Monday, October 20, 2014

Minnesota River Congress - 9/10/14 Montevideo Listening Session Raw Individual Responses

Minnesota River Congress Listening Sessions
Individual Responses

·         Do you feel there is a need for a basin-wide citizen let entity to provide a place where all communities of interest can be represented as we seek to improve and protect the Minnesota River, The Minnesota Valley and the entire Minnesota River Watershed?  Why?  Why not?
·        Yes, if all people are truly represented, at times it seems like agriculture get the bulk of representation.
·        Yes, if this entity can come to an agreement on goals for clean water, and how to reach those goals, there needs to be fair representation from each group
·        No, not possible to speak with one voice, opposing interests, different positions.
·        Yes, if we see significant change in a timely manner.  Change in water quality, change in water quantity, aggressive lobbying to make those changes happen and get funding for meaningful practices
·        No, I don’t think we need another layer,.  Support the already established local efforts.
·        Yes, to close the disconnect between State and Local units of government. In addition to gaps between state agencies.  Education through sharing of knowledge
·        Yes, if those citizens have not been represented in some other forum.  No if those citizens tamper with 114 D the clean water accountability Act of 2013
·        Yes, long term change is only possible with public support.  Making plans without input from the broad citizen base runs the risk of not having vital information.
·        Yes, but it depends on how it is formed and for what area.
·        Yes, there is a great need for communication, networking, and collaboration among all the organizations in the basin.  There are more than 100 organizations with some or a lot of interest in the basin
·        Yes, a river needs to be managed as one unit, fragmentation; competing uses will disrupt and degrade the river.
·        Yes and maybe.  What prevents a new entity from getting hamstrung by a community of interest in denial?  Could be a powerful advocate.
·        I don’t know, maybe or depends.  But what I do know is that “we” need leadership to work towards a common goal of a clean Minnesota River which begins with a “well managed” watershed.  There is room for agriculture and clean water.
·        No, I don’t believe that all communities of interest need to be represented.  Unless the communities of interest can agree on key issues like we need to change the system drastically to create a different landscape.
·        Yes, the waters below and above are becoming too poisoned and so is the soil, which is also being wasted.
·        Yes, I am assuming there is not already coordination of interested entities.  We need a forum for exchange of thoughts, priorities, and funding details.
·        Not sure yet, given the history of these kinds of organizations.  I do not think the politics would work, and I am concerned that citizen= volunteer which seems like a recipe for failure.
·        I don’t know, I want to lean more about the structure of such and organization and how it would/could work.  Will try to keep an open mind.
·        No, But I am open to persuasion
·        Yes, for anything to get accomplished you will need a community wide consensus of what should/could be done, competing forces, costs etc.
·        No, we have CURE, CCMR, FMV, already and I don’t believe a citizen led entity can do a thing for bringing funding.
·        No, all interests cannot be represented.  Cleaning up the river is going to be a one sided process.  We already have one in CURE.
·        No, it depends, “improve and protect” what for who?  If there were more clarity about what the group, our goal for “improve and protect” means specifically.  “Improve and protect” what for who is not clear.  Without that there will be no traction.
·        MRWA MRCongress ??  Does MRC consider itself the basin-wide entity?  How are Scott’s idea “policies” different from the current CRWP?  Yes if for a specific purpose.  No if duplication of local/regional efforts.
·        Yes.  With conditions, coordination among agencies, basin-wide governance, political (centralized), the river needs to improve (Carlson), citizen led format, MRB left a void, even while it existed, useful for local advocates of agencies to gather and distribute data.
·        No.   Area is too broad, concerns too varied, inefficient communication
·        No.  Can’t/shouldn’t be led by committee.  Would be a waste of time.  Might be o k to have a clearinghouse only.
·        Possibly.  Cover what SWCD, Watershed, DNR, BWSR don’t cover or protect!  Why not finances.
·        Yes.  A citizen board to control state agencies keeps each other on their toes.  Publicity-point group for citizen needs and education.
·        No.  Already have county water plans, area 2, SW co. watersheds, BWSR, DNR, Fed Wildlife, etc.  Citizens can be involved in the above.  Competing interests bog down action.
·        Yes.  This already exists in our area in the form of CURE, but it would be good to have an organization that brings together like minds from this and similar organization downstream.
·        Yes.  It should include wider groups, especially farmers, golf courses; these groups have bigger impact on water quality.  And owners
·        Yes.  Help with coordination and communications across the entire basin.  Allow for comprehensive, basin-wide policy advocacy.  State wide policy and resource acknowledgement of a single entity.
·        No.  But maybe.  I think the MRWA is the right model
·        Yes.  One organization will represent a larger group and will avoid duplicate efforts.  Will be more difficult for representatives to meet because of longer travel.
·        Yes.  People, creatures and plants down river are being affected by what happens up river.  And so the down river folks can put pressure on the up river activities.
·        Yes.  People who live in the watershed need an organization that ties them together to work on the future.  Next seven generations.
·        Yes.  How will it be different from the Minnesota River Board?
·        Yes.

23 yes’s some with conditions, 6 maybe’s, 9 no’s, 
38 responses total.
2.  What could this new entity provide for you to make your work more successful, or your interests and experiences more gratifying?

·        Promote bike trail parallel to Minnesota River
·        I have no idea; “my work” is not applicable.  I would love to see improvement in the quality of the water flowing in my creek. (dry weather)
·        Clean river= recreation, fishing, swimming, etc.  Consistent policy across county boundaries.
·        Shake the $ out of the State.  They keep hiring, but no dollars come to our region.  80% of recent grants went to the twin cities.  Give local ideas some credence, currently solutions have to fit St. Paul’s definitions
·        Money for good programs, lobbying the issues, information on projects that are working to clean up the river.
·        There could be a Congress like and annual exchange rather than an organization.
·        It’s the farm bill, that’s it.
·        It’s the farm bill stupid
·        A place means to push local state, federal, corporate policy change.  As a person who lives in this basin.
·        A voice for policy change.
·        Not sure of benefits unless there’s a way to help with enforcement of current rules so that everything isn’t “voluntary”.  Better collaboration and sharing of info.
·        Little to nothing, but it depends on the amount of clout the entity had.
·        Landowner interest
·        A citizen-led entity could help advance the “civic engagement” goals of water quality programs and implementation of conservation projects.
·        A forum for open and honest discussion
·        Improve communication!!  Enable
·        I would like a shred understanding of the problem and then an “army” of advocates who are able to work together
·        Identify:  current problems, projected/expected problems, possible solutions, private and commercial benefits, ecosystem services.
·        A powerful voice to change the farm bill and Federal and State laws to stop the water poisoning and soil degradation.
·        Clean water in all the rivers in the watershed.  People created the problem, people can solve the problem.

3.  What would be the benefits for an existing organization in the basin to participate in a basin wide entity?

·        Learning organizations, strength in numbers, (costs too)
·        Claim larger population of members for their opinions and suggestions
·        Share vision more broadly, strength in numbers
·        Unity, strength in numbers
·        Cannot see a benefit
·        More meetings not really a benefit.
·        It depends, if the entity was building power to make real policy change.  The farm bill, tax reform.
·        Go to another place to spend dollars
·        More meetings, less fishing
·        Exchange information, communication, and more power tackling the tough issues.
·        Larger Voice=more power
·        Positive peer pressure among groups for change.  Exchange of ides, potential for a powerful voice that can be political.
·        More voices, far more political power.
·        Achieve own objectives; serve its members, compromise, collective actions.
·        What we do to the land we do to ourselves, we live here.
·        Join with others to build power to create change and policy.  Federal State, Local, Corporate.
·        Improved collaboration on projects and advocacy.
·        Amplifies the voice.
·        Too see what others are doing for competitive grant purposes.  Landowner interest.
·        Networking all encompassing.
·        Networking, collaborating, learning, leveraging resources.
·        It depends on what the entity is capable of accomplishing.
·        Increased power, strength in numbers, greater voice, challenge in money issues forward when there are too many interests.  Great if you can fund.
·        All organizations work on the concept of their benefit if they will be helping to steer it.  Watershed Nationalism.
·        United efforts.
·        More coffee and doughnuts.
·        Basin-Wide advocacy, Movement building if focused on restoration and protection.
·        Take my complaint seriously and not get pushed around from one agency to another.  I’ve lost a tractor, well, road assets, and have been cut off from 120 acres for over 20 years, because of erosion in wood lake creek.
·        Brainstorm to find the next target to fight with.

4. How can we recruit all the numerous organizations working in the Minnesota River Basin to rally around the idea of focusing on the land and water, beyond a particular organizations mission or agenda, beyond politics and ideology.

·        Tough job, but I think (in my experience with CURE) we have made considerable efforts to include the agriculture community in our concerns, suggestions etc. and to listen to all sides of the issues.
·        Try to operate and communicate with mutual respect, compromise, explore avenues for more public outreach/education.
·        Have more organizations sponsor outdoor river related functions.  Fishing tour, youth hunting days, disabled hunter functions etc.
·        Find common cause, provide a carrot but have a stick and shake them both.
·        Re-define mission to be “clean water” so all are included.
·        Find shared values, for instance everybody wants clean water.
·        The policies are driving practices.  People make organizations and people are moved by their values.  In my experience people can agree on shared values, and do often.
·        Call it the environmental protection agency.
·        Billboards, advertisements, all about education about the ramifications of big business in agriculture and the scientific data of water quality deterioration and loss of bio-diversity.
·        Have an educational blitz-blast! On all levels.
·        Take a stand on a tough issue and see who shows up.
·        How does big goal benefit them, take a stand.
·        Need a clear path to promote.  Need to take a stand and see who shows up.
·        A bit pot of money.
·        Land and water are “non renewable” resources.  Individual share of both is shrinking.  We need to practice more food/feed/energy from a declining resource base.
·        Provide opportunities for work that is meaningful.  Clearly state in the mission that land and water are the priority and hold each other accountable.
·        Show them the results of how we treat the river today “shock” treatment.  How does the river affect “me” “us” “my community”.
·        You can’t.  Start with a core group’s addenda for change, raise money to hire a smart leader with a record of successes and policy change.  Engage others as you move forward.
·        Don’t call it a Congress.  As someone smarter.
·        Impossible.  Only interested groups will come, and even those will not let go of their agendas.
·        Beyond politics and ideologies? Never!! Wording is inappropriate.  Focus on land and water.  When they “feel” the need!  This is America.
·        Beyond politics and ideologies come on, not going to happen.
·        Persistent communication about land and water quality issues.  Create a mission statement about this and obtain endorsements from other organizations.
·        Focus on one project/campaign at a time.
·        A healthy body, a healthy mind.  A clean water=healthy body=healthy mind.
Additional comments not related to questions.

·        “Protect and improve the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation’s waters”.
·        Role of agencies and individuals in them.  Dual role, a citizen in the basin who values natural resource restoration and protection.  A liaison to govt. agency.
·        The bigger the agency the less they are able/willing to facilitate change due to political oversight and influence.
·        Where is this entity going to be funded from or by?
·        If we are going to organize for real political change, government agencies might not be able to be part of it as agencies.
·        MN DNR Division of Parks and Trails “we can educate and connect visitors/people to their environment”.  We can be the place; we can provide the staff with Legacy Money.

Table Discussion Collective Answers:  Question 1 each bullet is a table response.

·        Yes, and maybe.  Yes if the organization exerts power to clean up the water and stop soil loss in Basin.
·        Yes. if for collaboration, networking, citizen-led.  It depends; valley or watershed wide?  If the latter then too large and unwieldy.  Clean water accountability act.
·        Yes, No, Maybe, Yes; long range planning, ability to raise money, coordination and communications, recognition/acknowledgement of single entity.  Maybe; capacity? Already have MRWA (duplication?) Difficulty in developing policy with clarity and teeth when all groups included.  No; currently lacks clear purpose, why not Minnesota River Watershed Alliance?
·        Yes. To function as a clearing house for information and education between agencies.  CURE and downstream organizations like CURE
·        Yes. it depends on assistance
·         Yes.  A drawing of the river referencing a human body
·        No, Duplication of local and regional efforts of organizations just doing it.  Why not CURE?  All interests can’t be represented.  Unlikely to “bring funding to the basin”.  What?  Depends on what the goal is “improve and protect for whom”?  How would this be different from previous efforts?  Specific goal? An “all inclusive” org would be less likely to be willing to take on the fight that needs to happen in St. Paul and D.C.  No more love fests.  80% of corn is fed to cattle.
·        More “no” than “yes” What is a citizen group?  Include agencies?? Their representatives?

Table discussion collective answers, question 2, each bullet is a table response

·        Protection from floods, Bike trail for length of the river, facilitator of local solutions, clean water for swimming, more representatives of broader citizen interests, would have better understanding of the Big Basin Ecosystem.
·        Help promote communication, promote land owner interest, and help “civic engagement”.
·        Identify the problem, current and future, put value on ecosystems services, and organize people to push for policy change at the federal, state and corporate level.  Put money behind it, financially support options and cut off ability to externalize costs.
·        It would provide lines of communication
·        Be a lobbying voice; for funding, enforcing current rules, changing new rules (drainage rules), help shift from all “Voluntary” because that’s needed to change if we truly see change, better collaboration between local initiatives.
·        We said no to question one.  Change the definition of non-point source pollution as it relates to drainage.  It’s the farm bill, can you change it?  Change the tax incentives which are currently geared to support “production improvements” to support for clean water, stewardship, biodiversity, etc.  The real improvements!  Hold and annual meeting of minds, exchange of plans, accomplishments, dreams, possibilities.
·        Strive for consistency of region, can be a source of funds from state to benefit our region, voice for local ideas to greater basin, improved water quality.

Table discussion collective answers, question 3, each bullet is a table response.

·        Political clout, to help achieving current objectives and collective actions.  Develop sense of ownership because you live here.   Seek organizations not working on basin issues and organizations already working on basin issues.  This requires a smart leader who can see the big picture.
·        What is the difference between the MRWA and the MR Congress?  It depends if the entity is building power to make real policy changes. 
·        Larger voice= more power/influence.  Communication exchange ideas, positive peer pressure.  If a new entity isn’t to replace MRWA, a non organization that doesn’t compete but brings people together, you want to make a new entity that is “competition”.  How would that be useful?
·        One meeting and a web site would improve communication among concerned organizations.
·        Could provide a big goal for smaller entities to strive for.  Jointly identify a target for action.  Could provide a point of engagement for a variety of small entities-capacity and community building.  The large entity will only benefit smaller entities if it does more than admire the problem.
·        It depends on what can be accomplished, not just blue sky.  Networking/Communications, amplifies their voice, learning, leveraging resources, collaborating

Table discussion collective answers, question 4, each bullet is a table response.

·        Find shared values.  For example, everyone wants clean water
·        Impossible to get beyond politics.  Create and vision or mission statement and seek endorsements.  About land and water.
·        Shock treatment to remind people that land and water resources are limited and degraded.  Food is too cheap in U.S.  Connect to the river, opportunities to do work that is meaningful, to develop connection.  Start small, hire smart, proven political record to raise money, set agenda, recruit and engage others, deploy resources and fight for change.
·        It’s all politics, move people by their values, call it the EPA, educational blitz, money and courage to demonstrate ramification of big agriculture.  Widely disperse the current science.  Big agriculture does not feed the world (or the starving people in the world).  Carrots that people eat, that is the farmers that feed the world.