All posts by Dan Kunitz

About Dan Kunitz

Dan Kunitz is a Minnesota native interested in decarbonization. He is a business analyst at the University of Minnesota and volunteers his website and design skills to Citizens for Sustainability.

Candidate Sustainability Q&A: Randy Stille

Note: The general election is November 5, 2019 and St. Anthony polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In person Absentee voting begins Friday, September 20th and ends on Monday, November 4th at 5pm. You can stop by City Hall during regular business hours and vote absentee. Early voting begins Tuesday, October 29th and ends on Monday, November 4th.

St. Anthony Village

Citizens for Sustainability asked the 2020 mayoral and city council candidates six questions about their ideas for advancing sustainability within St. Anthony. Their responses will be posted as they are received.

1. What does Sustainability mean to you (as it pertains to St. Anthony)?

Good questions were asked as a part of this exercise. It is important to be reminded that no one person can implement a program or practice. However, the mayor can be a conduit to bring people together and encourage creativity both from residents and staff, as we evaluate sustainable opportunities of all kinds that will make St. Anthony an even better place to live.

A little background about sustainability in St. Anthony may be helpful to know. As a city council, we have encouraged the use of the three “E’s”, as it pertains to sustainability: economic, equity, and environmental. Economic sustainability simply means that we need to have our house in order financially into the future, which provides the groundwork to invest in our community. Equity sustainability means that we foster an environment where all people have equal opportunities at succeeding within our city. Environmental sustainability means that we are stewards of our resources, making sure that we can sustain into the future.

With this as a backdrop, the word “sustainability” was added to our mission statement in 2012. Relating to environmental sustainability, St. Anthony has embraced the MPCA’s Greenstep program, being among the first cities in the state to reach Greenstep level 5, the highest designation. The efforts that staff and council have put in to sustainability efforts are vast. From our water reuse facility, our storm water filtration project, ongoing street sweeping program, solar initiatives, organized garbage collection, and more, we have been recognized by our peers as being a leader in sustainability efforts (2016 Sustainable City Award winner).

2. What initiatives in the city’s Comprehensive Plan would you prioritize to create greater resilience and sustainability?

Not addressed

3. How would you build on recent additions in the Parks & Environmental Commission duties to advance environmental goals in the Comprehensive Plan?

Not addressed

4. What “win-win” opportunities do you see in supporting existing and future sustainability initiatives?

Looking forward, we have great opportunities to build on our strengths and what has already been accomplished. We need to do this as a community, and education will be paramount as we evaluate sustainability-based opportunities and initiatives. A mayor can have all of the best ideas, but if the residents are not along for the ride, the ideas will fall flat. Some sustainability initiatives may be controversial and we need to listen, gauge, and balance the communities wants and needs, evaluating both positive and negative impacts. This may mean more task forces, open houses, or public meetings that can be used to bring sustainability initiatives forward.

Another critical element to success is leadership. It is necessary for your mayor and council to have a stewardship mentality as they govern, leading by example. Over the years, St. Anthony has developed a culture of sustainability, starting at leadership, which has permeated its way to staff and residents. Sustainability has been fostered because of trust. A trusting staff will spur creativity. It will encourage staff to hire the next GreenCorp member, to figure out the next step in organics recycling, or electric-vehicle stations, or bike path expansion. Conversely, lack of trust will quash innovation.

5. What would you do to address residents’ concerns about pedestrian and bicycle safety and increase access to metro bikeways?

Not addressed

6. What are steps you would support to expand on the success of St. Anthony’s organics drop-off collection?

Not addressed

In conclusion, thank you for the opportunity you have given me to weigh in on the vital role of sustainability in St. Anthony. We are caretakers of this earth and I am thankful that St. Anthony has taken this responsibility seriously. This will continue to take a communal effort and I wholeheartedly plan to foster creativity and innovation both from residents and city staff.

CFS 2020 Goals

CFS meets with city staff every year to convey our goals for the year. We do this in October in an effort to align our efforts with potential city goals before the city’s goal-setting session.

Grow City Focus on Sustainability

  1. CFS’ continued sustainability-focused role within the city
  2. Increase Parks and Environmental Commission meeting frequency from quarterly to monthly
  3. Apply Minnesota GreenStep Cities best practices for quick wins
  4. Implement goal measurement and 2040 Comprehensive Plan progress dashboard
  5. Leverage CFS member expertise (GreenStep, Goals Measurement, Grant Writing, EV Consulting)

CFS Specific Focus Areas

  1. Safer non-car transportation: biking, walking, and rolling
  2. Accelerate CO2 reduction
  3. Grow tree canopy
  4. Grow residential waste management
  5. Zero Waste public events
  6. Sustainable redevelopment

Candidate Sustainability Q&A: Nancy Robinett

Note: The general election is November 5, 2019 and St. Anthony polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In person Absentee voting begins Friday, September 20th and ends on Monday, November 4th at 5pm. You can stop by City Hall during regular business hours and vote absentee. Early voting begins Tuesday, October 29th and ends on Monday, November 4th.

St. Anthony Village

Citizens for Sustainability asked the 2020 mayoral and city council candidates six questions about their ideas for advancing sustainability within St. Anthony. Their responses will be posted as they are received.

1. What does Sustainability mean to you (as it pertains to St. Anthony)?

Sustainability in St. Anthony means reducing our carbon footprint as a city – reducing consumption of resources such as water and electricity, supporting efficient waste management (which includes reducing, recycling and reusing), and promoting green buildings which are increasingly energy efficient. I would like to work on promoting alternative transportation to single-car – including biking and walking which includes better and safer bike paths and integrating more sidewalks where we can.

2. What initiatives in the city’s Comprehensive Plan would you prioritize to create greater resilience and sustainability?

Immediate actions:  1) Implement strategic planning around electric vehicle readiness;  2) Implement strategic planning for alternative energy production (such as solar and potentially wind) for city facilities;  3) Promote safety and connectivity of bike and pedestrian infrastructure by negotiating with the Minneapolis Parks & Recreation Board (MPRB) to join the Grand Rounds;  4) Promote ongoing and increased sustainable landscaping in city parks and other municipal landscaped areas.

3. How would you build on recent additions in the Parks & Environmental Commission duties to advance environmental goals in the Comprehensive Plan?

I would encourage and facilitate greater community involvement and grassroots activism through the St. Anthony Parks & Environmental Commission (PEC). I would encourage the PEC to meet more than once a quarter and I would advocate for more community membership in subcommittees within the PEC.

I would seek to build in more transparent pathways for the mayor and council to understand and participate in the community engagement and community ideas that come from the PEC and community members working with the PEC on their related projects. This should streamline and make decision-making easier for the city around PEC projects.

4. What “win-win” opportunities do you see in supporting existing and future sustainability initiatives?

Sustainability initiatives create a new baseline for additional sustainability initiatives. As sustainable initiatives get cheaper, more residents see the benefit of investing in a culture that promotes sustainability.

An example: A few weeks ago, I met a row of several houses in SOSA (“South St. Anthony” – the area east of St. Charles church) who were doing long-term planning over several houses to convert their front yardscapes to sustainable, non-turf landscaping as a planned unit. The win-win there: community cohesion, less community aversion to giving up traditional turf grass yard, a much bigger demonstration project for sustainable landscaping, cheaper costs, and shared labor and creativity – all to the benefit of the neighborhood.

5. What would you do to address residents’ concerns about pedestrian and bicycle safety and increase access to metro bikeways?

I would suggest traffic studies to examine how to increase pedestrian safety at Silver Lake Road and what it might cost to implement kid-safe paths to Silverwood Park. We should negotiate with the MPRB for the Grand Rounds missing bike link connection. Pushing for more bike racks at shopping areas is a relatively easy inquiry – we should ask where needed and try to coordinate responses with commercial resources. I support more bike lanes and sidewalks in general – we should implement where and when we can.

6. What are steps you would support to expand on the success of St. Anthony’s organics drop-off collection?

We should coordinate with Ramsey County to make sure we have enough compost buckets to support and encourage community use so we aren’t running out.  That is a simple fix. 

I’d also like to ensure we aren’t overflowing our current site and if we are, discuss ways to mitigate.  There was early discussion, before settling on the city hall organics drop-off location, about organics drop-off at other locations. If we have increasing community participation in organics waste, we should again consider more than one drop-off location within St. Anthony, prior to curb-side collection.

I understand that implementing curb-side organic waste collection requires start-up infrastructure and I’d like to explore how this can be accelerated.  We should also be mindful of the need to push community participation, so that curb-side collection is successful if and when it launches.

Candidate Sustainability Q&A: Bernard Walker

Note: The general election is November 5, 2019 and St. Anthony polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In person Absentee voting begins Friday, September 20th and ends on Monday, November 4th at 5pm. You can stop by City Hall during regular business hours and vote absentee. Early voting begins Tuesday, October 29th and ends on Monday, November 4th.

St. Anthony Village

Citizens for Sustainability asked the 2020 mayoral and city council candidates six questions about their ideas for advancing sustainability within St. Anthony. Their responses will be posted as they are received.

1. What does Sustainability mean to you (as it pertains to St. Anthony)?

At its base, sustainability is essentially about the necessary and sufficient conditions for surviving into the future. Sustainability is a duty we humans have and is not, therefore, a responsibility for other forms of life on earth.

Now what survives into the future specifically would be (1) humans, (2) the earth and her natural resources, and (3) other forms of life on earth. The standard way of talking about sustainability has been to shift the emphasis and concern about “survival” to humans and, consequently, to the impact the survival of humans has on other forms of life and earth herself. This standard way of talking focuses on the following three divisions of sustainability:

Social sustainability: ensuring that the physical, political, educational, and psychological well-being of humans is secured without (1) compromising the same well-being of future human generations, (2) compromising the survival of other forms of life, or (3) depleting earth resources or earth’s life sustaining conditions (e.g., healthy climate conditions with controlled CO2 levels.

Economic sustainability: controlling expenditures and increasing or maintaining revenue and the production of finished goods and services so that humans can survive into the future without compromising the financial wellbeing of future human societies, without compromising the survival of other forms of life or the depletion of earth resources or earth’s life sustaining conditions (e.g., healthy climate conditions with controlled CO2 levels.)

Environmental sustainability: this is essentially a matter of (1) ensuring that current natural resources or non-human life forms are used in such a way that they are not over used/depleted for future use or (2) ensuring that the byproducts we make natural resources do not detrimentally affect or harm currently existing life and consequently jeopardize the possibility of a future eco-system for human and non-human life.

While a person can be concerned about and do work in any one of these three sectors, at the exclusion of the other two, the person would fall short of manifesting justice. From what I see on CFS website, its focus is foundationally environmental. Pace CFS, sustainability rooted in justice is focused on both the rights of human and the duties to non-human animals (that exist in present and future communities). 

2. What initiatives in the city’s Comprehensive Plan would you prioritize to create greater resilience and sustainability?
3. How would you build on recent additions in the Parks & Environmental Commission duties to advance environmental goals in the Comprehensive Plan?
4. What “win-win” opportunities do you see in supporting existing and future sustainability initiatives?

First of all, I am still learning a lot about sustainability. I see the city with the help of CFS are already doing a lot. So this means I am open to being influenced on these matters. I am pro-sustainability, but I am still gaining on-the-ground knowledge of the cities projects, commitments and opportunities.

I would prioritize reducing facility emissions and city-wide emissions. I would also support converting government vehicles to electric, (which will call for more electricity, but which will save money on fuel). Perhaps the SAVPD could convert its cars to electric or hybrid. Various small maintenance vehicles can most easily be converted, which may have already been done. Plug-in hybrids might be appropriate for some larger vehicles. 

St. Anthony has a deal with a couple of solar farms to get enough power to supply 25% of government building usage. That leaves the other 75% to come from the regular Xcel power grid. However, Xcel has programs where St. Anthony could sign up to pay slightly extra to have solar or wind power contributed to the grid in its name, in proportion to its power usage. In this sense, St Anthony would virtually be getting its electricity from the wind/solar source (even though it is all in one non-separable grid system). So I am suggesting that the SAV could sign up for this for its government buildings. 

I would also look into subsidizing home visits by power companies and third parties to assess and assist with heating efficiency. They can check for insulation quality, window leaks, furnace efficiency and the like, and the city can help people get this assistance with an on-going program. Ultimately, our homes need to be heated by electric systems, and maybe the city can help speed that up. 

I support a zoning change for ADUs. People who may have once needed a large home–e.g. parents whose children have moved out–can move into the ADU and rent out the main home. This is great for creating a secondary rental income and thus allows older residents to sustain residency in their current home.

To sustain existing persons of color and to social sustain their well-being, we could recruit new non-traditional businesses, e.g., a food coop, ethnic restaurants and ethnic grocery.

Finally I love non-human animals and would push to establish a dog park. Yes a dog park. A dog park allows us to convene together for our social well-being as we share stories about our dogs. I would include the requirement for a permit for non-residents to use the park to generate small money for SAV.

5. What would you do to address residents’ concerns about pedestrian and bicycle safety and increase access to metro bikeways?

I would look for good candidate streets to add sidewalks where there is none. I would also look for more key places to add crosswalks with the flashing lights you can turn on with a button and maybe there needs to be a couple more stop lights on silver lake road, which might have heavy reliance on pedestrians pushing the button, to keep traffic moving when no one is there waiting.

6. What are steps you would support to expand on the success of St. Anthony’s organics drop-off collection?

I obviously support curb-side organics pick-up, which could be combined with yard waste. Maybe people have to pay an extra $5-10 per month for this, on an opt-in basis, but offering the service seems like a good deal.

St. Anthony Sustainability Fair

The Sustainability Fair

Citizens for Sustainability presents:

Saturday, November 17, 2018, 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
St. Anthony Village City Hall, 3301 Silver Lake Rd, St. Anthony, MN 55418

Being sustainable doesn’t have to be hard! Learn about:

  • Energy Efficiency
  • Green Transportation
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling
  • Clean Water
  • Eco-Friendly Yards
  • Local Food
  • And More!

This open-house style event is family friendly and will include a number of organizations and the City of St. Anthony hosting stations on all topic areas. Presentations and films will be scheduled throughout the event.

All are welcome!

Questions? Contact us at info@citizensforsustainability.org.

Host: Citizens for Sustainability with support of the City of St. Anthony and local groups (Kiwanis Club, CFS affiliates, churches, etc.)
Sponsors: Eastside Food Co-op and City of St. Anthony

Presenters

Presentations will be in Council Chambers. Schedule forthcoming.

2:30 – Ben Knudson

Recycling and Organics – What do you need to know?
Recycling has struggled to cope with contamination and changes in China’s import policies. How can you help? Organics recycling is an easy way to reduce your trash, but it’s new and not widely available. What is organics recycling and how can you participate?

Ben grew up in Nebraska and went to Macalester College in St. Paul. He works on waste reduction and recycling for Hennepin County.

1:30 – Jukka Kukkonen

Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure
According to the latest survey from AAA, one in five Americans say they are likely to buy an electric car for their next new vehicle and this year over 45% of vehicles sold in Norway are electric. A few years ago we had to choose from just half a dozen PEV models, but now we have 25 PEV models available in the Midwest and Tesla Model 3 is breaking sales records. Public charging infrastructure networks are growing fast and utility companies are getting involved. So transportation electrification is really happening. In this presentation I will talk about how the EV revolution is happening here in Minnesota, how people are charging their cars and you get to ask anything about EVs.

Jukka is from PlugInConnect is an EV market and business solutions consultant. Jukka has deep knowledge of the electric vehicle market and he specializes in market dynamics and real-life user perspectives. He has built programs for utility companies, condominium and apartment building charging, workplace charging, DC fast charging, outreach and education and smart grid integration. This fall he will be teaching the “EV Market and Technologies” graduate course at the University of Saint Thomas. You can find out more about his work by visiting www.PlugInConnect.com.

2:00 & 4:00 – Minette Saulog

Empowering St. Anthony for Energy Efficiency
Learn how to make your home energy-efficient so that you can:

  • Make your house healthier to live in
  • Save on your energy bills
  • Be an environmentally-conscious citizen

In this talk, you’ll learn about and consider simple behavior changes, small and large-scale retrofit projects, and home renovation techniques that can set you on the path to a more sustainable way of living.

Minette is St. Anthony’s Minnesota GreenCorps/AmeriCorps member for the 2018-19 year. She recently graduated from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities this past May, majoring in Sustainable Systems Management and double-minoring in Environmental Science and Business Management. Until next August, she will be helping the City work towards energy conservation for both public facilities and residential homes, as well as other projects promoting biking, walking and public transportation utilization and conducting energy assessments for different City buildings. Learn more about St. Anthony Village sustainability initiatives.

Guests

View Vendor/Guest Information. Other questions? Contact us at info@citizensforsustainability.org.