Category Archives: Discussions

CFS Meeting Notes – April ’16

    1. Introductions
    2. April 11 Comprehensive Plan Community Visioning meeting (Planner is Breanne Rothstein). For Monday, we want to list goals.
      1. Send motto: Transform City of St. Anthony Village into an award-winning leader in sustainability.
      2. Capture the opportunity
      3. Reminder: “Our mission is to be a progressive and livable community, a walkable village, which is sustainable, safe and secure.”
      4. 2013 Sustainability Plan
        1. Transportation
        2. Utilities
          1. Energy Use
          2. Recycling and Waste Reduction
          3. Composting
        3. Natural Resources
          1. Surface Water Management
          2. Landscaping
          3. Local Foods
        4. Housing
        5. Neighborhood Development
        6. Public Awareness
      5. Ideas for SAV 2040 Comprehensive Plan Visioning Session (A regular city position to usher grants, sustainability projects, etc.–perhaps a volunteer coordinator, even with Lauderdale and Falcon Heights). Use our time till the June meeting to expand upon this.
        1. Electricity
          1. Achieve GreenStep Cities Step 4 and 5.
          2. [PW comment: SAV should reduce electricity use by X%, and] Encourage and facilitate SAV non-municipal electricity consumers to reduce consumption by 10%. ((needs work))
          3. The City shall consume electricity meeting MN RES standards of which, at least 10% shall be generated (solar or wind) within city limits.
          4. Encourage and facilitate SAV non-municipal electricity consumers to achieve sustainable energy goals
            1. Eliminate regulatory and financial barriers to installing renewable energy systems
            2. Develop city outreach events and educational materials
      1. Bike/Walk
        1. Meet legal requirements (ADA, etc.)
        2. Recognize biking and walking as transportation methods.
        3. Break mindsets about crosswalk placement.
        4. Active Living
      2. Green Space (11 items)
        1. Changing maintenance plan, as well as plantings for 88 corridor
        2. Chemical use in public spaces
        3. Bee ordinance
        4. Transitioning Trillium Park gardens
        5. Transitioning all parks to incorporate natives
        6. Enhancing natural setting at Salo Park
        7. Negotiating plantings along railroad corridor
        8. Farmers market space and online presence
        9. Funding for design assistance
        10. Connecting aging home owners with interested apartment gardeners
        11. Community gardens (local ordinances to allow, metered water access at potential public sites)
      3. Refresh targets on the 2013 sustainability plan–suggest they adopt it.
      4. Waste?
        1. Composting
        2. Banning plastic bags and styrofoam to-go containers
  1. Water quality updates: Dioxane
    1. Twin Cities Ammunition Plant leaches chemicals and Dioxane was only recently testable
    2. 1ppb is arbitrary max state level
    3. Water restrictions on city
    4. How long has the city known about this before telling everyone?
    5. The city should be more transparent about water quality
    6. How resilient are we? For how long?
  2. Rain Barrel Workshop 4/19
    1. Sold out.
  3. Salo Park Clean up – 4/23 9:30
    1. Working with Inland, Equinox, and city to get 20 volunteers to clean up. City lending tools and donating garbage bags.
  4. Pollinator garden funds have 11 applicants and looking for a bulk design
  5. Electronics Recycling drive: Wilshire collected 100 lbs of cell phones. St Charles just finished theirs, Nativity is planning theirs.
  6. City Cleanup – May 7.
  7. Federal educational mandates are underfunded due to open enrollment students not counting.
    1. This weekend is a key deadline for talking to your legislators
  8. Solar update
    1. We discussed the talking points for the visioning session.
    2. Forest lake schools solar installation covers ⅓ of the school building electricity use. Saving money now through third-party financing for 7 years, then they will wholly own the solar benefits. Federal tax credit for solar will help for the next few years.
    3. Can we suggest this to the SANB school board? It will save money right now and more in 7 years if we use the Forest Lake model.
      1. How do we bridge into the school board. ROI is real.


  • Email CFS about the April 11 visioning session, then there will be a half-day workshop in June where we can put our group’s points out. Also link to sustainability plan and visioning thing
  • Central Park is jointly owned between city and school district
  • Can school board be encouraged to include sustainability
    • The city cannot ask them to
    • Troy Urdall (SANB) is the one to talk to about adding solar to schools
    • There is
      • ecology club elementary
      • waste management curriculum
      • rain barrel curriculum
      • Recent recycling grant awarded (including an ecology club at the middle/high)
      • high school science classes related to sustainability (at teacher’s discretion)
  • Mary has been working to develop a meeting North Minneapolis, East St. Paul, Columbia Heights, St. Anthony Village, with Keith Ellison on bike/walk issues surrounding transportation civil rights. Addressing transportation equity across gender, religion, age, language, ethnicity.
    • Looking at 4/21.
    • Would aid comprehensive planning on bike/walk

CFS Meeting Notes – March ’16

Pollinators Updates

Pollinator Day at Nativity Lutheran Church

  • CFS handed out seed packets
  • Held seed exchange and had sign-up for another seed exchange in spring

Pollinator pathways

  • The city is dedicated to continue improving city plantings
  • Folks can still apply for pollinator garden funds (city has $5000 to offer to residents)–fill out the application and send it to

Walk/Bike Updates

  • CFS members were invited to circle problem intersections on an SAV map for the Parks Commission
  • Hennepin and Ramsey Counties presented on Active Living could use our help tying bike/walking paths together

Silver Lake Village Neighborhood Association

  • Association just started up. Neighborhood borders: Stinson Blvd, Silver Ln, Silver Lake Rd, 37th Ave NE
  • Upcoming event: Cleanup of Salo pond area (April 23rd)
  • Event supplies: Will approach city and Inland
  • Additional Event Volunteers: Ask Inland’s commercial tenants
  • City tie-in: Bring in police and fire for community education and show of city support
  • Idea: Seek Adopt-a-park status?

Model Energy Remodel in SAV

  • Retrofitting standard home to make it energy and water efficient
    • Began with a U of M class assessment
  • Event dates are not yet set, will allow the public to review the project and at least one other home with solar panels installed
  • Kristin will provide a handout of building envelope and mechanicals tips (related to the house upgrades)

Solar Sub-group Update

  • Solar Power Hour in Roseville
    • Event overview–reiterated solar best practices:
      1. Make efficiency updates to reduce needed solar system size
      2. Install solar panels
  • Perhaps CFS should encourage a city ordinance for Solar Ready roofs on homes like California? (protrusions on North-facing parts of roof, etc.)

Electronics Recycling

  • LEGO leagues group from December went on to win state competition
  • Their key takeaway is instead of mining virgin materials, reclaim precious materials from unused/old/broken electronics given their speed of replacement
  • Wilshire Park, St. Charles, and Nativity students have implemented cell phone collection
  • Tech Dump will be part of the SAV city cleanup in May

Questions and Comments

  1. Why do they aerate Silver Lake?
    1. To improve water quality? Kristin will check
  2. Why is one pond low in Salo park?
    1. We don’t know
  3. Look for an SAV Community Service gardening course–taught by a CFS member!
  4. Tips for encouraging an associate to replace lawn with native plantings?
    1. Committee has worked with Metro Blooms, try Rich Harrison
  5. Ways to improve Salo Park?
    1. Inland has a good opportunity to develop park/pond area with the city
    2. Is it possible to develop it into a better green space?
    3. It’s probably time to create a sub-group for Salo Park
    4. People would be more willing to volunteer if they knew the city was supportive
  6. Community Garden interest renewed?
    1. Yes, but only if land is available
    2. Member suggested looking on Silver Ln
  7. April 11: Parks Commission Visioning Session
    1. Bring up Salo Park – Inland
  8. June __: SAV Comprehensive Plan meeting
    1. City’s major points will each be covered
    2. CFS should propose priorities for the Comprehensive Plan
    3. US Green Building Council will be present
  9. Can we build a list of, say, 10 priorities for the city?
    1. Solar! (Paul, Dan, Kristin)
    2. Green space! (Lona) – aesthetics, native plantings, rain gardens
    3. Bike/walk! (Mary, Kara, Becky)
    4. Add water stewards group? (Idelle) – water quality?
  10. How do we find out who in CFS is interested in what?
    1. Send an email to the full group to vote on our favorite topics
    2. Create a half-sheet with these priorities to bring to community meetings
  11. Met Council will be looking for equity discussion in SAV comp plan
    1. title 6, ADA, age discrimination act, health impacts
    2. CFS could create a sub-group for transportation more broadly
    3. Keith Ellison’s team will bring in community members (District 5) on an evening or a weekend
    4. Contact Mary to be alerted to this meeting
  12. For April 9 CFS meeting:
    1. breakout sessions for each of the subgroups to use to develop top talking points.
  13. For May 14 CFS meeting:
    1. finalize/focus list
  14. North side of Stinson, there was a building torn down near Prestemon Park. Why?
    1. Will be built into dental office
    2. developer has agreed to connect Stinson to the park
  15. Encourage building managers to provide shopping carts to residents near grocery stores (equity)
  16. Issues to bring up with legislators
    1. Reestablishment of the Citizens Review Board of the PCA
    2. Gathering stances on the PolyMet mine
  17. Reminder about Emerald Ash Borer: the state has made funds available to cities
    1. For homeowners: visit arrest the pest or 1-888-545-6684
  18. SAV will become a Tree City USA in 2016
    1. Nat’l arbor day foundation backed
    2. $2/capita city spending on trees
    3. part of the comprehensive plan
  19. When planning commission, parks commission, city council have openings, we should share within CFS
    1. For CFS Calendar: Add a reminder every every September to check for openings on the planning and parks commission

Items to communicate to our list

  1. Create a form (with an ‘other’ option) for the subgroups
  2. Bring a comprehensive list to June meeting
  3. EAB Arrest the pest: (1-888-545-6684)

CFS Meeting Notes – February ’16


Solar Happenings

  • Differences between solar gardens/home installations
    • First round of solar community garden projects are marketing for subscribers
    • Subscribing to a solar community garden is different from direct ownership of panels (either on your own property or other)
    • Owning panels allows you to start generating for free after the initial investment pays off.
    • There are options to help residents and companies with the initial investment
  • Faith has signed with the Department of Commerce to be able to sell 40 solar shares to the community by placing panels on their property
    • Using the Made in Minnesota credits
    • IPS, Sundial, or others participate in Made in Minnesota program
    • Made in Minnesota program’s deadline is Feb 28th [tweet this]
  • Is there a way to tell if your property/roof is appropriate for solar panels? Not everyone can put panels on their roof.
    • Perhaps send out U of M solar map
    • Or if the San Francisco neighborhood map is available here
  • Anthony Village city code now allows for solar panels
  • Interfaith Power and Light has worked with communities of faith to set up solar gardens
  • What background information is there for homeowners who are being marketed to put panels on their house?
    • Paul will put together some information
  • Subsidies are basically required for smaller installs
  • Solar Power Hours at Roseville library for roof installations
  • What can/should CFS do to bring this out to SAV citizens?
    • Perhaps tour a home solar installation
    • What determines viability
    • What financing is possible
    • CFS should be part of keeping citizens engaged with local gov’t and up
      • Perhaps a series of sponsored educational events with the city
        • Options for Hennepin, options for Ramsey
      • We have the interest, perhaps with the other churches
      • We could bring up Midwest Solar Expo (May 17-19)
    • Recommend contact Jim Busacker(sp?) can speak to home installations in SAV
    • Next steps
      • work with neighboring churches to show what Faith is doing
      • bring in someone to do an assessment for Wilshire Park with school board (In Forest Lake, they didn’t need subsidies to get to a 7 year return – 2 MW)
    • SAV City Council did not want to pursue putting solar on city hall
    • How do we go from activity to action?
      • Educate the city to bring them to do solar projects using Met Council plan
      • Citizens will come to a city council meeting we tell them
      • Next meeting we’ll have the events schedule for planning commission
      • How do we prioritize discussions within CFS
        • Maybe we need a solar sub group to keep from taking over time
          • Lona will connect us up
        • Vote on interest
          • Home installation
          • Large scale Solar Gardens
          • Get community to put them on the roof on public projects


Bike/walk planning update

  • The city wants bike/walk input from citizens, not to create a bike/walk plan
  • How could we approach the city to do a bike/walk plan when they don’t think there’s a benefit to doing it?
    • Educating city council outside of the comprehensive planning process
    • Most other cities have used a single external review company (CDG), but SAV isn’t interested in paying an outside party to help them
    • The bike/walk plan should go through the Parks Commission
  • Mary feels the city needs several plans in place, but how do we go through the Parks Commission to bring up all the federal requirements upon cities
    • LEP – Limited English Proficiency
    • ADA Transition Plan – improve city infrastructure for accessibility
    • Bike/walk plan – transportation plan
  • It sounds like the city wants to roll bike/ped into the transportation section of the comprehension plan instead of crafting a separate plan.
    • Becky wishes there to be more bike/walk detail in the comprehensive plan than in the current one.
    • Mark brought up that St. Anthony is a major connecting point for multiple cities and two counties
    • Ramsey and Hennepin will be presenting bike/walk at the March 7 meeting [[outreach to help get people to attend]]
    • Transit for Walkable Communities
    • SAV high school has a mountain bike team partnered with Spring Lake Park
    • The city’s perspective is very car-oriented when hearing bike/walk transportation needs.
    • Federal funding is at risk if the city council doesn’t develop these plans
    • CFS needs to improve its relationships with city council members
    • How do we get funding? We need a plan. How do we encourage the city to develop a separate bike/walk plan?
    • How much would going with WSB/CDG cost?
      • Oftentimes these are funded by CDC?
      • Met Council will often approach cities
    • There will be a sidewalk on 37th and 8 intersections will be updated
      • Why wait until a death to fix it?


City updates

  • How do we communicate with the city?
    • NextDoor
    • Village People FB group
    • Printed signage/fliers (translated to Spanish and Somali) for churches, community boards (Caribou, etc.)
    • CFS website/FB/Twitter
    • City website
    • Northeaster newspaper article/press release/opinion letter
    • Village Notes quarterly
    • Channel 16
    • Kids in the schools brainstorm these issues
    • Poster competition through the newspaper
    • SAV water/utility bill messaging quarterly
    • City bulletin board on Silver Lake Rd
    • Encourage Inland to allow a community message board
    • Listserv where emails from city where interested citizens can print or communicate out information
    • Senior housing contacts
    • church bulletins
    • Wilshire Park volunteer room
  • St Anthony residents can still buy a few rain barrels
  • Beyond the Barrel would welcome a cfs table
  • SAV will get $5000 for public pollinator gardens
    • Hennepin county has many signs for these gardens
  • Pollinators Plants and You 3/5 10-noon
    • CFS will need a seed packet assembly session before this
  • SAV Spring Cleanup Day 5/7 9-noon – Public Works Facility, 3801 Chandler Drive
    • Shredding
    • Light bulbs
    • Electronic
    • Furniture


Other notes

  • Kiwanis route signs in SAV. Do we have that history?
  • March 7th – Parks commission starts at 7, then there’s a time for community input afterward
    • Bring maps (safe routes to school, bike/walk map)

SEF News-Views Digest No. 79 (1-21-15)

How Do Foreigners View America? (Clifton Ware, Editor-Publisher)

An article I read this past week helps explain perceptions of America by many foreigners, notably Europeans. When expatriates engage in conversation with citizens of other countries, they often gain insights as to how the U.S. is viewed. According to Ann Jones, an expat living in Norway, we’re not as highly respected and beloved as we once were—or think we are today. She offers some substantive reasons for foreigners’ negative impressions in her disturbing article, Is This Country Crazy?, which is listed in the Enlightenment section below.

I imagine Jones’s conclusions coincide with observations made by many Americans who have traveled abroad and conversed candidly with citizens of other countries. Contrary to the wishful thinking of “super-patriotic” Americans—those who believe America remains the beacon of all that’s good, just, and right in the world—it just ain’t so (pardon my English).

Our country has many admirable qualities that are lauded worldwide, but ever since the post-WWII decade the U.S.’s enviable reputation as an international paragon of virtue has slowly eroded. Throughout the post WWII reconstruction era the U.S. served a worldwide benefactor role—creating economic stability, promoting social equality, and spreading democratic ideals. In subsequent decades, however, the U.S. has fought a series of undeclared wars, toppled legitimate governments, and extended its imperial might and influence to most global areas. In pursuing a multi-decades goal to advance our national interests, we’ve managed to antagonize masses of people in unfriendly countries, and disappointed our friendly allies. Our most vociferous critics decry our overall self-absorbed, imperialistic behavior, presumably a manifestation of “American Exceptionalism”.

Rather than further rambling, I strongly encourage you to read Jones’s article. She tells it like it is, in words that will arouse self-righteous indignation in right-wingers, and stir the liberal sensibilities of left-wingers.

ENVIRONMENT (• Natural Resources • Wildlife • Climate)

> Common Dreams: Losing The Climate Fight: Has 400 Ppm Become Planet’s New Normal? (Deirdre Fulton). Two weeks into 2015 and experts are expressing surprise and worry that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has already topped the 400 parts per million threshold several times—a troubling indication for the year ahead and an expression of humanity’s continued failure to act on climate change.

> Eco Watch: The Research Is In: Regulations Alone Won’t Save Us From Climate Disaster  (Wenonah Hauter). We are convinced that any serious attempt to address climate change means that a large portion of the natural gas, oil and coal currently locked underground must remain unexploited.

> Common Dreams: It’s Official: 2014 Ranks As World’s Warmest Year On Record (Andrea Germanos). 2014 was the Earth’s warmest year since records began in 1880, according to reports from federal scientists published Friday.

> Time:  A Bad Day For Climate Change Deniers … And The Planet (James Kluger). The release of a trio of new studies ought to serve as solid body blows to the fading but persistent fiction that human-mediated warming is somehow a hoax. Good news for the forces of reason, however, is bad news for the planet—especially the oceans.

MinnPost: Blooming Algae May Be Changing Lakes For The Worse – And Possibly Forever  (Ron Meader). A new study of noxious blue-green algae suggests that their summertime blooms may be on the rise not only because of changing climate conditions and continued fertilizer runoff, but also because these phytoplankton have a special gift for self-perpetuation: an ability to make use of phosphorus deposits buried long ago in lake-bottom sediments.

> The New York Times: Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says. There are clear signs already that humans are harming the oceans to a remarkable degree, the scientists found. Some ocean species are certainly overharvested, but even greater damage results from large-scale habitat loss, which is likely to accelerate as technology advances the human footprint, the scientists reported.

ENERGY (• Fossil Carbon • Natural Resources • Renewables)

> Resilience-Crude Oil Peak: Tight Oil Boom Can Explain Only Part Of Drop In US Oil Product Imports (Matt Mushalik). This analysis shows by way of several charts that since 2005/06 only around one quarter of a drop of 1.7 mb/d can be explained by the tight oil boom. US product imports peaked 2005/06 at 3.6 mb/d, 5 years before the tight oil boom started, and dropped to 1.9 mb/d in 2014 (estimate). Out of this drop, only 700 kb/d – or 37% – happened during the tight oil boom.

> Weathering the Storm: An Unconventional Truth (Mike Conley). The dramatic plunge in oil prices has exposed an “unconventional” truth: Not all oil is created equal. Recent events have shaken our fantasy of becoming the new Saudi Arabia of oil. It was based on the false premise that “conventional” and “unconventional” oil are one in the same.

> Yale Environment 360: Could Global Tide Be Starting To Turn Against Fossil Fuels (Fred Pierce). From an oil chill in the financial world to the recent U.S.-China agreement on climate change, recent developments are raising a question that might once have been considered unthinkable: Could this be the beginning of a long, steady decline for the oil and coal industries?

> Peak Oil News:Dumb And Dumber: U.S. Crude Oil Export (Arthur E. Berman). Exporting crude oil and natural gas from the United States are among the dumbest energy ideas of all time, because: the U.S. will never be oil self-sufficient and will never import less than about 6 million barrels of oil per day; U.S. total production will peak in a few years and imports will increase; and the U.S. is a relatively minor reserve holder in the world.

ECONOMY (• Finances • Global • Local)

> CASSE-The Daly News: A Population Perspective On The Steady State Economy (Herman Daly). A steady-state economy is defined as having a constant population and a constant stock of physical capital. In a way it is an extension of the demographer’s model of a stationary population to include non-living populations of artifacts, with production rates equal to depreciation rates, as well as birth rates equal to death rates. The basic idea goes back to the classical economists, including John Stuart Mill.

>  Resilience-The Heretics Guide to Global Finance: Show Me The Real Money: Three Monetary Myths That Need Busting (Brett Scott). Money pervades our everyday economic interactions, but despite its importance it is also pervasively misunderstood. Here are three common monetary myths frequently perpetuated by economists that need challenging.

> New Economics: Deflation And The Eurozone: Why Falling Prices Aren’t Always Good News (James Meadway). As oil prices continue to fall, deflation is making its presence felt across Europe. If you know that the price of anything you buy will be less in the future, just buy it later. Also, falling prices mean producers earn less money from selling goods and services, which leads to cutting costs.

> Resilience: What Is The “Social Economy”? (John Restakis). The social economy is composed of civil organizations and networks that are driven by the principles of reciprocity and mutuality in service to the common good – usually through the social control of capital. In its essence, the social economy is a space and a practice where economics is at the service of social ends, not the other way round.

> Common Dreams: Don’t Buy The Hype: 20 Years Of Data Reveals ‘Free Trade’ Fallacies (Deidre Fulton). Fast-tracked international trade deals have led to exploding U.S. trade deficits, soaring food imports into the U.S., increased off-shoring of American jobs, and an “unprecedented rise in income inequality,” according to new data released Thursday by the watchdog group Public Citizen.

EXPECTATIONS-ENLIGHTENMENT (• Ideas • Psychology • Beliefs)

> Huffington Post: Is This Country Crazy? (Ann Jones)  Europeans have watched the United States unravel its flimsy safety net, fail to replace its decaying infrastructure, disempower most of its organized labor, diminish its schools, bring its national legislature to a standstill, and create the greatest degree of economic and social inequality in almost a century. They understand why Americans, who have ever less personal security and next to no social welfare system, are becoming more anxious and fearful.

> Archdruid Report: March Of The Squirrels (J. M. Greer). So far, the crash of 2015 is running precisely to spec. Smaller companies in the energy sector are being hammered by the plunging price of oil, while the banking industry insists that it’s not in trouble. It’s an interesting regularity of history that the closer to disaster a society in decline becomes, the more grandiose, triumphalist, and detached from the grubby realities its fantasies generally get.

> Common Dreams: That Was Easy: In Just 60 Years, Neoliberal Capitalism Has Nearly Broken Planet Earth (Jon Queally). According to a new pair of related studies, humanity’s rapacious growth and accelerated energy needs over the last generation—particularly fed by an economic system that demands increasing levels of consumption and inputs of natural resources—are fast driving planetary systems towards their breaking point.

> Huffington Post: The Danger The Planet Faces Because Human Instinct Overpowers Human Reason (David Ropeik). We are compelled from the deepest level of our genes and survival instincts to taking more from the system than it can provide and put back in more waste than it can handle, and no amount of human brain power can outwit the natural instincts that are driving us 150 miles an hour toward a cliff.

> Grist: Is “Resilience” The New Sustainababble? (Laurie Mazur & Denise Fairchild). Suddenly, “resilience” is everywhere. It’s the subject of serious books and breezy news articles, of high-minded initiatives and of many, many conferences. Resilience is all about our capacity to survive and thrive in the face of disruptions of all kinds. If we were to take resilience seriously, we would make some far-reaching changes in how we live.

EQUITY (• Equality • Health • Social Concerns)

> Common Dreams: Failure Of Conscience’: Groups Urge Congress To Fund Social Well-Being, Not Fossil Fuel Industry (Nadia Prupis). “Leaving the social safety net in tatters and keeping Big Oil on the dole is not just a failure to prioritize. It is a failure of conscience.” Altogether, the cost of government subsidies for the oil and gas industry totals $6.45 billion, an amount that could provide 5,469,579 children free or low-cost health insurance up to age 19.

> CNBC: Aspen, Detroit Share Real Estate Phenomenon (Robert Frank). Detroit is a fallen factory town hounded by poverty. Aspen is a fast-rising mountain resort feasting on the fruits of the plutonomy and the global super rich. Houses in Detroit can’t be given away, while the average home price in Aspen is worth more than $5 million.

> ENSIA: The Leading Cause Of Death In Developing Countries Might Surprise You (Richard Fuller). What’s the leading cause of death in low- and middle-income countries: malnutrition/under-nutrition; tuberculosis, malaria & HIV/AIDS; or pollution?  Surprise, it’s “C”!. Exposures to polluted soil, water and air (both household and ambient) killed 8.4 million people in these countries in 2012.

ENGAGEMENT (• Goals • Activism • Solutions)

> Peak Prosperity: What Should I Do? – Crash Course Chapter 26 (Adam Taggart). If there’s one message to take away from this newly updated Crash Course video series, it’s this: It’s time for you to become more resilient and more engaged. Things are changing quickly and nobody knows how much time we have before the next economic, ecological or energy related crisis erupts.  Nobody knows when, but we do have a pretty good idea of what is coming.

> On The Commons: Way To Go! (Jay Walljasper). Driving less is good news for everybody because broader transportation choices are linked to a bounty of social and economic benefits, including expanded economic development, revitalized urban and suburban communities, increased social equity, reduced household transportation costs, improved public health, decreased traffic congestion, and improved environmental conditions.

> National Geographic: Securing Water For Urban Farms (Sandra Postel). Linking urban water management more closely to urban farming has the potential to increase food security, water productivity, and community health, while reducing chemical fertilizer use, long-distance food and water imports, and related greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.

> Environmental Defense Fund: Blueprint For Climate Stability (Fred Krupp). EDF’s president surveys five powerful trends that are driving momentum for climate action and describes an ambitious plan to rein in global emissions by 2020.

> Breaking Energy: ‘Climate Geoengineering’: As Contingency Plan Perhaps The Sharpest Tool In The World’s Climate Tool Box (Roman Kilisek). The debate about the development and deployment of geoengineering technologies is slowly creeping into the mainstream media. See also: Energy Department Project Captures And Stores One Million Metric Tons Of Carbon.


> Eastside Food Co-op: Movie Night—Fed Up (The film the food industry doesn’t want you to see), Thurs., Jan. 22, 6:30 p.m., EFC Granite Studio. Free; RSVP or 612-843-5409

> Dakota County Citizens’ Climate Lobby: Meet and Greet, Thurs., Jan. 22, 6-9pm, JoJos Rise and Wine Café, 12501 Nicollet Avenue, Burnsville, MN. Info: Deborah Nelson (952-250-3320;

> Minnesota Clean Energy & Jobs Day On The Hill, Mon., Feb. 2, 9:30am-4pm, MN State Capitol, St. Paul. Registration Online:

> CERTs: CERTs 2015 Conference: Community Driven Clean Energy, March 10-11, 2015, St. Cloud, MN Agenda & Register to Attend

SEF News-Views Digest No. 78 (1-15-15)

 Plentiful, Cheap Energy: Pros and Cons — Clifton Ware, Editor-Publisher 

The hoopla these days about America’s plentiful oil and natural gas production is fraught with conflicting views, including controversy about the installation of expanded pipelines and upgrading of railroads in the upper midwest to transport tar sands and Bakken oil. But it’s the news about falling oil prices that’s inflating economic concerns, and influencing people’s perceptions about available energy supplies. So here we go—yet again—with a barrage of conflicting economic pronouncements that swings between excessive optimism (spouted by the mainline media and economists) to dire warnings of pending collapse (delivered by dark-green environmentalists and sustainability-oriented futurists).

How about a appropriate transportation metaphor to help us understand more clearly what’s going on? We Americans—with our century-long attachment to automobiles—assume entitlement to drive anywhere we wish, at anytime, and for any reason.  So, let’s suppose we’re subject to national policy that requires rationing the amount of gallons each driver can have for personal use, a situation that occurred during WWII, when most goods were rationed, including gasoline).

In this fantasized scenario, each adult driver may be allotted the equivalent of one full tank of gas, which is expected to last for a specified period, from one month to a year. For a compact-sized auto averaging 25 mpg, this would require approximately 18 gallons, which should provide around 450 miles of travel. Assuming each driver will likely give priority to essential transportation needs, such as commuting to work, we can assume he or she will be very careful about driving anywhere for frivolous reasons. In sum, responsible drivers will most likely find effective ways to reduce the amount of auto travel, possibly by carpooling, using public transportation, riding a bike, or even walking whenever convenient.

Now, what if we transpose this fuel-rationing scenario to a larger-scaled operation—an entire city, a state, a region or a nation? If any sized community faces shortages, or even evidence that shortages are very likely at some point, wouldn’t it make sense to adopt a conservation strategy as a first line of defense? Moreover, if prominent energy experts are correct in claiming that “peak oil” is here now (and they probably are), wouldn’t it be wise for everyone to begin seeking ways to stretch out oil supplies as long as possible, thereby allowing a generation or so to effectively bridge from carbon-based fossil energy to renewable sources—if and when they are supported by available essential resources and general economic feasibility.

I think this simple metaphor suffices to make the point that peak-oil supporters have been trying to communicate to the general public over the past decade or so. Unfortunately, there are greedy, short-term thinking, misguided leaders of industry and business who desire only to accumulate more wealth, mostly for the benefit of those who already have too much money and power.

So it’s up to the 99% of poor-to-middle class Americans to send a clear message to the top wealthy 1%. In order that future generations might have access to carbon-based fossil energy sources for long-term use, the current unbridled extraction of natural resources (our primary wealth) must cease. Experience teaches us that the inordinately low oil and gas prices we’re experiencing today are a temporary phenomenon. Prices will eventually rise, perhaps precipitously, simply because we cannot sustain our high-energy, consumption-driven lifestyles without it.

Note: The Energy Section that follows contains articles that relate to the above commentary, particularly the first article listed, which in found on the Resilience website.

ENERGY (Fossil Carbon • Natural Resources • Renewables)

> Resilience: Vast Reserves Of Fossil Fuels Should Be Left Untapped (Alex Kirby). A research team from University College London’s Institute for Sustainable Resources (ISR) says that, in total, a third of global oil reserves, half of the world’s gas and over 80% of its coal reserves should be left untouched for the next 35 years.

> Petroleum Truth Report: The Oil Price Fall: An Explanation In Two Charts (Arthur E. Berman). Oil prices move up and down in response to changes in supply and demand.   If the world consumes more oil than it produces, the price goes up.  If more oil is produced than the world consumes, the price goes down. Also, QE ended in July 2014, the exact month that oil prices started falling.  What a coincidence!

> Forbes: Why Falling Oil Prices Don’t Hurt Demand For Renewable Energy (Victor A. Rojas & Paul Stinson). Now is the time to be building the foundation for a stable energy future protected from the price volatility of fossil fuels. The good news is we’re well on our way. From solar, to wind, and energy storage, we’re reaching tipping points that promise further cost reductions and market acceptance for clean energy technologies.

> New Economics Foundation: Energy Round-Up: Unburnable Oil. The bad news: oil demand is falling partly because Europe has failed to create a lasting recovery, and the Chinese economy is also slowing sharply. The good news is that oil demand is also falling because of dramatic improvements in energy efficiency – spurred by those same high-energy prices – in some surprising places.

> Oil Price: Big Oil Going On The Offensive   (Michael Klare). Increasingly grim economic pressures, growing popular resistance, and the efforts of government regulators have all shocked the carbon-based energy industry. Oil prices are falling, institutions are divesting from their carbon stocks, voters are placing curbs on hydro-fracking, and delegates at the U.N. climate conference in Peru have agreed to impose substantial restrictions on global carbon emissions.

ENVIRONMENT (Natural Resources • Wildlife • Climate)

> Common Dreams: For The Planet And Future Generations, New Congress May Be Most Dangerous Yet (Wenonah Hauter). Under the likely leadership of Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), expect the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee “to intensify its bullying of environmentalists.” 2015: The Year We Turn Away From Tar Sands (Cam Fenton). As we leave 2014 and look forwards to 2015, here is a snapshot of the global movement to stop the tar sands.

> ENSIA: Envision 2050: The Future Of Protected Areas (David Doody). The idea of setting aside areas of land and water to be protected against human activities has become a staple of the conservation movement. But with that movement itself at a crossroads, it’s worth exploring just what protected areas will look like in the future.

> On Earth: 2014 Broke The Heat Record. Will 2015 Crush It Again? (Susan Cossier). Since 1997, we’ve seen the 15 hottest years on record; we haven’t had a month of below-average global temperatures in 29 years; and a record cold month hasn’t frozen us solid in a century. The previous recorded hottest year was 2010, and 2015 may turn out to be another contender for the title.

ECONOMY (Finances • Global • Local)

> Our Finite World: Oil And The Economy: Where Are We Headed In 2015-16? (Gail Tverberg). Some first-layer bad effects of low oil prices are: increased debt defaults; rising interest rates; rising unemployment; increased recession; decreased oil supply; disruption in oil-exporting markets; defaults on derivatives; continued low oil prices; drop in stock market prices; drop in market value of bonds; and changes in international associations. Is this enough?

> Common Dreams: Why The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Is A Pending Disaster (Robert Reich). Drafted mostly by corporate and Wall Street lobbyists, the TPP provides less protection for consumers, workers, small investors, and the environment. In other words, the TPP is a Trojan horse in a global race to the bottom, giving big corporations and Wall Street banks a way to eliminate any and all laws and regulations that get in the way of their profits.

> CASSE-The Daly News: Crossroads On Global Infrastructure (Brent Blackwelder). We are at a critical moment where two approaches to infrastructure are diverging. The infrastructure path of a true cost economy can lead to smaller-scale, smarter infrastructure and a healthier earth. The proposed path of the G-20 and World Bank, on the other hand, will replicate and intensify numerous unsustainable projects and cause human civilization to exceed the carrying capacity of the earth.

> The New York Times: Job Growth Looks Great; Wage Growth, Less So (Neil Irwin). This is all excellent news for the people holding one of the 2.95 million jobs that did not exist at the beginning of 2014 (the strongest year of job growth since 1999). And the numbers do nothing to throw cold water on the idea that the recovery has shifted into a higher gear in recent months. But forgive us for a moment of less than sunny optimism on this front.

EXPECTATIONS-ENLIGHTENMENT (Ideas • Knowledge • Psychology • Beliefs)

> The Archdruid Report: A Camp Amid The Ruins (J. M. Greer). Understanding the concept of sustainability simply requires a willingness to recognize that if something is unsustainable, sooner or later it won’t be sustained. Of course what can’t be sustained at this point is the collection of wildly extravagant energy- and resource-intensive habits that used to pass for a normal lifestyle in the world’s industrial nations, and has recently become just a little less normal than it used to be.

> Monitor: Adapting To A Warmer World (Kirsten Weir). Scientists agree that as the atmosphere continues to warm, extreme weather will happen more frequently and become more severe. Now a group of mental health professionals (International Transformational Resilience Coalition-ITRC) has come together to develop policies and programs to help individuals and communities prepare for the inevitable psychosocial aspects of that threat and to help them achieve wellbeing.

> Resilience: Lives Not Our Own (Tom Butler). The competing urges of the wild and the domestic live within us, and are likely to persist within the conservation movement until humanity embraces a land ethic that both places the wellbeing of the entire biotic community first and renounces the idea that Earth is a resource colony for humanity. Do we have the wisdom to exercise humility and restraint, to choose membership over Lordship? Lives not our own hang in the balance.

> Resource Insights: The Central Contradiction In The Modern Outlook: ‘Planet Of The Apes’ vs ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (Kurt Cobb). When talking about the perils of climate change or resource depletion, soil degradation or fisheries collapse, water pollution or nuclear waste–how annoying it is to have one listener respond dismissively, “They’ll figure something out. They always have.”

EQUALITY (Equity • Health • Social Concerns)

> Common Dreams: ‘Everything Is Awesome’? Not So Much For Middle Class, Says Warren (Deirdre Fulton). According to Warren, “For tens of millions of working families who are the backbone of this country, this economy isn’t working. These families are working harder than ever, but they can’t get ahead. Opportunity is slipping away. Many feel like the game is rigged against them—and they are right. The game is rigged against them.”

> Alternet: 5 Studies That Show How Wealth Warps Your Soul (Zaid Jilani). In his essay, Michael Lewis, writes: “The problem is caused by the inequality itself: It triggers a chemical reaction in the privileged few. It tilts their brains. It causes them to be less likely to care about anyone but themselves or to experience the moral sentiments needed to be a decent citizen.”

> Common Dreams: Amid Time Of Soaring Inequality, Rich Say: The Poor Have It Easy (Andrea Germanos). Oxfam International’s Winnie Byanyima says political leaders will ignore inequality at their own peril.

ENGAGEMENT (Goals • Activism • Solutions)

> TED Talk: Navi Radjou: Creative Problem-Solving In The Face Of Extreme Limits. Pioneer entrepreneurs in emerging markets have figured out how to get spectacular value from limited resources, and the practice of “jugaad,” (frugal innovation) has now caught on globally. Peppering his talk with examples of human ingenuity at work, Radjou shares three principles for doing more with less.

> Common Dreams: Consumer Self-Defense: 12 Ways To Drive GMOs And Roundup Off The Market (Ronnie Cummins). Contrary to what some in the biotech industry and the media claim, genetic engineering of plants is not the same thing as selective breeding, or hybridization. Genetic modification involves inserting foreign genetic material (DNA) into an organism. Selective breeding does not.

> Food Tank: 10 Ways To Support The Next Generation Of Farmers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average age of farmers has steadily increased over the last 30 years. The (USDA) reports that half of all current farmers are likely to retire in the next decade, leaving a large gap for the next generation to fill. Fortunately, a new wave of food pioneers, mostly from non-farming backgrounds, is turning to careers in agriculture, and facing a fair share of hurdles to overcome.

> Alternet: Not Going Vegetarian, But Cutting Down On Meat? There’s A Name For That (Martha Rosenberg). Reducetarianism is “an identity, community, and movement that’s composed of individuals who are committed to eating less meat–red meat, poultry, seafood, and the flesh of any other animal,” (See website).

> ENSIA: Suburban Sprawl Doesn’t Have To Be Ecologically Devastating  (Sarah Jane Keller). As development gobbles up open space, conservationists take a fresh look at subdivisions with biodiversity in mind. New Wind Turbine Looks Like A Tree, Generates Power Silently. A French company is trying to change the concept of monolithic wind turbines with a apparatus called the Wind Tree. As you might guess, it’s an array of wind power turbines in the shape of a tree, and several of them will be deployed in Paris this coming March as a test.


> Report—Sustainability Education ForumLast Saturday 11 persons participated in stimulating discussions related to current sustainability topics, led by 3 persons presenting special articles and book reviews. 2 Macalester College sustainability majors attended, and they accepted our invitation to discuss their sustainability activities and potential career opportunities at a future meeting. Next SEF: Saturday, March 14, 2:30-4:30 p.m., at the St. Anthony Village Library. Please place this date on your calendar and let me know if you will attend.

> Minnesota Environmental Partnership: Minnesota’s Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment
 Fifth Anniversary Celebration and Forum,Thurs., Jan.15, 2015, Noon to 6 p.m(program begins at 12:30)
 Minneapolis Marriott Northwest,
7025 Northland Drive North, Brooklyn Park, MN 55428 
Fee: $10.To register click here.

> Nativity Lutheran Church-‘Pop Tops’: What Is Sustainability, And Why Do We Need It? Clifton and Bettye Ware, presenters. Nativity Lutheran Church, St. Anthony Village, Silver Lake Rd., Sun., Jan. 18, 9-10 a.m., Fellowship Hall.

> Eastside Food Co-op: Movie Night—Fed Up (The film the food industry doesn’t want you to see), Thurs., Jan. 22, 6:30 p.m., EFC Granite Studio. Free; RSVP or 612-843-5409

> Dakota County Citizens’ Climate Lobby: Meet and Greet, Thurs., Jan. 22, 6-9pm, JoJos Rise and Wine Café, 12501 Nicollet Avenue, Burnsville, MN. Info: Deborah Nelson (952-250-3320;

> CERTs: CERTs 2015 Conference: Community Driven Clean Energy, March 10-11, 2015, St. Cloud, MN AgendaRegister to Attend