By Hannah Harper 
MN350 Climate Communications Intern

No matter where in Minnesota you come from, you deserve to live in an environment where air, water, and soil are clean, fresh, and renewable. Communities should be affordable and accessible, with attainable climate-friendly standards. And community-centered advocacy is the key to defining those standards and holding leaders accountable to them.

I grew up in rural Winona County, Minnesota, surrounded by large dairy farms threatening water usage in Winona County. In these past years, I saw how government leaders failed to hold companies accountable for environmental impacts, community initiatives were slim, and there was a lack of communication between organizations, local groups, and community members. Fortunately, now my family and I are surrounded by organic farms, and the difference is clear. Organic farming can lead to cleaner animal environments, healthy soil, and regenerative environmental health. Knowing where your food, water, and healthy soil comes from is a basic right. But if larger dairy farms in the future were implemented in the area, water, erosion, and sewage capacity would threaten wildlife and the clean environment around our rural farming community. The limited access to cleaner water, eroded farm fields, and leaking sewage systems would lead to an environmental crisis resulting in polluted areas and harmful chemicals in the soil and in our backyards.

My family wanted to see a change in our community, so we became beekeepers and members of the Land Stewardship Project. The Land Stewardship Project is a Minnesota-based private environmental nonprofit focusing on healthy sustainable agriculture, changing food systems, and promoting community based organizing. Our community took collective action – such as implementing community-wide discussions and attending public hearings in my county – to preserve our rural agricultural spaces. Together, we promote healthy soil practices through community workshops and host community meetings in rural areas pertaining to water, soil, and food health. When our community comes together, we’re able to raise awareness about and create local change in soil and erosion practices that impact us all. We create events, promote practices, and join community efforts for the preservation of the ecology around Southeastern Minnesota, and of our future.

In order to address climate safety regulations, climate health standards, and climate-equitable communications in Minnesota’s rural and urban spaces, we need to come together, like my community has done, to show legislators there’s a demand to be met.

That’s why MN350 Action is advocating for change: We connect legislators to climate-focused policies and hold them accountable for their promises. We endorse climate-friendly candidates for upcoming elections and participate in get-out-the-vote efforts in midterm elections and general elections. We organize canvassing events and volunteer opportunities. You can join us in collective action by signing up for the Climate Majority Project, our bi-monthly email with actions to take to help elect climate-friendly candidates. You can also reach out to our Policy Action Team, which hosts meetings and some in-person events about how to advocate for policies at the House and Senate levels of government. Together, we can come together across urban and rural spaces to address problems, develop solutions, propose policy action, and elect climate-champion candidates who understand the needs of our communities.


Hannah Harper is from Winona County, Minnesota. Hannah is graduating from Winona State University in December with a bachelor of arts in applied communication and minor in political science. Hannah will attend graduate school in the near future and seek full-time work in the public sector in the communications field. Hannah likes to go biking, hiking, reading, painting, and exploring in all parts of Southeastern Minnesota.