Civic Beat

Using grants to go green
Armed with $1,000 and a plan, a handful of community groups will work to make the city a little greener.

As part of the city’s “Mobilizing Citizens for Grassroots Climate Change” program, 20 community organizations each received $1,000 grants for their plans to encourage residents to reduce energy use. Recipients of the grants were announced during the July 9 meeting of the City Council’s Health, Energy and Environment Committee. They include neighborhood organizations, churches, recreation centers and nonprofit organizations. A few projects on the diverse list include:

• The Kingfield neighborhood will use handheld electricity calculators to measure the electrical usage of residential appliances in one month. The data collected will be used to promote energy savings for all residents in the neighborhood
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• Bedlam Theatre, 1501 S. 6th St., will expand its “How did you get HERE?” program that gives $2 to every patron who arrives at the theatre via mass transit, biking or walking and purchased a ticket valued at $10 or more.

• Bike On, a Whittier-based organization that promotes bicycling in Minneapolis, will expand its “Women Bike On” program. The organization will hire two interns, fluent in Somali/Oromo/Amharic or Spanish, who will work to encourage immigrant women to bike and provide them with information about the Minneapolis Energy Challenge during eight weeks of classes on Saturday mornings.

• The Basilica of St. Mary will work to sign up 1,000 parishioners for the Minneapolis Energy Challenge by setting up tables after mass and at the Basilica Block Party.

• Earthfusion, a nonprofit organization that brings artists together to promote human rights and environmental sustainability, is putting together a festival that will “use music and art as a way to bring people together and expose them to positive actions they can take to reduce their impact on the globe.” The festival will be held Aug. 11 from 11 a.m.––8 p.m. in Loring Park.

• The Linden Hills Recreation Center will hold a “Good Energy” fair to inform residents about simple ways to reduce energy use. A compact florescent light bulb will be given to each person who signs up for the Minneapolis Energy Challenge.

Mayor R.T. Rybak said the plans are good examples of how the city can partner with its residents to create measurable change at the neighborhood level. He said there’s no doubt he wants to earmark money for the grants in the 2008 budget.

“I can already tell you that I want to put this in the budget again next year,” Rybak said.

Gayle Prest, the city’s manager of environmental programs, said the city can learn from the ideas brought forth by all of the 39 grant applicants.

“It’s a small amount of money, but what these organizations are doing is astonishing,” Prest said.

Library merger
Every Minneapolis Public Library Board meeting through the end of the year will feature time for residents to comment and ask questions about the proposed merger with the Hennepin County Library System.

“Given the importance of libraries to our communities, we wanted to offer a regular opportunity for public discussion around the merger,” Library Board President Anita Duckor said in a prepared statement.

The next meeting will be Aug. 8 at Walker Library, 2880 Hennepin Ave. Meetings begin at 6 p.m.

For a full list of upcoming board meetings, agendas and further information, visit www.mplib.org.

Chief information officer
Lynn Willenbring is the city’s new chief information officer, a position that involves leading the department that coordinates the city’s technology needs.

Willenbring has been with the city since 2004 and has been involved in the development of Minneapolis 311 and Minneapolis Wireless. She replaces outgoing Chief Information Officer Karl Kaiser.

Minneapolis on ‘Tonight Show’
Comedian Mo Rocca and a “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” crew filmed a segment for the late-night talk show in Minneapolis that will air Aug. 1.

The segment was filmed July 12 along Nicollet Mall, in the Warehouse District and around the Chain of Lakes, as well as in several locations in St. Paul. The show came to the Twin Cities because it is the site for the 2008 Republican National Convention. It will also film in Denver, the site of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

The segment will feature Rocca talking with local residents about what to see and do in Minneapolis and St. Paul, how they are preparing for the election and their thoughts on the politicians who will be in the cities during the upcoming convention. He’ll also interview Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak as he commutes to work on his bike and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman as he plays the bagpipes.

Reach Kari VanDerVeen at kvanderveen@mnpubs.com or 436-4373.