By Amanda Balgaard
Volunteer with MN350’s Communications Team

In the first months of the new year, we inevitably reflect on what’s past and look forward to the unknown future. I don’t really think of a new year as a “clean slate” but instead as a time for us to integrate the lessons we’ve learned, recommit to the paths we’re consciously choosing, and reassess the habits we may be unconsciously perpetuating. The events of 2020 revealed to us in a very tangible way how connected we are in this truly global ecosystem. They’ve shown us how the actions and events on one side of the world affect those on the other. From the speed at which COVID-19 spread to every continent, to the hazy skies the Midwest experienced as a result of the fires raging miles away in California and Colorado, to the global protests that erupted after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, it’s clear we’re all deeply connected on this Earth. If we’d forgotten that truth, it’s hard to ignore it now.

We’re deeply connected throughout time as well. The decisions of our parents and grandparents have built our world. For better or worse, the systems that we work within, the laws that both limit us and protect us, the trauma from which we’re healing, and the values that we work to protect are handed down to us from those we’ve never met. So too are we connected to the future generations that come after us, to those we’ll never know.

While it’s important to consider resolutions that will better support our own lives and health, let’s not forget that almost everything we do affects those generations from now: the legislation we pass, the businesses we support, the way we hold each other accountable, the causes we fight for, and the community we nurture.

This understanding of connection and continuity is at the heart of MN350’s mission to “end the pollution damaging our climate, speed the transition to clean energy, and create a just and healthy future for all.” There are ways that we can all add our voices to the chorus calling for climate justice in Minnesota, and we know that those ripples will be felt beyond our own community and beyond our own lifetimes.

For example, even just looking at how I spend my financial resources opens a cascade of opportunities to move toward a more just world:

  • Creating less waste in the way I purchase and consume items
  • Purchasing food that is cultivated in sustainable and ethical ways
  • Buying from companies that are actively working toward social and racial justice
  • Supporting Indigenous-led efforts to protect our water resources from pollution

With this new year, I’m choosing to commit to this, and to remember that, while I am just one person, my actions have power and consequences beyond what I can see.

To learn more about how you can join the climate justice movement, sign up for MN350’s newsletter. 

Amanda Balgaard lives in Minneapolis with her husband and their two cats. She enjoys finding majestic trees to admire, tracking the lunar phases, writing poetry, and singing along to the music playing in the grocery store.