Issue 54— May 24, 2023
founded by Minnesota Women's Press, a media pioneer since 1985


Media That Makes a Difference

Changemakers Alliance (CALL) is a supporter-driven, action-oriented expansion of Minnesota Women's Press and that brings people together in conversations about values, solutions, and action steps.

Thanks to CALL donors, our visits to communities statewide have begun. This weekly newsletter will inform you about what we are learning, and eventually lead to full stories at

Our goal with Hometown Values & Vision listening is to first understand more about statewide needs and solution-makers, for future stories, and then to lift up best practices that are helping whole communities thrive and that are working to reduce gender-based violence and other public safety issues.

Virginia main street
Lewiston forum on water quality
Thanks to Vote Run Lead's underwriting of our story development on

In Virginia, Minnesota, Vote Run Lead and 100 Rural Women hosted a forum Saturday to share advice with people who want to run for local government, board, and committee positions. When needs are not being met by long-standing governance, and the same small group of community volunteers are burning out, how are people stepping up while also taking care of family?

Panelists included Nicole Culbert-Dahl, newly elected to the Virginia school board after recognizing that the aging men on the board had no deeper knowledge of the issues than she did as a mom.

Julie Lucas, city supervisor for the township of French, pointed out that elected leadership tends to be a thankless job, but she enjoys getting things done and is excited about the border-to-border fiber internet that will be a game-changer in French by 2024.

We also met the newly elected mayor of Ely, Heidi Omerza — the second female mayor in that town — who succeeded on a platform that recognized the northern Minnesota trifecta needs of workforce development, housing, AND childcare.

The forum included the powerful campaign video of Candace Valenzuela, who ran for a U.S. congressional seat in Dallas, Texas, in 2020 — emphasizing her experience with social issues at a personal level. Though she lost to a Republican candidate, she is now a regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
On Tuesday we listened at a forum that featured a deep panel of people engaged with issues of juvenile justice.

The police chief of Brooklyn Park, Mark Bruley, indicated he and his team can sadly predict with some accuracy who will be the next youth victim or shooter in the community. He said, yes, there are too many people with easy access to guns, but we also need to understand "the desire for a young man to get a gun, the power that he feels he possesses when he has that gun."

Bruley noted, "We've never seen police pursuits like we do now. It is a game that a small group of juveniles play — to steal a car, find a police officer, and get into a pursuit; even 12 year old girls are doing this. There is an unusual calling to be involved in this really risky behavior."

He indicated that regulations restrict cooperation between schools, hospital personnel, and law enforcement, so a team approach cannot yet be made to align resources into prevention and intervention for the small percentage of juvenile offenders.

Newly elected Hennepin County attorney general Mary Moriarty said this particular collaborative approach — with healthy-masculinity advocates, the Brooklyn Park mayor, violence prevention workers, a police chief, and the county attorney general together in a panel discussion — was unique. She said it brings her hope that new partnerships will actually be able to build a more effective system of public safety. She indicated, as did others on the panel, how transformative justice for youth can serve as a diversion from crime in a way that punishment alone does not.

Panelists included community advocates Kevin Reese, Jamil Jackson, and Tekoa Cochran. They talked about the differences between the concepts of accountability and responsibility; the latter being attuned to what it means to be part of a community that looks out for each other, which feeds a need of many struggling youth.

Moriarty and Sasha Cotton, strategy director for the National Network for Safe Communities, indicated that punishment does not automatically help victims heal from violent crime. Moriarty said, "What does justice mean? For some people that means [seeing] a long prison sentence. For others, it doesn't. As county attorney, what I have to look at in every individual case is what we can do with this particular youth to keep the community safe. When we're talking about youth, [as another speaker indicated earlier], no matter what type of heinous act they commit, they are still youth and they have an opportunity to be rehabilitated."

Moriarty added that a 12-year-old in the system now is probably being sent to a program in Utah because we don't have anywhere local to put him — we still don't have the resources we need to deal effectively with prevention and intervention.

Cotton added that after she was the victim of a violent crime, and the perpetrator was given a long sentence, "it did not make me feel safe. What I learned about their histories was multiple child juvenile cases and traumas in their life. I don't even know if they are continuing to cause harm or if they have done some reduction [of harm] work because the system doesn't really give us an answer."

A deeper story will appear in our upcoming "Melanated Main Streets" series at, as will a story from Friday when a diverse cohort gathered in Brooklyn Center to learn more about conflict resolution as a step toward deep democracy.

GoSeeDo: George Floyd Anniversary
Thursday, May 25th 5:30-8p @ The Square
Thursday, May 25th - Saturday May 27th, various locations

video about how contaminants get into drinking water

On Monday, we listened in on a League of Women Voters forum in Lewiston, near Winona, co-hosted by Land Stewardship Project and others. More than 100 community members gathered for a panel discussion about serious water quality issues and sink holes in the karst landscape region that is sending dangerous chemicals from topsoils into the drinking water and streams that connect to the Mississippi River and other parts of the Root River watershed.

Thanks to Seward Co-op for underwriting local economies and ecosystems stories
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Each month it costs us at least $25,000 to produce the Minnesota Women's Press magazine and — for a team of four full-time employees and three-part-time employees, plus rising paper and distribution costs. We have trouble bringing that revenue in each month, which makes it difficult to do what we want to do with ongoing stories about public safety, statewide conversations, and restoring ecosystems and economies.

Can you help by becoming a monthly Changemakers Alliance member?
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This video by Dragonfly Eye Productions tells the story of Changemakers Alliance.
Related Reading

Junauda Petrus's new storybook, "Can We Please Give the Police Departments to the Grandmothers?" suggests how public safety could lead to healing if we had more love, instead of fear, involved.
Thanks to Valvoline's underwriting of our Hometown Values & Vision statewide listening sessions to come, and story development for our Reducing Gender-Based Violence and Diversity in Politics series
Signal your interest in statewide action steps we will be writing about alongside gender-based violence advocates. We have more than 500 people signed up to learn more. After our Hometown Values & Vision visits this summer we will begin to connect the networks.
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