Activism, innovation and pragmatism: Andrew Johnson's first 100 (and a bit) days

Andrew Johnson is the youngest member of the Minneapolis City Council at only 29 years of age. (“Also the only single one,” he reminds me to mention.) One of seven (of 13) CMs newly elected in November 2013, he is also one of the ones most likely to succeed Gary Schiff in being the leftward pull of DFL progressivism on the Council. Johnson says it has always been his dream to be an actual politician, but not one he expected to attain, nor did he have a master plan to get there. He says circumstances just “opened a path” and he took it. Before that he had made his living as an IT systems engineer, while working tirelessly in his spare time as a neighborhood and environmental activist. His style is robust activism, with an emphasis on innovation, yet tempered with a keen pragmatism beyond what is expected with his youth and inexperience.

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Cold winter: Corcoran weatherizes

You’ve probably noticed the higher gas costs this winter. This is partly the deep cold. Most Corcoran homes are using more natural gas and high demand has sent prices soaring nationwide. Centerpoint has also raised rates to pay for repairs to an aging gas system.

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Minnesota termites - they're not unheard of!

Many states require termite inspections before real estate can change hands. None are required in Minnesota because there are no termites here. That is why I was astounded a few years ago when I sold a home that was infested with termites. The buyer had an inspection and we all saw the mud tubes, but since none of us had ever seen a termite or a mud tube it just did not register.

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Breakfasting with Alondra Cano: Lots of work ahead on racial and environmental justice in Minneapolis' 9th ward

In January, Alondra Cano officially started her new job as the council member representing the 9th Ward of Minneapolis. She said the work actually started the evening she was elected. Her phone began ringing and people began asking her to listen to them. As she started to make decisions she thought a lot about the responsibility and opportunity she had worked so hard for, and the trust so many people had put in her.

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Minnesota's continuous living groundcover

Of Minnesota’s 55.6 million acres, 27 million acres are taken up by farmland. Currently, crop production is dominated by summer annuals like corn and soybeans, which need to be replanted each year and grow only in the summer. The consequence of this type of cropping is that for most of the year, no active roots exist in the soil to filter water, reduce runoff, or prevent erosion. Covering the ground with crops for a larger portion of the year by adding winter annuals and perennials to the landscape provides multiple benefits, including diversifying agricultural operations, protecting soils and waterways, and increasing wildlife habitat.

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COMMUNITY VOICES | Cedar lake Threatened by SW LRT

It seems clear that political officials who favor a pair of "shallow tunnels" between Cedar Lake and Isles for the Southwest Light Rail Train are not educated about the threat of reduced rech

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International Year of Family Farming – What it's about, why it matters

For Minnesotans the true Rite of Spring is planting season – even if the experience is remembered or vicarious. Planting season with real farmers on real tractors with genetically un-modified seeds, rotated crops and other practices that promote sustainable agricultural systems. Happily, nostalgia is giving way to reality as urban farming, farm to home, and farmers market programs and locavore cuisine raise the profile of family farming and the role that family farmers play in growing nutritious food to feed a hungry world — while protecting the environment and preserving the land.

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Soil and water in the life of a street tree

Unlike other forms of infrastructure, urban forests are also an ecosystem. As a managed system, it grows and evolves over time, but has basic requirements that must be met in order to function as planned. It is a bit like an infantry unit; it will suffer casualties and face attrition over time. Replacement candidates have to be cultivated and carefully selected to address specific weaknesses in the unit as a whole and must be able to adapt to changing circumstances and impending threats. But regardless of tree selection, it all starts with the soil. It’s easy to look down on the dirt and forget that it also is a living system that itself needs to be protected and cultivated. We can plant a million trees, but unless we understand what is happening below the surface it will largely be a wasted effort.

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Bees, solar and gardens coming to roofs in Southeast Como neighborhood

Solar panels, vegetation and buzzing bees could all appear on Southeast Como roofs this summer.

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