2013: Member - Allison Osberg

About me. My training is in journalism and art but I have deep roots and a vested interest in environmentalism and transportation. I grew up in Excelsior, Minn., a streetcar suburb where everything I needed was in walking distance. For high school I carpooled two hours a day to Perpich Center for the Arts where I loved the school but dreaded the commute. Living a year in Normandy, France, to study animation, sculpture and art history, I experienced the glory of comprehensive transit and trains. At Hamline University where I studied international journalism and media arts, I discovered just how dependent Minnesotans are on cars and how much I didn’t want to be. For my semester abroad I studied in Zhuhai and worked in Macau, China, where the overwhelming majority of people walked, bicycled, scootered, bused or hailed Hēichē—“black cars” or illegal taxis. When I moved back, I ditched my car and now I bicycle year round in Minneapolis making art, teaching and community organizing.

About my service. As a “Living Green” member focused on air quality, I am working with the non-profit organization Transit for Livable Communities (TLC) to develop a partnership program called Transportation Options. The idea is to pair volunteer transit users and bicyclists with qualified but cash-strapped individuals and families of the same community that are interested in lessening the financial burden of owning a car but don’t know where to start. In partnering with various financial opportunity centers and empowerment organizations, we hope to make non-motor vehicle transportation options a more substantial part of the budgeting and savings conversation and therefore get more people out of their cars, saving money, getting healthy and saving our environment.

Why I serve. I’m a GreenCorps member because I want to know the work I do is meaningful and effecting change. GreenCorps does this at both micro and macro levels. Although change in air quality and improving transportation infrastructure may take years if not decades to see, I see change on a day-to-day basis when TLC cultivates authentic relationships with other organizations, individuals, volunteers and members who are inspired to imagine sustainable solutions outside our car-centric culture. I serve because even those smaller changes are immensely gratifying and I have to believe they’re leading us to greater change.

My favorite place to visit in Minnesota. I love all our lakes—especially Lake Pepin and Lake Superior. Someday I plan to get lost in the Boundary Waters. Did you know Minnesota has 90,000 miles of shoreline, more than California, Florida and Hawaii combined? Amazing.