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MN Delegation Brainstorms on Climate Solutions After Puerto Rico Trip

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Thursday, September 7, 2023   

Next week, elected officials in Minnesota, along with Latine and environmental organizations, will gather to discuss a recent delegation trip to Puerto Rico.

Participants said climate solutions they observed underscore the strength of grassroots work. The weeklong visit in the first half of August was led by Communities Organizing Latine Power and Action. Those who made the trip saw firsthand how certain areas are establishing climate resiliency in the wake of two large hurricanes that devastated the island in 2017.

Rep. María Isa Pérez-Vega, DFL-St. Paul, who has Puerto Rican roots, was part of the delegation and said community-driven efforts really stood out.

"We have resources here in the states that they don't," Pérez-Vega explained. "They've managed to live without power, without water, without hospitals, and schools being shut down."

The delegation pointed to a mountain town developing a community-owned solar microgrid which stands a better chance of keeping the power on in a disaster. Officials hope such work inspires Minnesota community organizers to balance their grassroots responses to climate threats with calls for more equitable policies.

Next Tuesday's discussion will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the group's worker center in South Minneapolis.

Ryan Pérez, organizing director for the group Communities Organizing Latine Power and Action, said the trip also revealed more issues stemming from climate migration.

"We were really fortunate enough to visit a migration organization in Puerto Rico," Pérez recounted. "That organization actually addresses Dominicans and Haitians that migrate to the island because the conditions there are better than in the Dominican Republic and Haiti."

Pérez noted within Puerto Rico, there are some levels of discrimination toward those migrating to the island. He suggested while the Midwest faces its own climate threats, the Minnesota region could learn lessons about welcoming others who travel here to escape weather disasters from other parts of the world.

Disclosure: COPAL MN contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Environmental Justice, Immigrant Issues, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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