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Archive for April, 2012

The Environmental Initiative Awards Are Coming!

April 27th, 2012

You don’t want to miss Environmental Initiative’s biggest event of the year! Over 350 people are expected to attend this year’s Awards dinner, celebrating Minnesota’s great environmental accomplishments achieved through partnership.

The Environmental Initiative Awards began in 1994 and has continued to evolve and grow since the initial lunchtime gathering of about 50 people at Gaviidae Commons. I asked Mike Harley, our executive director, what his impressions were of that first event: “I remember it was in a funny little room off of the main corridor, and it was also the first time I met Jon Bloomberg, who has been supporting the awards ever since.” The Environmental Initiative Awards of today barely resembles that first event, other than the fact that Jon continues to attend and provide generous support! As we have the past few years, we’ll gather at the beautiful Nicollet Island Pavilion and enjoy a reception on the banks of the river before sitting down for dinner, dessert, and the announcement of the award winners.


Andrea Robbins


Director, Engagement and Systems

Event Recap: Kicking Off the Clean Air Discussion

April 20th, 2012

It was a sunny spring day on Wednesday, which seemed fitting for the public launch of Minnesota’s Clean Air Dialogue, a yearlong process to develop recommendations for improving our air quality Minnesota-style – through proactive collaboration. A diverse lineup of speakers covered topics that ranged from public health to industrial process efficiency, yet from that seemingly eclectic mix of information two themes emerged very clearly: we have tremendous opportunity to improve the quality of our air in Minnesota – and the will to do it – but there are significant looming consequences if we choose to wait.

The program began with Dr. Jean Johnson of the Minnesota Department of Health, who presented new research on the relationship between “unhealthy air days” and hospitalizations for respiratory problems. Recent Twin Cities data has linked regional air pollution to hospitalizations and respiratory issues, finding that over 650 hospitalizations in a seven-year span were likely attributable to fine particulate pollution. For many, this is reason enough to look at proactive strategies to address air quality issues in Minnesota – we all have to breathe, and we all end up paying a high price for missed work and school days and medical costs associated with high pollution levels.


Meleah Houseknecht


Director, Environmental Policy

Conservation in Minnesota: A Recent Visit with Chief David White

April 11th, 2012

Two weeks ago, Environmental Initiative had the opportunity to facilitate an intimate afternoon conversation with the Chief of the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), David White. He was in town for the Freshwater Society’s recent conference, “Precision Conservation: Technology Redefining Local Water Quality Practices.”

The meeting brought together representatives from Minnesota’s grassland conservation organizations for an informal discussion of the status and future of Minnesota conservation reserve programs (CRP). Grasslands are entering a period of significant transition, due in part to the high price of commodity crops and in part to upcoming changes in the conservation title of the new Farm Bill. Organizations working to conserve Minnesota’s grasslands engaged in a focused dialogue with Chief White and with each other to identify gaps, successes, and emerging opportunities in the current mosaic of programs addressing this important issue. Here’s a quick recap of some of what we discussed…


Mark Lundgren


Director of Environmental Projects

A 20th Anniversary Interview With Ciaran Mannion, First Executive Director

April 6th, 2012

A note from Environmental Initiative: A few months ago, we celebrated our 20th birthday, kicking off a year of reflecting on our successes and challenges, and looking forward to where we’re headed. Today, we look way back – at the early years of Environmental Initiative (then called Minnesota Environmental Initiative, or MEI), through the eyes of the organization’s first executive director, Ciaran Mannion. It was great to hear some old stories, get Ciaran’s perspectives on the environmental movement in Minnesota and beyond, and think about how much we’ve grown, but also how we’re still dealing with some of the same challenges and issues. Here are a few highlights from our discussion…


Georgia Rubenstein


Senior Manager, Sustainability Program
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