A Door Will Open

Muhammad Jiwa is the Outreach Coordinator at MNIPL where he works with youth and Muslim communities to build the climate justice movement. He gave the following remarks at a press conference preceding a hearing at the Public Utilities Commission to consider approval of Xcel Energy’s plan to retire Sherco 1 & 2 coal plants.

Hi everyone, and thank you for coming out today and joining us at what we hope will be a historic moment in the history of energy in Minnesota. My name is Muhammad Jiwa, Outreach Coordinator for Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light. We are a non profit that organizes around Environmental Justice and brings the values of many faiths to the movement. We love partnering with organizations like Sierra Club and others, to create the JUST and sustainable society we all want to live in.

It has been an exciting time to be working at the grassroots level. What an unprecedented opportunity! Imagine what will come from Xcel’s commitment of 1800MW of wind and 1700 MW of solar generated right here in Minnesota. I hope you’ll share with me in this moment of gratitude (May we be guided to do what’s best for our community and all the creatures we share this earth with, AMEN) We are grateful for all of you, for all the hard work that has gotten us this far, and for the opportunities that await us as we work towards the goal of a Just transition.

Two years ago – while finishing up college at the U of M, I was learning about wildlife and the interconnectedness of our world. While it was exhilarating to be learning about the natural world, I kept feeling a sense of uneasiness and anger. Islamophobia was on the rise. A family friend’s parents had just had a shotgun pointed in their face while waiting to pick up their son from a friend’s place, a woman was physically assaulted at Applebees, just blocks from my house, for speaking in a different language. Would I be next?

Today I realize that the environmental Issues I had learned about in college and the unease I still experience daily might be more connected than I had previously imagined. What would it look like if 1st generation Muslim immigrants and 4th generation Scandinavians came together to build this new energy economy? Just yesterday I had a conversation with a Masjid in North Minneapolis and they are “all in” for an interfaith community solar array that we will be building partnership/collaboration with a church in North Minneapolis. Together we’ll be building wealth and jobs in the community.

So I’ll end by asking you this: As Sherco closes, a door will open. What kind of a world can we build together? Will we perpetuate the systems of inequalities and allow hate crimes to fester in Minnesota or will we showcase the greatness and ingenuity that can happen when we take time to make sure that all people are included, especially in the new energy revolution?

Thank you, and God Bless