David Anderson

The 2023 Jay McCleary Sustainability Award recipient David Anderson. Photo from the City of Red Wing.

Sustainability was not necessarily at the forefront of David Anderson’s mind as a young adult. 

It wasn’t until he began working on a grant at the Red Wing YMCA about 18 years ago that he caught the sustainability bug. 

Since then Anderson has tried to devote his time and energy into creating a healthier community in Red Wing, and using sustainable practices to do that. 

“Initially when I was working for the YMCA the executive director at the time applied for a pioneering healthier communities grant, and the Y received that grant, and I ended up filling his role in leading that,” he said. 

The focus of the grant was to improve the health of the community by focusing on making it easier and more accessible to walk and bike and eat healthy. 

“When I left The Y, I was hired by Goodhue County to coordinate the statewide health improvement partnership grant, which is basically the same thing except it included reducing tobacco use,” he said. 

Anderson focuses on policy change in addition to the encouragement and education pieces of sustainability in the community. 

While working on the grants, he wanted to implement more projects that have a long lasting impact that improve the health of the residents. 

“Both grants focused on changing policy and the environment and for long term sustainable changes you do need that policy piece or else it is a program. Programs are beneficial but they don’t address that long term piece,” he said. 

When Anderson accepted the award, he wanted to address this idea. 

“In active living, there are the Five E’s, which are engineering, enforcement, education, encouragement and evaluation. I said encouragement and education are good, but they don’t always last the long term,” he said. 

The Sustainability Commission chose Anderson as the award recipient because of his work on these grants along with other efforts he has pushed forward.

Anderson has been the president of the Friends of the Bluffs group for nine years, and the work they do goes hand in hand with sustainability in the community. 

“The mission of Friends of the Bluffs is to increase the enjoyment, promotion and stewardship of the bluff … stewardship and sustainability goes hand in hand,” he said. 

Anderson has been an advocate for creating Earth Week events and continuing those efforts beyond just one week in April. 

“We started doing an Earth Day activity five years ago and then we partnered with the city and the sustainability commission on Earth Week, and the last three or four years, I have helped organizing those events,” he said. 

Anderson wants to help Red Wing continue those efforts that the community works on during Earth Week and encourage action beyond the one week a year. 

HIs mission is to continue to create a sustainable community for future generations. 

“It sounds cheesy, but we really only have one planet, and we are only here for a short period of time, so what is our legacy? What do we want our legacy to be? That is something we all have to answer,” he said. “For me, it is to take care of the planet, take care of my community and do what I can to ensure the future populations have a good place to be.”

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