From our 10,000 lakes to our backyards, from our city parks to our prairie land and boreal forests, our grand natural spaces are a unique point of pride for Minnesotans. We all agree that our state’s natural resources should be cared for, and as individuals, we take steps both big and small to do so. We walk the walk, why don’t we talk the talk?
This past summer, Upstream conducted a poll that found that 83% of Minnesotans trust others in our state to do the right thing when it comes to stewarding our shared environment. Minnesotans overwhelmingly share not only the same deep values for our natural spaces, but also a profound trust in each other. Unfortunately, our public dialogue doesn’t always match up.
Founded by a group of Minnesota leaders with divergent political, geographic and racial perspectives, Upstream is a new campaign that aims to reveal the true culture of Minnesota. We’re showing off what we as Minnesotans know in our hearts, but don’t always say – that we all care a lot about our natural spaces, and we all want to leave them better than we found them.
Upstream aims to remind Minnesotans that we’re all on the same team when it comes to stewardship. While we live different lives in different places, we all have a story to tell about how we use, experience and take care of the natural spaces that make Minnesota our home. And though it often feels like we’re given a binary spectrum of “us against them” in our politics, social media, news and more, our love for our places is so much larger than those differences.
Since the Upstream campaign began, we’ve talked to thousands of folks from across the state. Across race, politics or geography, everyone we’ve spoken to has shown this in their stories and actions. When it comes to something as universally important as our environment, we have a duty to come together and leverage this shared interest into something bigger than ourselves. Caring for our lands, lakes, parks and communities goes beyond politics and trends. As a state, our best shot of protecting our outdoor heritage comes when we build from this sense of trust in our neighbors.
As we consider resolutions and how we’re going to navigate 2024, we have a duty as Minnesotans to trust each other’s positive intentions, share stories of how we care for our state and learn from each other about the many ways we can continue to be better stewards to this place we call home. I invite you to start this conversation at the dinner table. Ask your family and friends about their favorite place, how they experience it and how they care for it. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how similar the answers are, and how much agreement there is that this place is worth caring for!
If you have a stewardship story, Upstream would like to hear and amplify it. Contact Andy Goldman-Gray firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about how you, your organization or your community can go Upstream.