Kids and adults cross a stream

Working to Be Part of the Solution

by Paul Austin,
Executive Director

Like many across our city and state, at Conservation Minnesota we are grieving the killing of George Floyd. This was a tragic example of how racism wreaks havoc on our shared humanity. We stand with those calling for justice, accountability, and change.

For over a year, our staff and board have been working to understand how racism, discrimination, and poverty have played a role in conservation history, leading to decisions that have left many communities with concentrated health risks and pollution, most often communities of color.

The toll of this pollution has been clear during the COVID-19 pandemic, when conditions linked to air pollution like asthma have caused higher death rates. During the pandemic, people have also found that simple things many of us take for granted, like taking a walk and spending time in nature, are critically important to our health and well-being. Yet even this privilege is not equally available to every person living in Minnesota. This is unacceptable.

Conservation Minnesota is launching a new strategic plan aimed at helping make sure a person’s skin color or zip code are not determining factors of their environment, health, safety, or opportunity to share in all Minnesota has to offer. Our hope is that working toward a shared vision of clean air, clean water, clean energy, and safe access to the outdoors for every community can also highlight our shared humanity and help bring people together.

We don’t have all the answers. But we are committed to be part of the solution.


Paul Austin