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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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January 31, 2022

Katharine Hayhoe is the Chief Scientist for The Nature Conservancy where she oversees their global climate advocacy and adaptation work. She has served as lead author on the Second, Third, and Fourth National Climate Assessments. Her new book, Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World is a candid look at the science of climate change and what can be done about it.

Dr. Hayhoe has received the National Center for Science Education’s Friend of the Planet award, the American Geophysical Union’s Climate Communication Prize, the Sierra Club’s Distinguished Service award, and been named to a number of lists including Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Thinkers, FORTUNE magazine’s World’s Greatest Leaders and the United Nations Champion of the Earth in Science and Innovation.

Dr. Hayhoe’s talk is presented in collaboration with The Great Northern Festival and their “Climate Solutions” series.

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November 16, 2021

The Honorable John R. Tunheim has served for 25 years as United States District Judge in the District of Minnesota and has served as Chief Judge since 2015. He has devoted much of his judicial career to helping develop the rule of law in new democracies, including drafting the Kosovo Constitution and advising over 40 countries on judicial independence. He will speak at the Forum on the role of the judiciary in America and the steps the court is taking to engage in civics education through its new Justice and Democracy Centers.

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October 26, 2021

LaTosha Brown is the Co-Founder of Black Voters Matter, Black Voters Matter Fund and Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute; three initiatives designed to boost Black voter registration and turnout, as well as increase power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities. She will join us to talk about bridging grassroots activism into political power, as well as voter suppression efforts launched throughout the South since the 2020 election.

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October 4, 2021

Dr. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun leads the Digital Democracies Institute at Simon Fraser University in Canada. Her upcoming book, Discriminating Data, delves into how social media platforms are designed to make us hate one another across political, racial, and class lines. She will speak at the Forum on how the internet and algorithms have undermined democracy and how they could be used in the pursuit of racial and social justice.

NOTE: This Forum will be presented in a virtual hybrid format. Dr. Chun will not be physically at Westminster. Instead, she will speak live from Canada which we will project in the Westminster Sanctuary. She will take questions from the live Westminster audience.  This will all be available to watch on the Forum’s website and Facebook.