E-Catalyst December 2020

Greetings all,

We hope that you are all doing as well as possible during these challenging times and wish you peace and the warmth of connections during this holiday season, even if they are virtual. 

As we come to the close of 2020, we want to remind you that we have changed our calendar of dues.  Membership is now yearly from January 1 to December 31.  Please remember to pay your dues.  If you have questions about what you owe, please email us (pjohnson2@udayton.edu or adrienne.falcon1@gmail.com.) If you want to make a special year-end contribution, we thank you in advance 

This newsletter shares our work over the past few months.  Keeping everything functioning has been a task.  We are thankful for those who have stepped forward to join the Board and help with projects:  Helene Haapala, Joan Higinbotham, Julia Tassava, and Margo Chihade. Sophie Rogers, who has been collaborating with us as an intern from Carleton College, has also officially joined the board this year.  We are highlighting new board members over the next few newsletters.  

We are excited for local work in 2021. This work includes advocacy around creating a healthy, safe, welcoming, and informed  community with the Northfield police; addressing environmental issues; and exploring issues of mental health.

1. New Board Members

Julia Tassava shares, “I joined the League in May 2020 through the Youth on Boards program in Northfield. I am very into politics and government, so the League was a perfect choice for me. I work as a youth co-secretary, and I also have been heavily involved with police policy work in our community for the past 6 months, which has included connecting with the police chief and city council members, conducting research and creating a police experience survey. In the future, I am excited to continue serving on the League and doing my part to encourage voting and civic engagement, as well as to continue working on the policing project.”

Joan Higinbotham shares, “I joined the Northfield League of Voters when I moved to Northfield last summer.  I wanted to learn more about my new community and get involved in League activities.  I’m a long time LWV member and have learned that local leagues are great places to get educated on local issues and take informed action.  That has certainly been true of my time in Northfield.  I’m impressed with the work that has been done on policing in Northfield, and am learning about law enforcement in a smaller community (Previous to my move I was a member of LWV Minneapolis.) I’m especially excited about the opportunity to work with younger activists, who are smart and strategic.  As a long time LWV member I’ve served on the Minneapolis board and also on the LWVMN board.” 

2. Voter Services

With the presidential election and all other state, local and federal offices on the ballot this year, Voter Services had a very active year. Some of those efforts were posted previously on our Facebook page, but we wanted to share a more thorough summary in our year-end newsletter:

  • Voter Registration Events: With the help of numerous volunteers from our local league, we attended many events over this year to help register voters for both the primary and general elections.  These included events at the Northfield Human Rights Commission’s MLK Day Celebration, St. Olaf’s MLK Day Celebration, Caucus and Primary Training at Carleton College, a registration contest at Northfield High School, outside of a Community Action Center event, and two Faribault Community Service events. 
  • Voter Education: In addition to providing election related information during the voter registration events above, Voter Services coordinated (again with the help of numerous volunteers who donated time, information and resources) a wide variety of other voter education efforts in the months leading to November 3.
  • Voter Services Bookmarks and Fact Sheets: We were able to create and distribute hundreds of flyers/bookmarks with information on how to register and vote to the Community Action Center, Retirement Centers, Assisted Living Facilities, Local Businesses, the Northfield Library, Little Libraries, St. Olaf College, Carleton College, and the Northfield Historical Society.
  • Lawn Signs: Vote from Home signs throughout the city in September/October and Vote Today signs on November 3. 
  • Candidate Forums:
    • County Commissioner: Live unique viewers: 17; YouTube views: 67
    • MN Senate (20 and 58): Live unique viewers:41; YouTube views: 124
    • MN House (20b and 58b): Live unique viewers:39; YouTube views: 113
    • City Council (At-large, W2, W3): Live unique viewers:82; YouTube views:  311
    • Mayor: Live unique viewers:52; YouTube views: 151
    • School Board: Live unique viewers: 105; YouTube views: 280
  • Vote411: The League contacted and encouraged local candidates to participate in the Vote411 voter guides.
  • Northfield Newspaper: The Northfield Newspaper provided in-depth coverage of our candidate forums and also published letters to the editor from our League.
  • Minnesota Secretary of State: The League organized a meeting (open to the public) with the Minnesota Secretary of State, Steve Simon where Mr. Simon spoke of the State’s efforts to make voting safe.   These efforts we centered on lowering election day congestion through a combination of increasing voting from home and ensuring polling places were adequately staffed with volunteers so voting moved quickly on election day.
  • Other: Letter writing campaigns.

Thanks to the efforts of Melanie Freeze, Voter Services Chair, and John Haberman, Co-Chair, the League was able to marshal resources and volunteers necessary to register numerous voters and provide the public with information and encouragement to partake in this year’s election. 

3.  Our Police Project by Amelia Arnold, League Youth Fellow

The police project is led by a group of Northfield youth, two Carleton College students and two adult advisors who I have had the immense pleasure of working with. We have been meeting since this last summer and we have worked hard to examine Northfield Police Procedure and alternative ways of policing. Last summer we met with the new Northfield Police Chief and talked with him about his goals for the police force. We also met with a professor at Metro State University who is now on the Minnesota POST Board. We talked with him about how policing is structured and police procedure. Recently we released a survey that all members of the community could take could take describing their interactions with the Northfield Police and have received over 200 responses. We are still taking them if you would like to complete one. We also did research on alternative policing methods that have worked in other places in the United States. With all of our information and data, we organized a community meeting on zoom and recorded it. The recording is available for people to watch and it was sent to Mayor Pownell and the Northfield committee that is reviewing police procedure at this time. We look forward to doing more research, talking to more people in our community and we are also exploring how to work on mental health and policing issues in the spring and how to collaborate with other leagues to explore state-wide possibilities. Please let us know if you would like to join our committee by emailing president@lwvnorthfieldmn.org.

4. State Issues

2021 Legislative Interview Guide

Leagues hold legislative interviews with legislators who won their races in the 2020 election. An updated guide with recommended questions is available on the Member Resources page under the Advocacy section. Asking the recommended questions and submitting a report to LWVMN helps us successfully advocate on our Legislative Priorities. Please consider participating in this invaluable piece of our advocacy strategy in collaboration with your local League leadership.

2021-2022 PPFM Campaign

With the completion of the 2020 election and impending completion of the 2020 Census and apportionment, 2021 and 2022 will have a strong focus on redistricting both at the state and
local levels. LWVMN’s approach is to provide resources and support, in conjunction with our statewide redistricting coalition, to local Leagues and individuals in order for them to engage in the aspects of redistricting that most interest them, with a level of commitment that works for them. 

In support of this, LWVMN will conduct two presentations via Zoom in order to discuss the campaign itself as well as opportunities for local League and individual involvement.

Register for Thursday, Jan. 7, 7:00-8:15 PM

5. Book Group Opportunities

The LWV Northfield/Cannon Falls is a sponsor of Northfield Reads.  Please consider participating in the following event:

Northfield Reads: An Indigenous People’s History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Thursday, January 21, 20217-8:30 p.m.

Presented online (Zoom) by Northfield Public Library

Join people in Northfield in a community book discussion! Read An Indigenous People’s History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, or the young people’s edition of the book, and then join the conversation on Zoom. Register for the program at mynpl.libcal.com/event/7328189 to receive the Zoom link. For more information, contact Northfield Public Library (507-645-6606, mynpl.org)

LWV Member Book Launch and Discussion

LWVMN is pleased to host League member and former MN State Representative Mindy Greiling in a discussion about her new book, “Fix What You Can: Schizophrenia and a Lawmaker’s Fight for Her Son,” on Thursday, January 28 at 6:30-7:30 pm. The event is co-hosted by NAMI-MN and the University of Minnesota Press.

After a brief presentation, Mindy will be joined by Ramsey County Commissioner Mary Jo McGuire and a county mental health staff person. The discussion will also include racial disparities in the mental health system, audience questions and free book drawings. Please put this date on your calendar!

We will have a Northfield Cannon Falls League Programming Planning meeting in late January and will send that announcement and another Newsletter in early January.

We wish you all good health and hope to see you all in person in the coming year.

Adrienne Falcon and Pat Johnson, co-presidents