Mind Opener Policy Conversations

Deep dives into policy topics that affect Minnesota and its residents

Mind Opener is our longtime series of policy learning events that open doors for people to learn about and connect to policy issues. These conversations, sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, explore the nuances of these complex topics. The hope is for our attendees to leave informed, interested, and with a deeper understanding of policy issues in Minnesota. 

Since 2020, all events are recorded and can be viewed online, below.

Minnesota’s Changing Environment & Climate

September 20, 2022

In this Mind Opener, we discussed how we connect to the space we call home, how we care for it and how to best address the challenges facing our environment. We heard from our panel — Huda Ahmed, Principal, Transformational Solutions and MN Upstream & Dr. Heidi Roop, Director, University of Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership — about our changing climate and how we can communicate these challenges, to bring everyone together and preserve the beauty of Minnesota.

How Do I Talk to My Neighbor Again?

May 5, 2022

This Mind Opener explored healthy conversations in an era of hyper-polarization, with a focus on defining boundaries and building healthy habits and tools to co-exist in community with neighbors, friends, or family, even as we hold different views.

The Citizens League hosted this online discussion with Minister JaNaé Bates, communications director for Faith in Minnesota and ISAIAH, and Howard Lavine, Associate Dean of the Social Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Arleen C. Carlson Professor of Political Science and Psychology.

Life After the 2020 Census: Redistricting, Gerrymandering, and Representation

January 26, 2022

On January 26, 2022, the Citizens League was joined by three guests who have first-hand experience with redistricting for a discussion that went beyond the headlines to understand what’s at stake. We welcomed Annastacia Belladonna-Carrera, Executive Director for Common Cause Minnesota; Alexis (Lexi) Stangl, Lead Counsel for the Nonpartisan Senate Counsel, Research, and Fiscal Analysis (SCRFA) Office of the Minnesota Senate; and Kevin J. Matzek, State Government Relations with Lockridge Grindal Nauen P.L.L.P. Watch this virtual even designed for anyone interested in how redistricting works, why it matters, and what you can do to participate and engage in this historic process that will shape our future.

Healthy Democracy, Healthy People

December 17, 2021

The connection between a strong democracy and opportunities for engagement are key to a healthy community. Learn the ways in which a healthy democracy and strong civic engagement impacts regions at the individual, family and community level, and as they make the case for people to get involved wherever they can from our panelists: Jessica Barba Brown, Senior Advisor, Healthy Democracy Healthy People Initiative; Dr. Jokho Farah, Consultant; Diane Tran, System Executive Director of Community Health Equity and Engagement, M Health Fairview.

Evictions Policy in a Post-COVID World

March 1, 2021

Evictions have largely been on hold in Minnesota during the COVID pandemic, due to emergency orders from both the state and federal level. But those orders will expire at some point – what will be the landscape for evictions at that time? What policies should be considered now to prepare for how evictions should be exercised after the orders are lifted? And what are the impacts on families, landlords, and communities? Hear from our panel, Luke Grundman, Managing Attorney, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid; and Jennifer Ho, Commissioner, Minnesota Housing Finance Authority.

Why Treaties Matter, and How They Shape our Communities Today

February 8, 2021

The State of Minnesota exists because of treaties that were signed with Native Americans. In reality, none of those treaties have been fully honored, even though they’re still in effect today. What do each of us need to know about treaties as we live and work in Minnesota today, especially working in policy and politics? Watch this conversation for a primer and a conversation about policies that could be considered to address treaties in Minnesota and create greater opportunities for Indigenous Minnesotans today. Our Panel: Kate Beane (Flandreau Santee Sioux), Director of Native American Initiatives, Minnesota Historical Society, and Martin Case, Author of “The Relentless Business of Treaties: How Indigenous Land Became US Property”

Discriminatory Transportation Policies & The Rondo Neighborhood

November 12, 2020

Listen as we take a deep dive with experts to understand the ways in which the development of I-94 disrupted the thriving African American/Black community in the Rondo Neighborhood, how this has led to greater racial disparities for communities across Minnesota, why this history matters, what’s being done to address the harm that was caused, and how you can get involved in the conversation. Moderator Noel Nix, Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Relations, City of Saint Paul, is joined by Marvin Anderson, Chair of Rondo Center of Diverse Expression, Co-Founder Rondo Days Festival, Project Director of the Rondo Commemorative Plaza, and Board Chair of ReConnect Rondo; and Nick Khaliq, former head of the St. Paul NAACP, firefighter, and interim St. Paul City Councilmember.

Structural Racism in Healthcare: Impact on Black Mothers

September 25, 2020

On Friday, September 25, we heard from experts about the ways structural racism in the healthcare system impact maternal health outcomes for Black women, how social isolation and loneliness impact Black mothers, and ways to get involved in the conversation and create a more equitable healthcare system. We were joined by Monica Jones, Founder of Melanated Mamas, and Chalonne Wilson, Momma, and moderated by Asha Hassan, Associate Research Manager at Planned Parenthood North Central States; UofM Health Services Research, Policy, and Administration PhD student; 

How Urban Design Can Affect a Community’s Health

September 3, 2020

Hear from experts about the importance of urban design, how space and place can impact our health, the role urban design plays in ending racial disparities, and ways you can get involved in the conversation. Our panel, moderated by Citizens League director of public policy Amanda Koonjbeharry, includes Cameran Bailey, Regional Solar & Environmental Planner, Metropolitan Council; and Juana Sandoval, Project Engineer, Toole Design.

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