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April Environmental Commission Webinar

by John Anderson,
Regional Manager - West Metro

For the past three years, Conservation Minnesota has worked with partner groups to put on an annual Environmental Commissions Conference every April.

The idea behind this conference is pretty simple. Many cities in Minnesota have created formal commissions composed of local residents to work on environmental and conservation issues. Since there is a great deal of overlap in these sorts of issues from city to city, and also the potential for cities to coordinate, it makes sense for these commissioners and other interested folks to get together once a year to share ideas, think about how to work together, and get to know each other.

This year is obviously different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Accordingly, Conservation Minnesota and our partner groups decided to postpone this year’s Environmental Commissions Conference until later in the year.

The vital work of conservation can’t be put on hold, so in instead of our in-person meeting we organized a webinar for people who had registered for the conference and anyone else who was interested.

It was a huge success with over 96 people calling in. We focused on where Minnesota stands on climate change compared to the state’s established goals.

The webinar featured great information from the following presenters:

  • Abby Finis, senior energy planner with the Great Plains Institute—success stories from cities that have taken action on energy issues and the main drivers behind those successes.
  • Melissa Bartman, Community and Economic Development Coordinator with the City of Red Wing—Red Wing’s experience writing a climate action plan.
  • Emily Ziring, Sustainability Manager for the City of Saint Louis Park—city projects including:
    • adding more electric charging stations,
    • transforming the city’s own facilities to run on 100% renewable energy, and,
    • using a new energy use benchmarking ordinance for local businesses.

The webinar was a great chance to learn about all the work cities have done around conservation and energy. I can’t wait to meet with commissioners and other interested folks in the future to see what steps come next!