Editor’s Note: The Minneapolis suburb of Edina recently became the third city in the United States to adopt legislation to avoid purchasing electronics that perpetuate the conflict in eastern Congo. Edina high school activist Tara Mohtadi wrote this guest blog post about her student group’s advocacy victory.
After four years of events, fundraisers, rallies and lobby days, from hosting Carl Wilkens, to lobbying Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, our STAND chapter at Edina High School decided it was time for a new approach to raise awareness in our community.
We stumbled upon the Enough Project’s “Conflict-Free Campus Initiative” and were immediately inspired by the movement’s surging popularity throughout the country. After further research on what other institutions have done with this groundbreaking movement, we decided to follow the lead of Pittsburgh, PA, and St. Petersburg, FL, two cities that have already passed conflict-free legislation.
The city of Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis, has a history of being involved with promoting human rights issues both locally, and globally, so we knew this was a great place to start. So we reached out to the Human Rights and Relations Commission of Edina, which advises the city council of Edina on various discrimination and human rights issues in the community.
In January 2012, we were invited to attend a meeting of the commission to present our resolution for a conflict-free city. Using Raise Hope’s campus resources, we drafted a resolution based on the outline. The commission responded to our proposal enthusiastically and created a subcommittee to formalize and edit our resolution. Then, in May, the commission passed the finalized resolution. It was now time to present it to the city council. The Human Rights and Relations Commission was a great help to us, as their experience with local legislation provided us with strong backing and legitimacy when we approached the city with our proposal.
With the help of the commission members Jessica Kingston and John Cashmore, we presented the resolution to the Edina city council on May 25. They unanimously passed it, giving Edina the distinction of being the third city in the country—and first in Minnesota—to pass conflict mineral legislation. The legislation recommends that the city seek to purchase electronics from conflict-free companies when possible, and to encourage companies with which both the state and city work with to trace their supply chains in order to avoid conflict areas.
We recently received the exciting news that the Edina school board also passed the resolution, which will impact the procurement of electronics for six elementary schools, two middle schools, and a high school. Now we’re eager to look beyond Edina to reach other cities, and perhaps eventually the state, with conflict mineral legislation.
Although a long process, the outcome was well worth it. As we all know, a progressive community can have a great impact on the world. Edina is definitely a testament to that, and we hope the work that has been done here can inspire neighboring communities to take similar actions.
If you would like more information about our work in Edina, MN, don’t hesitate to contact me at t.mohtadi[at]yahoo.com.
Tara Mohtadi is a senior at Edina High School in Minnesota, where she is a co-chair of STAND. She has been a member of the group since it started in 2008 and has been the chair since 2010.