Thursday, October 30, 2008

October 21, 2008 Meeting Minutes

October 21, 2008 Meeting Notes:

Twenty-six people attended the quarterly meeting of the Minnesota River Watershed Alliance (Watershed Alliance) in Hutchinson. Members of the coordinating team took turns facilitating the meeting.

Welcome & Introductions:
· Patrick Moore welcomed everyone and asked that no one sit with their back to someone else. Each person introduced themselves, where they were from and why they like coming to the Watershed Alliance meetings. Comments ranged from: they saw this group as a model for other watersheds in the state to there is always something interesting being discussed to it helps them keep up on what is going on in the watershed.
· Next, Patrick reviewed the agenda and stated each of the coordinating team would be taking turns leading the discussion for that particular item:
o Welcome & Introductions
o Reviewing the Agenda
o Communications Report
o Review Watershed Alliance Agreement
o Coordinating Team Membership
o Revising Priority Issue – Living Systems Project
o 2009 Focus
o Announcements
· There was a discussion about getting the word out on the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment with the November 4th election coming up. Due to Scott Kudelka being an employee of Minnesota State University, no promotion of the amendment can be done through him.

Communications Report
· Scott Kudelka talked about Michael Groh not being able to facilitate tonight’s meeting because of his ongoing health condition. Michael recently went through more chemo and radiation which shrunk the new tumor growth. Unfortunately, the treatments took a heavy toll on Michael and the next steps would be even tougher. According to his CaringBridge Site, with further decreased quality of life; none of the treatment options sound very good to Michael. With the kind of brain cancer that dad is battling, we know there’s a very high likelihood of regrowth fairly quickly (in a matter of months) without ongoing treatment. Right now, dad is taking a break from all of the doctors, appointments, etc. and trying to regain some strength and see if he can get to feeling a little better. Thanks for your continued support as we go through this journey. Dad is feeling increasingly private and non-communicative, so his preference is for people to send their messages through the Caring Bridge site (or through e-mails to me).

· To send Michael a greeting go to:
· Everyone who attended the Minnesota River Celebration at the Lake Pepin Conference last month in Mankato felt it went over very well. According to Scott Kudelka, over 175 people came out to see three presentations from Tim Krohn and John Cross. Michael Lein talked about how it came down for it and was impressed with the number of people who showed up. Patrick Moore related how he was able to connect with all these people in the Lake Pepin Watershed and who want to collaborate with us on water quality issues.
· Scott reported on the efforts of the MN River Friendly Label and MN River Paddle Patch Committee. Paula Marti of Morgan Creek Vineyard is very interested in the River Friendly Label and feels her Wine, Beer and History Tour group would be interested in being a partner in this venture. Right now she is busy with the grape harvest and has promised to invite Scott to their next meeting. Patrick mentioned a similar group is being organized in the Upper Minnesota Watershed by Audrey Arner of Moonstone Farm.
· The Paddle Patch committee formed last meeting has met three times to discuss ideas revolving around awarding a patch/decal to those people who paddle a specific number of river stretches. The committee has gathered information on a number of aspects including web site development, education programs, identifying routes and publicity.
· Funding for Scott Kudelka is secure through December of 2009 through the remaining McKnight Foundation funds and other projects. Ron Kroese of McKnight Foundation has expressed their organization is favorable of funding the communication coordinator position for another three years, just not at 100%. Scott said there are a number of funding possibilities in the works including a conversation with Womeninc out of Fairmont, who are interested in publishing a MN River magazine. Lori Nelson asked if the magazine “Big River” was brought up because it could serve as a template.

Watershed Alliance Agreement:
· Scott Sparlin led the next agenda item and started out by giving a quick history lesson on how the Watershed Alliance formed and read the original agreement with a few editorial comments. Scott stated he saw the Watershed Alliance as being able to collectively do big things like CREP where you work hard on that issue with everyone pulling together you get it done. He sees us as being the anti-organization, a loosely network of people all pulling together.
· The Watershed Alliance’s first initiative – enrolling more acres into permanent easements – has been accomplished. For 2008 we picked the Living Systems Project. Scott Sparlin asked for a discussion on where we should continue with the original agreement or go in a new direction by taking on multiple issues.
· Lori Nelson said we want to get some new perspectives on this agreement and good to see new people at the meeting. Over the last two years we have lost a lot of people because we’ve stuck to one issue. For her self, Lori likes one issue because all of us have a lot of things to do. She referred to MEP – Minnesota Environmental Partnership – and how it’s like herding cats and they take on 4 issues a year. Lori also expressed that we have diluted our purpose by trying to be a mile wide an inch deep instead of the other way around. Once again she stated the strength of the Watershed Alliance is picking that one issue and working on that only.
· Scott Sparlin talked about how originally there were large numbers of people who attended the meetings with the hope the group would pick their issue but once it didn’t happen that way, attendance has fallen off. A lot of people have left. Scott also talked about how the communication coordinator Scott Kudelka has broadened the scope of his position further than the original intent. Both Scott Sparlin and Lori Nelson felt the communication coordinator should focus solely on the Watershed Alliance’s main initiative and Scott Kudelka’s efforts have gotten away from that.
· Mike Lein said the Watershed Alliance Agreement is like a regulatory issue – once you get out in the field and start working, its original purpose goes out the door. He likes the Living System Project because it is broader than the CREP issue which was too exclusive. Mike also said he likes having one major focus but shouldn’t limit our efforts to just that. As an example, he talked about how great the MN River Celebration went over and was able to do some networking and pick up some new ideas.
· The consensus of the group is that nothing is etched in stone when it comes to focusing on just one issue.
· Ron Bolduan said he likes the freedom of doing a lot of other things and gives the ability for people to have an interest in a specific project or take a break from attending the meetings.
· Scott Sparlin reminded the group; originally we wanted to aggressively seek out people in charge of networks to come here. Where is the Izaak Walton League, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited? Are we not announcing to others that we can be a powerful organization?
· Jim Wolff said he approves of the one issue concept and feels communication is a strength; we just need to broaden it more in order to open the door to the one issue.
· Scott Sparlin replied that Scott Kudelka would have enough to talk about if the issue was compelling enough. The McKnight Foundation was excited about the one issue concept.
· Patrick asked for clarification on what the Watershed Alliance has focused on. He brought up the letter to the governor about the Big Stone Drawdown. Scott Sparlin said the letter went beyond the original agreement.
· Scott Sparlin talked about Scott Kudelka getting tapped into participating in a lot of issues and projects because of his affiliation with Minnesota State University. He brought up the Mussel Weekend and how a number of people asked him how the Watershed Alliance got involved in this event. Scott Sparlin said it gets too confusing. Ron Bolduan brought up how he thought it was a good event and plus the Watershed Alliance got publicity.
· There was a discussion on how the Watershed Alliance should be involved in events like the Mussel Weekend and MN River Celebration. It was suggested the event should be approved at a quarterly meeting and/or be co-sponsored by another organization. Each of the events put on by the Watershed Alliance has fallen into these two categories.
· Tim Lies asked for the 10 second explanation on the Living Systems Project. When no one could come up with it, Tim offered his opinion that we could be going down the wrong road and how larger organizations have gotten off track by large projects like this.
· Patrick stated he likes the smaller size of the meetings now better because people have more of a voice and we get more accomplished. We are now connected with a large group of people – over 300 - through Scott’s MN Weekly Update and as a result become more diverse. In a grassroots organization like this it is inevitable that we branch out into other activities like hosting the MN River Celebration. I am happy with what Scott has accomplished, like helping us host Carrie Jennings and bringing in over 120 people.
· Scott Sparlin said the problem is that it creates a façade of what people are doing. We are not that big. There are already three major organizations (CURE, CCMR and Friends of MN Valley) working on numerous issues in the watershed. Scott said it is harder for him at CCMR because Scott Kudelka is my backyard compared to the Upper Minnesota.
· Lori Nelson brought up that we don’t have a lot of engagement by people in the one issue. How do we get Scott Kudelka out there to promote the project? There isn’t a lot of involvement when we end up choosing an issue. How do we maximize Scott Kudelka’s efforts?
· Scott Sparlin asked for a show of hands on whether we should continue with the original agreement or develop a new. A major of people raised their hands in support of maintaining the original agreement.

Coordinating Team Members:
· Lori Nelson facilitated a discussion on the responsibilities of the coordinating team and how a member should serve no more than three consecutive one-year terms. Currently, all the members – Scott Sparlin, Shannon Fisher, Dee Czech, Patrick Moore, Larry Gunderson, Charles Guggisberg, and Lori Nelson – were appointed in October of 2006.
· Two members – Loren Engelby and Kylene Olson – asked to be taken off the coordinating team due to other commitments.
· Lori invited anyone who wants to serve on the coordinating team to put their names forward. Four people were nominated – Chantill Kahler-Royer, James Fett, Brooke Patterson and Susie Carlin – and approved to serve on the coordinating team.
· The group discussed the original purpose of the coordinating team was have monthly phone calls to check in, discuss issues, make decisions and move things forward in between the quarterly meetings. Scott Kudelka agreed to aggressively to hold these monthly phone calls again.

2008 Focus – Living Systems Project:
· Dee Czech explained what the Living Systems Project is all about with help from other coordinating team members. This project is a coming together for a conversation among all the stakeholders in the Basin – it is a living MN River. What does it look like? In the stakeholder’s interest they will be listening to each other. There will be face to face conversations with people listening and seeing each other’s view points. The end result will give people the impact of each other’s role in the basin – one living system. How does it all come together? Data is collected on economic, social and water quality aspects, which is used to build a model. Everyone who has a livelihood in the watershed will be at the able for this conversation. This will give people an understanding of each other’s part and place they came from.
· The process involves collecting data on economic, social, water quality and other aspects to be used to create a model. The model would assist government and entities change people’s behavior. This is something that has only been done a few times on this scale and a first for an environmental focus.
· Mike Lein talked about his experience with a “living systems” type of project that MPCA did a number of years ago with waste management. According to Mike, it was frustrating experience for everyone including the MPCA staff who felt the system was shoved down their throat by management.
· Susie Carlin asked what if we create this model and none of the leaders in the basin buy into the project.
· In a reply, Patrick asked if we do create the model, will it change people’s behaviors. He is leery of investing a lot of time and money with creating a model. Instead he is more interested in doing the conversation part, which as a community leader has more impact.
· Dee said she comes from the perspective of education and likes the idea of seeing people connecting at a table with this conversation.
· Lori sees the Living Systems Project as intriguing and has a lot of value. She has been trying to sell it to other organizations but with it being very process orientated it doesn’t seem to be creating a lot of enthusiasm. To her this is a MPCA project with the Watershed Alliance playing more of a supporting role. The funding sources don’t seem to be there. It might be more of a use to the Watershed Alliance after the model has been created.
· Mike Lein offered that MPCA has a hard time getting big budget items like the Living Systems Project through their agency.
· Patrick reminded the group the Watershed Alliance picked this issue three months ago, with a sub committee (Steering Team) formed to move the project forward. At the last meeting of the project’s steering committee the funding issue was brought up. With no commitment by the people around the table to push the project forward it has thrown the process into a lot of confusion.
· A question was raised by the group on whether this is the type of project we want to pursue.
· There was a suggestion that the Watershed Alliance needs a few more years of just a one-year focus.
· Patrick Moore talked about one of the interesting parts of the Living Systems Project has been sitting across the table from Warren Formo, who was hired by the agricultural organizations to help usher the TMDL process through. He was surprised at how much the two of them agreed about. In terms of the Watershed Alliance, Patrick stated raising money isn’t our strength, creating a social network is our strength. Maybe we need to preserve the Living Systems Project by focusing on the people connection aspect and not be responsible for raising money. Patrick also expressed how tough it is raise funds for a project like this when you are responsible for your own organization fundraising.
· Jim Wolf stated when we took the vote about the Living Systems Project being our main focus fundraising wasn’t part of the picture; it wasn’t part of the vote.
· Tim Lies brought up how it is hard to gather soft data and quantify the hard data. This is complex project for an anti-group. If you take this project on, you than have to reexamine the group’s mission because it’s not built for taking the lead on this type of a project. Tim also said this is the future – Living Systems Model – and probably as worthy as any project the group would want to take on. He felt the Watershed Alliance shouldn’t abandon it. It’s a lofty goal.
· Brooke Patterson suggested we take out the fundraising aspect and let the project be a sub priority. We could put on mini workshops to explain what the Living Systems Project is all about and help sell the issue. Brooke said she thinks it is really important.
· There was a discussion on whether the Watershed Alliance should continue with the Living Systems Project as our main focus or keep it on the table only in a modified version. A question was raised how we can keep the Living Systems Project on the table without raising funds.
· Patrick offered the suggestion we keep the communication piece of the Living Systems Project but not the model aspect. We can bring people together to talk about the issues and will get a lot further. He said more data isn’t going to change people’s opinion. Government agencies like data because they can manage it. Patrick said the biggest issue right now is raising funds for the project, something MPCA expected of the Watershed Alliance but isn’t realistic when we are responsible for raising funds for our own organizations.

2009 Watershed Alliance Focus:
· The group decided to put off making any decision for the 2009 Focus until the January meeting. Instead the group came up with a number of other issues the Watershed Alliance might be interested in:
o An Event focus with nontraditional constituents (7 votes),
o Produce a TV documentary on the Minnesota River incorporating aerial photography (9 votes),
o MN River Friendly Label and MN River Paddle Patch/Decal Program (6 votes),
o Cross Fertilization between Lake Pepin and MN River groups (2 votes),
o Backyard Drainage Awareness Campaign (8 votes).
· The group voted on two different issues they are interested in pursuing for the Watershed Alliance.
· The Living Systems Project and the 2009 Watershed Alliance Focus will be discussed in greater detail at the January 20th quarterly meeting.

· Patrick Moore invited everyone to come out this weekend to help with a couple of CURE cleanup projects. On Saturday is the “Hungry Hollow” stream clean up in East Granite Falls from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Met at Carl’s Bakery on Main Street at 11 a.m. On Sunday is a highway cleanup from 2 to 4 p.m. on a 2-mile stretch of Hwy 212 between Granite Falls and Montevideo. Meet at the Minnesota River landing in Wegdahl at 2 p.m. For more information call Brooke Herling of CURE at 320-269-2984.
· Lori Nelson announced the 2008 Friends of the Minnesota Valley Annual Dinner on October 30th (Thursday) from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Minnesota Valley Country Club in Bloomington. Tim Krohn and John Cross of the Mankato Free Press will be doing a presentation on their 10th anniversary canoe trip down the Minnesota River. To reserve a ticket call Lori at 952-881-9065 or
· Dee talked about the Web of Life, Way of Life: Exploring Solidarity with Earth Conference at the School Sisters of Notre Dame Mankato Provincial House Conference Center from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Registration is required by November 10th by calling 507-389-4272 or sending an email to The cost for the event is $20 or $15 for students. Look for morning coffee and locally grown lunch. This event is sponsored by Center for Earth Spirituality and Rural Ministry.
· Scott Kudelka reminded everyone all of these events and more are promoted on the MN River Weekly Update and MN River Calendar.

Next Meeting:
The next quarterly meeting is scheduled for January 20th (3rd Tuesday) starting at 6 p.m. at the Hutchinson Event Center in Hutchinson. We will start with a social hour at 6 p.m. with food and drink and begin the meeting right at 7 p.m. and strive to wrap things up in two hours.

Patrick Moore,
Dee Czech,
Jim Wolf,
Kathleen Wolf,
Lori Nelson,
Chantill Kahler-Royer,
Mike Lein,
Susie Carlin,
Lee Sundmark,
Brooke Patterson,
James Fett,
Su Beran,
Scott Sparlin,
Ron Bolduan,
Jim Schafer,
Rick Schoening,
Randy Bullert,
Tom Clarke,
Rich Glenne,
Al Odenthal,
Tim Lies,
John Hickman,
Martin Moore,
Jason Scmrit,
Scott Kudelka

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