What Germany Can Teach Americans about Transforming our Energy Systems PDF Print E-mail
Solar Energy


How a Country With One of the World's

Largest Economies Is Ditching Fossil Fuels

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Tara DePorte writes that the German energy transformation called "Energiewende" has all the signs of a modern miracle:  a commitment from all political parties, from the most conservative to the most liberal, to shift the world's fourth largest economy to 80% renewable energy by 2050.  While Germany has nowhere near the wind and solar resources of Minnesota, it expects to reach 35% renewable power by 2020 and could reach 40%.

Germans who install solar panels can sell surplus power back into the power grid at a rate guaranteed for 20 years.  This guaranteed payment, called a "feed in tariff" engages the German public in the transition to clean energy, while creating a more decentralized system of energy production and increasing the energy independence of Germany.   While the U.S. media continues to ignore climate science consensus and debates the existence of manmade climate change, the German media and public are on the road to energy independence and rapidly cutting their climate impacts. Find out what has enabled Germany to make remarkable progress on transitioning to a clean energy economy in these two articles:

"How a Country with One of the World's Largest Economies is Ditching Fossil Fuels"

"What Germany Can Teach Americans about Transforming our Energy Systems"

To learn how Germany has made this remarkable progress toward clean energy, and how Minnesota could too, read Clean Break by Journalist Osha Gray Davidson.  Clean Break is the story of how German citizens led the transition to clean energy from the bottom up and democratized the electric system in the process.  65% of Germany's renewable energy is owned by individuals, cooperatives, or communities.  Download this inspiring story for $1.


Tavis Smiley Interview on What Has Happened and Not Happened since the March on Washington PDF Print E-mail

On the 50th Anniversary of the historic March on Washington, Tavis Smiley interviewed Dr. Algernon Austin,   Director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy, which works to advance policies that enable people of color to participate fully in the American economy and benefit equitably from gains in prosperity.  Austin is the author of the EPI report, "The Unfinished March," that looks at changes over the 50 years since the March on Washington.

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During the interview, Dr. Austin discusses low wages, the high unemployment level of blacks, segregated and unequal schools, and residential segregation.  He stated,

"Today, the minimum wage is actually worth less than it was in 1963 in inflation-adjusted terms. Although minimum wage workers are better educated, they’re more productive, as a society we’re much wealthier than we were in 1963, but the fact of the matter is we have allowed the real value of the minimum wage to erode and that means that many workers, low-wage workers, can’t earn enough to lift their families out of poverty."

Watch the interview





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Achievement Gap Committee
Early Childhood Education Forums

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Governor Dayton has proposed new funding for early child care and education in his budget.  To inform the public, the Achievement Gap Committee organized forums to highlight current research and practice around early care and education, particularly as it relates to closing the achievement gap.  Use the links below to watch the videos of these forums.


Forum 1: Exploring “Quality” Care: What does quality look like, is it the same across cultures, and do state investments in quality have a long-term benefit or fade out with time?

teacher with children
Rob Grunewald, associate economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Focusing on “fade out”: Do early childhood investments have long-term benefits, and if so, how?

Kathryn Tout, co-director, early childhood research, Child Trends: What have we learned
about quality early care from MN research and pilot programs, and how do we take quality to scale?

Betty Emarita, founder/president, Development and Training Resources: Does quality early care look the same across cultures, and what do we know about cultural best practices?

See John Risken's Video for the first forum

Forum 2: What is Minnesota’s plan for increasing access to quality early childhood education, and how is it working in communities of color?

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Karen Cadigan, Director of the Office of Early Learning: How does Parent Aware improve early education programs’ quality, family support, K-12 alignment, and accountability?

Bao Vang, Community Outreach and Quality Coach with Think Small: Is Parent Aware meeting the needs of new immigrant families and those who are English Language Learners?

Barb Fabre, Director of Child Care and Early Childhood Programs, White Earth Reservation: Does Parent Aware work for Native American families?

See the article about the second forum:  "Early childhood education:  What does culture have to do with it?"


See the video:  MN's Plan for Increasing Access to Early Childhood Education



For background on the huge benefits of quality early childhood education for the public, families, and the lifelong development of the children who receive it, see the 30 minute Real Progress TV interview with Art Rolnick, U of M Humphrey School Fellow and former Federal Reserve Economist.

The Achievement Gap Committee sponsors monthly forums with experts on education and ways to close the achievement gap.  It was started six years ago by former Mayor of Minneapolis and U.S. Congressman Don Fraser in response to Minnesota's having one of the highest achievement gaps in the U.S.  The
Convenors are Don Fraser and Grant Abbott





African Civic Engagement Conversation PDF Print E-mail


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Now it's time for African Immigrants to move from civic spectators to policy makers by taking leadership roles on local park boards, PTA's, philanthropic groups, city commissions, and local governments.  That was the main theme of the African Civic Engagement Conversation that took place in May at the Brooklyn Park City Council Chambers.  Think Again MN Board members Linda Freemon and Carol Woehrer participated in the planning of the Civic Engagement Conversation.

Brooklyn Park, a city of 77,000, is nearly 50 percent minority. About 21 percent of the city is foreign-born. Brooklyn Center, a city of 30,000, is about 55 percent minority, according to U.S. Census data. About 23 percent of its population is foreign-born.

Read the articles on the Conversation reported in the Star Tribune and Twin Cities Daily Planet:

Brooklyn  Park forum: Immigrant and minorities need to step up and take more civic roles

Brooklyn Park African and African-American communities convene 350 leaders for civic engagement


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21st Century Jobs in MN


Looking Forward to Clean Energy

Tuesday, May 21 cleanenergyjobs

6:30 p.m. Social and Refreshments
    7 p.m. - Program

Brooklyn Park City Hall
City Council Chambers

5200 85th Avenue North

Climate change is causing melting arctic ice, drought leading to higher food prices in the Midwest, more catastrophic storms, food and water shortages in Africa, and rising sea levels flooding low lying Asian Cities and villages.  We can do something about it right here in Minnesota.  We have an abundance of wind and as much solar as Jacksonville, Florida. Increasing clean energy goals in Minnesota will not only be kinder to the earth, its people, and its animals, it will also create many good paying jobs, and put Minnesota on the path to economic prosperity.  Join us to find out how.

j. drake hamiltonJ. Drake Hamilton
Science Policy
 Director, Fresh Energy


J. Hamilton is in demand throughout MN to
speak on climate change and the enormous benefits of clean renewable energy for MN.  Find out how MN is moving ahead on clean energy jobs that generate renewable energy, protect our health,  reduce climate change, and keep energy dollars in MN.



chris eatonSenator Chris Eaton

The 2013 Solar Energy Jobs Act

Senator Eaton co-sponsored the bill that would make MN a leading state for clean energy and create good paying jobs requiring many different skills.  Find out how her bill did in the House and Senate during the legislative session and what the next step will be.

We would like our forums to reflect your interests and concerns.  Please feel free to make requests and suggestions for topics and speakers.  Contact Gail Hanson,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Carol Woehrer, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



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MN's Leading Election System

With Secretary of State Steve Simon


steve simon


Listen to Secretary of State Steve Simon's excellent presentation on MN's outstanding election system emulated by many other states at the Think Again Brooklyns forum January 19, 2016.  Secretary Simon includes ways in which it can be improved, and he explains why it is important to vote.  He concludes with a quote from a tee shirt:  "Failure to vote is not an act of rebellion.  It is an act of surrender."

Get details on how to vote at http://mnvotes.org

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How Oregon Became the Easiest Place to Vote in the US

By Lornet Turnbull
YES! Magazine
October 8, 2016


In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver's licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. 

Read the Article

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