen Poppleton was among those appointed to this prestigious group! The committee will advise NOAA on the activities, products and stakeholder engagement surrounding the National Climate Assessment, created by the U.S. Global Change Research Program.
A member of our Youth Policy Cohort, Sumaya MoAllin, shares why she cares about climate change, how it has impacted her community, and why she is happy to be working with other young people to push for a just implementation of the Clean Power Plan in Minnesota.
What does climate change sound like? What does it look like, feel like, taste like and smell like? Our Communications Coordinator Katie Siegner covered the climate-themed 2016 Northern Spark festival for Yale Climate Connections, and highlighted the re-imagining of climate change that the art installations facilitated.
44 new Summer Institute alumni will return to their classrooms this fall with the confidence and competence to integrate climate change education!