Decorah is trying to tackle it all. Our little town, where I’ve raised my family and which I represent as part of the City Council, has long been involved in sustainability.
Decorah is trying to tackle it all. Our little town, where I’ve raised my family and which I represent as part of the City Council, has long been involved in sustainability. I have invested significant energy in supporting these efforts.
My own sustainability journey began in college, during which time I studied urban design and rural renewal. This instilled in me a passion for civil planning and the preservation of green spaces. I even helped found Luther College’s Environmental Concerns group in 1994. My career has led me to serve on the Decorah Chamber of Commerce, Habitat for Humanity, Decorah Planning and Zoning, and Sustainability Commissions. I’ve seen the grassroots climate advocacy movement take shape in Decorah, watching with great pride as our city has become more sustainable over the years.
In 2006 we engaged with a much smaller crowd than we do today. Climate solutions were not yet tied to farms, money and carbon. In 2010 the movement gained some traction, with the formation of our sustainability group. However, we lacked carbon data to work off of, and our group was never adopted by the Council. Things picked up in 2017 with the revision of our sustainability plan and the adoption of a net zero emissions by 2030 plan. A sense of urgency drives this ambitious and broad statement and we are dedicated to furthering Decorah’s sustainability.
There is much to celebrate. Luther college is 8th in the nation for sustainability, with a 55% reduction of its carbon footprint since 2004. They have reduced their use of carbon power by almost 40% through the use of solar energy, and they have a wind tower. Though Decorah has limited land, solar energy is becoming increasingly common and it is heartening to see. As a SolSmart community, our city has agreed to implement ordinances for solar-friendly zoning, encouraging the growth of solar in Decorah. We also have a community bank that has financed solar projects including on my own business. This is possible through audits conducted by Winneshiek Energy District as well as the availability of tax credits and rebates from Alliant Energy. In fact, Decorah’s sustainability commission is also funded by Alliant franchise fees. These community partnerships and sources of funding will help us realize our net zero 2030 goal.
More recently, I’ve been excited about the City of Decorah’s passage of Resolution 3063, which will implement a carbon fee and dividend program to reduce carbon emissions and expand the use and efficiency of renewable energy, while minimizing economic disruption. If implemented across the country, this program could decrease emissions by a third and simultaneously add 2.1 million jobs. The average family of four would receive a monthly dividend of $288 made possible by fees collected from large carbon emitters. The passage of this resolution gives me hope that with perseverance, it could eventually be matched at the federal level. Each day, we get closer to a truly sustainable future.