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Think Again Brooklyns

Affordable Housing and Universal Design - Think Again Brooklyns Print E-mail


The Human Right to Affordable Housing

and Universal Design for Everyone


Tuesday, May 21
6 p.m. - Free Salad and Pizza Buffet                  6:30 - 8:30 p.m. - Program


Brooklyn Park City Council Chambers

5200 85th Avenue N, Brooklyn Park, MN 55443 

This forum covers the human right of individuals and families to have adequate housing. According to the Minnesota Compass Project, a majority of renters, almost 58%, in Brooklyn Park pay more than 30% of their income for their rent. 23.5% of home owners pay over 30% of their income for their housing expenses. This means about one third of Brooklyn Park’s residents are what is considered overly burdened by the cost of their housing. This housing cost burden is similar in Brooklyn Center and a little less in New Hope, Crystal, and Robbinsdale. Maple Grove and Champlin have fewer cost burdened households, but they still comprise over 20% of the residents in these cities. The first part of this forum will discuss the need for affordable housing for substantial numbers of the residents of the NW suburbs.

The second part of the forum will deal with the failure of laws regarding people with disabilities to meet the needs of MN’s rapidly aging population. Currently less than one percent of dwellings are adapted for people with disabilities. People over the age of 75 when disabilities are most common will increase by 235% between 2020 and 2040 in Minnesota.


Twin Cities Metropolitan Area Growth in 65, 75, and 85 Plus Populations


twin cities metro projected growth in 75 

Requiring Universal Design in new multi and single family construction would make it possible for people with disabilities to age in place and to continue their relationships with other people as well as their interests and activities. But that’s not all it would do. It would also save billions of dollars that would otherwise be spent on assisted living facilities and nursing homes when people with disabilities are not able to function in their own homes.


breanne rothsteinWelcome and Introduction to Brooklyn Park Housing Initiatives


Breanne Rothstein - City of Brooklyn Park Economic Development

and Housing Director

Universal Design - What, When, and How Much?

Thomas J. Budzynski - Home Builder - TJB Homes

Tom Budzynski will give us an overview of what Universal Design is, when you should consider it, how it improves your chance of aging in place, and its variation in cost for new construction versus remodeling an existing home as well as for different types of homes.


traci kruseUniversal Design Keeps People with Disabilities in their Communities
Traci Kruse - U of M Professor in Occupational Therapy

Professor Traci Kruse will discuss how people with a variety of temporary and permanent disabilities due to neuromuscular diseases, heart and lung problems, hip and knee replacements, accidents, and limited vision can continue living in a dwelling that has Universal Design features that make a home accessible for them. Dr. Kruse has practiced clinically in home health for 9 years. She is passionate about aging in place and home safety, along with cognition, memory, and making it possible for people to maintain their activities of interest through their lifespan.

Question and Answer Session


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Addressing Sources of Greenhouses Gases, Water Pollution, and Harm to Health - Think Again Brooklyns Print E-mail


How Do We Resolve the Serious Environmental

and Health Problems Caused by CAFO's in MN?


Tuesday, April 16, 2019  

6:00 p.m. - Free Pizza Buffet and Social             6:30 p.m. - Program

City Council Chambers
5200 85th Avenue N, Brooklyn Park, MN 55443

Please RSVP on Facebook or to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


sonja trom eayrsSonja Trom Eayrs will speak on the extensive harm done by Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), also often referred to as industrial or factory farms. She will suggest how we can best correct the serious problems which factory farms are causing.

Sonja Trom Eayrs is a Minneapolis lawyer and citizen activist who is getting the word out on how CAFOs increase greenhouse gas emissions in our state; pollute rivers, lakes, and ground water; and harm the health of people who live in the vicinity of the animal feeding operations.  She lives in Maple Grove, the daughter of parents who live on a family farm in Dodge County surrounded by 11 industrial feeding operations within a three mile radius, some as close as a half mile. The following graph reveals MN as one of the top three states in the number of CAFO’s:


factory farms - leading states


Listen to the farmers of Newberg Township in Fillmore County explain the widespread harmful impact CAFO’s, which they are fighting to keep out of their county, would have on their lives.  What would this mean?  "What it meant is that it would change the life of everyone around here forever. . .  What has been really interesting is the near unanimous opposition to it."  Watch the 6 minute video. 

It is easy to see that traditional farm families that live in the vicinity of CAFO's are severely harmed by the industrialized farms.  What might not be immediately obvious is that CAFO's are greatly contributing to MN's climate change through their production of greenhouse gases (GHG's) and to serious declines in MN's water resources, both quantity and quality.  While clean energy used to produce electricity has contributed to a 15% reduction in MN's greenhouse gases, CAFO's have increased GHG's in MN by 10% leaving a net reduction of only 5%.  While MN plans to reduce GHG's due to fossil fuel sources of electricity to zero by 2050, what plans should MN have to reduce GHG's and water pollution from CAFO's?  Bring your ideas.


What Does the NW Suburbs' Water Future Look Like?

How Can Residents Preserve Water for Future Generations?


jon watson

Jon Watson, Public Utilities Superintendent for the City of Brooklyn Park, will describe the source and quality of water in Brooklyn Park and nearby suburbs, explain what affects water quality and the treatment process for Brooklyn Park's water, and suggest what we can do to improve and maintain the quality of our water. 

Jon Watson has worked for the City of Brooklyn Park for over 25 years.  Twenty of them were as the Public Utilities Superintendent and Engineer.


As usual, the forum will include a question and answer session.

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Think Again Brooklyns Will not Have a March Forum Print E-mail
Written by Carol Woehrer   


Important Upcoming Events in March

Think Again Brooklyns will not have a meeting in March due to my overload of responsibilities, both volunteer and family related.  However, on Tuesday, March 26, Westside Progressives will have a forum on the concept of the Basic Income which is being discussed and sometimes implemented throughout the world.  You are welcome to attend the Westside Progressives forum.  See the details below.  Also consider attending some of the following important events.

CD3 Rep. Dean Phillips to Host H.R. 1 Community Conversation 

Saturday, March 9       2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.       Doors open at 1:30 p.m.

Hopkins High School, 2400 Lindbergh Dr, Minnetonka, Minnesota 55305 

Please RSVP on Facebook

dean-phillipsU. S. Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03) will host a free and open-to-the-public community conversation focused on H.R.1, the For the People Act, a sweeping campaign finance, ethics and electoral reform package that Phillips co-sponsored on his first day in Congress.

Other Participants:      

- Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon
                            - Tiffany Muller, President, End Citizens United
                            - Prof. David Schultz, Hamline University


Additional Important Events - ERA Lobby Day at the Capitol on Friday, March 8; the 6th Annual Community Forum on Race on Saturday, March 9 from 9 a.m. to noon;  Commercial Solar, Wednesday, March 13, 4 p.m.  See further details on these and other forums on the Twin Cities Public Issue Forums Calendar.


Installers, Trainers, and Outreach Workers Cooperate to Promote Use of Solar Energy Print E-mail
Written by Carol Woehrer   

Optimism over Future of Solar Energy

Expressed at February Forum

Our speakers for the February forum were very supportive of each others' efforts to help in the growth of the solar industry and had a great deal of optimism for its growth both in the coming years and for decades after that. 

jamez staplesJamez Staples, Executive Director of Renewable Energy Partners, described the new training center planned for north Minneapolis.  The center will aim at preparing high school students and young adults in north Minneapolis and the suburbs jan hubbardalong the Blue Line Light Rail Extension for jobs and long term careers in the growing solar energy industry.  Jan Hubbard, President of the Minnesota Renewable Energy Association, described the growing use of solar energy on  
residential and commercial ro
oftops and explained the benefits of the Solar Energy Schools Bill.

robert blakeBob Blake, Outreach Coordinator of Interfaith Power and Light, explained what community solar gardens were and encouraged people who are customers of Xcel Energy to participate in the community solar garden projects in the following counties:   Anoka, Benton, Blue Earth, Carver, Dakota, Dodge, Faribault, Freeborn, Goodhue, Hennepin, Le Sueur, Mower, Ramsey, Rice, Scott, Sherburne, Stearns, Steele, Waseca, Wright.  Sign up to get an estimate from MN Interfaith Power and Light of how much subscribing to a community solar project would reduce your electric bill.





Going Solar - Think Again Brooklyns Forum Print E-mail



Solar Training and Careers

Residential Rooftops, and Community Solar


Tuesday, February 19, 2019  

6:00 p.m. - Free Pizza Buffet and Social             6:30 p.m. - Program

Mississippi Room at the Brooklyn Park Library

8500 West Broadway, Brooklyn Park, MN 55428

Please RSVP on Facebook or to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

As solar panels increased capacity for capturing the energy of the sun, the price of solar energy rapidly decreased. Many people from electric companies to homeowners have found that solar energy is the least costly form of energy. As a result, the solar industry is the fastest growing industry in our country and will need increasing numbers of workers.

Jamez Staples - Executive Director, Renewable Energy Partners

jamez staples workforce centerJamez Staples will speak on the training, jobs, and careers aspect of solar energy.  He has been working on the Regional Apprenticeship Training Center (RATC), a public-private partnership between public schools, cities along the Bottineau/Blue Line Light Rail Extension, Minnesota State community and technical colleges, trade and business groups.  It will provide tuition-free vocational training options for high school students, apprenticeships and internships in energy, technical, construction and emerging sustainability technologies.  The training center will be located in Minneapolis at 1112-1200 Plymouth Avenue.
The RATC is closely modeled on C-TECH, a highly successful program of vocational training in Rochester, which provided vocational training to about 10% of Rochester public school students in 2017 who received credits toward two-year Associate’s degrees. A focus for the RATC will be renewable energy, energy storage, smart grid, energy efficiency and related sustainable technology and construction fields, all of which will contribute to help cities reach their goal of 100% renewable energy.

Jan Hubbard - President, Minnesota Solar Industries Association (MnSEIA)

                       Principal, Natural Energy Solutions
jan hubbard

Jan Hubbard will cover solar energy from its users' perspective.  Users include a wide variety of organizations from cities, schools, religious centers, nonprofit organizations, and businesses to homeowners and renters.  His discussion will include residential rooftop and community solar energy and the Solar for Schools Bill which has wide support in the MN legislature.  Energy is the second largest cost for most schools in Minnesota.

In the solar energy industry for a decade, he currently consults on solar energy and energy storage systems and provides project development, design, business development, construction management, and project management services.  Jan is a 10 year board member of the MnSEIA whose members include solar manufacturers, educational and informational organizations, architects, engineers, law firms, companies, and individuals. 

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Historian Iric Nathanson on Minnesota's Grand Consensus Print E-mail


"Minnesota's Grand Consensus"

Its Implications for Contemporary Consensus Building


the grand consensus graphic


 Tuesday, January 15
6 p.m. Pizza and Salad Buffet               6:30 p.m. Program

Brooklyn Park City Council Chambers

5200 85th Avenue North

RSVP on Facebook, https://bit.ly/2Eqapke or to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

With Iric Nathanson


The Civility Caucus - Speaking on the recently activated Civility Caucus, Dave Bartholomay commented that ideas from the past need to be revisited to determine what worked and what didn’t. Bartholomay is the Program Coordinator for the Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution (OCDR) located within the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services.  The Civility Caucus was formed by MN legislators on January 17, 2018 in response to the “One Minnesota” National Institute for Civil Discourse workshop put on for legislators by the U of M Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

iric nathansonThe Minnesota Miracle - Minnesota historian Iric Nathanson will revisit MN’s past at our January 15th meeting to explain MN's history of consensus between its Republican and Democratic party members that contributed to the success of the state.  He will discuss how the state's history of arriving at consensus could inform both legislators and the public on successful methods for coming to agreement which could contribute to collaborative legislative outcomes.  Nathanson’s discussion of Minnesota’s Grand Consensus will draw from decisions arrived at after committees of both Republican and Democratic legislators and of Metropolitan Council members had spent a great deal of time in discussion to arrive at their recommendations. Their successful process and procedures are relevant not only for state legislators, but also for organizations supporting public policies and their volunteers.


Thrive by Design with Tips from MN’s Past Success - Getting people of different backgrounds and viewpoints together to create public policy that will serve them well is currently an important part of decision making and policy promotion by elected officials as well as nonpartisan organizations.  For example, One Minnesota and Growth and Justice held a Thriving by Design Blueprint Convening in Hinckley December 10 and 11th to seek Minnesotans best thinking on how to achieve a more equitable and inclusive  Minnesota, a state that is vibrant and welcoming.  Retiring State Representative JoAnn Ward, a committed member of the Civility Caucus, stated that "Minnesotans deserve a legislature where people of all experiences and points of view work together to build a better Minnesota.”


Dave Bartholomay, has remarked that “the Civility Caucus is a wonderful idea . . . at the beginning of its life.”  Expect that Iric Nathanson’s overview of MN’s successful past will contribute to upcoming efforts of the Civility Caucus and the OCDR, as well as to your participation in discussions of how public policy affects you and your fellow Minnesotans.  Join us on January 15th for Iric's insights from past elected officials that will enhance your contribution to shaping public policies.

Iric Nathanson is the author of five books on Minnesota history. His 2010 book, Minneapolis in the 20th Century:  the Growth of a City, published by the Minnesota Historical Society, was finalist for a Minnesota book award.  His most recent book is Don Fraser: Minnesota’s Quiet Crusader which gives an account of how communities can work together for change.  Iric Nathanson is a reporter for MinnPost.




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Housing for All Print E-mail


housing for all breakfast with legislatorsjpg

St Joseph the Worker Catholic Church
7180 Hemlock Lane N, Maple Grove 55369

Wednesday, January 23 – 7:00-9:00 a.m.

Meet with your state and local policy makers to build relationships and proclaim as people of faith that Every One Needs a Home!  The session will consist of short state and local policy presentations.  Business leaders and constituents will have the opportunity to meet with their legislators and local policy makers, ask questions, and dialogue about housing and other issues of concern.

A continental breakfast will be provided.

After presentations, the attendees will be able to visit tables on housing.  Gene Nicolelli, Certified Aging - in - Place Specialist (CAPS) certified by the National Association of Home Builders, and Carol Woehrer from Think Again MN will have a table.  Their display will  explain the civil right of older residents to have a large bathroom with grab bars and other home features which enable them to live in place when using a wheelchair, how to achieve that at low cost by requiring all new multi and single-family residences to be built using Universal Design, and how Universal Design housing can substantially reduce health care costs.

Serving Brooklyn Center  •  Brooklyn Park  •  Champlin  •  Corcoran  •  Crystal  •  Dayton  •  Golden Valley  •  Maple Grove  •  New Hope  •  Osseo  •  Plymouth  •  Robbinsdale  •  Rogers  •  St Michael

Please contact Roxanne Smith at 763-400-7208 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with questions.

Download and Share Flyer

RSVP Requested





Universal Design - Think Again Brooklyns Print E-mail


Keeping Older Adults with Disabilities

Close to their Families and Friends

accessible-kitchen-designBrooklyn Park City Council Chambers
5200 85th Avenue N
Brooklyn Park, MN 55443


Tuesday, November 27 

6 p.m. - Free Pizza and Salad Buffet         
6:30 p.m. - Program

RSVP and Share on Facebook

or to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Currently one in three Americans is age 50 or older. By 2030, one out of five people in the U.S. will be 65 or older.  With a rapidly increasing percent of older people, increasing use of telemedicine to monitor patients with chronic conditions, more patients expected to return home shortly after surgery, and the Medicare Advisory Commission’s recommendation that the cost of long term care be reduced, it is important that people’s homes accommodate any limitations they have.  Will you and your community be ready with condos, homes, and apartments that meet your needs?  Are you ready right now?


gene nicolelli

Gene Nicolelli is an architect who is the Principal of Nicolelli Architects and is a Certified Aging - in - Place Specialist (CAPS) certified by the National Association of Home Builders 50+ Housing Council. Over his years as an architect, Nicolelli has received many awards, including the National Association of Home Builders 50+ Council - Best of 50+ Housing Awards, the 2012 Gold Achievement Award and the Best in American Living 2004 Silver Award, a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Award of Excellence.

He explains, "For those of you unfamiliar with Universal Design, it can best be described as a holistic approach that shapes environments so they may be used by as many people as possible, regardless of age, ability, or circumstance, without discrimination and have lifetime value."

AARP research consistently finds that the vast majority of people age 50 and older want to stay in their homes and communities for as long as possible. Gene Nicolelli will walk us through the AARP Guide and share his own advice on modifications that help people stay at home, that developers can incorporate into condos or apartment buildings to make them appropriate for frail or disabled residents, and that cities expecting an increase in aging residents can require for new development.


Staying in their home with some assistance from family, friends, and volunteers can help people enjoy their later years as well as save them and their fellow citizens the considerable costs of a nursing home or assisted living facility.  Most existing single family homes as well as condos and apartments were not built with the features of Universal Design.  Let's change course by evaluating the current dwellings of people who have become disabled for possible remodeling and by requiring future dwellings to be built with Universal Design features.


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        Partners:     Housing for All                






Links to Upcoming Candidate Forums, Oct 17 to Nov 4, 2018 Print E-mail


meet the candidates



League of Women Voters, Chamber of Commerce

TV and Radio Forums


The last of the forums sponsored by the League of Women Voters' chapter that that serves Brooklyn Park, Osseo, Maple Grove, and Brooklyn Center and the North Hennepin Area Chamber of Commerce will be October 17.  Forums for candidates not covered by our local organizations will be presented by other organizations and by the media including TPT and KSTP television and Minneapolis Public Radio.  These forums and debates will cover candidates for Governor, Congressional District 3, U.S. Senate, and Hennepin County Attorney.  Click here for the details on location, dates, time, and candidates.




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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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