Health and Environment
How can we enhance the health of our families — and sustain our environment? As the mother of two daughters and an advocate for environmental justice, those are questions that have driven my personal and professional work for more than a decade. As your city councilmember, I’ll work to ensure that everyone in Ward 5 has access to fresh foods and green spaces and that our community is playing a vital role in creating a more sustainable St. Paul.
I still remember the day in 2008 when I attended a presentation about soil contamination from MN State Representative Karen Clark. I was working as a case manager at Merrick Community Services on the East Side of St. Paul at the time, and Clark not only reveal the deep environmental injustices right here in our state, but she gave me an opportunity to do something about it. Over several years of working with her at the Women’s Environmental Institute, I had the chance to advocate for and influence bills at the state legislature and play a significant role in the community campaign that resulted in a $2.7 million settlement from 3M around soil contamination in our region.
Thanks to that work, I saw firsthand how we, as community, can shift and improve the landscape of our daily lives in both big and small ways. As your Ward 5 city councilmember, I will bring that passion and commitment to vital, clean and healthy neighborhoods for all.
For every one of us, these issues hit close to home. Working with WEI, I learned about the potential impact of household chemicals on my kids and came to understand the importance of healthy eating. From discarding plastic bottles to buying produce from a local farm, I was empowered by the choices I could make in my daily life to protect and enhance the wellbeing of my family. But I know that’s a challenge — and that we need to make significant policy changes to make those options available to everyone.
In my past role as the Executive Director of St. Anthony Park Community Council (SAPCC), I helped to develop and conduct a resident survey at Seal-Hi Rise public housing. One of the top concerns of our residents: access to even basic food items. With a deep conviction that no one should ever go hungry in our community it is simply unacceptable, I worked to bring the Wilder Mobile Food Truck to their building twice per week, recruit ongoing donations from corporate leaders, and ensure that three plots of local produce in our St Anthony Park Community Garden went directly to our neighbors. We also worked with our local food co-op to provide community meals for our seniors at Seal-hi Rise so we could meet, get to know and break bread with our elders, who are so often overlooked.
But health goes far beyond our dinner tables. At SAPCC, I also worked to ensure that incoming housing developments had sustainable features like a green roof at the C & E Lofts. We secured the first solar station at one of our transit stops and installed a free, public bike repair site that is accessed by the wide variety of people, from professionals to folks experiencing homelessness, who rely on green transportation options, like cycling to meet their daily needs. While I was a title at the American Heart Association, I helped policymakers make that connection between where we live and our access to health and wellness.
As your city councilmember, I’ll bring that collaborative, pragmatic, solutions-oriented approach to health and environmental issues, including:
Reduce health disparities by supporting community garden projects and working with local food markets and nonprofits to increase access and reduce driving to fresh and healthy food
Effectively remove garbage from our lives while seeking alternatives to landfills and incineration and promoting recycling, composting and the concept of Zero Waste to reduce our trash
Increase green spaces and culturally relevant activities and amenities in parks, as well as planting new trees
Explore and seize opportunities for using renewable energy, including more solar stations and self-repair bike stations located near public transit stops
Ensure sustainable design in development projects, including green roofs and sustainable stormwater infrastructure
But I also understand that addressing urgent issues like energy and healthcare go far beyond city policy. That’s why I serve as a member on appointment for the state MNSure board of directors, where I seek to influence equitable outcomes for underinsured populations, including reducing elementary barriers to make MNsure more accessible for immigrant communities and communities of color, so that medical jargon does not prevent consumers from making the best choice for their families. And it’s why I pursued and achieved a Masters in Advocacy and Political Leadership — to be an effective and ethical agent of change at all levels.
Like you, I want to nourish and create the best possible outcomes for our kids.
Let’s do better together.