Public comment from Sean Connaughty on Hiawatha Golf Course Master Plan

Presented to MPRB board during meeting on March 23, 2021

Hiawatha was the Iroquois chief who founded the Iroquois Confederacy over 800 years ago making it the oldest living participatory democracy on earth. Hiawatha resolved conflict, brought Peoples together… a peacemaker. A fitting namesake for this Lake.
Lake Hiawatha is a microcosm.
I care deeply about racial and environmental justice in equal measure. That’s why I'm here. I am not here to advocate for destroying or eliminating Hiawatha Golf Course. I am not alone in this.
If the plan fails, nothing will change. The unaddressed pollution issues, rising waters, sinking land and the climate crisis will eventually destroy the Lake, the wildlife, the ecology and the golf course which is poised to sink beyond saving in a vicious cycle of ever increasing pumping and subsidence, to be finally overwhelmed and destroyed by a changing climate, the sinking land ultimately reclaimed by the trash-choked, and polluted water. The perception that environmental concerns and racial justice are at odds will be worsened and our efforts to come together to heal the Earth and its people defeated, the community embittered and divided. All because we were incapable of reaching a compromise to address the critical problems of our time. That is not what I want to see happen. The solution is right before us.. The vision I choose to believe in and have dedicated the past seven years to, is one of compromise where everyone is heard including golfers, neighbors, environmental stewards, etc.

The plan, a 9 hole golf course compromise, was derived from seven years of intensive public engagement. 

It cannot be said that the golf community has not been heard or represented in the development of this plan. I remind you that golfers participated vigorously in the shaping of this plan, both through the golf majority CAC that shaped the plan, and in the MPRB’s extensive public engagement processes these past seven years. Public comment garnered thousands of comments and endless testimonies that advocated everything from eliminating golf altogether and replacing it with a food forest or dog park, to retaining 18 holes despite the challenging circumstances. 
It was ultimately determined, thanks to the advocacy of golfers, that traditional golf would remain part of the plan, the First Tee Program would be preserved, additional youth golf programs would be added, the driving range would remain, the clubhouse would be renamed after Solomon R Hughes and many other golf related elements. Friends of Lake Hiawatha worked with golfers to ensure that the important history of Black golfers be recognized and preserved, as well as the history of Dakota and Indigenous Peoples. Opponents to the plan depict it as an either or proposition which it is not. The plan raises the historic golf course above the ten year flood plain. so that it can be resilient for future generations and withstand future floods, while also addressing the egregious pollution and climate change impacts affecting the community, the wildlife and the ecology.
I am inspired by the people working together to creatively to solve our crisis, I am inspired by the vision that I see in other local neighborhoods. The vision to restore and reconnect the Rondo neighborhood, The Native-led restoration work at Wakan Tipi and the daylighting of Phalen Creek, The Phillips community concept of the indoor urban farm at the Roof Depot superfund site, Allies from the Northside are working to shut down polluters like Northern Metals, GAF and the HERC, They are working on Upper Harbor Terminal issues to restore equitable access to the Mississippi River for the Northside community. 
Help us restore health to the ecology and our community by voting in support of the Hiawatha 9 hole compromise plan.
vote yes.
Thank you!
I am available for conversation.
Sean Connaughty
2021 LakeHiawatha Stewardship Report: 


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