Minneapolis Star Tribune. May 24, 2021.

Editorial: Coming together to remember, rebuild

One year after George Floyd’s death, there’s hope for businesses in need of a boost.

On the anniversary of George Floyd’s tragic death in Minneapolis, Americans are honoring the memory of the 46-year-old Black man who was killed in police custody — as well as recounting the many ways the nation has changed during the past year.

After a former Minneapolis police officer pinned Floyd to the pavement, and the world watched the video of his death, we were catapulted into a racial and social justice reckoning.

Though much remains to be done, a lot has been accomplished since May 25, 2020. The officer responsible for Floyd’s death was convicted of murder — a previously rare outcome in cases in which cops have killed Black men or children.

Colleges have established scholarships in Floyd’s name, and the foundation created by his family has awarded education stipends to aspiring students. Some policing practices and policies have changed. And the pleas for justice that gave birth to the Black Lives Matter movement have been heard and taken to heart by millions of people of all races across the nation and the world.

In the wake of rioting that followed Floyd’s death, communities have rallied to clean up and rebuild in his adopted Twin Cities, vowing to make sections of Lake Street and West Broadway in Minneapolis and University Avenue in St. Paul better than ever.

The recovery efforts have received a huge boost from the Minneapolis Foundation’s Restore-Rebuild-Reimagine Fund. The ambitious initiative has raised about half of its $20 million goal from corporate partners to assist small businesses in the three commercial corridors. Started with a challenge grant from the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation, the fund has received donations so far from Target Corp., the Donaldson Foundation and the Mortenson construction firm.

The fund represents one of several efforts to raise capital for affected businesses and property owners. Twin Cities LISC, Lake Street Council, the St. Paul and Minnesota Foundation and other organizations also raised millions of dollars to assist businesses facing an estimated $550 million in damage, only about half of which is expected to be covered by insurance.

An inspiring video produced by the Minneapolis Foundation features several entrepreneurs of color who enthusiastically want to rebuild and reopen. Minneapolis Foundation President and former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak told an editorial writer that several of them are part of a “legacy of immigrants” who came to Minnesota for a better future and are committed to their communities.

“These are real heroes,” Rybak said. “Business owners who have had buildings burned and looted and are still ready to reopen and add to their business. Many fled wars and strife in their homelands. There’s no one who understands better what it means to rebuild than these business owners. That’s why we’re investing in them.”

The Minneapolis Foundation-led effort is needed and welcome. In addition, the state should offer financial help for businesses. Unfortunately, partisanship is getting in the way.

Early in the 2021 session. Gov. Tim Walz called for $150 million in aid. Then in February, a House subcommittee voted to double that to $300 million. So far objections have lined up along party lines, but there’s one more chance for the Legislature to support the core cities during the June special session in which they are expected to pass the budget.

Floyd’s horrific death brought some Minnesotans together — including those involved in rebuilding the damaged commercial corridors and the business owners they are helping. As the Rev. Al Sharpton said on Sunday during a rally in Minneapolis, “George Floyd is not going in history as a martyr. He’s going in history as a game changer.”

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St. Cloud Times. May 23, 2021.

Editorial: Class of 2021: A generation that will not be on mute

This time, it feels different.

The promise of spring graduations is always tied up with the ancient rituals of seeing seeds planted long ago emerge with the promise of bounty in the seasons to come. It is perennially a time of renewal and celebration of potential.

This time, though, it feels different. The Class of 2021 is emerging into its future as all of us are emerging from a long, chilling season of isolation, discord, worry and change. The commencement rituals that would normally get a passing “congratulations!” from anyone not tied by family resonates more widely this year.

We all went through something profound together, and that’s not something every class shares with its community. That may well mean that the Class of 2021′s generational superpower is going to be their ability to build on shared experiences, connect us and change our path for the better.

To be sure, every generation has its traumas to overcome. For the Greatest Generation, that was war and the Great Depression. The baby boomers knew war as well. Generation X? Wars, AIDS, the devastating farm crisis, a series of deep recessions and, perhaps most damaging, the constant background menace that was the Cold War. Millennials had 9/11 to shape their childhoods and the Great Recession to challenge their path to independence.

Like those challenges before, this year of pandemic, social strife, political rancor and unrest will be among the factors that define this new generation of adults.

But like those earlier generations, this generation’s challenges will not be the only things that define them. They will also move forward with the benefit of the lessons of the past year: Self above all is no way to live. Whatever plans you make, be prepared for them to change. Those who can adapt to circumstances that no one predicted will succeed. You have to be able to work not only as a great team, but also on your own. When you see a great wrong, stand up for those who can’t.

They learned those lessons on the street, in the news, from their teachers and from their parents, friends and community. Their ability to progress to this next waypoint in life against serious headwinds is a credit to the power of well-meaning people who figured out how to keep going.

We all have to be ready to make room for this generation to take its place alongside its elders to make change based on the things you’ve learned. We suspect they won’t be content to “wait their turn,” and that’s fine by us.

The most ubiquitous and important lesson of the past year? Don’t ever let your voice be muted.

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Mankato Free Press. May 24, 2021.

Editorial: Safe boating important for summer fun

Minnesotans so love taking to the state’s abundant waters that it’s tough to find a new boat to buy these days.

Record boat sales, the freedom of the outdoors and the loosening of state pandemic restrictions all point to a predictable jump in water-based activity and gatherings this upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

It’s the job of every boat operator to make sure the water is a safe place for everyone on it. All of the new boat owners are among those who need to take their ownership seriously and understand that the fun and freedom of boating also demand responsibility.

Speed boats, pontoons, fishing boats, canoes — all of them have a right to be on the water. Sometimes common sense and good manners often dictate how to act, but all boat operators should be familiar with rules of the water.

And knowing the state-specific laws is important. In Minnesota, certain motorboats must have carbon monoxide detectors and warning stickers. And another law provides enhanced penalties for DWI violations regardless of the vehicle being operated. The Department of Natural Resources says alcohol is the top factor in boating fatalities.

Life jackets save lives and are as important as coolers and sunscreen when it comes to boating. A readily accessible and wearable life jacket is required for each person onboard a boat in Minnesota. And children younger than 10 years old must wear a properly fitted life jacket while a boat is underway.

Along with making sure to be well-versed on operation of the boat and knowing safety procedures, boat operators must be aware of their surroundings, including nearby swimmers or water-skiers, rafts, docks and threatening weather.

Although waterways are much safer than roadways in Minnesota, last year there were 16 boating fatalities and 90 non-fatal accidents, according to the DNR.

If you’re lucky enough to have landed a new boat or already own one or two, keep in mind that the joy of boating can turn tragic with one bad decision.

It’s just the beginning of the boating season; let’s all do our part to make sure everyone on the water has a safe and enjoyable summer.

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