Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Winter 2019 - 28

POLICY

A RAINDROP IN TIME:
WHY MINNEAPOLIS-ST.PAUL NEEDS
A GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE STRATEGY
BY MICHAEL KRAUSE, KANDIYO CONSULTING, DIRECTOR, GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE FOUNDATION

In 2019, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities brought its Grey to Green
conference to the Minneapolis-St. Paul region for the first time in part,
to demonstrate how green infrastructure investment can help address
climate change.

T

he "climate disruption index" developed by The Weather
Channel ranked the U.S. cities most impacted by climate
change with populations over 200,000. Not too surprising,
New Orleans was #1; but Minneapolis was #2, and St. Paul
was #8. Another ranking found the urban heat island in Minnesota's "Twin Cities" is among the ten worst in North America.
From the 1950s to the 2010s, average annual rainfall in Minneapolis-St. Paul has increased by 34 percent, with major and localized
flooding now a regular occurrence. And for the first time, when
the Kaiser Foundation poll asked Minnesota voters what issues are
of greatest concern to them, "climate change" was second, right
after health care. And for voters who identify as Democrats, which
includes most urban voters, climate change was number one.
If you spend any amount of time in the Twin Cities, you are
likely to see advertising on buses, trains or on billboards that says:
"Minnesota schools are worst in the nation for students of color."
Racial disparities in household income, educational attainment
and employment are greater in Minneapolis-St. Paul than nearly
anywhere in the U.S., and based on these economic indicators,
Minnesota is the fourth worst place to live among the 100 largest
metro areas if you are African American.
As a region, Minneapolis-St. Paul is an affluent, progressive
community with a reputation for good government and the highest number of Fortune 500 headquarters per capita of any metro
area in North America. There is an impressive cluster of water
technology companies that are focused on global markets for
solutions to clean water and stormwater problems.
The question is: will this community with so many resources take
action to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, and will
it do this while also fighting poverty and narrowing the gaps in op-

LIVING ARCHITECTURE MONITOR / WINTER 2019 / 28

portunity for people of color?
Of course it is not an
"either-or" problem and we
can fight poverty and climate
change at the same time. In
fact, engaging students and
young adults from diverse
backgrounds in science and engineering, and building awareness and skills for career paths
in energy and water-related
fields, is part of the solution.
To do that, the region needs
to double or triple its capacity
for education and training
that is accessible and inclusive
of urban core neighborhoods
and young people of color.
Ambitious goals for more clean
energy, green infrastructure,
more efficient buildings, and
more sustainable food and
transportation systems will not
be met without an army of new
skilled and craft workers.
Unlike many other
regions dealing with heavier
rainfall events and flooding,
Minneapolis-St. Paul lacks a
coordinated regional strategy

and targeted public policies
to accelerate broader use of
green infrastructure strategies. There are hundreds of
examples in the Twin Cities
of effective green roofs, rain
gardens, tree-planting and
other applications of green
infrastructure. But this "let
flowers bloom everywhere"
approach is not enough to
develop green infrastructure
at-scale and accelerate its use
in time to mitigate the effects
of climate change before
conditions get even worse.
Minneapolis-St. Paul needs a
regional coalition of public,
private and non-profit actors
and advocates to push for policies and to educate the public
about green infrastructure.
We are already on the
front lines of the battle against
climate change, and we need
everyone to take action. That
will take leadership and political will---and time is of the
essence.

LIVINGARCHITECTUREMONITOR.COM


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Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Winter 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Winter 2019

Table of Contents
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Winter 2019 - IP
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Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Winter 2019 - Table of Contents
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