Think Again MN engages citizens in exploring public policies that create opportunities and prosperity for all. We ask issue experts to lead discussions on what has worked well in the past and on what currently works well in our own state, other states, and other countries. We also present workshops that explain how citizens can get involved in the electoral process and in influencing state and national legislation. We hope many people who attend our forums and workshops will be inspired to participate in promoting policies that increase fairness, justice, and sustainability.
History - Our original organization was formed in 1985 by former Minneapolis Mayor and Congressman Don Fraser, international women's rights leader Arvonne Fraser, progressive activist Vici Oshiro, and others with a small endowment from Byron G. “Barney” Allen. An activist in northwestern MN, Barney Allen hoped to encourage political participation through discussion of contemporary and future public issues. An Iowa native, Barney Allen served in the Iowa House of Representatives and edited and published a weekly county newspaper before moving to Minnesota. He was a candidate for MN Governor in 1944 and later served as MN Commissioner of Agriculture.
Older Forums - The first forum started was the Stone Arch Discussion Group. It has been offering citizen enlightenment on 2nd Saturday mornings in Northeast Minneapolis for almost 30 years. Seven years ago, Don Fraser started the Achievement Gap Committee, which focuses on ways to shrink the achievement gap through educational programs from preschool through college and technical education. It has held forums once or twice a month for the past seven years, originally in Minneapolis and currently in St. Paul .
Reorganization and New Forums - Our Board reorganized as Think Again MN in 2012 to reflect the broader civic engagement work that had been the core of our mission since 1985 and to expand our collaboration with other organizations. Since the reorganization, two new forums have been started. One is a 4th Tuesday monthly forum with dinner in Plymouth called the Westside Progressives. The other, which serves the diverse residents of Brooklyn Park, presents forums in collaboration with the City of Brooklyn Park's Community Engagement Initiative and other government and nonprofit organizations on 3rd Tuesday evenings. Called Think Again Brooklyns, this forum is the first serving lower income and immigrant residents of Minnesota.
Future Projects in the Planning - We currently have several projects under discussion with other organizations. We are working with a Cable TV program Community Empowerment on presenting interviews with experts on issues for Cable TV. We are discussing a forum for high school students with Pro USA, a nonprofit organization empowering youth in Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center through sports and education. We are also are working on a series of workshops on the electoral process and citizen participation in influencing the development of legislation that could be offered in a variety of settings.
Think Again MN board members believe that a democracy functions best when its citizens are informed and active at all levels: local, state and national. We consider voting the beginning of political participation and issues discussions an essential part of developing public policy. An informed and active electorate can change public policy.
Think Again MN does not discriminate on the basis of political party allegiance. Although we are a progressive organization, we welcome anyone interested in public issues and are respectful of all points of view. We do not endorse or support candidates for public office or take formal positions on specific legislative issues.
Donations - Much of our work is done by volunteers to minimize the cost of our forums. However, to expand our work, we will eventually need the help of paid staff. To serve lower income communities, community organizations have advised us to provide food for afterwork forums and print flyers for distribution since fewer people have computers. Growing our community discussions and including more underserved communities requires that we expand our financial base. We thank our doners for their past financial support. We greatly appreciate your continued support and the contributions of new donors. We welcome bequests and memorials for our endowment. Donations to Think Again MN are tax-deductible.