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Think Global, Work Local

By Trish Olson, Director of Programs

My heart is heavy as I write this on Friday, September 11, the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
I was asked to write my reflections on the Family Development regional visits to date, and with 9/11 on my mind, I reflect on the importance of the expansion of our work to incorporate policies, systems, and environments as we plan our programs.

While much of our discussion during our recent regional visits revolved around policies, systems, and environments (PSE) that impact healthy food choices and physical activity,  we are also aware that other policies — local, regional, national and international — affect  Minnesota families in other ways, too.  For example, we heard in Northeast Minnesota how national trade policies impact the mining industry, which in turns impacts employment opportunities for families. We also discussed the growth of new immigrant and refugee populations across Southern Minnesota — again all influenced by various aspects of policy, systems, and environments.

Our discussions regionally have motivated me to be even more interested and committed to understand and keep abreast of policy, systems, and environmental changes that influence the families we serve and the agencies who serve them — including Extension. Here is an example from last week’s. “The president has decided to raise the number of Syrian refugees admitted to at least 10,000 in the fiscal year beginning in October from fewer than 2,000 this year.” The Syrian refugees could be our new neighbors to understand in order to meet our land-grant mission:

University of Minnesota is part of the national network of land-grant institutions with a mission to address critical public issues through teaching, research and outreach.

Extension delivers on the University's land-grant mission, working with Minnesotans to address important issues, creating a better world for future generations.

So how do you keep abreast of all the policies that impact families in Minnesota? Please share in the comments section below. I use online resources, including the Minneapolis Star Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Daily Skimm, BBC, and Reddit to keep up with world news, science, and politics.

What happens globally, impacts us locally.
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