Most Recent Forums
October 5, 2022
Healing our divides starts at home. Building community and serving others is a pathway to better understanding and deeper appreciation across our divides.
That’s the message of Jonathan Reckford, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International. He will speak to how we each of us serving others and the greater good can start healing our divisions.
Jonathan Reckford has served as CEO of Habitat for Humanity International since 2005. Local Habitat organizations served more than 4.2 million people last year in all 50 states and in more than 70 countries.
Prior to leading Habitat, he served as executive pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina. Before that, he spent much of his career in the for-profit sector, including executive and managerial positions at Marriott, The Walt Disney Co., and Best Buy.
He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Urban Steering Committee for the World Economic Forum.
Named the most influential nonprofit leader in America in 2017 by The NonProfit Times, he is the author of Our Better Angels: Seven Simple Virtues That Will Change Your Life and the World.
October 25, 2022
Politically, the division between rural and urban parts of the United States looks stark. But the story of rural American politics is not so simple, according to Lisa Pruitt. Metro-centric political leaders, media, and academics must better understand rural communities if we wish to heal this divide.
Pruitt’s roots in rural America go back five generations. She believes politicians make a grave mistake writing off rural places and communities. She argues against conflating rurality with whiteness. At the same time, she pushes for a more nuanced understanding of rural and working-class whites, especially in the era of Trump.
Lisa Pruitt is the Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Law at the University of California Davis. Before joining the King Hall faculty in 1999, Pruitt worked abroad for almost a decade in settings ranging from international organizations to private practice. She worked with lawyers in more than 30 countries, negotiating cultural conflicts in various arenas, from intellectual property rights to rape as a war crime.
In 2004, she established a new sub-discipline in legal scholarship—one that explored rural-urban difference in relation to how people engage law and the state. She has since brought a ruralist lens to myriad legal topics, among them abortion access, substance abuse, termination of parental rights, domestic violence, access to justice, health and human services, and indigent defense.
November 22, 2022
Eric H. Holder, Jr. made history in 2009 when President Obama appointed him as attorney general, the first African American to hold that position. During his tenure, he championed hallmark legislation on voting rights, immigration law, national security, and same-sex marriage.
Since leaving office, he has continued his pursuit of for civil rights. His highly anticipated first book, Our Unfinished March: The Violent Past and Imperiled Future of the Vote-A History, a Crisis, a Plan (May 2022), co-authored with Sam Koppelman, is a dramatic history of the vote in America and an urgent summons to protect and perfect our democracy.
He will be in conversation with moderator Tim Hart-Andersen about the book. They will discuss the central role voting rights must play in helping heal our nation.
December 8, 2022
It’s easy to overlook the underlying strategic forces of war, to see it solely as a series of errors, accidents, and emotions gone awry. It’s also easy to forget that war shouldn’t happen—and most of the time it doesn’t.
Chris Blattman is an internationally renowned expert on violence and peacebuilding. His new best-selling book, Why We Fight draws on decades of economics, political science, psychology, and real-world interventions to lay out the root causes and remedies for war.
He will speak about his book and its central premise: violence is not the norm. He’ll explain there are only five reasons why conflict wins over compromise; and how peacemakers turn the tides through tinkering, not transformation.
Chris Blattman is the Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies at The University of Chicago’s Pearson Institute and Harris School of Public Policy, he coleads the Development Economics Center and directs the Obama Foundation Scholars program. His work on violence, crime, and poverty has been widely covered by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Forbes, Slate, Vox, and NPR. He is an economist and political scientist who studies violence, crime, and underdevelopment.
Much of Dr. Blattman’s work designs and tests solutions to violence. These include: cognitive behavior therapy and employment programs for the highest-risk men; mediation and negotiation strategies for post-conflict societies; and ways that cities can tackle gang violence and criminal rule. He also studies programs to tackle extreme poverty, including cash transfers to the poorest. He has worked mainly in Colombia, Liberia, Uganda, and Ethiopia.
Attendees will be able to purchase Why We Fight onsite with a local bookseller. Before the event, you can also purchase a hard copy of the book online for a 30% discount. Please note that the book will ship the day after the event and may take up to 1-2 weeks after the event. Alternatively, attendees can purchase an e-book or hard copy in advance with their normal bookseller, including Amazon.
May 24, 2022
In the two years since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, what has changed in America?
For our second annual Arc Toward Justice program, we are honored to have two of the country’s best journalists helping us reflect on where we are in the pursuit of racial justice and where they see us heading.
Michele Norris and Yamiche Alcindor have both covered and seen firsthand how the international racial reckoning sparked by George Floyd’s death has impacted our culture, politics, and media.
The two will be in conversation together at a special Westminster Town Hall Forum program co-sponsored by the Minneapolis Foundation. The Arc Toward Justice is an opportunity to take stock of where we have come since George Floyd’s death and where we still need to go.
Minnesota native Michele Norris is well-known as the longtime host of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. As an opinion columnist for The Washington Post, she breaks down commonly held beliefs and attitudes on race, diversity and bias. She is also the creator of the Peabody Award-winning initiative, “The Race Card Project,” which fosters conversation among individuals about their differences.
Yamiche Alcindor is anchor and moderator of PBS’ Washington Week. She is also the Washington correspondent for NBC News covering the Biden administration, the impact of federal policies on communities and issues at the intersection of race, culture and politics. Before joining NBC, she was public broadcasting’s White House correspondent for the national news flagship The PBS NewsHour.
This unique engagement will be a chance to hear Ms. Norris and Ms. Alcindor in conversation with one another, reflecting on what they have covered as journalists and seen themselves in the past two years. The program will also include a time for conversation sparked by audience questions, moderated by Chanda Smith Baker, Chief Impact Officer and Senior Vice President of the Minneapolis Foundation.
May 10, 2022
Today’s headlines (as well as most of American history) are filled with fights over voting restrictions versus expanding citizens’ rights to the ballot box. What if instead, the United States instituted an election process where every citizen has the right to vote—but also the duty to vote, a requirement to participate in our national choices?
That’s what co-authors E.J. Dionne and Miles Rapoport argue for in their new book, In 100% Democracy: The Case for Universal Voting. Twenty-six countries around the world require participation. If Americans are required to pay taxes and serve on juries, why not ask—or require—every American to vote?
Dionne and Rapoport will speak at the Westminster Town Hall Forum on their argument that voting in civic elections should be required in the United States. They will also answer questions from the audience.
E.J. Dionne is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post, university professor at Georgetown University, and visiting professor at Harvard University. He is the author of Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can Unite to Save Our Country.
Miles Rapoport is the Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School. He formerly served in the Connecticut state legislature and as Connecticut’s secretary of the state. He also served as president of Demos and of Common Cause.
April 27, 2022
The consequences of climate change are already shaping people’s lives. Is it possible to respond to climate impacts in ways that advance racial justice? Colette Pichon Battle is the founder of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy where she has worked with local communities, national funders, and elected officials in the post-Katrina and post-Deepwater Horizon disaster recovery. She advocates for climate change mitigation and adaptation with racial justice and equity at its core. In her talk for the Forum, she will discuss how we can respond to climate disasters and ensuing migration in ways that can actually make positive change for communities of color.
She serves on the boards of the US Climate Action Network and the Highlander Research and Education Center, advises the Kataly Foundation’s Environmental Justice Resourcing Collective, and chairs the Equity Advisory Group of the Louisiana Governor’s Climate Initiative Task Force.
April 6, 2022
One way to look at human civilization is as a 10,000-year experiment in defying nature. Can new human interventions in nature save us from the worst of climate change? That’s the key question in Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Kolbert’s new book, Under a White Sky. In it, she profiles engineers turning carbon emissions to stone in Iceland, Australian researchers developing “super coral” to withstand extreme temperatures, and scientists exploring shooting tiny diamonds into the stratosphere to cool the earth.
Kolbert won the Pulitzer Prize for her book The Sixth Extinction, which described in vivid detail destructive ways humans have reshaped the natural world. In her Town Hall Forum she will talk about how human interventions may be our only climate hope.
Copies of Under a White Sky will be available for purchase at the April 6 Forum.
March 25, 2022
Agriculture plays a huge role in adding to our climate crisis. Can it also be part of the solution? Lisa Schulte Moore directs the Landscape Ecology and Sustainable Ecosystem Management Lab at Iowa State University. She researches locally-relevant means of improving soil and water quality as a means of slowing climate change. The 2021 MacArthur Genius Fellow will speak at the Forum about ways our agricultural systems can be good for the planet, farmers, and consumers.
She is co-founder of the Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips (STRIPS) project, which developed the prairie strips conservation practice. She is also lead developer of People in Ecosystems/ Watershed Integration (PEWI), a simple web-based educational game designed to help people understand human impacts on the environment and improve the management of natural resources. She directs C-Change, a United States Department of Agriculture National Institute for Food and Agriculture Sustainable Agricultural Systems project.
March 11, 2022
How can cutting edge of space technology help mitigate or reverse climate change? Danielle Wood directs M.I.T.’s Space Enabled Research Group. Under her leadership, the center explores ways technology initially designed for space can better life on Earth. For her talk as part of the Westminster Town Hall Forum Climate Series, she will discuss space-related technologies that are already being used to combat climate change.
Prof. Wood’s background includes satellite design, earth science applications, systems engineering, and technology policy. In her research, Prof. Wood applies these skills to design innovative systems that harness space technology to address development challenges around the world. Prior to serving as faculty at MIT, Professor Wood held positions at NASA Headquarters, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Aerospace Corporation, Johns Hopkins University, and the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs. Prof. Wood studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she earned a PhD in engineering systems, SM in aeronautics and astronautics, SM in technology policy, and SB in aerospace engineering.