Send us your tired, weary and down students

Southeast Como’s committee is empowering students to do more.

This is in response to Steve Ficker’s Nov. 16 guest column, “Students will benefit from Letofsky/DFL loss.”

University alumna Stephanie Hankerson and I have worked as environmental staff members for the Como Southeast neighborhood for the past 4 1/2 years. Each year we have done what we could to engage students, the neighborhood’s largest potential asset. The neighborhood organization even coaxed the University into creating a staff position dedicated to facilitating community relations. We also created two board positions to be held by student representatives. We want and need students to get involved.

Most people have no idea of the activities in our 15th Avenue office, such as Good Neighbor Agreements with industries, one of which removes more than 670 tons of solvent a year from the air and the other resulted in 100 percent control of their solvent emissions, which was about 160,000 pounds a year. At Van Cleve Park there are two community gardens. One garden is maintained by school-aged youths and involves delivering hand-cut flowers to senior citizens. Students likely also are unaware of how we worked in coalition with many folks in our Clean Energy Now! campaign, including Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, Sierra Club and Clean Water Action. We successfully pushed for cleanup of Xcel Energy’s oldest and dirtiest power plant north of campus.

We helped students with homework, provided internships, Internet access and summer jobs. We worked with businesses to give away bagels, hosted cookouts, the last one fed about 700 people, all for free. We are working on a residential solar project, organic lawn care and hope to expand the 10 community gardens. We continue to provide grants to Como businesses, send out a newsletter to Como residents and e-mail an e-newsletter to provide up to date event and crime information. We have student opportunities. You can start today ” there are open comment periods regarding University environmental operations. Our doors are open. Call me at (612) 676-1731, e-mail me at [email protected], or check out www.secomo.org. Will you sit on the sidelines and let opportunity pass you by or are you going to get involved in your community?

Justin Eibenholzl is the environmental coordinator for Southeast Minneapolis Neighborhoods. Please send comments to [email protected]