South High School students Shira and Etta deliver 404 post cards to Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin
On Wednesday, January 29th, four South High School students met with Minneapolis City Council Member Alondra Cano to discuss the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC) incinerator. We were: sophomore, Sjournee Quaidoo, and seniors, Vivi Grieco, Shira Breen, and Etta Harkness Bartholdi. Previous to our meeting we had been learning about this issue and had been taking action for a few weeks by tabling for postcards at our school and going to HERC coalition meetings. Walking into the meeting, our goal was to convince Councilmember Cano to vote no on the HERC expansion in the spring. The discussion we had ended up going beyond what we all planned!
Although we were nervous and a bit jittery before meeting, when Alondra Cano sat down, we quickly relaxed and had a positive and enticing conversation about intersecting issues of the HERC incinerator, leadership, race, and gender. She was clearly against HERC from the beginning of the conversation, showing full support for it to be shut down and expressing the need for more recycling and composting in Minneapolis.
We brought to her attention the quota HERC had to fill and how, if Minneapolis transitioned into a zero waste city, the incinerator would ship in trash from the suburbs to fill their quota, which is what they do now too. For the rest of the nearly two hour discussion we discussed our involvement in the youth climate movement, our involvement in the community, and passions around the city. She shared her story of how she became Councilmember and what she was focused on working on in Minneapolis.
For me, the conversation let me know a lot about how government officials work, that mostly local elected officials go to meetings, talk to students, community members, and really–everyone. The meeting made us feel hopeful for a win with the HERC incinerator and excited to meet with Alondra Cano and other elected officials in the future.
The Minneapolis South High School Green Tigers collected 404 postcards signed by students in support of the Minneapolis Organic Composting Proposal as a means to reducing HERC waste incineration and improving air quality for affected communities. On February 10th, Shira and Etta delivered them in person to Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlan.