The German Difference: Minnesota and German Cities Partner on Smart Climate Solutions

26 May 2017

When German immigrants began coming to Minnesota in the mid-1800s, they brought more than brats and beer with them. They also introduced a wide range of progressive ideas to the region—in agriculture, government, community, religion, and family life—and established the upper Midwest as an American outpost for northern-European cultural values.

That rich tradition of cultural exchange was on Shannon Mortenson’s mind last year when she visited Saerbeck, a city of 7,500 in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in western Germany. Saerbeck is famous for radically transforming its energy supply as part of Germany’s Energiewende (energy transition), a nationwide effort to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, minimize waste, and expand the availability of sustainable, renewable energy sources.

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