Great Lakes Headwaters Run: Investing locally

by: Shawna Weaver
21:39 Dec 5 2016 Duluth, Minnesota

Great Lakes Headwaters Run: Investing locally
Why should we work towards a Great Lakes Commons and how ?
This is one story from my nine day adventure across the Superior Hiking Trail, which I completed in August 2015. I ran the 300 mile trail to collect stories from people living along the lake: people who know the area well and have become experts in sustaining life and livelihoods here in the Great Lakes headwaters.The stories will continue unfolding throughout the next several months as I continue to reflect on and share my journey. See the links below for more information.

Growing up in the Twin Ports area at the head of Lake Superior, I dreamed of the day I could leave. When I returned as an adult to be near family, I still assumed I was only visiting, and would leave as soon as an opportunity somewhere else in the world called my name.

It wasn't until I began planning for my nine day run of the Superior Hiking Trail that I really dug into our local environmental needs and resources. Finally, that magical pull of the Great Lakes tugged at my conscious mind in a way that I'd only subconsciously accepted throughout my childhood and early adult life. It was that energy that people try to describe but often cannot do justice to, that feeling of Home we get when we look across the water, that special community of people we learn to appreciate.

After engaging in a journey like running the Superior Hiking Trail, or any of the other countless journeys people are finding around the Great Lakes, one seems to find in themselves a renewed attachment to place, and the people who have co-created it with nature.

Below are the mentors I talked with during my journey, who are long time residents in Duluth, and who have worked to make this place their home while they work to make Duluth better for everyone.

Dan Proctor, with no car and very little connection to technology, helped create a sharing economy through co-creating Third Street Bakery. The bakery is a cooperative, owned by its employees. He walked to work every day, and now spends his retirement improving the trails and ecosystem around Chester Creek.

Dave Schaffer spends his time making natural spaces accessible to lower income families, creating equitable opportunities for families to embrace Duluth's cultural heritage of outdoor living. He also works in Chester Park.

Jamie Harvey is the executive director of the Institute for a Sustainable Future. While the work of this organization is national, it is based in Duluth, where he focuses his civic efforts.

Lorena Rios Mendoza is a chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin Superior. She moved her to study pollutants in Lake Superior, and made her work nationally relevant as her research helped to pass a ban on cosmetic "microbeads".

John Pastor (photo above) is a biology professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where his work informs students and readers about climate change effects on the "north woods." He explains that what we hear about globally really does show locally, and that we are vulnerable to the changes on a personal and local level.

These interviews, and interviews with other story tellers will be posted online throughout the winter of 2016-2017.

But what I did to seek their knowledge and advice only took a phone call and time for a conversation. Anybody can reach out anywhere they are, to engage deeply and learn locally. Doing so helped me settle into the work I can do here, and feel satisfied about my role as a citizen.
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