My wife and I have lived on a small lake in the Brainerd Lakes area for the past several years. We were happy to see that money from the BP settlement could be provided to help Minnesota's loon population (Minnesota section, Oct. 10). Loons have struggled to find suitable nesting sites as a result of the development of our lakes. Fortunately, lakeshore property owners have been putting out nesting platforms for many years. These platforms really work and have improved nesting opportunities for loons. The platforms have helped to sustain our loon population. One of the biggest threats to loons going forward is the growing population of eagles who prey on loon chicks. We love both our eagles and loons and do what we can to protect both.

Steve Erickson, Pequot Lakes, Minn.

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The article about the BP settlement referred to "Minnesota's beloved loon population" being the recipient of funds because of "research spearheaded by Carrol Henderson, the recently retired nongame wildlife leader for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources." The article might appropriately have also used "beloved" in front of Henderson's name. He has been/is a Minnesota treasure.

Paige Winebarger, Bloomington

Impressive advocacy (which brings another thought to mind)

I applaud Sophia Manolis, Lia Harel, Gabriel Kaplan, Marco Hunt, Shaza Hussein, Katie Christiansen and Sofia Valdes and for their brilliant Oct. 11 commentary about climate-change impacts ("The future is terrifying; we have to act — now"). They provide a bright light through the crack of this insanity that we are all surrounded by day in and day out. Their clarity of purpose and specificity of goals are on point and should be taken with the utmost seriousness. These are their lives! Their children's lives!

Minnesota can take the reins here, working in collaboration with other reality-based states and countries to show the world that we can do this — we can succeed in fighting climate change. I hope every Minnesotan who is running for office read their article and has plans to do something now. These seven young people, and millions of others, are demanding it.

Sharon DeMark, St. Paul

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The terrific climate commentary by a set of high school students (along with the presentations by the students in Parkland, Fla., after the shooting in their school) shows why something I have proposed unsuccessfully for a number of years should happen. That is lowering the voting age to 16. The fact that 16-year-olds are in high school studying civics makes this particularly relevant. The arguments against this are the same as those raised against giving women the vote. We allow 16-year-olds to drive, and a careless driver can do far more harm than a careless voter. Besides, many are working and paying taxes, so this becomes an egregious case of taxation without representation.

Phyllis Kahn, Minneapolis

The writer is a former member of the Minnesota House.


Thanks but no thanks for advice from industry representative

I want to thank Chris Ventura for his Oct. 8 letter in defense of the Line 3 pipeline-replacement proposal — I am always grateful to hear from an Ohioan representative of an oil industry special-interest group coming to the defense of Minnesotans by attacking our own Department of Commerce ("Minnesota Commerce Dept. undermines its economic goals"). The oil industry has always had the interests of Minnesotans first in their hearts, never allowing the pursuit of profit to lead them astray. Be that as it may, some corrections are called for.

First, with the vast majority of the crude oil borne by Line 3 traveling out of state for export and Minnesota refineries consistently working at or near capacity, it is difficult to determine which Minnesotans will have difficulty heating their homes without the new pipeline, as Ventura implies.

Second, although Ventura claims that natural gas and oil "aren't going anywhere," even before the recent release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warning of global catastrophe within our lifetimes if we don't stop carbon emissions, 16 countries had already passed laws encouraging electric-car sales, with total bans on gas cars on their way. Furthermore, nearly every country on Earth (including the U.S., despite the claims of the president) has agreed to an international agreement to phase out the use of fossil fuels. Thus, Ventura appears to be mistaken — oil and natural gas are going somewhere; namely, the grave.

Though the input is appreciated, I don't find Ventura's defense convincing. Unfortunately, we may be stuck suffering with our booming renewable-energy sector.

Rami Jubara, Minneapolis

Innovation to address hunger: Less waste, better use of supply

Tuesday is World Food Day, yet 1 in 11 households in Minnesota struggle with hunger. The issue is as pervasive as it is quiet, and many of our neighbors endure the challenge of putting enough food on the table. At the same time, 40 percent of food in the U.S. is wasted each year. Over the past year, General Mills and Feeding America partnered to create an innovative solution to connect surplus food in the delivery system with families in need.

Carriers driving trucks full of product across the U.S. work within complex supply chains. Not every delivery to a grocery store, wholesaler or food service provider is flawless. Incorrect quantities or slightly damaged packaging can result in product that is commercially unsalable, but perfectly safe to consume.

That's where Feeding America's technology platform, MealConnect, comes in. MealConnect joins surplus product with food banks like Minnesota's Second Harvest Heartland, an organization that distributed more than half a million meals to people in need last year, alone. The program has the potential to redirect between 55 million and 60 million pounds of perfectly good food to hungry families through food banks around the country each year, and is scaling nationally this fall. It means that food banks like Second Harvest Heartland will be able to serve the community even more effectively in the future than they do today.

Less food waste and less hunger — two big wins for Minnesotans, and all Americans.

This letter was submitted by Matt Knott, president of Feeding America; Mary Jane (Melendez) Laird, executive director of the General Mills Foundation; and Rob Zeaske, CEO of Second Harvest Heartland in Minnesota.


At debate, it seemed like only one candidate would represent me

I was the only nonwhite person in the room at the governor's debate between Jeff Johnson and Tim Walz last Tuesday in Willmar.

I am new to being involved in politics, and I was excited to listen and learn about the candidates and their vision for our state — for the place I call home. What I experienced was disappointing and scary. It also showed me that there is a clear choice for the kind of future we want in Minnesota.

In the debate, Johnson said that "the Somali community is not achieving the American dream" and that we should not let in more refugees. I was disheartened, and even more so to hear the people around me applaud. I was in the front row, so it was impossible for Johnson to say that and not look at me — a Somali woman in a hijab.

I am an example of a Somali person who has achieved the American dream. I am 20 years old, a college graduate and a first-generation author. I have worked hard to create a community that is about welcoming — so have all the Somali people I know in Willmar. Does Johnson even know any of us?

I know I'm new to this whole politics thing, but I also know that politics shouldn't be about creating fear. At the end of the debate, Walz came to find me to say that I belong in his vision of Minnesota. The Oct. 10 Star Tribune article about this debate says both candidates are vying to represent Greater Minnesota communities. Only one seems to mean it.

Hamdi Kosar, Willmar, Minn.