We are rural Minnesotans. We love our communities and take pride in them, and we are stewards of the land and world around us. We also acknowledge the challenges we face, in our communities and across the state. We do not see our interests or struggles as separate from those of other Minnesotans, but connected by shared values and shared goals. We are hopeful and committed to building a strong future, working together within our communities and with people across the state, both rural and urban.
When we think about the future we want, we start with our core values and beliefs:
- Every person has value that can’t be earned or taken away. Similarly, there is inherent value in the land, water and natural world that gives us life.
- Being part of a community brings meaning and richness to our lives.
- We depend on each other and on the world around us to survive and thrive.
- We are stronger when no one is left behind and everyone has opportunity to contribute fully. We all have something to offer.
- We care for each other, and we prioritize protecting and improving our surroundings, to leave things better for our children and grandchildren.
The Challenges We Face
When we look around the countryside, we see things we know are not right, and that do not fit with the future we want for ourselves and the generations to come. We know that our concerns are connected to those of people in all parts of the state, and we know we need to work together to solve them.
It is hard for us to look around our rural communities and see things that go against our values:
- We see the land being degraded, rivers and lakes polluted, drinking water depleted, and extreme rains, temperatures and droughts becoming “normal.”
- Huge companies controlling seeds and chemicals, buying grain and processing livestock are making large profits, while paying farmers less. This is making it harder for farmers to both succeed and take care of the land.
- High land prices drive more consolidation and block new farmers from changing the landscape.
- People in our communities are left out and left behind. We have seen before that times of economic uncertainty can fuel division, anti-immigrant sentiment, and racist acts and policies, and we see these threats again.
- Our local businesses struggle or close, while large corporations that are not invested in our communities take over, or abandon us if there is not enough profit to be made.
- Health insurance premiums and deductibles are unaffordable, while hospitals are closed and services cut in our communities.
- Young people are told that opportunity is somewhere else.
The Communities We Envision
It is clear that change is needed so that rural people and communities, and all of Minnesota, can succeed.
This is the rural Minnesota we are committed to building:
Vibrant communities that are a place of belonging and opportunity for everyone.
We love living in small towns and rural areas. It should not be a sacrifice, or be viewed as one. Long-term and new residents, people of different races and from different backgrounds, young and old, all have a place in our communities. Building a strong future will take all of us working together.
A countryside where the soil, water, air, and natural world are healthy.
We are close to the land in rural communities, and caretakers of the world around us that nourishes us all. The soil and landscape, lakes and streams, plants and wildlife, as well as a stable climate, are all critical, both because they sustain life and because they deserve respect on their own. Building soil and farming sustainably are part of tackling the major challenges we face, including climate change. We must protect and improve the world around us for the future, not abuse and exploit it.
Strong local economies where all can succeed.
We depend on each other, and we’re invested in each other’s success. Rural communities are stronger with more farmers making a living on the land, and with successful local businesses that are committed to the community. We need opportunities for meaningful work with pay that allows families to flourish, along with quality housing, services and infrastructure that connect us and allow for innovation. We envision stronger connections with people who live, work and eat in urban and suburban communities to build a shared prosperity together.
A farming system that cares for farmers and the land and makes healthy food available to everyone.
Minnesota is an agricultural state, where raising livestock and crops shapes the economy and our daily lives. Our health is connected to the health of the soil, the wellbeing of the land and the way we grow food. We need it to be possible for more farmers to access land, and for farmers to be able to succeed economically while caring for and healing the land. We must prioritize small- and moderate-sized farms and invest in local and regional food systems in which healthy food is accessible for all people.
A high-quality healthcare system that takes care of everyone and frees us to pursue meaningful lives.
Having the security of knowing we can easily receive needed medical care when we are sick or hurt, and that we can afford it financially, would create new freedom for all of us. Removing worries about healthcare allows people to start new businesses, engage more deeply in our communities, and pursue happiness. We need healthcare coverage that is comprehensive, lifelong and not tied to a person’s work. This coverage must be available at a cost that each family can truly afford. We need quality medical care to be available close to home and when we need it.
Communities that grow our future by valuing families and children.
Our current actions shape what is possible for our children and grandchildren. We want rural communities where young people can see and build a future and where families want to move. Families and children need excellent care and support throughout their lives, in our communities. This includes prenatal care, parental support, childcare, quality schools and activities for families. We need strong public schools that provide opportunity for all our kids, and access to higher education.
Where people have a say and shape our own future.
We want engaged and active communities shaped by a diversity of voices. We need community leaders and elected representatives who take guidance from us, and who act courageously in the best interests of the people they serve. We are committed to building the communities and state we want to live in.
Our Minnesota Future
Our Minnesota Future is made up of 22 organizations that work on a wide range of issues and priorities.
We organize people all across Minnesota. Together, we seek to build people-centered governing power to address the critical issues our people and communities face.
The idea of Our Minnesota Future is that regular people, and people’s organizations, need a stronger voice in our government. We need elected leaders who commit to govern alongside us, and who work with us in deep partnership to create the changes we envision for people and the land.
The Our Minnesota Future organizations are tied together by a set of core values and beliefs that drive our work:
- We are building a community where everyone is in and no one is left out.
- We are building a community based on care and compassion.
- We believe we are connected to each other and that we succeed or fail together.
To make progress toward these values, we think three major things need to be done:
- We need to go after bold solutions that match the scale of the challenges we face.
- We need to have leaders who govern with us, making decisions in partnership with everyday people and people’s organizations.
- We need to change the public narrative that limits what is possible, and lift up a healthier story that is rooted in our values.
Throughout 2018, we are discussing these ideas with candidates for Minnesota governor and other offices. We are building relationships with them and identifying the bold solutions we can work on together, with the goal of working in a new way alongside the next governor and administration.
Our Minnesota Future Event with Candidates for Governor
Land Stewardship Project and other Our Minnesota Future organizations held a major event with candidates for Minnesota governor on April 29, 2018, in Willmar, Minn. We focused on how the candidates will work with us toward the bold solutions that we need in rural communities and across Minnesota.