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Archive for June, 2011

Game On! Enter the Minnesota Idea Open Challenge II

June 29th, 2011

Minnesotans have good ideas—it’s time someone listened.  The Minnesota Idea Open brings everyday Minnesotans together to help solve our state’s most critical issues. This year the Idea Open is looking for answers to the question, “How would you use $15,000 to help your community become aware of and address water issues in Minnesota?”

Challenge II aims to address the broad spectrum of water issues facing different communities across the state, including but not limited to:

  • Water quality
  • Conservation
  • Household usage
  • Watershed management
  • Invasive species
  • Recreation

The possibilities are endless! Now, it’s up to you to think about what water issue is facing your community, and how could you make a difference in moving the issue forward? This is the second Idea Open Challenge I have worked on, and I could not be more excited to see the range of ideas we will receive. (more…)

Environmental Initiative Welcomes Intern Katie Thometz

June 27th, 2011

Hi, my name is Katie Thometz and I will be working as an intern this summer for the Environmental Initiative. I grew up in Chanhassen, Minnesota and am currently a political science major at the University of San Diego. After I complete my undergraduate studies in two years I am planning to go on to law school. I am interested in studying environmental and international law, which stems from my love of traveling and nature. Next year I will be studying in Beijing, China during spring semester, which I am really looking forward to. This will be my second summer at the Environmental Initiative and I am very happy to be back. Last summer I focused primarily on data entry work to help launch Environmental Initiative’s database. This summer I will continue to perform administrative tasks as well as assist Senior Manager of Development and Communications, Emily Franklin. I feel very lucky to be part of such an incredible organization and am excited to be back for another summer!


Summer Intern

Planning Minnesota’s Future Energy Infrastructure

June 23rd, 2011

Since our inception, Environmental Initiative has hosted four Policy Forum Series events every year on important and emerging environmental issues facing Minnesota. The goals of each forum are to educate attendees, discuss key issues and, hopefully, lay the foundation for cross-sector partnership that will benefit our state’s environment. Past forum topics have included air and water quality, energy efficiency and renewable energy, climate change and carbon policy, green economic development, and our annual legislative preview event.

Our next Policy Forum will focus on discussing the future energy infrastructure for Minnesota –

  • What should it look like?
  • What infrastructure do we need to meet future energy demands and protect our environment and economy?
  • How do we utilize new technologies?
  • What are the issues, challenges and ideas we should all be aware of as we consider the options?
  • What planning processes are currently underway that should be highlighted and discussed?
  • What policies and actions are needed to create a future energy infrastructure that will allow Minnesota’s environment and economy to continue to prosper?


Jack Hogin


Associate Director of Environmental Projects

Environmental Initiative Awards Recap

June 16th, 2011

A few weeks ago, Environmental Initiative celebrated our biggest (and definitely most fun) event of the year – our annual Environmental Initiative Awards dinner.

On what seemed to be the only warm, sunny, spring-like evening in the entire month of May (“Mother Nature supports the environment!” commented one guest), our staff gathered with 350 of our closest friends to honor innovative, collaborative environmental projects from throughout Minnesota, to celebrate these projects’ extraordinary successes, and to get inspired and rejuvenated as we continue to work in partnership with nonprofits, community members, business and government in order to solve environmental problems.

This year, the eighteenth year of the Environmental Initiative Awards, we received forty-nine nominations across five award categories. Our good friends over at Medtronic hosted our team of fifteen independent judges, setting them up in comfy rooms and feeding them a hearty lunch as they tackled the tough job of poring over all of the project nominations to select just three finalists and one winner in each category.

The fifteen finalist projects for 2011 ranged in size and number of partners. Some were local and community-based, focusing on waste reduction in the Southeast Como Neighborhood or on improving sustainability efforts in the City of Burnsville, while others were regional or statewide, engaging experts across Minnesota to discuss a sustainable water future, or clearing buckthorn from large areas of land to create renewable energy. Geographically, they ranged from Target Field – just a few short blocks from our office – to the city of Milan, MN, population 369. Despite their differences, all of the finalist projects were selected because they have harnessed the power of partnership to effectively address environmental problems in Minnesota.


Georgia Rubenstein


Senior Manager, Sustainability Program


June 3rd, 2011

Chances are good that your reaction to this blog are the same as mine when it was
proposed to me – “A blog? Really?!”

It could fair to say that a blog is a big step out for this organization, but maybe it isn’t really. After all, getting people together to share ideas and perspectives is what we’re all about. Environmental Initiative is a connector organization, staffed by people who are classic connectors as individuals. Isn’t this just a natural extension of who we are and what we do so well?

Given the capability of social media and the internet to connect, you might expect that we would have been leaders in connecting the environmental community through online spaces. I am a little embarrassed to admit, though, that it has been quite the opposite. We have actually lagged in taking advantage of these tools to extend the conversations we convene in the real world. I think the reason for this is because we are so focused on forging the kind of trusting connections that we all know come best from face-to-face contact. (more…)

Mike Harley


Executive Director
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