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Think Again Brooklyns

Addressing Sources of Greenhouses Gases, Water Pollution, and Harm to Health - Think Again Brooklyns

 How Do We Resolve the Serious Environmental
Health Problems Caused by CAFO's in MN?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019  
6:00 p.m. - Free Pizza Buffet and Social             6:30 p.m. - Program

City Council Chambers
5200 85th Avenue N, Brooklyn Park, MN 55428

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sonja trom eayrsSonya Eayrs will speak on the extensive harm done by Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s), also often referred to as industrial or factory farms. She will suggest on how we can best correct the serious problems which factory farms are causing.  

Sonya is a family lawyer and citizen activist who is active in getting the word out on how industrial farming increases greenhouse gas emissions in our state, pollutes rivers, lakes, and ground water, and harms the health of people who live in the vicinity of the farms.  She lives in Maple Grove, and her parents live in Dodge County surrounded by 11 industrial farms within a three mile radius, some as close as a half mile. The following graph reveals MN as one of the top three states in the number of CAFO’s:

 Leading CAFO States


Listen to the farmers of Newberg Township in Karst County movingly explain the widespread harmful impact CAFO’s, which they are fighting to keep out of their county, would have on their lives.  What would this mean?  "What it meant is that it would change the life of everyone around here forever. . .  What has been really interesting is the near unanimous opposition to it."  Watch the 6 minute video. 

It is easy to see that traditional farm families that live in the vicinity of CAFO's are severely harmed by the industrialized farms.  What might not be as immediately obvious is that CAFO's are greatly contributing to MN's climate change through their production of greenhouse gases (GHG's) and to serious declines in MN's water resources, both quantity and quality.  While using clean energy for electricity has contributed to a 15% reduction in greenhouse gases, CAFO's have increased GHG's in MN by 10% leaving a net reduction of only 5%.  While MN plans to reduce GHG's due to fossil fuel sources of electricity to zero by 2050, what plans should MN have to reduce GHG's and water pollution from CAFO's?  Bring your ideas.

What Does NW Suburbs' Water Future Look Like?

How Can Residents Preserve Water for Future Generations?

Jon WatsonJon Watson, Pubic Utilities Superintendent for the City of Brooklyn Park, will describe the source and quality of water in Brooklyn Park and nearby suburbs, explain what affects water quality and the treatment process for Brooklyn Park's water, and suggest what we can do to improve and maintain the quality of our water. 

Jon Watson has worked for the City of Brooklyn Park for over 25 years.  Twenty of them were as the Public Utilities Superindendent and Engineer.

As usual, the forum will include a question and answer session.

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Installers, Trainers, and Outreach Workers Cooperate to Promote Use of Solar Energy

Optimism over Future of Solar Energy
Expressed at February Forum

Our speakers for the February forum were very supportive of each others' efforts to help in the growth of the solar industry and had a great deal of optimism for its growth both in the coming years and for decades after that. 

jamez staplesJamez Staples, Executive Director of Renewable Energy Partners, described the new training center planned for north Minneapolis which will aim at preparing high schoolJan Hubbard students and young adults in north Minneapolis and the suburbs along the Blue Line Light Rail Extension for jobs and long term careers in the growing solar energy industry. Jan Hubbard, President of the Minnesota Renewable Energy Association, described the growing use of solar energy on residential and commercial rooftops and explained the benefits of the Solar Energy Schools Bill. 

Robert BlakeBob Blake, Outreach Coordinator of Interfaith Power and Light explained what community solar gardens were and encouraged people who are customers of Xcel Energy to participate in the community solar garden projects in the following counties:   Anoka, Benton, Blue Earth, Carver, Dakota, Dodge, Faribault, Freeborn, Goodhue, Hennepin, Le Sueur, Mower, Ramsey, Rice, Scott, Sherburne, Stearns, Steele, Waseca, Wright.  Sign up to get an estimate from MN Interfaith Power and Light of how much subscribing would reduce your electric bill.

Think Again Brooklyns Forum - No meeting in March

    Important Upcoming Events in March

Think Again Brooklyns will not have a meeting in March due to my overload of responsibilities, both volunteer and family related.  However, on Tuesday, March 26, Westside Progressives will have a forum on the concept of the Basic Income which is being discussed and sometimes implemented throughout the world.  You are welcome to attend the Westside Progressives forum.  See the details below.

CD3 Representative Dean Phillips to Host H.R. 1 Community Conversation 

Saturday, March 9       2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.       Doors open at 1:30 p.m.

        Hopkins High School, 2400 Lindbergh Dr, Minnetonka, Minnesota 55305 

Please RSVP on Facebook   

Rep. Dean Phillips will host a free and open-to-the-public community conversation focused on H.R.1, the For the People Act, a sweeping campaign finance, ethics and electoral reform package that Phillips co-sponsored on his first day in Congress.

- Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03)
- Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon
- Tiffany Muller, President, End Citizens United
- Prof. David Schultz, Hamline University

Other Important Events - ERA Lobby Day at the Capitol on Friday, March 8; the 6th Annual Community Forum on Race on Saturday, March 9 from 9 a.m. to noon;  Commercial Solar, Wednesday, March 13, 4 p.m.  See further information on the TC Public Issues Calendar.

Going Solar - Think Again Brooklyns


Solar Training and Careers
Residential Rooftops, and Community Solar 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019  

6:00 p.m. - Free Pizza Buffet and Social             6:30 p.m. - Program

Mississippi Room at the Brooklyn Park Library
8500 West Broadway, Brooklyn Park, MN 55428

Please RSVP on Facebook or to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

As solar panels increased capacity for capturing the energy of the sun, the price of solar energy rapidly decreased. Many people from electric companies to homeowners have found that solar energy is the least costly form of energy. As a result, the solar industry is the fastest growing industry in our country and will need increasing numbers of workers.

Jamez Staples - Executive Director, Renewable Energy Partners
Jamez Staples Workforce CenterJamez Staples will speak on the training, jobs, and careers aspect of solar energy.  He is working on the Regional Apprenticeship Training Center (RATC), a public-private partnership between public schools, cities along the Bottineau/Blue Line Light Rail Extension, Minnesota State community and technical colleges, trade and business groups.  It will provide tuition-free vocational training options for high school students, apprenticeships and internships in energy, technical, construction and emerging sustainability technologies.  The training center will be located in Minneapolis at 1112-1200 Plymouth Avenue.

The RATC is closely modeled on C-TECH, a highly successful program of vocational training in Rochester, which provided vocational training to about 10% of Rochester public school students in 2017 who received credits toward two-year Associate’s degrees. A focus for the RATC will be renewable energy, energy storage, smart grid, energy efficiency and related sustainable technology and construction fields, all of which will contribute to help cities reach their goal of 100% renewable energy.

Jan Hubbard - President, Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA), Principal, Natural Energy Solutions
Jan Hubbard

Jan Hubbard will cover solar energy from its users' perspective.  Users include a wide variety of organizations from cities, schools, religious centers, nonprofit organizations, and businesses to homeowners and renters. His discussion will include residential rooftop and community solar energy and the Solar for Schools Bill which has wide support in the MN legislature. Energy is the second largest cost for most schools in Minnesota.

In the solar energy industry for a decade, Jan currently consults on solar energy and energy storage systems and provides project development, design, business development, construction management, and project management services.  He is a 10 year board member of the MnSEIA whose members include solar manufacturers, educational and informational organizations, architects, engineers, law firms, companies, and individuals.  

Robert Blake - Outreach Coordinator, Interfaith Power & Light (MNIPL)

Robert BlakeRobert Blake will describe the current and upcoming community solar garden projects in Hennepin County to which businesses and residents in the county can subscribe. Mr. Blake recruits solar garden subscribers and works with MNIPL's solar workforce development program.

Mr. Blake is a graduate student in the Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership program at Metropolitan State University. He is an enrolled tribal member of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe Indians and owns Solar Bear, a solar installation company.

Come with your Questions

A Question and Answer Session will follow the speakers' presentations.

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Housing for All

Housing for All Breakfast with Legislatorsjpg

St Joseph the Worker Catholic Church
7180 Hemlock Lane N, Maple Grove 55369

Wednesday, January 23 – 7:00-9:00 a.m.

Meet with your state and local policy makers to build relationships and proclaim as people of faith that Every One Needs a Home!  The session will consist of short state and local policy presentations.  Business leaders and constituents will have the opportunity to meet with their legislators and local policy makers, ask questions, and dialogue about housing and other issues of concern.

A continental breakfast will be provided.

After presentations, the attendees will be able to visit tables on housing.  Gene Nicolelli, Certified Aging - in - Place Specialist (CAPS) certified by the National Association of Home Builders, and Carol Woehrer from Think Again Brooklyns will have a table.  Their display will  explain the civil right of older residents to have a large bathroom with grab bars and other home features which enable them to live in place when using a wheelchair, how to achieve that at low cost by requiring all new multi and single-family residences to be built using Universal Design, and how Universal Design housing can substantially reduce health care costs.

Serving Brooklyn Center  •  Brooklyn Park  •  Champlin  •  Corcoran  •  Crystal  •  Dayton  •  Golden Valley  •  Maple Grove  •  New Hope  •  Osseo  •  Plymouth  •  Robbinsdale  •  Rogers  •  St Michael

Please contact Roxanne Smith at 763-400-7208 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions.

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RSVP Requested


Minnesota's Grand Consensus with Author and MinnPost Reporter Iric Nathanson

Minnesota's Grand Consensus:  Its Implications for
Current Elected Officials and the Public's Consensus Building

 The Grand Consensus Graphic

The Civility Caucus - Speaking on the recently activated Civility Caucus, Dave Bartholomay  commented that ideas from the past need to be revisited to determine what worked and what didn’t. Bartholomay is Program Coordinator for the Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution (OCDR) located within the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services.  The Civility Caucus was formed by MN legislators on January 17, 2018 in response to the “One Minnesota” National Institute for Civil Discourse workshop put on for legislators by the U of M Humphrey School of Public Affairs and others.

Iric Nathanson The Minnesota Miracle - Minnesota historian Iric Nathanson will revisit MN’s past at our January 15th forum to explain MN's history of consensus between its Republican and Democratic party members that contributed to the outstanding success of the state.  He will discuss how the state's history of arriving at consensus could inform both legislators and the public on successful methods for coming to agreement which could contribute to collaborative legislative outcomes.  Nathanson’s discussion of Minnesota’s Grand Consensus will draw from decisions arrived at after committees of both Republican and Democratic legislators and of Metropolitan Council members had spent a great deal of time in discussion to arrive at their recommendations. Their successful process and procedures are relevant not only for state legislators, but also for public issues organizations and their volunteers.

Thrive by Design with Tips from MN’s Past Success - Getting people of different backgrounds and viewpoints together to create public policy that will serve them well is currently an important part of decision making and policy promotion by elected officials as well as nonpartisan organizations.  One Minnesota and Growth and Justice convened a Thriving by Design Blueprint Convening in Hinckley December 10 and 11th to seek Minnesotans best thinking on how to achieve a more equitable and inclusive  Minnesota, a state that is vibrant and welcoming.  Retiring State Representative JoAnn Ward, a committed member of the Civility Caucus, stated that "Minnesotans deserve a legislature where people of all experiences and points of view work together to build a better Minnesota.”

Dave Bartholomay, has remarked that “the Civility Caucus is a wonderful idea, and it is just at the beginning of its life.” As called for by Dave Bartholomay, expect that Iric Nathanson’s overview of MN’s successful past will contribute to upcoming efforts of the Civility Caucus, the OCDR, as well as your participation in discussions of how public policy affects you and your fellow Minnesotans.  Join us on January 15th for insights that will enhance your contribution to shaping public policies.  

Iric Nathanson is the author of five books on Minnesota history. His 2010 book, Minneapolis in the 20th Century:  the Growth of a City, published by the Minnesota Historical Society, was finalist for a Minnesota book award. His most recent book is Don Fraser: Minnesota’s Quiet Crusader which gives an account of how communities can work together for change.  Iric Nathanson is a reporter for MinnPost.


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Universal Design - Think Again Brooklyns

Keeping Older Adults with Disabilities
Close to their Families and Friends

Accessible Kitchen DesignBrooklyn Park City Council Chamber
5200 85th Avenue N, Brooklyn Park, MN 55443

Tuesday, November 27

6 p.m. - Pizza and Salad Buffet
6:30 p.m. - Program

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or RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Currently one in three Americans is age 50 or older. By 2030, one out of five people in the U.S. will be 65 or older.  With a rapidly increasing percent of older people, increasing use of telemedicine to monitor patients with chronic conditions, more patients expected to return home shortly after surgery, and the Medicare Advisory Commission’s recommendation that the cost of long term care be reduced, it is important that people’s homes accommodate any limitations they have.  Will you and your community be ready with condos, homes, and apartments that meet your needs?  Are you ready right now?

Gene Nicolelli

Gene Nicolelli is an architect who is the Principal of Nicolelli Architects and is a Certified Aging - in - Place Specialist (CAPS) certified by the National Association of Home Builders 50+ Housing Council. Over his years as an architect, Nicolelli has received many awards, including the National Association of Home Builders 50+ Council - Best of 50+ Housing Awards, the 2012 Gold Achievement Award and the Best in American Living 2004 Silver Award, a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Award of Excellence.

He explains, "For those of you unfamiliar with Universal Design, it can best be described as a holistic approach that shapes environments so they may be used by as many people as possible, regardless of age, ability, or circumstance, without discrimination and have lifetime value."

AARP research consistently finds that the vast majority of people age 50 and older want to stay in their homes and communities for as long as possible. Gene Nicolelli will walk us through the AARP Guide and share his own advice on modifications that help people stay at home, that developers can incorporate into condos or apartment buildings to make them appropriate for frail or disabled residents, and that cities expecting a future increase in older residents can require for new development.

Staying in their home with some assistance from family, friends, and volunteers can help people enjoy their later years as well as save them and their fellow citizens the considerable costs of a nursing home or assisted living facility.  Most existing single family homes as well as condos and apartments were not built with the features of Universal Design.  Let's change course by evaluating the current dwellings of people who have become disabled for possible remodeling and by requiring future dwellings to be built with Universal Design features.

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          Partners:         Housing for All


Immigrants' Contribution to MN's Business Success Video

The Economic Necessity of Immigration Reform Blazar 92018

bill blazarBill Blazar, MN Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Business Development, presented an excellent discussion on “Immigrants' Contribution to MN's Business Success” at the April 2018 Think Again Brooklyns forum. Senior residents of Maple Grove who heard about the forum suggested that Think Again MN collaborate with the Maple Grove Senior Center to have Bill present the program again at the Maple Grove Community Center.

Kris Orluck, the Senior Program Coordinator for Maple Grove worked with Think Again MN to arrange the forum for September 26, 2018. Think Again MN’s videographer John Risken filmed the presentation so more people could gain the knowledge Bill Blazar shared of the big contribution immigrants are making to MN’s economy and the necessity of reforming U.S. immigration policy.  Watch Bill Blazar's excellent presentation accompanied by informative slides on vimeo.

Managed Care Plans' Neglect of Health Care for Medicaid Patients

A Big Problem in the Cost and Quality of Health Care
Nationally and Here in Minnesota


Medicaid has grown to represent 30% of the typical state budget and is crowding out education, transportation and other needs.

Two thirds of states have outsourced their Medicaid programs to managed care plans rather than have Medicare directly pay doctors and hospitals.

The private plan providers then often refuse to provide the data that would determine whether our tax dollars are being well-used because they regard the data as proprietary information.

Following is an article that gives an example from California. It is an example that applies to patients nationally and has also been experienced by patients in some states who have Medicare Advantage Plans where an insurance company is paid a fixed amount by Medicare for the patient, and then the insurance company is responsible for covering all of the patient's costs

"As Billions In Tax Dollars Flow To Private Medicaid Plans, Who’s Minding The Store?"

By Chad Terhune, Photos by Heidi de Marco October 18, 2018


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In June 2012, Think Again MN launched a history series that examines politics and policy-making in Minnesota during the last century from the immediate post World War II years up through the 1990s. That era witnessed fierce legislative battles at the State Capitol but it was also a time of shared values that cut across partisan lines. 

Read about it here

MN's Leading Election System

MN's Leading Election System

With Secretary of State Steve Simon


steve simon


Listen to Secretary of State Steve Simon's excellent presentation on MN's outstanding election system emulated by many other states at the Think Again Brooklyns forum January 19, 2016.  Secretary Simon includes ways in which it can be improved, and he explains why it is important to vote.  He concludes with a quote from a tee shirt:  "Failure to vote is not an act of rebellion.  It is an act of surrender."

Get details on how to vote at

Oregon's Automatic Voter Registration

How Oregon Became the Easiest Place to Vote in the US

By Lornet Turnbull
YES! Magazine
October 8, 2016

In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver's licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. 

Read the Article

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