OK, Minnesotans, I don’t need to hear your story about the great Halloween blizzard again.
The University of Minnesota Morris already has 100% of its electricity generated from renewable sources, but as this article explains, we’re also trying to kick the natural gas heating dependency. UMM gets a lot of attention here.
In Morris, the university, the city, and a local health campus have created a “Morris Model” that could result in a shared district energy system and other shared projects. The model sets goals of having 80% of energy in the county to come from local sources combined with a 30% reduction in energy consumption by 2030, said Bryan Herrmann, vice chancellor for finance and facilities.
Morris uses half the power from its wind projects to power the school and then offsets the rest of fossil fuel energy consumption through purchasing renewable energy credits generated by the turbines. It is a complex arrangement configured with assistance from donors and Otter Tail Power, Herrmann said.
The campus now must contend with finding money to retrofit buildings and to move them to low-temperature hot water heating. Goodnough, the sustainability director, wants whatever solution the campus chooses to benefit the local community, including farmers and perhaps other towns in the region. “There are some changes that we’re going to have to make to get us to the future where we’ll want to be,” he said.
Yay, UMM! We’re doing what everyone ought to be doing.
I just had to make a harrowing trip to our local grocery store — harrowing, because no one wears face masks around here, I’ve seen one employee routinely wear one, and as I run my errands I see old people, middle-aged people, young people milling about, often stopping for annoying chit-chat with Ole and Lena in the aisles. I swear, when the pandemic comes swirling back into this county, the central locus for infection will be this store…and the churches. This community simply does not take the threat seriously. Except for the bubble of the university, this is also a county that went for Trump, by the way.
The headline on the Minneapolis Star Tribune right now is “Walz might mandate face masks”. Might. This is madness. The entire country was pretending that the pandemic was over, opening businesses, encouraging everyone to get out and shop and drink and celebrate, when nothing had changed, and now that the numbers are starting to rise again, there is this dull, dim glimmering that gosh, maybe we ought to do something to prevent the spread of disease. They’re going to be dilatory about it all, of course.
It’s not just Texas and Florida. We’ve got these indecisive, dishonest weasels working behind the scenes up here in Minnesota, too.
And goddamn, Willie’s SuperValu, get your act together. You’ve got a “coronavirus alert” link on your web page that hasn’t been updated since early April, and you haven’t taken a single responsible action to limit the spread of disease in your store, other than raising your prices.
Oh, boy. I checked the weather forecast, as one must in Minnesota in the winter, and take a look at our hourly prediction for the temperature. It’s going down all day long, just getting colder and colder from now until darkness, when it will also get colder. Also, 40km/hr winds all day means we’ll have blizzard conditions.
Fortunately, I have a snug house and a snug lab. The walk between the two might get a bit uncomfortable.
Yesterday was Morris’s Prairie Pioneer Days parade, one of those small town events where local people cruise slowly down main street to praise small town virtues, like, you know, royalty.
Or local businesses.
(The restaurant Mi Mexico had the best float, I think: gorgeous costumes, people dancing, great music. Mostly what we had was some guy in a pickup truck with a sign glued to the side.)
UMM was represented.
I had joined with some of our students who were marching to advertise a climate action event. This was their float.
I know, it was a little green wagon that they pulled down the street. We were surrounded by the local Chevy dealership, our regional Republican assholes (Jeff Backer and Torrey Westrom) and these guys:
It was kind of creepy, actually, that while we were waiting in the pre-parade lineup, these guys were sitting in their truck, staring at us, looking like they wanted to teach us a lesson or two. We ignored them, and just had a grand time going down the street handing out candy to kids and giving them flyers about our plans.
And what where those plans? I think a lot of young people are inspired by Greta Thunberg, who has said “Our house is on fire – let’s act like it.” They’re planning a Global Climate Strike, with our own implementation here, with a West Central MN Climate Strike. They want us to go on a general strike, just shutting down all that we can (especially classes) on 19-20 September.
I can do that. I will do that. Will you?
Do it for the youth.
The local paper printed a description of our summer research. Now fortune and glory await!