This month, we’d like to introduce you to one of the voices behind Sustainability Sam, Tangletown Environmental Committee co-chair Andrea Siegel. Andrea has lived with her family in Tangletown for 17 years. In addition to her day job and co-chairing our Environmental Committee, she is a Hennepin County Master Recycler Composter and recently became a Climate Reality Leader committed to environmental justice and climate change solutions.
As a Master Recycler Composter (MRC), Andrea has been able to answer our community’s questions about low-waste living, materials recycling (the City blue carts), and organics recycling (the City green carts), including those tricky questions about food packaging. She led our committee’s effort in applying for the Organics Recycling Education & Outreach grant which we were awarded by Hennepin County. You have probably seen her out at community events and she recently led our Organics Recycling Workshop at Fuller Park. She is always happy to engage neighbors on the topic of recycling and waste reduction, including visits to block parties, community events, and in-home waste consultations.
Andrea is excited to bring her experience as a Climate Reality Leader to her writing for Sustainability Sam and the Environmental Committee. She became a Climate Reality Leader after being accepted to the free three-day training held at the Minneapolis Convention Center in August. The training was led by former US Vice President Al Gore, featured a diverse range of speakers, and had about 1,200 attendees from across the globe determined to make a difference on climate change. Some of her favorite speakers included Dr. Jonathan Foley, E.D. of Project Drawdown, Jamez Staples, President and CEO of Renewable Energy Partners and Northgate Development in North Minneapolis, Robert Blake, Founder and CEO of Solar Bear, and Gaagigeyaashiik Dawn Goodwin, a protector and advocate for the environment and the Anishinaabe traditional lifeways and co-founder of the RISE coalition. Those who attended walked away as Climate Reality Leaders, armed with a better understanding of the science of climate change and with the skills to lead climate action at home. Andrea is looking forward to sharing what she learned with our Environmental Committee, neighbors, and other organizations.
Andrea feels very lucky to have a co-chair and fellow committee members who are just as passionate as she is about promoting actions that increase our City’s climate resiliency. She said her recent training as a Climate Reality Leader solidified her commitment to protecting our environment and fighting the climate crisis–even when it’s uncomfortable. One example she gave was public speaking. “As an introvert, I used to avoid it,” she said. “But, I wanted to push myself so I took the lead on presenting at our neighborhood organics recycling workshop and tabling at community events.”
Andrea’s goal as co-chair of the Tangletown Environmental Committee is to help make accessible specific actions residents can take as individuals, and as a community, to fight climate change. These actions fall under three main initiatives: Energy, Water, and Waste. Below are some of the actions their committee is promoting and ways for you as a Tangletown resident to get involved:
Energy: Electricity and Natural Gas were 73% of our City’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2018. TNA’s Environmental Committee is encouraging Home Energy Squad Visits and follow-up home energy improvements by offering a rebate to help fund these projects. Since 2017, 58 households in Tangletown have had a Home Energy Squad Visit. Any resident who has completed a Home Energy Squad Visit at their Tangletown home and then completes recommended wall and/or attic insulation work is eligible for a rebate from us that is 30% of the project cost up to $500 (this matches the current rebate residents also receive from CenterPoint). Learn more about the Tangletown Energy Improvement Rebate Program here!
Water: Minneapolis is seeing excessive rain, our streets are flooding, and the material being washed down our storm drains is impairing our public waterways like Minnehaha Creek and our City lakes. The Environmental Committee engaged local creatives in a storm drain stencil design contest and volunteers have been out stenciling storm drains with the winning design. At the same time, we are promoting the Adopt-A-Drain program and encouraging residents to help keep our storm drains clean, not only to reduce the flooding in our streets, but to protect the bodies of water that our Tangletown stormwater flows to–Minnehaha Creek, the Mississippi River, and Diamond Lake. We’re even offering free supplies to help maintain your drain. Learn more about Tangletown storm drains and how to adopt a drain here!
Waste: The committee has focused current waste reduction efforts on Organics Recycling and Sustainable Cooking. This summer, doorknockers were out signing residents up for their green carts, the committee tabled at multiple events, and Andrea led the organics recycling workshop in September. They organized tours of the materials recycling facility in Minneapolis, Eureka Recycling, back in June and are hosting a tour of the Commercial Composting Facility where Minneapolis’s organics recycling goes on October 26 (transportation provided from the Mayflower Church parking lot at 9 AM). Residents can sign up for the tour here!
Andrea invites you to join her on the Tangletown Environmental Committee and to continue to ask us any questions you have about sustainability, the environment, and climate change. Just email SustainabilitySam@tangletown.org.