The MN State Fairgrounds off season is a weird scene. It’s strange to be able to drive through the ghost town of deserted mini donut and cheese curd stands that is usually cordoned from traffic and thronged with people. But as I migrated toward the site of the 2012 Living Green Expo, I just knew I would leave with some morsel of wisdom I’d be glad to gain.
The prime morsel was to be found toward the end of my visit at a quiet booth on a distant perimeter of the Education building. The astute young woman presiding over magazines and pamphlets there asked me if I was familiar with the Institute on the Environment. I was not.
University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment conducts extensive environmental research and launches plans of action that reach beyond academia. Their mission is ambitious: to find solutions for Earth’s most pressing environmental problems, by “conducting research, developing the next generation of global leaders, and building world changing partnerships.” Their projects address renewable energy, balancing economies and ecosystems, and sustainable food production for a world population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050.
“Another goal of the IonE is to get people talking about the environment,” their rep at the expo said. She explained earnestly that if the public isn’t engaged in the conversation, then scientific findings can’t profoundly effect change. Conversation starters abound in the IonE’s savvy magazine Momentum: Environmental Solutions in Motion, published triannually, and accessible online.
I was struck by the practical, constructive, motivational sensibility of Momentum’s director Jon Foley. Check out his Director’s Notes Becoming a Climate Pragmatist from spring 2011 issue and A Tale of Two Worlds from winter 2012. The tone of the magazine could be described as bright green, so I wasn’t surprised to see that the “futurist” who coined the term, Alex Steffen, was one of the consultants weighing in on Momentum’s What Would It Take? Winter 2012 issue. Steffen addressed the question What would it take to make a city carbon neutral?
Momentum Magazine also hopes to engage the community through a dynamic event series modeled on Ted Talks. This Thursday May 10 M. Sanjayan, lead conservation biologist for The Nature Conservancy, will discuss “how people and nature can thrive together if we reboot the environmental movement by engaging three often-ignored constituencies – the business community, the world’s 2 billion poorest people, and today’s youth.” Insider Tip: use the half-price tickets link for Living Green Expo attendees ($20 tickets for $10 each): z.umn.edu/livinggreen and enter “livinggreen” in the promo code box.
I’m heartened to know this organization of forward-thinking, goal-oriented scientists are on the case, that they are partnering with heavy hitters like General Mills and Medtronic, and have leveraged more than $69 million in external support for environmental research at University of Minnesota. Go gophers!
From solar panels and green roofs, to upcycled local fashion and make-your-own-popsicle molds, the Living Green Expo offers something green for everyone.
Bike Fashion Show
The show featured bikes and helmets from several of local shops like One on One, Freewheel and Angry Catfish, and clothes and bags from local stores like Midwest Mountaineering and local bike shirt designers Moxie Cycling of New Hope, MN. Also a local bike designer Speedhound out of Minneapolis was included.
Thanks for reading the Wednesday Post.