Welcome to Carleton MPIRG! We make positive change happen in public policy across the state, in our local community, and on our campus. For the best and most up to date information on our activities and events, please visit our campus page here.
For information about our campaign to restore funding to MPIRG at Carleton, check out our "Why MPIRG?" page. Then, read About MPIRG to learn more about MPIRG at Carleton and across the state. We work on issues relating to the environment, social justice, and consumer protection.
MPIRG tabling in the public interest at Carleton College
What We've Accomplished // Through our events, petition drives, and voter engagement efforts, we have educated over 1500 Carleton students this year about some of the most pressing issues facing our society and given them the opportunity to take action and make a difference. Below is a list of our main events and activities this year.
Activism Brunch (co-sponsored by WHOA House)
We brought together leaders from Carleton's many activist groups to talk with freshmen about the work that they are doing and how to get involved.
Candidate Forum (co-sponsored by the ACT Center and the CSA Senate)
Nine candidates running to represent Carleton students in local and state government spoke about their stances on the issues that matter to us.
Election Watching Party
We hosted a party to watch election results come in from Minnesota and across the country.
Human Trafficking Movie Screening
Our Social Justice Task Force screened the documentary Very Young Girls about sex trafficking in the United States, and presented their research on policy solutions to the problem of human trafficking.
Save the Boundary Waters!
The Environmental Task Force showed a documentary about sulfide mining in northern Minnesota, which threatens to pollute the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and invited a couple of speakers from nonprofit organizations to talk about the issue.
The Future of Minnesota Politics (co-sponsored by WHOA House)
We brought MPIRG's Executive Director to campus to speak about the results of the 2010 elections and what to watch out for in the years ahead.
Town Hall Meeting with Senator DeKruif and Representative Woodard
Our state senator and state representative spoke about their priorities for this legislative session and took questions from the audience on a wide range of issues.
Eat the Farm Bill! (co-sponsored by Food Truth and SOPE)
We held a panel discussion about food policy on a national, local, and campus level and what we can do to change it, featuring an organizer from the Land Stewardship Project, a local organic farmer, and students from MPIRG and Food Truth.
Stop the Dirty Air Act petition
The U.S. Senate was considering a bill that would strip the EPA of its ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. We collected signatures to Senators Klobuchar and Franken urging them to oppose the bill.
Save the Boundary Waters petition
We collected petition signatures in opposition to environmentally destructive sulfide mining practices in northern Minnesota.
Oppose Voter ID petition
A bill is currently pending before the Minnesota State Legislature that would make it much more difficult for students to vote in Minnesota. We passed around a petition to State Representative Woodard urging him to oppose this bill, and we also conducted a photo petition with a cardboard cutout of a voter ID card.
Carleton students ready for action!
Current Campaigns //
Rice County Sustainable Agriculture Campaign /
We are working to pass an Organic Conversion Policy in Rice County that would provide financial assistance to farmers transitioning from conventional to organic farming. This policy, the first of its kind in the state, would make a big difference in building a more sustainable food system in our region.
More land is used for agriculture than for anything else in the United States. The way that our food is produced has a profound impact on the natural environment, the health of consumers and farm workers, and the economic well-being of small farmers and rural communities.
Pesticides used in food production contaminate our water supply and increase the risk of many types of cancer. Fertilizer runoff contributes to the formation of vast "dead zones" in our oceans. Animals kept in close confinement are fed a steady diet of antibiotics to ward off disease, contributing to the emergence of new antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that can be deadly in humans.
Farmers are squeezed by a system in which they receive only 20 cents of every dollar spent on food, the rest going to large seed and chemical corporations and other middlemen. Farmland has become concentrated in ever fewer hands, resulting in the depopulation and economic decline of many small rural communities.
We must find a way to feed ourselves that is conducive to the long-term well-being of our planet and the people who live on it. Right here in Rice County, we can take steps to build an agricultural system that protects the environment and provides a fair living to local farmers.
What we're doing on campus
We are running a campaign in Rice County to enact policies that will promote the growth of a sustainable and fair agricultural system in our region. Together with members of Food Truth and local foods activists and sustainable farmers around Northfield, we are working to build grassroots pressure and lobby our county commissioners to pass the following two policies:
The Local Foods Purchasing Policy would require county-run institutions to purchase as much locally-grown and sustainably-produced food as possible. Institutions like the county jail spend tens of thousands of dollars each year on food, and nearly all of this money flows right out of the region. By redirecting some of this money to local farmers, we can keep the money circulating in our local community and promote sustainable agricultural practices at the same time.
Under the Local Foods Purchasing Policy, the first priority would be to purchase any given food item from a local certified-organic farmer. If this item cannot be obtained from a local organic source within a designated price range, the next priority is to purchase it from a local conventional farmer. Only if the item is not available from a local organic or local conventional farmer at a reasonable price will it be purchased from a non-local source.
The Organics Conversion Policy would provide short-term financial support to farmers who convert part or all of their land from conventional to organic production. The transition period between organic and conventional production is financially challenging, because federal law requires that farmers use organic methods for three years before their products can be marketed as "organic." Thus, farmers are using organic methods (which are sometimes more expensive and more labor-intensive) without benefiting from the higher prices that organic goods often receive.
The Organics Conversion Policy would provide property tax rebates to organic farmers for the first five years of their transition, to defray some of the costs of conversion. This assistance would be available to current farmers as well as new farmers.
In addition to reducing fossil fuel consumption and eliminating the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, organic farms are more economically productive per acre than conventional farms (after the initial transition period has passed). Encouraging the conversion of farmland from conventional to organic production would help increase the level of rural economic activity in Rice County and protect farmland from encroaching suburban development.
For more information, contact Ben Hellerstein, Carleton MPIRG's co-chair, to get involved in promoting a sustainable and fair food system in our region.
Northfield Business Recycling Campaign / Many businesses in Northfield do not recycle their paper, plastics, and aluminum, sending these materials to a landfill instead. We are in the beginning stages of a campaign to pass a business recycling policy in Northfield that would require businesses to recycle.
Anti-Human Trafficking / The Anti-Human Trafficking force is dedicated to combating the crime of human trafficking, especially sex trafficking, in the state of Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety reports that 14,500-17,500 men, women and children are trafficked into the United States each year. Minnesota is the 13th most heavily sex trafficked state in the nation. Therefore, we work to stop the sex slave trade. We both raise awareness of domestic human trafficking and push for legislation that will improve the lives of victims of the sex trade. During the fall of 2010, we held a campus-wide screening of Very Young Girls, an investigation done by GEMS (Girls Educational & Mentoring Services) into the commercial sexual exploitation of girls in the United States as they are sold on the streets by pimps, and treated as adult criminals by police. Following the film, we had dinner and an intense discussion about sex trafficking and legislation in Minnesota. We plan to gather more support for the Victim Support Act of 2010 and hope to propose "Safe Harbor" Laws in Minnesota. Much enthusiasm for the fight against human trafficking was generated at the film screening and discussion, and some ideas proposed at the event include starting an outreach group for children vulnerable to the sex slave trade and fundraising money to donate to GEMS. We also plan on screening some mini-series about this issue and holding an Awareness Day in the future.
Jeff Blodgett, the Founding Director of Wellstone Action, Carleton alum, and a former MPIRG Board Member from 1981, gives a presentation on the history of organizing social and political movements.
Democracy Initiatives / The Democracy Task Force is dedicated to promoting the empowerment of citizens by increasing participation in the democratic process and building grassroots support and awareness to strengthen the integrity of our civic institutions. Task force activists worked throughout the 2010 campaign season to bring a strong youth voice to the polls, collecting over 300 voter registrations, distributing impartial candidate guides, and reminding students and Northfield community members alike to make themselves heard on November 2nd! Further goals include raising the visibility of the explosively growing role of corporate funding in the electoral process and fostering commitment to long-term civic involvement.
Of the ten candidates vying to represent Carleton students, nine came to our forum!
Ben Hellerstein, firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle Hesterberg, email@example.com
Elissa Walter, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamison Tessneer, ext. 303, email@example.com