This is a time for listening and reflecting, but it is also a time for action. The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the heart of where we call home at the Sustainable Growth Coalition, has left our communities, our state and our nation grieving. We share that grief with our black neighbors, friends, and fellow citizens and are listening to how we can make things better as those feelings of anger, fear and frustration have reached a tipping point in a call for justice and systemic change. Right now, we are seeing more than ever the interconnectedness of us all.
Environmental Initiative’s CEO Mike Harley published a blog reflecting on how we can take collective action, elevate voices of color, and how we can and must do better. I have also been listening to the comments of our members, of the black community, of those working for justice, and of those demanding real, meaningful change to address institutionalized racism.
Thinking about our work at the Coalition, we represent powerful voices in the business, communities, and across sectors—voices that come from a place of significant influence and privilege. We must use that privilege to bring about meaningful change. In all our work, we try to address environmental challenges through a lens of equity, inclusion, and diversity because we see that access to clean water, clean air, affordable energy, and the associated jobs are not equitably distributed, therefore resulting in the greatest burden on minority and low-income communities. Equity is centered in our work, but I know that we can do better–– be better listeners, ask for help in understanding the needs and cultures of our fellow citizens. As we reflect and grieve together, I see how critical it is that we engage in more conversations with people of color, with our communities, and take a step back to understand priorities from their viewpoints to advance systemic change and a thriving, circular economy that benefits us all.
We talk about connectedness and collaboration regularly at the Coalition, but I see more clearly that those words extend beyond just our work within the Coalition. We must do better to face our work outward, connecting and collaborating with those voices who have been traditionally disenfranchised or shut out of conversations that impact them.
We grieve for George Floyd. We grieve for his family. We grieve for the black community, and we grieve for all those impacted by his death. This is a time to listen, learn, amplify the voices of the black community and act for real change.
On that note, many of our Coalition members and their leadership have spoken out as companies and organizations about how the situation is unacceptable. The disparities threaten our region—we already knew that. We want to hear from you about what this means for your individual and our collective work. How are you leading on equity and reducing racial disparities both within your institutions and externally in your communities? How is this moment in time informing or changing your sustainability work? We want to listen to your ideas and leadership, so we can find ways to move forward toward an equitable tomorrow that serves all people.
The Coalition is here as a place to collaborate and lead by tackling the root causes of societal challenges. An example is from a Coalition member, Ackerberg; as a local business leader serving as the Chair of the Lake Street Council, they are working to rebuild local small businesses and community organizations. They are looking for thought partnership, pro bono donations and other contributions from Minnesota’s business community to not only build back, but build back better in a circular fashion that systemically builds wealth in communities of color. Interested in helping lead? Inquire with Amy (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Bridget (email@example.com) about joining our Circularity Task Force. For this project, as well as other efforts to create equitable opportunities through systems change, we will work with our members to explore opportunities on how they can contribute resources, time, and talent to rebuilding and investing in a better tomorrow by closing the disparities gap for a more resilient Twin Cities.