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Would you like to be featured? Do you have a local story tip? We are always looking for a new story to feature and would love to hear from you!
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Timeless northern tales featuring creativity, authenticity, innovation, sustainability, and community in all its forms.
By Colby Wegter
When sitting down to write a story you often think, “How does it start?” It’s a pretty simple question. History would say start at the beginning. When talking about Duluth Pack, one of the brands that us Minnesotans may argue is as valuable to the North as Starbucks is to Seattle or Guinness is to Ireland, it would start in 1882, when the first official Duluth Pack was created (it was called the Poirier Pack back then).
Some stories start with the present and if that’s the case, we’d be talking about how Duluth Pack ships to all seven continents—yes even Antarctica—and how it’s still all sourced in the USA, handcrafted in the USA and shipped right from Duluth.
Some stories don’t even start with a moment in time, but feed off a feeling. An inspiration. Something that causes people to find out more, to take photos, to sit down and write about it and to tell others about it.
What’s clear when you walk into the Duluth Pack production facility on Superior Street is that it doesn’t matter where, how or why the story actually began—it’s that it’s still going. It’s a living, breathing and beautiful tale and when you really sit back to admire the work and craftsmanship that takes place in every rivet, every motion of the sewing needle, and all the other intricacies that make a Duluth Pack product, you feel a wave of pride just seeing it being made.
Renowned for its superior durability and quality, Duluth Pack products have stuck in families for decades and most repair requests are second generation from what President Tom Sega tells me.
So like any other story, someone has sat down to write about it. But it’s not a Made in America story. It’s not a Tom Sega story. It’s not even necessarily a Duluth Pack story. It’s a story about people. People who do amazing work that lasts generations. People who still believe in the meaning of handcrafted as hard work and not just a novelty term. People who dive in, smile from ear to ear, provide for their families and supply a rich heritage to the city of Duluth and state of Minnesota in a way that no one else can.
On a rainy September day, Kara Larson and I met with Tom Sega, President of Duluth Pack for the last 10 years. It was a first for us both. It’s not everyday that you get to talk with the head of an operation for a company that’s represented in the farthest-reaching parts of the globe. The meeting spot was the production facility that’s been standing since 1911. The awning out front still says, “Duluth Tent & Awning” and much of the facility’s framework is largely unchanged.
There are three levels. Offices on the top, sewing and riveting on the main floor and material cutting and quality control hang out in the basement. The stairs creak with each step, “And no your eyes don’t deceive you,” Tom says as we move from one floor to another, “These stairs are slanted.”
I ask Tom, “Is the Superior Street place just as much about the legacy of the physical location as it is the integrity of the brand?”
“It really is,” he replies. “When we were outgrowing the place [Superior Street] people were saying, ‘Just build a new factory’ but there’s an aura around this place.”
Eighty percent of the cost that goes into any Duluth Pack product is the labor and these same people have approached Tom on numerous occasions with the conventional wisdom to move the operation overseas to save money.
It’s a contentious point not only for Tom but everyone in the company. “People who bring that up usually get a face to face from me,” Tom says with forced grin, implying that they’re in for it when they do. “How can you make Duluth Pack anywhere besides Duluth, Minnesota?”
It’s the only time Tom actually mentions himself when it comes to Duluth Pack. In every other situation, unless Kara or I ask him directly about his personal experience, he references Duluth Pack as “we” and it’s subtle but noticeable.
“Listen,” he says. “We keep the story simple. Business is tough enough. Especially small business. Duluth Pack is not about me or Mark, my business partner. At the end of the day, it’s about the employees and more importantly the customer. We’ll be fine and we’re very comfortable knowing that we make nothing you need. You can live your life not needing a Duluth Pack. We’d prefer that you would, but you can live just fine not having one. Knowing that you’re OK with that puts you in a different mindset of how you’re going to run a company and how you’re going to grow. You stick to those same, simple core values and you just push harder everyday.”
As Tom lists the core values you get that sense of pride as a Minnesotan, knowing that something so wholesome and important is made right here. So ask anyone at Duluth Pack what the core values are and they’ll talk about quality of their premium products, the gratification of being made in America, and of course, the lifetime guarantee.
“So when someone tells me that sending our work overseas will see our profit margins go through the roof, my response is ‘Really? I have to get up and look at myself in the mirror every morning.’ We have to be a company of integrity. The bottom line is that about 80% of all the cost in our products is labor, but we don’t apologize for it. Your friends, your family, your neighbors are the ones we hire here. Our core values will never change even though we evolve—in that there were 100 products 10 years ago and now we have around 300 products that we make in 13 colors of canvas and 5 leather options and about 5 wool options—it doesn’t matter. We’re still not going to change. Every prototype meeting starts with the quality of [the proposed item]. Not ‘Is this fitting a market?’ because we can’t be everything to everyone nor do we try to be everything to everyone. We tell people no a lot if it doesn’t fit into our core values and who we are.”
It’s a refreshing statement that is becoming less and less prevalent in business today. “So it’s really not about the money?” I ask.
“It’ can’t be!” says Tom leaning forward in his chair. “This brand is everything. Right there is the gold,” as he points to the Duluth Pack logo on a nearby bag. “Once you start compromising the brand, what do you have? You don’t have anything.”
It’s that initial quality that attracted Tom to Duluth Pack in the first place. Before becoming President, Tom claims he was a “road warrior” traveling over 30 weeks out of the year for a previous job. This lifestyle afforded him a continuous problem with malfunctioning bags, simply from the wear and tear of constant travel.
His conversion story to Duluth Pack is one that I imagine many others have felt. Running through the Detroit airport trying to catch a flight some twenty odd years ago, Tom saw his briefcase handle snap off, sending papers and a laptop flying. “So I got on the flight and then said to myself, ‘You know what? I’m going to that Duluth Pack store because I hear they build good stuff.’ The briefcase I bought from Duluth Pack back then is still used everyday and looks awesome! It’s so battle scarred. It’s seen a lot of turf. The story behind my bag is that it’s seen 1.5 million airline miles and a plane crash. People hear that and they’re like, ‘What?!’
“So I just fell in love with the product. My ‘aha’ moment was being in the Detroit airport and getting sick and tired of replacing stuff all the time. So the day I walked into the door here [as President], I think I owned 11 Duluth Pack items. I just love the stuff.”
It’s a sentiment that you encounter with each Duluth Pack employee. Touring through the production facility, you get first hand love, unprompted passion, from the workers as they demonstrate sewing a handbag, cutting materials or pounding rivets by hand. Each of them just starts talking about their favorite bag, sweater or hunting gear from their employer.
Meeting these people, the inspired individuals working behind the scene, is where the real thrill comes from. They’re humans just like you and I. The Matts cutting canvas, the Annas in sewing and the Tracies in repairs are just a sample size of a larger group that believes in delivering the absolute best. At the end of the day, you see the excitement in them that your average customer might feel.
We wrapped up our Duluth Pack tour at the busy retail store in Canal Park to see smiling faces of people about to purchase items that they know were made by hand and will last a lifetime. Over their heads, hanging on the walls, are some of the very first Duluth Packs ever created, still capable of hauling whatever gear you’d need to and it’s hard to not see the significance of quality once again.
When it comes to a story, it’s not exactly the beginning that matters most. Duluth Pack began on the backbone of quality, integrity and a lot of hard work, and for over 100 years, they have delivered quality goods because they hire quality people. People who care about the integrity of not only a brand, but a city. It’s their determination that will keep Duluth Pack in our hands and our hearts for generations to come.
By Kara Larson
Britta Lynn Kauppila’s Duluth studio is lined entirely with big windows overlooking the perpetual vastness of Lake Superior. It’s so close that on hot summer days, Britta admits, she’s able to take a quick dip over her lunch hour. Like so many who live near this colossal body of water, Britta is under the spell of Superior’s undeniable magnetism. Wading in its waves, foraging the pebble beaches for agates, sea glass, and other textural treasures, Britta calls this lake her muse. She draws inspiration from its wondrous presence—and you can feel its influence in her art.
Britta discovered jewelry as an art form in her freshman year of college at Northern Michigan University. For the first time, she thought of jewelry as art, which felt exciting and even serendipitous. As a kid, she remembers being interested in geology and archaeology and history and art—all of which are connected through jewelry. After transferring to the University of Minnesota Duluth, Britta ended up an art major with a concentration in Jewelry and Metals and achieved her Gemology Certificate at Minneapolis Community and Technical College on the side.
All the while, she was working at a Minneapolis jewelry studio, Studio Vincent, through college, honing her skills with hand fabrication and stone setting and learning the ins and outs of the jewelry business. After graduation, she began working there fulltime as a Design Consultant, then Goldsmith, and then eventually, Studio Director. Her time working for Stephen Vincent and with many jewelry artisans at Studio Vincent would amount to an invaluable experience and a catalyst for her own future business.
Britta began her own jewelry business almost 7 years ago when she and her husband were living in the Twin Cities. Leading up to this decision, she worked tirelessly to build up her name and reputation and found beautiful community in her mentors, fellow jewelry artisans, other local artists, and in her clients. Britta quickly realized how many people were making a living as jewelry artisans in Minneapolis—and how unique a thing that was. She felt support and community and was growing a substantial root system for her budding business.
As Britta officially went fulltime with her own work, an opportunity to move back to Duluth came into the picture. Britta and her husband always knew they wanted to move back to Duluth, but they thought it was going to be very far down the line. Britta shares, “My husband is an engineer and there was a job that came available and kind of fell in his lap. It was a great opportunity and we had to take it, but since it was right when I went fulltime to my own work, I was really nervous.”
Britta had nothing to worry about. Her community followed her to Duluth and her work continues to be as thoughtful and respected as ever. In coming “home,” she tapped into a new set of inspirations that would inform her work in unexpected, beautiful ways.
“Moving up here, I felt all those romantic notions of going back to Duluth and the northwoods and living off the land,” Britta laughs. “A conjuring of home was really stirring inside of me. It set me on an objective to make what I was feeling. I’m not always the best with words, but I can communicate best visually.”
Having grown up in Duluth, Britta feels a connection to the lake and the earth around it—a place her family has called home for generations. Her dad still lives on the farm that was homesteaded by Britta’s great great grandparents, who came from Sweden. “That land,” Britta begins, “I’ve always felt a connection to. There’s just something special about it.”
She adds, “It’s hard for me to put into words—but it’s that feeling of being out there and thinking…this is where I come from. It’s such a calming and fulfilling feeling.”
Thematically, Britta’s work draws from two major influences, and both are deeply rooted in who she is. The first is the natural world that fuels her curiosity—Lake Superior and its shores. And the second is her heritage—the relatives that came before her and lived on the land she now calls home. One of these influential relatives is her great great grandma—a woman Britta never met. However, her diary has been passed down through generations and through the stories she tells within the timeworn pages, Britta feels a special connection to her life and her spirit.
“Beyond the natural world, what’s really inspiring to me are powerful women. And I think my great great grandma is a big part of that—someone whom I’ve never met before, but just reading about her life and the strength that she had—I like to try to translate that into jewelry. I think about how jewelry interacts with the body and how it makes the wearer feel. I always want it to be a bold, empowered feeling.”
Part of this empowerment can be traced back to Britta’s values as an artist. She hopes to embolden people through her jewelry. She is honored to create meaningful, one-of-a-kind treasures people are emotionally connected to and feel good about purchasing. And it begins with her materials. “Everything I’m working with comes from the Earth—so it’s very important to be respectful of those materials and sourcing in the most responsible way that I can. All my metal is recycled, my stones fair trade and conflict free, fair trade, and recycled when they can be.”
Britta is proud to offer an experience that begets a meaningful, sustainable purchase with jewelry. She thoughtfully obtains every material down to packaging and honors the story behind every commissioned piece of jewelry. “One good thing to come out of the recession is the fact that people are being much more mindful of where their money goes. People are spending more money on experiences, not just things. When you buy from an artist directly, you are getting that experience. If you were to just go to the store to get it, you wouldn’t be getting that same experience. Being an artist and local small business myself, that’s who I try to support along the way as well.”
In Britta’s mission to carefully and deliberately source every part of her business, she sees it as an opportunity to support other artists, utilizing their work in her packaging, displays, and beyond. “When people buy from me, they’re not just supporting me. They’re sustaining these other artists. It’s a way for me to have an impact, which I really enjoy.”
Every aspect of Britta’s intentional creative process is brought to life when her client and their story come into the picture. The magic of jewelry is bound to that spark of inspiration. The experience of an artist like Britta making a power ring, an engagement ring, jewelry for anniversaries, or for no reason at all is special—and it yields a unique token made by an artist who makes a living with her hands doing what she loves. “That’s the thing I love about jewelry—how thoughtful of an art form it is, how sentimental it is, how important it is to people. They’re big symbols in peoples’ lives that they remember and relate to and it’s pretty special to be able to be a part of that.”
By Kerry Lambertson
It’s often maples that rule the ridge tops of Minnesota’s north shore. Cedars thrive in swamps, ash trees favor floodplains and creek beds, birches are everywhere, from stony cliffs overlooking Lake Superior to cold north slopes up country. The rare oaks are sometimes found on south facing slopes, and basswood and elm are few and dispersed, but will grow where the soil permits.
When I came into this country, I came as a stranger, all of these phenomena bereft of both name and explanation. I wandered the hills and ridges and valleys broadly, slogging upstream knee deep in creeks until they tapered down to a trickle I could no longer follow, merely to try to discern what lay at the source. I began to notice patterns in the landscape; black spruce and tamarack growing together on the long and deeply faceted lakeshores, ash leaves falling sooner in the autumn than all others, and later to return in the spring. There were lessons here, yet I was unsure how to interpret them, and I had work to do.
A cabin built of logs seemed a suitable shelter, wooden bowl and spoon for daily sustenance, a paddle to push the canoe, a chair to sit on beside the wood stove, and billets of split dry wood to feed the fire. Wood revealed itself as the very essence of survival in this place, and I created what I needed with clumsy hands and dull tools, inordinately proud of these rude implements of nourishment.
As seasons passed I ranged more broadly, observed more sharply. The long dark of winter provided ample time for reading by candlelight, and I became a student of a new vocabulary. Felling and riving, cudgel and froe, axe, adze, gouge, chisel. I learned that maple is fine grained, heavy, and hard, but decays readily; cedar seems improbably light, soft, and fragrant, and its intractable rot resistance is the stuff of legend. Ash wood is tough and springy; it is good for an axe handle or the long curved planks of a toboggan. It can also be pounded apart, one individual growth ring at a time, to create a strong and flexible material for basket weaving.
I honed my tools with files and fine grained sharpening stones; I must have found something similar to strop my brain upon, as steadily the combination of experience, education, and intuition worked magic. Seasons accumulated into years and I found that I knew where to look for the right tree, and how to convince it to yield to sharp steel.
Bows, bowls, baskets, a roof over one’s head, a table where supper is served, music to delight the ears and stir the heart: all are fashioned from the flesh of a tree. I have found myself called by this material, and I am now privileged to spend my days up to my elbows in wood shavings, ever designing, dreaming, imagining the possibilities.
By modern standards, this is an obscure and archaic way of working with wood. There is no room in a fast paced, industrial economy to go wandering the hills, hunting the right tree.
Some woodworkers understand wood as a commodity: order it in the species of choice, so thick, so wide, so long. It seems to make no difference whether the wood in question was cut on the other side of town or on the far side of the planet. It has become a homogeneous material, like bricks and mortar, fiberglass, sheetrock.
And some foresters have roamed continents, surveying trees and forests, soils, plants, and animals of all description, size, and species. But they seem to see the forest as an entity apart from the material of their own lives, to see trees in percentages and statistics, failing to notice the way a branch or a root curves just so, the way one tree’s trunk has grown straight as a ruler while another twists back upon itself, riddled through with irregular humps and divots.
The interwoven threads of the natural world and of the woodworker’s craft have proven impossible for me to tease apart. I have long believed that what is precious is found in the specific. The birch tree that grows on the north ridge is not the same as the one that grows in the southern valley, nor ever shall be. From each might be made a bowl that holds soup, but it’s not so simple.
These days when I’ve dreamed up a project and it’s time to go hunting for a tree, I seem to know where to look. I might walk a long way, passing acres of trees of the right species and size before finding one suitable. Or I’ll have watched a stand of trees for some years, waiting for the right purpose and the right time to take the one I know will cleave, plane, and bend the way I ask it to.
So it is the farthest thing from burdensome to go wandering the shapes of this land, paying the utmost attention to the sweep of a branch, the twist of a root, the pattern and direction of a tree’s crown. Coming to know these woods has given me a vocation; it’s also lent me a sense of belonging in this place.
Words and Photos by Lindsay Strong
The honeybee has long been looked to as a symbol for community, a reminder of the importance of home and the necessary beauty of the natural world as it exists immediately around us. For bees, the local environments from which they come have a direct impact on the honey they make. The flowers and herbs that grow in abundance around the hives create the unique and interesting flavor profiles we can detect when we eat the sweet sticky substance we know and love. For Worker B, operating out of the Northrup King building in Northeast Minneapolis, all parts of the hive operations are important.
Worker B is a small operation run by four people along with a few retail employees at their store in the Mall of America. In many ways, the business started by accident. While working in a honey house, one of the founders, Liesa, noticed that her own skin issues started to heal. With this in mind, she began formulating products in her own kitchen and sharing them with friends and family. It wasn’t long before the hobby blossomed into the business it is today. The cornerstone of Worker B is their face and body products. Every product is still made by hand and with the hope of being actually beneficial. One of the core values of their business is to make products that “simplify people’s lives and that actually work.” Every product is lovingly made by hand because, “the integrity of our products is something we hold very dear.” This homegrown and local mentality is one that echoes throughout Worker B and everything they make and do.
For Worker B, the idea of locality expands beyond the borders of Minnesota and encompasses a wider scope of local bee farmers. Because the taste of honey relies on the kinds of plants bees have access to, the honey that is so sweetly displayed and sold allows customers to become acquainted with flavors from all corners of the globe. For Worker B, it is “the local attitude without being about the geography. A local beekeeper in Kentucky is local in their own community.” By accessing local farmers from different communities, Worker B is providing access to new and interesting flavors for Minnesotans who might not otherwise know what honey made from citrus flowers or small wildflowers from the mountainsides of the Pacific Northwest taste like. Co-founder and owner Michael refers to this model as being “more about the local mentality.”
The geographic flexibility in this local mentality means that everyone has access to the nostalgia of place and taste. Michael recounted a time in which, after a taste of honey, a woman swelled with pride and joy as she felt transported to her childhood in China. There is a worthy acknowledgement of humanness even in jars of honey, that because we all come from different places, we can be locals in many all at once and connect with nature in all of them.
Every aspect of Worker B is built by a desire to create and sell high quality products and to remind their customers of the importance of the delicate ecosystems involved. The pollinators who work so hard and allow us access to these incredibly healing and delicious products are also on the forefront of Worker B’s mind. Hanging in their retail spaces and going along with them to markets and craft events, are T-shirts and sweaters inviting others to “Protect Our Pollinators.” Part of the integrity of this company that makes it so impactful is that they care as much about the creatures that make their products possible as they do the customers who buy them.
From their creams and lotions to their face washes, body scrubs, and plethora of honey, Worker B’s products are all carefully and sustainably made by hand and with both their devoted customers and bee friends in mind. Every part of the operation is done with heart and soul and maintains the hope it all started with—that they create options for people that work. I can say from my own personal experience using and loving Worker B’s products that they do indeed work to simplify the process and actually heal.
By Sean McSteen
Understanding successes of any kind within our lives requires looking back, to every thought had, and decision made that formed the unique path, which we have walked to get to where we are now.
I believe self-reflection and self-discovery go hand-in-hand, and I think it is important to occasionally stop and take stock in the journey that has led us to the present. Every thought, every decision and every action we have made that, in some way, have woven together to bring each of us to where we are now. For some, the options provided from an early age were endless. For others, the opportunities to explore, learn and grow were far more limited. But no matter where any of us may fall along that spectrum, there is no denying that, as individuals, who we are today has been directly influenced by the experiences and different possibilities we were given as children and young adults. Like a tree, our roots must grow before we can begin to reach for new levels; and when our roots are not given the space and opportunity to grow, we run the risk of being blown over when the next big storm comes. Becoming strong and tall takes patience, freedom and love; and when those all come together as one, we are able to understand and reach our true potential.
One such organization that has dedicated itself to the expansion and growth of young minds in Minnesota is Urban Roots. This non-profit organization works to employ, educate and train high school students ages 14 to 18 years old from low-income families on the East Side of St. Paul about sustainable agriculture, healthy food practices and business and communication skills. Working primarily through Right Track—a program in created by the St. Paul public school system designed to provide career training, opportunities and employment for young adults who come from low-income households—Urban Roots employs around 60 youth each year to work in one of three different programs that they offer: the Market Garden, Cook Fresh, and Conservation.
Each program has its own unique specification designed to teach students a particular side of the food world, while simultaneously working with the young adults to develop business and communication skills. The students employed by Urban Roots are also placed into different professional skills tracks, beginning with a base understanding of job skills, resume writing and financial literacy. Once students move through this first track, they continue on to the entrepreneur track, where they work together to create an entire business plan for an idea the group has collectively brainstormed and hashed-out; or the social justice track, in which youths work through a variety of outlets to learn about and support different social justice issues in today’s culture. The agricultural programs and the professional training tracks build off each other, and as Executive Director Lori Arnold explains, “These programs are like the vehicles on learning 21st century job skills…but [they] all address it in a little different way.”
There is the Market Garden Program, in which groups of students learn and work on every stage of the growing process; everything from planting, caring for and harvesting produce in Urban Roots’ five different gardens and farm spaces across the East Side of St. Paul. The organization produces over 11,000 pounds of produce each year that are fed into different business outlets Urban Roots has developed that work as another kind of teaching tool. Running a youth-managed 30-member CSA, selling produce at the Mill City Farmers Market and to restaurants around the Twin Cities, and working with different hunger relief efforts; student-workers employed by Urban Roots are given hands-on training and exposure to the intricacies of the business-side of food.
They also get to bring the fruits of their labor into their own lives and their family’s lives. “We send take-home bags of produce home with them,” says Arnold. “We’re trying to provide food access to a point where we’re not just going to teach you what to do with the food; we’re going to send it home with you and hopefully then you can work with your families on healthy-eating and cooking and just a whole lifestyle change.” So, the students are given the opportunity to learn the ins-and-outs of what it takes to produce healthy food and create a healthy lifestyle for themselves and their families. Furthermore, they are also simultaneously receiving education and training to develop and hone both interpersonal communication skills and business know-how.
The second track Urban Roots offers is the Cook Fresh Crew. This track teaches youths in the program how to take the food grown by the Market Garden program and transform it with other ingredients into a delicious, healthy meal. The roots of healthy living come from a basis of knowledge of how to implement healthy practices into routine; a healthy meal every once in a while is a good start, but encouraging consistent healthy eating is key. Using a combination of staff instructors and guest chefs from around the community, the Cook Fresh program is designed to give students the knowledge and skills to create healthy recipes to take home to their families. “The kids are so into it,” says Arnold. “And then the chefs get really into it because the kids are. So, it’s really contagious.”
Part of the framework for Urban Roots’ education and training model is the celebration of the diversity and different backgrounds of the each student, using both shared experiences and individual differences as an opportunity and tool to learn and grow from one another. As Senior Program Director Patsy Noble says, “They are learning about each other’s cultures; they are learning different ways to do things. So, it’s really about inspiring them and connecting them to opportunities.”
With these objectives in mind, Urban Roots has also begun working with youth-workers in the Cook Fresh program on a new way to bring the distance between work and home life closer together. As Arnold explains, the students, “Can bring in culturally specific recipes that their families use, and using the MyPlate standards from the USDA recommendations, they will look to see, ‘are these recipes healthy?’ And if not, how can we revamp them?” The Cook Fresh Crew also works with the different visiting chefs to cater fundraising events and create special lunches that youth-workers from all three programs enjoy together. In this way, Arnold says, “We are going to expose the youth then to hopefully a whole lot of different ethnic foods because of the diversity amongst our youth.”
The last program option for student-workers is the Conservation program, a track in which youths work with instructors to protect and strengthen natural areas around the East Side. This involves learning about the many plant species that are native to local parks and habitat in the region, and working to plant new seeds or work to bolster the resiliency of the current habitat. The other key element of the Conservation program is for the students to learn to identify invasive plant species, which are then removed to protect and preserve the native wildlife. Taking the idea of conservation to the next level, Urban Roots was able to work their non-profit magic (will-power and elbow grease) to find, fix and store their own fleet of bicycles that are used by the kids to travel to each work location. The other aim of the Conservation program is community outreach. Working with Park Rangers and city officials, the students in the program learn about the history of the land in St. Paul and even give park tours to the public.
Urban Roots is no summer camp. This non-profit is far from all play with no responsibilities. The work is hands-on; both physically and mentally engaging; and often quite dirty. As Noble puts it, “Everything is production-oriented here. So, while we are doing all this training, we also have all these responsibilities.” She continues, “You know, the restaurant is waiting for their cabbage delivery, and the CSA boxes have to be filled cause they’ve got to be picked up. So, the kids get the seriousness nature of work.”
Should they wish, student-workers have the opportunity to work with Urban Roots throughout their entire high school career, experiencing and learning from all three programs the organization has to offer. All while earning a paycheck. A paycheck that can help buy groceries for their family or even go towards rent. So, while the income is incredibly beneficial, and often needed for youth-workers and their families, the intangible skills that students who work for Urban Roots come away with are beyond priceless. They are given opportunity, inspiration and options. This engaging non-profit provides a safe, yet challenging place for its youths to feel prepared for the next step—whether that’s post-secondary education or a job—it’s a future full of possibility.
Make It Minnesota is bi-quarterly magazine featuring Minnesota Creatives across our northern state. Our goal is to promote a vibrant, localized Minnesota economy.