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Archive for July, 2012

Breaking Down Silos, Inside and Out, To Keep Our Air Clean

July 26th, 2012

It’s not a regular occurrence – and you never know when things will take this path – but air quality work has spanned Environmental Initiative’s event, dialogue, and action work. Air quality issues started as a policy forum idea, led to stakeholder convening and action work through Clean Air Minnesota and Project Green Fleet, and are now the center of attention in Minnesota’s Clean Air Dialogue.

While we’ve worked on a range of different types of projects, focused on many different environmental issues, Environmental Initiative’s efforts generally fall into three categories – events, dialogue, and action. We try to meet our partners – and the issues they care about – where they are, and know that different environmental problems are suited to different solutions. Some situations call for developing shared understanding; others, for productive discussion; and still others, for action. Our event work brings together people from many perspectives to share reliable information, connect, and create open dialogue. Our dialogue efforts facilitate conversations with environmental leaders to achieve policy and other environmental solutions for a cleaner, stronger Minnesota. In our action work, we implement on-the-ground projects to improve our air, land, and water. It is rare, though, for us to continue work on an issue through all three sectors. That’s where our air quality story begins…


Bill Droessler


Senior Director of Strategic Project Planning

Halfway Down the Trail

July 20th, 2012

As the great conservationist Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” With the most recent meeting of the Parks and Trails Legacy Funding Work Group complete, there are just three meetings left for the group to develop consensus recommendations that can serve as a model for Parks and Trails Legacy Fund allocations for the FY 2014-2015 biennium and beyond. So, we’re halfway there.

The Work Group made progress, discussing both criteria that could support the recommendation and various concepts that could make up the recommendation for allocating parks and trails funds. During the June meeting, we spent some time brainstorming possible recommendations and criteria, which resulted in this list. Small groups had time to answer these questions:

  1. Are there any criteria missing from this list? What are they?
  2. As a group, identify 3-5 criteria that you collectively believe are critical to include as a basis for the Work Group recommendation and why. If not everyone agrees on the criteria, note that.
  3. As a group, identify if there are any criteria below that should not be considered as part of the recommendation and why it should not be considered.


Emily Franklin


Director of Communications

If you see a tugboat on the Mississippi River…

July 11th, 2012

It just may be the tugboat Project Green Fleet repowered in partnership with Portable Barge Service! The good folks at Nuss Truck & Equipment recently finished up the installation of a Tier 3 auxiliary power generator engine on the Mary Ann tugboat. This generator engine powers everything on the boat besides the main propulsion, including radar, lights, maps, and other functions. In addition to school buses and trucks, diesel engines also operate on a range of marine vessels – from small recreational boats to transoceanic ships. This engine repower with Portable Barge Service is Project Green Fleet’s first emission reduction project on a marine vessel. (more…)

Eric David


Program Manager, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

If You Build It, Will They Come? – Transit Oriented Development in the Twin Cities

July 3rd, 2012

Just because you build it does not mean they will come. That was perhaps the primary insight echoed this past Monday at the Wilder Center by a stellar set of speakers at the first event in our 2012 Policy Forum Series. The speakers represented a range of both public and private stakeholder groups, all of whom play a role in development along our region’s transit lines.

The key question the speakers addressed was, “What do we need to do – as a region and as individual organizations – to ensure a strong return on investment (ROI) in transit?” Their answers ranged from more support for stable, long-term funding; to cultivating greater acceptance of dense development; to finding entirely new language to talk about the benefits of communities that are walkable and accessible to job centers (i.e. dropping the wonky term “transit oriented development,” or “TOD”).

It is clear that in the last decade our region has made incredible progress in developing a robust transit network and catching up with other, similar-sized urban areas. But, we also have a long way to go to engage all communities, explore the relationship between transportation options and economic development, and develop a strong, cohesive vision for the kind of region that we all want to live in. (more…)

Meleah Houseknecht


Director, Environmental Policy
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