Green report

Green jobs activist Van Jones to visit

Van Jones, a rising star in the environmental movement and author of the acclaimed "The Green Collar Economy," will speak at the University of Minnesota on March 5.

The event is co-sponsored by the Utne Institute and the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality & Healing, which is unveiling a new interdisciplinary project called Whole Systems Healing — courses designed to have students explore the environmental and social aspects of healing.

Van Jones is the founder and president of Green For All, an organization based in Oakland, Calif., dedicated to finding opportunities for low-income people to be part of the nation’s green economy. He is also a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress, a Time magazine 2008 Environmental Hero and has been named one of Fast Company’s 12 Most Creative Minds of 2008.

In an interview with the Southwest Journal, Jones lauded the work being done in the Twin Cities to expand the green economy. In particular, he singled out Karen Monahan, an organizer with EJAM (Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota), a group that has been active in efforts to improve the environment in South Minneapolis neighborhoods. The group has worked with community leaders to educate residents about arsenic contamination from a pesticide company.

Utne Institute founder Eric Utne, a Southwest resident and Center for Spirituality & Healing senior fellow, said Jones’ work is a "shining example" of what he’d like to see from students who take part in the Whole Systems Healing (WSH) initiative at the university, a curriculum he has designed with colleague John Miller.

"Two fundamental tenets of the WSH program are [that] the social and environmental are inextricably connected and that we are all potential healers of such challenges as global climate change, poverty and racism," Utne said. "This is what a good college education should do: empower students to be effective, constructive agents of social and environmental healing."

Jones’ March 5 speaking event, "Green Jobs: Rx for a Healthy Economy & a Healthy Environment," is scheduled for 4–6 p.m. at the Ted Mann Concert Hall, 2128 4th St. S. To register, call 624-2345.

Stimulus package could bring green jobs to city

Mayor R.T. Rybak has voiced support for the federal economic stimulus package, saying it could mean dozens of green jobs in Minneapolis.

The legislation includes $500 million for green jobs training programs across the country.

In a statement released Feb. 2, Rybak said that the city would use funds from the federal economic recovery plan to train people to weatherize up to 800 homes in Minneapolis.

"Because President Obama is pushing for transit investments and green jobs as part of this plan, not only can we rebuild our nation’s crippling transportation infrastructure, we can also build a new green economy for the future and finally get off our addiction to oil," he said.

The $3.3 million green jobs program would help reduce energy costs for low- to middle-income residents.

"Weatherization programs offer one of the best opportunities for job creation in Minneapolis," said Minneapolis Economic Development Director Cathy Polasky in a prepared statement.

Twin Cities Green hosting local art show

Twin Cities Green, 2405 Hennepin Ave. S., is hosting an art show called "Loco Local," showcasing local craftsmanship and artwork. A portion of the store has been turned into an exhibit featuring a variety of wall art, sculptures, jewelry and furniture, among other items. All of the items are for sale. The art show ends Feb. 28.

The innovative store has come up with a tool for folks interested in supporting local green businesses and organizations: TC Green Map. The map is meant to help people get a quick overview of where to find green-friendly retailers. There are directories for local restaurants, clothing stores, yard and garden shops, home improvement businesses, co-ops and farmer’s markets. To check out the map, go to

Green report

A look at government’s role as green guardian

If you’re curious about the intersections between environmentalism and public policy, there’s a can’t-miss Southwest event for you early next month.

The League of Women Voters will host a large public forum March 5, where city and local environmental leaders will discuss topics ranging from chemicals to sustainability through the filter of

The forum’s called "How Can Government Safeguard Our Children and Future Generations?" and will feature several guests including Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-Minn.), Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-61A), council member Scott Benson (11th Ward), and Lindsey Dahl from the Institute of Agriculture & Trade Policy (IATP).

There will be a pair of panels. During the first, environmental leaders will discuss current environmental issues and concerns; and during the second, elected officials will discuss their roles as community stewards and protectors of future generations.

Mayor R.T. Rybak will deliver the keynote address on his vision of sustainability for the city.

There will also be several exhibitors at the forum, including the Women’s Environmental Institute, Kids For Saving Earth,

The forum is part of the Healthy Legacy initiative, which the Southwest-based IATP launched in 2006, along with the Clean Water Fund of Minnesota.

The forum will be held from 7–9 p.m. at the Lake Harriet United Methodist Church at 4901 Chowen Ave. S. For more info, call 333-6319 or visit or

Buying green? Get a coupon from the feds

With the economy the way it is, you might be holding off on those major purchases. New car? Not this year. New windows for the house? Not a chance.

But if you opt for energy-efficient products, you could save serious money, thanks to a range of tax incentives from the federal government. Some of these tax credits already exist; others have been proposed as part of President
Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan.

For instance, if you buy a new hybrid car or SUV, you’d be eligible for $250 to over $3,000, depending on the vehicle (in part, the higher the fuel economy the larger the rebate). New Energy Star-compliant windows could net you up to $200 off for each (up to $500). There are dozens of other incentives for everything from air-conditioning units to geothermal heating systems.

To keep up with state and federal incentives for buying green, check out, an independently run database that’s funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

De-icing the green way

Before you reach for that bag of deicing salt to clean up your sidewalk, consider this:

The salt is probably sodium (or calcium) chloride, which will find its way into nearby waterways. Chloride pollutes water and, in high enough concentrations, can kill fish and destroy vegetation. It also corrodes metal (yep, including the metal on your car).

It’s a big enough issue that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recently hosted an entire symposium on road salt and ways to balance the need for safe roads with the need to protect the environment.

It’ll take some work for the biggest salt users (read: snowplows) to change their ways, but if you want to do your part, consider the environmentally friendly alternatives.

There’s either potassium chloride and magnesium chloride, which of course both still contain chloride, but at much lower levels. There’s also calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), which is biodegradable.

Or you can go simple (and free) with sand. The city gives away sand to residents every winter — just head to 6036 Harriet Ave. S. (remember to bring your own shovel and bucket). The sand’s available 24 hours a day.

Reducing the airport’s carbon footprint

Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL 60B) has again introduced a bill that would require the Metropolitan Airports Commission to inventory all carbon emissions and then create a plan to reduce them.

Hornstein introduced the bill in the previous biennium, though it never made it out of committee.

Airplanes, of course, are by far the largest source of carbon emissions at the airport, though the commission has no control over the mix of airplanes carriers choose to use. The commission has said in the past that it supports using planes and other technologies that reduce carbon emissions, provided that airlines can still satisfy customers’ needs.

The bill (HF238) also calls on the commission to recycle more and reduce off-site energy consumption.

If you’re interested in tracking the bill (or any other proposed legislation), visit

What: Forum on the intersections of environmentalism and
public policy
When and where: Thursday, March 5 at 7 p.m. at Lake Harriet United Methodist Church
Why should I care: Environmental issues have become prominent in politics. Learn what’s on the table today and how your local, state and national leaders are responding.