What Change Do You Seek?

Make Everyone Count

As a second-generation immigrant woman of color, the census is at the core of all that my family came to the United States seeking; a good education for my siblings and I, an opportunity for a good job, and a home.

Many of us don’t realize how important the census is to realizing that American dream. Census data is used by our state and federal government — and businesses and banks — to decide how and where to invest resources that impact opportunity and quality of life.

When my family immigrated, they considered housing, job opportunities, and where we would go to school. They made sure clinics, stores, and laundromats were within walking distance, because we had no car. They looked for areas with Latino families, because we didn’t speak English. There are questions most of us think about when we decide where to live.

Let’s care about having a complete Minnesota census count for 2020. It’s about more than just numbers.

— Annastacia Belladonna-Carrera, Common Cause MN

Tax Equity

Tax all women [and men of color] at the same percentage that represents the discrepancy of income paid to white men.

So if I, as a white woman, earn 78 percent of what a white man earns, I get taxed at 78 percent of the rate he does in our income bracket. If I were black I think that would be 64 percent, and 58 percent if I were Latina. The short, snappy way to say this: Tax women at the same rate we’re paid 

— Trina Porte

Vote on Climate Change 

I was visiting a refugee camp in Rwanda in 2005. Thousands of people were there, the consequence of the 1994 genocide. They still live there today.

The genocide in Rwanda was swift — 100 days — and brutal; more than 800,000 people perished. Some say that it was just another ethnic conflict in Africa, but the story goes deeper.

Rwanda had been plagued by drought in the years right before the genocide. The country couldn’t produce enough food, and people were starving. More than half of all Rwandans were consuming less than the famine level of 1600 calories a day.

The Rwandan government incited its followers to blame their hunger, anger, and frustration on Rwanda’s Tutsis. The result? Genocide. 

Global warming causes ferocious floods, droughts, hurricanes, and other disasters. Bad leaders blame vulnerable minority groups for unstable economic conditions and food accessibility, instead of facing the challenge to our planet.

The change I seek? In the upcoming elections, vote for candidates who take climate change seriously.  

Ellen Kennedy, World Without Genocide

Be Kind

We’re all looking for change. Change in our lives, in this country, and in this world. What can we do individually to make a difference collectively?

Make decisions about what’s best for us: self care isn’t about being selfish. It means we are being kind to ourselves in order to help others. 

Read books. Make better decisions about the food we put in our bodies. Talk about emotions more — find a friend, coach, spiritual advisor, therapist. Sometimes our emotions cause us to mess ourselves up financially — we buy things to feel rewarded, to feel validated. Spiritually, we all want to live life with a purpose. The change I seek is more unity, development, equality, justice, and compassion. We can’t change the world unless we change ourselves. Be kind to yourself and others. 

— Edrence Yalley

Come to Aid of Waters

In Minnesota, snow would fall and, when spring came, the melted waters would seep, then journey in three directions. Mississippi flowed south. Red River and the White Iron Chain both flowed north. St. Louis joined the Great Lakes and flowed northeast.

The lives of these rivers were guided by the seasons. In summer, the frozen north gathered cold to itself so the water ran free; in winter the ice extended to us. Small creatures — frogs and otters, fishes and turtles — lived through the winter because ice and snow blanketed them until spring.

Minnesota is losing its protective blanket. What will the waters and their creatures do? Grief wells up. 

Winter is failing. May we gather our courage, come now to the aid of winter and its water. 

— Renae Hanson

Superheroes to Protect the Planet 

When I was growing up in the 1970s, the world was changing for the better. The cartoons I watched on TV had superheroes, such as Superman and Wonder Woman, fighting pollution and the greedy big business owners creating it. Protecting the planet was the right thing to do. The earth is our home, humanity needs to protect it. 

Now, we have seen a huge shift to putting the needs of corporations to make money above all else. The biggest problem is nuclear power, the most dirty energy ever. Fukushima has been spreading radioactive contamination worldwide since 2011, with no end in sight. Even when nuclear power plants are working well, we still have nowhere safe to keep the radioactive waste. 

The change I want is a return to the superheroes, and real-life leaders, who protect the planet so the greedy don’t make our planet uninhabitable.  

— Sheryl Senkiw

My State of Mind on Values

From out of the blue it occurred to me — “What if it weren’t true?” What if everything I ever believed about right and wrong, truth and lies, were all contrived ideas, made up in my mind?

Until then, I had naturally been attracted to ideals that could be described as liberal, feminist, spiritual. When I realized that everything I knew was created by me, through thought, I was both elated and confused at the same time. Values and ideas are transitory, not solid as a rock? 

I watched geese in my yard. Why did their droppings make me angry some days, but not every day? Apparently I have more “I hate goose poop” thoughts some days than others. Yet, as I’ve come to understand, it is not the goose poop itself that causes me angst, but my reaction to it. Those thoughts shift.

What did that do to the political values I hold dear — Planned Parenthood, pay inequity, Black Lives Matter, maternity leave? Was it simply my choice to feel about them the way I do? Could I change my mind at any time?

Does that mean anyone, of any political party or religious affiliation, can see political and moral nuances differently, from day to day? If my thoughts are malleable, aren’t theirs too?

When I posted an article on social media about why we need mandatory paid parental leave, my childless single friends thought it was a bad idea. Yet I didn’t let their reactions to the article bother me the way it might have before. I realize that other people’s thinking has nothing to do with me.

Disagreements are not personal attacks. They are just disagreements —thoughts in the moment.

I am free to stand up for causes with a clear mind, rather than from a place of disgust, knowing everyone is acting from their own thinking in the moment. This is our common humanity  

— Patty Tanji

Wood Smoke Reduction

Our warming globe will necessitate many changes to extend life on the planet.

One change I am seeking — on behalf of children who have the most to lose — is that people and policy-makers recognize wood smoke’s role in accelerating climate change, which is not widely known. Its black carbon soot particulates are bundled with lead, mercury, arsenic, formaldehyde, benzene, and dioxins, to name a few, which are also in tobacco smoke.

Not only is wood smoke a public health hazard, but it hastens global warming by accelerating the melting of glaciers and interfering with the seeding of rain and moisture in clouds. I urge women to help educate others about the hazards of wood burning. To learn more, see woodsmokepollution.org and familiesforcleanair.org

— Julie Mellum