The Minnesota Environmental Congress will hold a Citizen Forum from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday in the CMU Ballroom.
State agency commissioners will give a brief presentation about Minnesota’s Environment and Energy Report Card and then lead a facilitated discussion on air, water, land, energy and climate.
The forum will be the last of six held around the state to get an idea of Minnesotans’ environmental priorities.
“It’s a really great vehicle for citizens, because it’s open to the public, to voice their concerns,” said Joe Herbst, sustainability coordinator at MSUM.
Herbst, along with several students, is helping to promote the event and encouraging students to attend and voice their concerns.
Voice your concerns effectively
Herbst will be holding a workshop at noon Thursday in CMU 203, so students and community members can learn how to communicate their concerns effectively.
“It’s really easy to sit around with your friends and complain about things, but this is an opportunity to actually take some action,” Herbst said.
If attendees are too radical and off-track, they may not be taken seriously.
“There is a time and a place for radical environmentalism,” Herbst said. “Radicalism is good to get attention, but they’re already listening.”
By researching the issues and preparing for the event, people can be more effective with the opportunity and might actually get their voices heard.
Natalie Jacobs, a junior sustainability student, said she’s going to have trouble voicing her concerns, but the workshop will help her learn how to amplify her voice without yelling.
Students will inherit problems
Herbst said the event is important for students because they have their whole lives ahead of them, and they will be the ones inheriting all of the environmental problems.
“A lot of our environmental problems we can’t really see,” he said. “They aren’t in your face, and I think that’s important to take the time to learn and understand them because by the time we see them, it could be a real problem.”
Herbst is mostly concerned with energy.
“Energy and the environment are just two things you can’t unhook,” he said. “Energy is tied to everything that happens to the environment.”
Jacobs agreed and said she wants Minnesota to have a renewable energy goal.
“Whether it’s 25 or 35 percent, I think it would be good to have a goal.”
Herbst agreed that renewable energy is important, but said there’s more to the solution.
“I’m a big fan of renewable energy, but unless we also start to use less, we really aren’t going to be able to make a serious effect on the climate,” he said. “We’re inheriting a lot of environmental problems, and the youth voice is critical.”
For more information about the citizens’ forum contact Joe Herbst at 218.477.2280, or visit mn.gov/environmentalcongress.
BY JASMINE MAKI