Monday, November 10, 2014

Second Minnesota River Congress covered in Mankato Free Press and St Peter Herald

The Second Minnesota River Congress was covered in the Mankato Free Press and the St Peter Herald recently. Click to go to the articles.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Minnesota River Congress - 10/2/14 Minnesota State University-Mankato Listening Session Individual Responses



Minnesota River Congress Regional Listening Session
Minnesota State University, Mankato
10-2-14 Centennial Student Union

There were 10 participants, all students.

Question 1. 

If a new basin wide citizen led entity were to be formed, how could it best add value to current localized efforts to protect and enhance natural resources, improve water quality, or expand and diversify recreational use or appreciation of the Minnesota River Watershed and its Tributaries?

Raw Individual Responses, each bullet is an individual response.

·        We could educate people into what is needed for these issues
·        To organize and structure a system between citizens and officials to acknowledge what the problems/issues/benefits of these localized water basins actually are.  And what they can do together to better their situation or sustain what they wan to keep doing.
·        At the very least the organization could educate the surrounding basin area on why the organization is needed and why community active members are vital.  A watershed wide group could lobby local and state government with petitions etc. for statewide protections as well as use polling of the area for use to lobby elected officials and notify the media of public sentiment.
·        Providing funding for research, monitoring and rehab projects.  Help find funding for those projects.  Set an example of things that can be done to promote, educate the importance of this system.  Educated the general public on uses of the river other than just a catchment.
·        If it were to be formed, it could add value by promoting monitoring of the river in order to see long term effects.  This way people could see the improvement of water.  Education.
·        A more combined effort would ultimately help to protect the river as a whole.  The system is all connected, if there was one entity that helped control and move all parts involved in a unidirectional way, more things could be accomplished.  Several areas could be a part of the same project each responsible for their local areas.
·        By giving citizens an education on proper practices or educating them on how a watershed works.  By adding money to projects (maybe grants).  By putting individuals together who are interested.
·        Public awareness, bank stabilization efforts-reduce excessive sediment and nutrient loading.  Host events along the river to get public aware of natural areas in their backyard/back to nature.  Determine appeal to target audience.  Farmers-what’s their stake in the river? Erosion, loss of land?
·        Anytime you have a group of people working for the same goal things get done especially when the share the same drive.  I will also inform the public on issues facing our waterway.  The Minnesota River is a valuable resource; a basin wide organization could enhance recreational opportunities.

Question 2. 

If a new Basin-wide (Watershed Wide) citizen led entity was to be formed, what sorts of activities should it undertake to add value to our current situation?

Raw individual responses, each bullet represents an individual response.

·        Fishing tournaments, kayaking, morel hunting, bird watching walks, (Organize recreational activities).  Youth outreach, educational workshops.  Find a way to get political leaders to get to discuss current issues or the science behind watersheds, coerced seminars.
·        Nature tours, paddling, take note of what’s special that happens on the river.
·        Recreation, basin wide bike ride for donations.  Rides on the river, canoe or boat trips with someone who knows some history and issues.  Cities involved, make city organics that help pay or contribute to clean ups and projects.  Companies that use the water from the river make it mandatory to pay for them towards projects.  More publicity on things being done within the watershed.
·        Earth Day type stuff.  “Minnesota River Day”.  Visit elected officials, host famous individuals speaking on behalf of the river (Garrison Keillor)
·        Create a community led program to create trails.  Adventure races in the basin is and example of recreational activity.  Summer camps, camp sites, outdoor amphitheaters, acting to create recreational opportunities, sub committee for these activities.
·        County, Township and corporate outreach.  Legislative agenda.  Public education of the river.  Basin conference or Congress.  Promote the river.
·        Basin wide clean up days.  Educational days about Minnesota River including services, history, recreational activity, fishing, boating, hiking, camping.
·        Group clean ups, seminars on fisheries and rivers, fishing, history of the land and lakes, educational fair.
·        Fishing, naturalist expeditions.  Partnering with fisheries/water ecology, internships, and high school summer programs.  Summer camps (aim for key young) based around water conservation science filled with water recreational activities.
·        Delegate project areas.  Manage current projects.  Synthesize current information on the basin.  Establish clear and define future directions and goals of all projects.


Question 3.  If a new Watershed wide citizen-led entity were to be formed, how could it best assist existing organizations, (NGO’s, governing bodies) in achieving their goals?

 Raw individual responses, each bullet represents and individual response.

·        Provide volunteers to help the project along.  Citizen patrols to help enforce laws and regulations on a local, regional scale.  Provide citizen suggestion and ideas and bring them to the table when decisions are being made.
·        Show how both sides can have common goals that they want to achieve.
·        Cooperation, communication, support.  Set a seminar.  Each organization states their goals, everyone votes on the hierarchy to where efforts should be shifted.
·        Making sure that citizens attend public meetings.  Promote officials who support the values of the entity.  Donate time and effort to the organization.
·        Annual river stake holder river conference, agenda driven or brainstorming session.  Open to all citizens, business, government, educational institutions, trade groups and watershed clubs.
·        By recruiting more new members into the organizations.  Help with funds that best fit the needs and goals of the members.
·        We could start out with a clean river and make an effort to keep it clean, showing the community that it is possible and can be achieved in our current bodies of water.  We could use this clean body as an example of what we want other bodies of water to be.  Government to give money to this.
·        Voice of the citizens on the front line.  By giving localized effort and local information so to speak on their behalf.
·        Prioritize and find common ground in missions.  Localize organizations and hold monthly board gatherings to identify common goals.  MEET ON COMMON GROUND.
·        Funding and try to establish common goals.  Need to work towards one goal.

Question 4.  How should existing units of government, State, and Federal agencies, NGO’s, other communities of interest such as agri-business, businesses, farm organizations, be represented or involved in a new citizen-led entity?

Raw individual responses, each bullet represents and individual response.

·        Businesses and organizations can sponsor the project and collect money for it.  Government could bring it as an actual serious topic so more people would take it seriously.
·        Flyers, posters in key locations, businesses cards and do something in local communities.
·        With a representative. A voice for ideas as well as for their education.
·        There should be representatives.  If we have congress, we have an actual Congress.  They tell us their grievances and we vote on them.  We the people, for the people, and with the people.
·        One person for each major group has a representative.  Elect completely impartial people as a direct board to run it, need to have no other affiliations.
·        Create a governing board that has ¾ citizens and ¼ other organizations.
·        Elect someone from each group (government, business, etc.) and then hold a meeting.  Conference for each business.  Community of elected people coming from 13 watershed and 4-6 from NGO’s
·        Have board members that represent certain agencies so they feel their ideas and concerns are being met.  DNR should be involved by informing the board about current project what their goals are etc.
·        Have a representative of each organization and voice their (the orgs) opinions/goals/mission.
·        Play roles in the management /applications.  Have voices to what should happen to improve.
·        Free identity cards based on eye-iris data seriously.  Local groups could nominate reps to bi annual/annual conference to exchange ideas, resolve issues, and report back.

Question 5.  Should a new inclusive basin wide (watershed wide) citizen-led entity be formed it could accomplish the suggestions brought forth tonight?

Raw individual responses, each bullet represents and individual response.

·        Yes, if it could be done right.  It would have to involve a lot of different agencies and people working together to make this work.  So the leadership would have a lot of responsibility to get all these people and all the actions and activities on the same page.
·        Yes, on a 5 year basis to show accomplishments.
·        Yes
·        Yes, however it must be aggressive in ensuring that agricultural regulations are being enforced.  Pressure the government and point out violations.
·        Yes, the general public needs to be more involved.
·        Yes, if the term coordinating be part of the title.  Industry, trade and government must have some kind of advisory with real input power.
·        Yes, but would need to tread lightly and pick its battles and directors carefully.  Need to define what improvement actually is.
·        Yes, it could get the community more involved in the process and spike people’s interests in improving the river.
·        No, should be divided into subsections.
·        Yes, we would have a new group that would take care of the issues to improve the current and future conditions of the river.
·        Yes, if you can localize sub divisions to break down and be able to focus on particular areas that turn into a whole.

There were 9 yes answers to question 5 with some conditions and one no.

Question 1. Table responses, each bullet represents one table response.

·        Educate the general public on the direction the river is taking is it improving or in decline.  Provide or find funding possibilities.  Set up more of a structure and get citizens to be invested in it.  Get public aware of river.
·        Education and awareness, networking and connecting people and recreational opportunities.

Question 2 Table responses, each bullet represents one table response.

·        Promote recreational activities.  Rally for the River (Minnesota River Day).  Bike ride for the basin.  Find a famous person to be a celebrity for the river.
·        Host educational events.  Educational fair, river history, recreational activities, research, field trip days, camping, hiking, peak the interest in the river.  Fisherman safety.  Delegate projects.  Advertise current projects, make info available.  Show direction.  A disc (CD) tour of the river showing its importance, history etc.

Question 3 Table responses, each bullet represents one table response.

·        Monthly board meetings to determine common problems and challenges.  Localized efforts focused on this body of water as a whole voice of the citizens.  Find common ground between people.  A goal that everyone is going to rally around.  Distribute the power and compromise.
·        Making sure people attend meetings (public discussions).  Give the organization value by donating our time and help with their work.  Facilitating communication and cooperation.

Question 4 Table responses, each bullet represents a table response.

·        Representative from each organization to voice their opinions.  More citizens.
·        Representatives; 1 person who can encompass their groups ideas as a whole from that group.  Report to voting group that is absolutely neutral and impartial.
·        Representative from each organization to voice their opinions.  More citizens.

Question 5 Table responses, each bullet represents a table response.

·        Yes
·        Yes, needs community involvement and a 5 year trial basis in order to show improvement.

Minnesota River Congress - 9/16/14 Bloomington Listening Session Raw Individual and Collective Table Responses



Minnesota River Congress
Listening Session Bloomington
Raw Individual and Table Responses
16 total participants

Question 1 if a new basin wide citizen led entity were to be formed, how could it best add value to current localized efforts to protect and enhance natural resources, improve water quality, or expand and diversify recreational use or appreciation of the Minnesota River Watershed and its Tributaries?

Raw Individual responses, each bullet is an individual response

·        As a user, who to call or email if I see a problem.  Water concerns
·        Provide a forum for sharing information-positive stories about things that are working well in the basin.
·        The entity I envision is one like the Basin Technical and Scientific Advisory Committee in the Red River Valley-consisting only of subject matter experts-to do the research and provide the science required to achieve the goals in the question.
·        The entity could provide information on funding resources, connection to others who have completed projects that could help others get started on similar projects.  Provide information on recreation and other related events about and around the river.
·        Blueways, Scott Sparlin, Ted Suss.
·        It would show a uniform desire along the whole basin.  It could help establish universal goals/ rules governing use and protection of the river and the Basin.
·        Promote identity and concept of the real River Watershed/Valley.
·        Provide a way for interested individuals and groups to connect and “leverage” one another via projects events etc.
·        Some type of entity may allow for fund-raising, grants etc. to support water quality, tourism, economic development etc.
·        The entity could serve as a clearing house for a variety of individual peoples.  Collect interesting ideas present and then make available to other groups or agencies.
·        Minnesota Basin Farmer Mentor Alliance.  Will lead to widespread retention and restoration of the soil resource on the land.
·        It could add value to local efforts by being political and independently/privately funded.  Funding not dependent on pubic dollars.
·        Involve kids in learning about watersheds (what they are, what they do for us) and then engaging (the Minnesota Valley) in some way such as hiking, birding, vegetation study.   Could be schools, scouts, church youth groups.
·        Organization/Entity must be rooted in concept of active citizenship and collaborative governance.  Without higher purpose it could become mired in silo politics (like MN River Board) entity could exist as an institute with these purposes.  Help citizens share and address challenges.  Ensure accountability to/with goals.  Organize other citizens to active citizenship=BMP’s.
·        To provide resources add support to local efforts in their dealings with local governments, NGO’s, State Government and private enterprises to further achieve all these objectives.
·        By identifying priority areas in the watershed where resources should be focused.  Is that possible? Is this better than local groups vying for resources on their own?

 Question 2. 

If a new Basin-wide (Watershed Wide) citizen led entity was to be formed, what sorts of activities should it undertake to add value to our current situation?

Raw individual responses, each bullet represents an individual response.

·        Coordinate gatherings and meet ups for practitioners of land management to connect and support each other.  Meetings and horizontal knowledge transfer.
·        Connect kids with people who know and understand the Minnesota River Watershed and set up dialog and 2 way conversations, including fishermen, hunters, farmers, birders, scientists, governing bodies, non-profits, etc.  To co-mingle ideas, understandings and perspectives.
·        Planning to action to accountability for everyone.  Help citizens with designing effective convening processes, deep networking, and organizing actions.  Network with people who are getting work done.
·        Outreach to service organizations, educational institutions and religious bodies to include them in the activities that this organization is involved in, such as public forums, projects as well as learning projects.
·        Identify and recruit local participants, community organizing model.  Locals will also be able to help Identify potential problems and projects.  Locally based sport events, heritage sites, tours etc.
·        Periodic sessions to allow all to keep abreast of ideas happenings, problems.  Funding sources by and for various groups in the basin, would allow for high levels of interest.
·        Data collection and dissemination, and a social media gathering place i.e. Minnesota River Basin Data Center.
·        Create information center, contacts, calendar of events, funding resources, other resources, and success stories.  Convene meetings to do things such as review data, prioritize projects.  Hold events to help connect individuals, businesses, and organizations.
·        Advertise and promote.
·        Education, education, education.  The value could be the long term result of education the public on the resource of the basin.  Wildlife, recreation and agriculture.
·        Basin-wide conference featuring local group activities.  Regional events/tours, to focus on specific project areas such as Ag, urban, river recreation, etc.
·        Events, tourism development and networking sessions.  Individuals, organizations, agencies share activities and lots of open networking and coordination of research.  Projects cross-agency/organizations and funding.  Promote partnership and cooperation, more unity in actions.
·        Marketing outreach to build “consumer” support for Minnesota River.

  
Question 3.  If a new Watershed wide citizen-led entity were to be formed, how could it best assist existing organizations, (NGO’s, governing bodies) in achieving their goals?

 Raw individual responses, each bullet represents and individual response.

·        Could it fill a need to help get things done where an existing organization is trying but is so far not effective?
·        Coordinate tours or publicize highlighting positive work done in the watershed.  Also publicize areas that should be a priority.
·        Provide training and assistance to these organizations to assist them in cleaning and preserving the river watershed.  To supply information that is requested so to allow them to make knowledgeable decisions.
·        Data center could help small organizations and units of government with maintaining up to date information on the internet.
·        Provide networking and information clearing house opportunities.
·        Helping to facilitate coordination and collaborations and leveraging each others resources and agendas and purposes.  Being a loud speaker, promoting existing efforts.
·        Be aware of what is happening with the various organizations so it can share success stories, information and connections to help kick start similar projects that other organizations want to do and make it easier for them to succeed.  Entity can see overlap/similarities with groups and connect them to help save money and time also.
·        Sharing information/data, explaining the different needs, desires of these organizations.  Create a common voice that helps enhance the organizations goals.
·        Help the NGO’s, government see the big picture.  Put what ever they are doing in context and reduce the likelihood they will screw something up and get all defensive and work to protect their image (butts).  Prevention worth a pound of cure instead of fixing the result of narrow thinking.
·        Erode the mindset that change needs a government incentive program.  Ask the question, how would you change if existing government Ag programs disappeared.
·        The entity should participate in evaluation sessions to put emphasis on success or failures of existing agencies and organizations.  We all do this individually and perhaps in those thoughts their may be value to those groups.
·        Could organize people around addressing barriers to getting work done on the ground. (policies, procedures, funding)  Stand up to agencies and legislature.  Not advocacy which produces winners and losers, but for the common good of society.
·        Non-threatening but confrontational and assertive?  Knowledge of the basin issues, best practice concepts, expertise.  People could be credible but not affiliated.
 Question 4.  How should existing units of government, State, and Federal agencies, NGO’s, other communities of interest such as agri-business, businesses, farm organizations, be represented or involved in a new citizen-led entity?

Raw individual responses, each bullet represents and individual response.
  
·        Other units can be involved in joint operations, the new entity can assist other organizations in tasks they are already undertaking that further their own objectives.  And we should be willing to adapt the assistance of other organizations in tasks that we are working on.  In a way this does not diminish our ability to further our objectives later on.  As for representation in a citizen led entity, it should be limited to individuals.  But that could change if they are willing to really listen to these organizations and give them thorough considerations.
·        We are all citizens.  All need to be involved as equals.  To think we could work effectively, separated is ridiculous.  We all must co-govern for the common good.
·        Need to find out what about watersheds calls for a response that is good for all.  Maybe through “what if” scenarios.  Maybe through putting some “what do you want life to be like for grand kids”?   All need to be involved in the conversation.  The entity needs to realize how they all have skin in the game.
·        Once a goal has been established then step 2.  What could each agency, organization offer to that goal.  Step 3, seek input in that specific area from that group (facts are facts).  Step 4; combine these sources of information to make findings.
·        Everybody needs to be represented equally (so each group has a voice).  Term limits are important so we get a fresh voice.  This may be a tall order to mesh these groups.
·        Should be open and inclusive to all the named groups.  All groups should be recruited actively.  It will be a free for all for a while, but they will eventually settle down.
·        Provide funds for a citizen led entity to meet, interact, and solve problems without government incentive or businesses trying to sell us their products.
·        They all need to have input.  If any group is left out, then there cannot be a consensus of action.  I really don’t know how you do that.
·        All should be invited to meetings to provide their input.  Government can be invited to provide data and technical information and be aware of the work of the entity.  There is probably a need for some sort of citizen board that helps direct the entity.  It should include representatives from the various interests in the watershed.
·        As citizens, called MRP the Minnesota River Partnership.
·        Government, Federal, State, should not be involved.  NGO’s and local citizens cannot lead if government overruns them.
·        Geographically…Sub-regions of the basin have citizen representation (even if professional affiliation), It’s not the hat they wear.  Who represents for that region’s people-government, business, farm, NGO’s.

Question 5.  Should a new inclusive basin wide (watershed wide) citizen-led entity be formed it could accomplish the suggestions brought forth tonight?

Raw individual responses, each bullet represents and individual response.

·        Yes, let’s keep meeting as an alliance
·        Yes, It could enhance all the work of the individual organizations in the basin
·        Yes, if it could be formed in a way that is not a financial burden to existing organizations, but rather adds value to existing organizations.
·        An idea, the legacy amendment brought together a wide variety of organizations to accomplish a common goal.  We don’t need entities so much as we need ideas.  Here’s one, full funding for the Minnesota River Basin Data Center.
·        Yes, if no existing authority would be able to accomplish the ideas brought forth.
·        Yes, it needs some sort of structure and money.  Hopeful that these sessions will start that.
·        Yes, we should prioritize tasks do to the aspect of important issues of previous groups. (Erosion).
·        Yes, only if it can be a unique organization that doesn’t duplicate what is being done already.  What needs to change from a predecessor so it doesn’t fail?
·        Yes, but only if it includes all people and entities.


·        Don’t know; don’t have exposure level to organizations/agencies etc. out there.  At minimum, ideas we talked about need to be given a hearing in existing organizations.
·        I would say no if we can’t see that we are all citizens, no matter if we are from government or not.  We need to get beyond the “us vs. them” mindset.  We cannot get work done dividing ourselves.
·        Yes, if it can provide something that is not already being done to improve the watershed.
·        Yes, if in service to other entities in the watershed.  If it can be a value-additive to those entities and activities and missions.

There were 10 yes with some having conditions.  There were 2 no, 1 maybe, 1 doesn’t know, 2 people left early with other commitments.

Question 1. Table responses, each bullet represents one table response.

·        Get common scientific data that creates a common (uniform) set of goals throughout the basin.  Helps create accountability in the basin, information sharing.
·        Several arms to main entity, apolitical, citizenship, supporting existing groups, farmer mentors, forum, prioritization, clearing house.

Question 2.  Table responses, each bullet represents one table response.

·        Several arms to main entity, good work publicized, connections kids with all age groups, recruit local enthusiasts, horizontal knowledge transfer, citizen engagement innovations, including many groups, meet ups to share ideas.
·        Education about the value of the river, information sharing, annual and regional meetings to share what they are doing, data center.  Basin-wide to inform different areas about each other.

Question 3.  Table responses, each bullet represents one table response.

·        Organization to keep track and publicize of what everyone is doing.  It would drive basin-wide coordination through communications.  Would work in service to the existing organizations.
·        Several arms to main entity, human trust establish relationships, credibility with knowledge, info and training, purposeful community organizing, non-confrontational.

Question 4 Table responses, each bullet represents one table response.

·        Several arms to main entity, actively recruit and exclude no one, except as fact the information from groups, develop an understanding why some level of consensus is needed, equal representation from all groups and have term limits, willing to work in cooperation with the organization, organize groups around long term funding for this work.
·        Input from all is essential, non participants may undermine, involve all as citizens.  Government invited to provide technical information and awareness, government non-voting.  Minnesota River Partnership.  Possible geographic representation.

Question 5 Table responses, each bullet represents one table response.

·        Yes, if adding value to other watershed entities, enhancing their work.  One that does not burden what exists already.  Helps with idea generation and furthering work.  Using organizational best practices.
·        Yes, avoid redundancy