The transition to an equitable, carbon-neutral economy will bring big changes to our communities. State and federal policies, utility programs, and the overall evolution from a world powered by oil and gas to a clean electricity-powered future, play out in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and homes. But it’s not just communities adapting to change. Cities, counties, and local institutions are often leading through model projects and Climate Action Plans to shape a new reality.
This summer, Fresh Energy will be hosting a webinar series to raise the question: How can we dramatically reduce carbon emissions in a way that improves our communities and benefits everyone?
Details on event dates and guest speakers are coming soon! Sign up here for an email update when this information is posted.
July 8 at 12 p.m.
Community Heating and Cooling: How can district-scale heat and power projects achieve big carbon reductions and new union jobs?
- Brian Larson, co-Founder and CEO of Darcy Solutions
- Tony Poole, Business Manager at Steamfitters Pipefitters Local 455
- Moderated by Fresh Energy’s Margaret Cherne-Hendrick, Ph.D., lead director, Energy Transition
July 15 at 12 p.m.
Workforce of the Future: How can Minnesota ensure broad access to jobs in the clean energy economy?
- Nina Axelson, VP – Sustainability and Outreach at Ever-Green Energy
- Robert Blake, Founder and CEO of Solar Bear
- Moderated by Fresh Energy’s Ben Passer, lead director, Energy Access and Equity
July 22 at 12 p.m.
Authentic Community Engagement: What is the difference between public input and a co-created climate vision?
- Russ Stark, Chief Resilience Officer at the City of Saint Paul
- Additional speakers coming soon
- Moderated by Fresh Energy’s Janiece Watts, senior associate, Energy Access and Equity, who serves on the City of Saint Paul’s Climate Justice Advisory Board
July 29 at 12 p.m.
Electricity Instead of Gas: How can communities embrace efficiency and electrification and avoid new fossil gas infrastructure?
- Margaret Garasica, Associate Director at Elevate
- Additional speakers coming soon
- Moderated by Fresh Energy’s Margaret Cherne-Hendrick, Ph.D., lead director, Energy Transition.
Brian Larson, Co-Founder and CEO of Darcy Solutions
Brian found a love of the land as a child, while spending time on his grandmother’s farm near Willmar, MN. His studies in Economics at the University of Minnesota led him to pursue his MBA at Indiana University. In the early part of his career he was employed by various large oil and gas companies on the west coast and southern gulf coast, regularly working closely with geologists and geophysicists.
Brian’s passion for innovation and problem-solving brought him to work at the consulting firm McKinsey – gaining invaluable knowledge on how to build great companies and design growth strategies. His desire to use innovation to make the world a better place led him to a 14-year career at Cargill. Brian is always looking for an opportunity to do something impactful and use his 30+ years of business experience to elevate brilliant entrepreneurs. When Brian and Jimmy Randolph met, it became clear that the duo’s shared a desire to protect the planet for future generations inspires their partnership at Darcy Solution
Robert Blake, Founder & CEO of Solar Bear
Robert Blake is the owner of Solar Bear, pronounced Gizis-o-makwa in Ojibwe, a solar installation company located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Also, Robert is the Executive Director of Native Sun Community Power Development, a Non-Profit likewise located in Minneapolis. Robert is a graduate student enrolled in the University of Minnesota’s Carlson Executive Master of Business Administration (CEMBA) program. Robert is a tribal citizen of the Red Lake Nation. His passion is spreading the word about renewable energy through communication, cooperation, and collaboration.
Nina Axelson, Vice President – Sustainability and Outreach at Every-Green Energy
Nina Axelson oversees public affairs for Ever-Green Energy and its affiliates. Axelson’s role includes oversight of legislative and local government affairs, community outreach and philanthropy, and education programming, including the development of the Saint Paul EcoDistrict. She has led major initiatives for the organization, including project development and oversight of the nation’s largest solar thermal installation and authoring of studies for clients, the Department of Energy, and the International Energy Agency. Axelson currently serves on the Board of Directors for the International District Energy Association and Clean Energy Economy Minnesota. Prior to joining Ever-Green, Axelson worked in community and business development with a focus on energy and the environment. Axelson holds a BS in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies from the University of Minnesota.
Russ Stark, Chief Resilience Officer at the City of Saint Paul
Russ Stark is the Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Saint Paul working in Mayor Melvin Carter’s Office. Previously, Russ Served for 10 years on the Saint Paul City Council including three years as Council President. Prior to his public service, he worked at nonprofits focused on community development, environmental advocacy, and improved transportation options, including early planning for what is now the Green Line LRT. Russ has a Bachelor’s in Political Science from Swarthmore College and a Master’s of Urban Affairs and Public Policy from the University of Delaware.
Margaret Garascia, Associate Director, Research and Innovation at Elevate Energy
Margaret Garascia is Senior Manager for Research and Innovation at Elevate Energy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to designing and implementing programs that lower costs, protect people and the environment, and ensure the benefits of renewable energy reach those who need them most. As part of the Elevate research team, Ms. Garascia conducts research on whether low- and moderate-income households are equitably served by renewable energy programs. In addition, she coordinates Elevate’s research, policy, and demonstration projects on building decarbonization with a focus on the affordable housing sector. She also conducts quantitative and qualitative research on topics including energy insecurity, water affordability, and residential energy use. She was lead author of a report on the multifamily building stock in Chicago and the potential for energy savings. She has presented and written on the relationship between energy efficiency, health, and wellbeing in forums including Electricity Journal, Retrofit Magazine, American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, and others. Prior to this role, Ms. Garascia worked as an Analyst for ADI Consulting, where she advised mortgage lenders regarding potential race- and genderbased discrimination in origination and pricing. Before attending graduate school at the University of Texas, she was an organizing fellow with Environment America in Boston, MA. She is a proud graduate of Wellesley College.