Posted by Melissa Musliner on Sep 21, 2023

Rotary in Review:

September 19, 2023

Speaker John Vaughn, Fresh Energy

At 5:15, President Heidi called the meeting to order.

She thanked the meeting volunteers: Peter Rosendale and Pat Hartford, Greeters; Susan Rostkoski, Happy Dollars/Visiting Rotarians; Pete Grayson, Inspiration Minute; Melissa Musliner, Scribe; Ken Crabb, Nobel Orji, and Al Zdrazil, Tech Team; and Amanda Mai, Club Coordinator.

We recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Pete Grayson reminded us that, even as things change over time in Rotary, service remains constant, and Rotary changes lives. He quoted Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Pete led us in the Four Way Test.

Paul Meekin introduced the program speaker, John Vaughn of Fresh Energy.

John has been working with Fresh Energy for 4 ½ months. He was drawn to the word “bold” in the organization’s mission statement: Shape and drive bold policy solutions to achieve equitable carbon-neutral economies. John works on two projects:

Green Bank

The 2023 MN Legislature passed bills to create and fund the Minnesota Climate Innovation Finance Authority, or Green Bank. We are the 31st state to create a Green Bank. The Green Bank can provide loans or grants, with up to 25% seed funding. It will use public dollars to leverage private investment to demonstrate the performance of clean energy projects in our market. The State of Connecticut has done $100B in loans and grants.

White Earth Tribal & Community College, in partnership with the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance launched a solar training certificate program during the pandemic. This is the state’s first solar training program. This summer, the program’s participants were offered an additional opportunity of paid on-the-job training with Minnesota Power. One participant started a native-owned solar business. We will see more small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Neighborhood Electrification Projects

The State’s goal is to be carbon-free by 2040. John’s focus is the housing sector. There are more than 2 million housing units in the state that all need to be carbon-free in the next 15 years. He has to find two cities/neighborhoods to pilot electrifying all of their homes. This will include adding solar grids, weatherizing, and adding heat units. The City of Crookston might join because they have to do a big infrastructure project right now. It has been done other places, like Ithaca NY. Duluth has already done an analysis of their housing units to determine what they would have to do to be carbon-free. The State of Minnesota Department of Commerce is creating 30+ programs for funding. Some funds from the Federal government are supposed to go to MN Environmental Justice Communities. These include Metro areas like North Minneapolis, Frogtown, the East Side, and Brooklyn Park, as well as large swaths of Northern and Northwestern Minnesota, including Ojibwe reservations.

John invited us to the Fresh Energy fundraiser on October 12 from 8-9:30 a.m. at the St. Paul River Centre to hear the new Executive Director, Brenda Cassellius, and video guest Stacy Abrams. More information can be found at

Paul Meekin talked about the Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group and encouraged us to become involved through local service projects. He shared projects other clubs have done and asked for ideas from our club. Two suggestions were to clean up Lowertown and add an EV charging station on Summit Avenue. Paul would like to get a group of interested St. Paul Rotarians together to explore next steps during the second half of October. If interested, please contact Paul at or 651-247-9332

Heidi asked the trivia question: In what year was the Rotary bell first used and why? The answer was 1922. It resulted from an attendance contest and was given to a club in New York.

Susan Rostkoski collected Happy Dollars.

Heidi introduced Sam Thompson from the Edina noon club, who is chairing our bid to host the International Convention in Minnesota in 2029. We are competing only with San Francisco at this point.

The committee is coming here next week. We need a big turnout of Rotarians to impress them. There is a reception at the Nicollet Island Pavilion on September 27 from 6 to 8. Mayor Frey is expected. On September 28, the Edina club is hosting an all-Rotary lunch and speaker program, with Marilyn Carlson Nelson. Please join in.

Other upcoming events and announcements:

Please vote for the luncheon venue.

We have a new pin tin – please feel free to borrow a pin for a meeting.

Habitat for Humanity – 9/20/2023

Board Meeting – 9/20/2023

Luncheon program on health equity with Maykao Hang – 9/26/2023

Ken Crabb described the upcoming Rotary training opportunities:

One Summit and Conference of Clubs

Winter Spark will be held December 7th at Metro State. There will be a pre-party at the home of Dayle Quigley and Scott Arndt. Details to come.

President Heidi adjourned the meeting.

Submitted by Melissa Musliner, scribe