University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Sustainability Education

Minnesotans: Record Breakers, Movers, and Shakers

October 22, 2014Elizabeth HokeGeneral0
Author (6 people from the left, back row), and friends at the People's Climate March in NYC

Author (6 people from the left, back row), and friends at the People’s Climate March in NYC

It has been a busy month for activists here at the University of Minnesota. From New York to the Bell Museum, they have been working hard to strengthen community between issues, identities, and groups.

On September 21st, six busses brimming with Minnesotans travelled to New York City to partake in the People’s Climate March, the largest climate-related march in all of history. They, and 400,000 others concerned for our planet’s future, marched in the record-breaking event.

As the author of this blog, as well as one of the Minnesotans who attended People’s Climate March, the biggest takeaway of the march for me, Nathan Michelson, was the immense solidarity between peoples and issues. The way the march was organized was that groups with similar goals and identities were purposefully placed near each other to provide a greater sense of community within the larger environmental justice movement.

Fathi Mahad, a junior in the Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management major at the University of Minnesota reflects, “I thought PCM was very inclusive. I marched with the frontline communities and there were many people from all walks of life who happened to be there because they wanted climate justice. [I felt like] my identity as a Muslim African American women was validated and appreciated. I felt a sense of belonging that I still do not get in MN.”

Tyler Redden, a Biology, Society, and Environment major in his junior year at UMN stated “As a midwesterner, I was enthralled to see activists from all around the world attending. It proved that this is an international problem in need of international attention. I was glad to have MN350, the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs, and other University of Minnesota students and staff there to represent Minnesota.”

The energy in New York came home with these motivated individuals, and our University of Minnesota students saw a need to create solidarity and closer connections between social-change oriented student groups. This drive was manifested on October 10th at the Bell Museum. Hosted by Fossil Free Minnesota and Open Stage and sponsored by The Institute on the Environment, SUA, the Coca-Cola Sustainability Initiative, the CFANS office for Diversity and Inclusion, and Radio K, ‘Family Frenzy’ was a fun event created with the mission of “setting the stage for a student group movement at the U that works together to accomplish more than is possible as individuals. This event will not be a time for planning actions, but rather to hear where we are all coming from, entertain one another, and most importantly, dance together.” As you can tell by the long list of collaborators for this event, they really put their money where their mouth is as far as “coming together” goes.

We’d tell you more about the event ourselves, but Beth Mercer-Taylor, University of Minnesota Sustainability Education Coordinator, put it too well to be topped:

Sustainability projects can feel a lot like pulling weeds in the hot sun.  You put hours of effort into the work, but not many will even notice what you’ve done.  Coming back to the yard next week, all you see is even more weeds. [For example,] You can cut energy use on campus by getting office staff to turn off all those lights and appliances, but at the same time, a new campus building goes up, further expanding energy use and the campus carbon footprint.  College lectures teach you that the earth is beyond its carrying capacity and that our politics hold no way to stop our collective overuse of resources.   Why would anyone want to hang out with a crowd giving off such a negative vibe?

Cue the music.  Turn down the lights. Maybe the agony of a hopeless situation can be a cause for creativity, a chance to hold hands, dance, sing, tell stories and celebrate the possibility of another way of being in this world.  The young women in hijab move with a queer couple in short-hair.  Skirts and high heels mix with bare feet, flannel and flowing scarves.

Amidst creatures frozen in time in glass cases, the Bell Museum of Natural History (on the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus) played host to the Family Frenzy Art & Music Festival last Friday.  You would never even know the environmentalists planned it, with the Capoera, the painters, the rappers, the poets, the a Capella singers (Enchantment, you had me) and a certain spoken word artist called Guante, telling us:

Everything is for sale and everything will kill you.  So don’t buy it.  Remember who supplies it…

Remember, a poem is worth more than a prayer…. Every mic is a magic wand.

You’re Invited! 2nd Annual Sustainability Fair Celebrating Sustainable and Vibrant Communities


For residents, business leaders, community groups, and anyone interested in learning more about living a sustainable lifestyle. Presented by the Three Rivers Park District and the cities of Lauderdale, St. Anthony Village, and Falcon Heights.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

5:30-8:30 pm

Silverwood Park

2500 County Road E W

St. Anthony, MN 55421

FREE and open to the public

Family friendly! Activities for all ages will be provided

Riding public transportation, biking, or carpooling to the event is encouraged.

This event is also co-hosted by St. Anthony Village Citizens for Sustainability and by UMN Sustainability Education through the UMN Institute on the Environment.



This is a great event for vendors because it provides the opportunity to engage residents who share a common vision of trying to become more sustainable. It’s also a great event for community leaders and local residents because it gives the opportunity to learn, network and gain resources to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

                                    -Mark Casey, St. Anthony Village City Administrator

History of the event

Falcon Heights, Lauderdale, and St. Anthony Village have over twenty years of history collaborating through shared resources and ideas. In the winter of 2012, the three cities came together to build on their synergies and work toward the common goal of creating a more sustainable and vibrant community.

In fall of 2012, a sustainability plan was created for each city in conjunction with the University of Minnesota Sustainable Communities class. Students helped to collect data, determine city goals, and establish a starting point for a city sustainability vision and work plan.

Read the sustainability plan for Falcon Heights, Lauderdale, and St. Anthony Village as well as Three Rivers Park District

In fall of 2013, the cities’ visions moved from policy to practical. The first annual sustainability fair was hosted at Silverwood Park, a logical partner because of the park’s leadership in energy efficiency, water management, community engagement, and land stewardship. The fair provided resources on how the residents of three communities can be more sustainable and access the resources they need.”

In its second year, the event promises to be widely attended and more impactful. Resources providers will discuss and share information with residents and local leaders to build a community-wide call for action to make progress toward sustainability goals. Together, we can build a more sustainable community.

Growing Cities Film Screening

growing cities

It’s a crisp October afternoon on campus, where fall semester is in full swing. Amidst the bustle of students walking to class, you sit at a table on Northrop mall, downtrodden. You’re thinking back to spring semester 2013, when you attended an installment of the Sustainability Education department’s annual film series. Those times were so good, learning about sustainable living and development with like-minded peers, eating popcorn donated by Wise Acre Eatery. But spring 2014 is so far away and you don’t know how you’re going to make it until then. You go in for full nostalgia and start perusing the posts on “What’s this?” you think, as you see a post titled “Growing Cities Film Screening.” Your eyes light up and you skip to class, giddy for October 24th.

That’s right, folks! The Sustainability Education department here at the University of Minnesota is proud to announce a film screening of Growing Cities, a film about urban farming in America. Preceding the film, there will be a panel discussion with representatives from Urban Ventures and Gardening Matters. These Minneapolis organizations focus on combating urban poverty and supporting urban community gardens, respectively. This topical panel discussion will take place at 7:00pm on National Food Day (Friday, October 24th) nestled in the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus at the Bell Museum, with the film screening following at 7:45.

This event is sponsored by the Sustainability Education department in partnership with the following UMN student groups: Students for Sustainability, U Students Like Good Food, and the College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources (CFANs) Ambassadors. These students groups work year-round to promote an informed and active student body, and we’re excited to bring this event to fruition with them!

Tell your friends, tell your professors, tell the person sitting next to you on the campus connector all about it because this event is free and open to the public! The free Wise Acre Eatery popcorn will also make a return appearance while supplies last. Now stop pouting about our annual film series being so far away and get excited for Food Day 2014!

IonE Undergrad Sustainability Leaders Program


What’s your passion?  What’s your sustainability vision?  How can your vision be fused with others to help create a more sustainable future?

The Undergraduate Sustainability Leaders’ Program is a leadership accelerator within the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. The Leaders Program develops emerging undergraduate leaders into real world change makers committed to solutions-focused leadership.  Our goal is to grow a cohort of students who are committed to becoming the next generation of community, regional, and world leaders.  We encourage holistic thinking and respect the diverse skills and perspectives each leader brings to the table.

The ideal Institute on the Environment Leader candidate has impactful environmental and/or social leadership experience, shows a passion for environmental and social change, and has a strong academic track record.  All undergraduate majors are open to apply.

2014-2015 Focus themes: equity and reciprocity

  • How can we use lenses of equity, reciprocity, justice, and diversity to define and think about sustainability?
  • How can we bring together science, creativity, art, healing practices, and diverse ways of knowing in communication to make sustainability more interdisciplinary and inclusive?
  • How do these versions of sustainability fit into the big picture governance and policy frameworks?

 Timeline and Flow:

Starting in November, 2014, the Leaders Program will open with a day-long introduction and workshop, and continue with experiential learning through the academic year.  As a final action project this year, we will have an opportunity to shape a student component of the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) National Conference 2015 that will be hosted in Minneapolis, MN.  Let your voice be heard in this planning and sustainability’s future at one of the largest sustainability conferences in the nation.

 Cohort Learning and Action

  • Kick Off Workshop (ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED): November 8, 2014
  • Create change agent alumni piece for Sustainability Education website
  • Sustainability Symposium (Leaders present creative work): Spring 2014
  • Participate in Earth Day (April 22)
  • Present 1 of 4 Sustainability Film Series Films
  • Work towards AASHE Minneapolis 2015 Student Action Plan

Amp up your sustainability know-how by participating in

  • Once-a-month Leaders meeting/field trip (First Thursday of every month)
  • Food Day (October 24th, 2014)
  • At least 1 Frontier in the Environment Lecture Series (Wednesday @ 12)
  • Sustainability Film Series Events
  • Student Engagement Leadership Forum (SELF) Sustain (Spring 2015)
  • May Celebration at Eric Sannerud Family Farm, Sandbox (Ham Lake)


The application period for the 2014-2015 Leaders Program is now closed.  Check back early next fall if you are interesting in applying next year!

Paid Internship with WaterLegacy


Minnesota environmental action organization WaterLegacy is seeking a communications and outreach intern to assist with its campaign against sulfide mining near the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior.

Status: 16-20 hours/week, November 2014 – April 2015
Job Category: Communications and Outreach Intern
Compensation: $1,500, plus support for college credit
Location: Twin Cities metro area, Minnesota

Duties and Responsibilities:

Internships with WaterLegacy allow for diverse, immersive experiences in the environmental non-profit field. Interns are responsible for the completion of self-guided projects as well as assisting staff and volunteers with specific programs, events, and day-to-day office functions.

Primary Projects/Duties:

  • Assist staff with social media and web communication on environmental issues.
  • Assist staff with preparing printed or email communications such as fact sheets, flyers, announcements, solicitations and action alerts.
  • Participate in the planning, exhibiting and petitioning at events.
  • Participate in other outreach and turnout activities to support education and activism.
  • Engage with members and the public at education events or by phone.


WaterLegacy is looking for an undergraduate student living in the Twin Cities area with an interest in environmental advocacy and non-profit administration. Strong candidates are creative, self-motivated, and interested in gaining professional experience working with a small non-profit team.

Knowledge of sulfide mining issues and northeastern Minnesota’s “Arrowhead” region is preferred but not required. Access to a reliable vehicle is preferred but not required.


  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • Completed first year of college or post-secondary education (GPA 3.5 or higher preferred)
  • Familiarity with major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office applications
  • Recent laptop with Word and Excel (2010 or newer)
  • Experience with graphic design and/or digital layout (preferred but not required)
  • Ability to conduct self-guided research and synthesize data
  • Ability to produce and edit high-quality written content

How to Apply:

To apply, please send one PDF document to that includes:

  • Cover letter explaining why you are interested in this internship
  • Resume
  • 1-2 page writing sample
  • Contact information for 2-3 references

Deadline: Friday, October 24

Questions: Contact Jacob Crawford at


Photo credit: Eugene Kim

The Sustainability Education website is administered by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.

The University of Minnesota offers sustainability courses in most of its colleges and campuses around the state. These courses encompass biophysical sciences, social sciences, humanities, arts, design, engineering, business, and health. The Sustainability Studies minor is one of several interdisciplinary programs through which such diverse courses come together.