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Who We Are

Growing up in Northwest Minnesota, I had the unique opportunity to explore and enjoy my state’s almost 12,000 lakes, 66 state parks, and 950 archaeological and historic cemetery sites. These places taught me about the glaciers that once covered much of North America, which carved out the lakes and rivers that cover my home state. They taught me reverence for the indigenous people who lived to honor the land and be stewards for its protection. These places taught me history and a love for my little piece of American beauty. 

I distinctly remember finding my way down a trail in a Minnesota state park and seeing a sign that read “TAKE NOTHING BUT PICTURES, LEAVE NOTHING BUT FOOTPRINTS.” I remember turning and asking my grandmother what that meant and she explained, “if we leave garbage and take rocks or pull leaves off of the trees, then other people won’t get to see the same beauty that we did. It would be ruined for them.” That moment burned into my heart a passion to preserve our planet for the future.

Then, a few years later I was at the same park on a class trip and we came up to an old cabin with plaques describing the logging camps of northern Minnesota which sent timber cut from the lofty pines of the Beltrami State Forest down the Mississippi River for building homes and other structures. We learned that these camps cut down trees that had been growing for hundreds of years and these practices not only took away the homes of animals who live in the forest, but deforestation then and now has negatively impacted the planet. We learned that logging camps started fading away as iron ore mining picked up in the northeast part of the state and buildings started moving away from wooden walls in favor of steel frames. Innovation and increasing demands forced architectural companies to begin using more sustainable and modern practices, and the logging industry itself modernized and became more efficient and reduced its negative impacts on the environment. That class trip taught me the power of innovation and modernization.

It is with a passion to preserve our planet, love for history, and immense belief in the power of innovation, that I support the American Climate Contract. Just like we have done so many times before, we must change our practices to evolve with the times and innovate to meet our changing needs. We need to take a page out of the history books and move from logging camps to ore mines, from oil fields to wind farms. We must update our outdated infrastructure to make oil production, coal mining, and natural gas extraction more sustainable and open up the energy sector to more readily available wind, solar, and hydropower. Innovation does not mean the destruction of jobs and extinction of industry, quite the opposite. By focusing on smart revitalization of our energy sector, we can use the power of the free-market to create new jobs and modernize existing ones.

It is up to us to create the future we want our children to live in. It is our duty to not only preserve the beauty of our planet, but help our economy and environment grow stronger than ever. It is not enough to take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints. We must innovate and create a more sustainable future. After all, what we do now might just end up on a plaque outside of a historical building some day. The future is watching.

This is the tenth installment of “My Contract Story,” an ongoing series on the ACC Blog to tell personal stories of ACC team members and allies about why they support the American Climate Contract. Read previous editions here