Showing posts from August, 2022

The Long Way Home Through Rejection

Rejection can be funny if you let it. When you’re my age, you have experienced more rejection than you ever thought possible in the glory years of vigor, youth, and absolute certainty. Like anyone who has ever submitted their writings (scribblings, nonsense, etc.) to a publication, I recently had an editor reject something I’d written. This rejection would have killed me 30 years ago, but his was so nice--and funnier than he knew--that it triggered my column here. He wrote, “Fun piece (especially when I read in the voice of Andy Rooney) but I”m going to pass on this. It’s a touch too local for us.” I’m guilty of being a curmudgeon, but I’ll never rise to the level of the brilliant Andy Rooney who spent 33 years ending each episode of CBS’s 60 Minutes with "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney.” But the 60 Minutes reference returned a funny memory from my days publishing a weekly community newspaper. Our Arts writer was a freelancer who didn’t see me that often. One day, after yours trul

Silver Bay Veterans Home Residents Win Awards at Lake County Fair

Residents of the Silver Bay Veterans Home brought home ten awards for gardening at the Lake County Fair this year. From Grand Champion for flower arrangement and Kale to first place in Raspberry Jam, the gardeners were justly proud of their awards. Julie Luchsinger, Recreation Director for the Home, had a specific vision in mind for the garden program this summer. “I was just returning to my office, from picking cherries in the garden with a resident, when a cook approached me and asked if we had any basil available to put in tonight’s soup,” she said. “This is exactly what I had in mind for our garden program.” The program was started in late winter when they asked each resident what garden items they’d love to eat. Nexus Trueself, a member of the Recreation team, drew up garden maps with resident input and provided plants from her own stock. In May, the team started to acquire flowers and plants from a local nursery, keeping them indoors until the frost threat was over. When the plan

Grand Marais Pastor Takes Control--Loses 80#

Before Eight years ago Pastor Dale McIntire of the Cornerstone Community Church in Grand Marais got a sharp wake-up call from his doctor. He was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, a long-term (chronic) condition that can lead to disorders of the circulatory, nervous and immune systems. Dale has a family history of the condition and he said, “It was not a surprise, but it felt like a death sentence. He immediately went on a progressively intensive course of pharmaceutical treatments, including daily doses of insulin. By 2019 he was maxed out on the medicine he could take and his doctor wanted him to start injecting insulin before every meal. At that visit, Dale asked for a reprieve from that prescription until his next quarterly visit so he could try to help himself. Dale’s wife Linda wanted him to get off the drugs, but that would require some significant changes in lifestyle. “I asked myself, why is the doctor managing my diabetes?” Dale said. He then decided to take responsibility to m

Seven Years at Rockwood Lodge on the Gunflint Trail

Carl Madsen’s first trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) as part of a group from Iowa State University was in the fall of 1989. They stayed at Rockwood Lodge and Outfitters on Poplar Lake. You could say he fell in love with the place. Returning over the years for vacations, eventually with his wife Stephanie Lightner and virtually his entire family. Stephanie’s sister Carol and her husband Mike Seim also visited Rockwood regularly. Carl and Mike worked with the Lodge’s owners, Mike and Lin Sherfy, to help open the seasonal cabins and make general repairs. When the Sherfy’s decided to move on and sell the resort, the Madsens and Seims stepped in to buy it. Now in their seventh year of ownership, Carl says, “We have experienced 15% business growth each year.” But not without challenges. 2021 was a tough year. “With the fires closing the BWCA and Gunflint Trail, along with Covid, we had almost no business in August,” he said. The business gets 60% of its revenue from wilderness o
The Cook County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) plans a Housing Summit, open to the community, on September 9 in Grand Marais. The event will be held from 6-8 pm at the Cook County Courthouse in the Commissioners Meeting Room. The meeting will be recorded for later viewing online. According to Jason Hale, HRA Executive Director, the summit is intended to present and discuss the simple to name, but difficult to solve, current problem of not enough housing in Cook County. The HRA will present how the county arrived at this housing condition, where the housing situation is currently based on a recently completed and published study, and what the identified community needs are for housing. They will be followed by a presentation from local developer and HRA board member Chris Skildum and Jeff Corey of One Roof Community Housing. Their experience with housing development and construction in the county will give a real-world perspective on the construction challenges of some of th

The Long Way Home 8.19.22

When you proclaim that America is having a “crisis of character,” almost everyone agrees with you. You’ll see a knowing nod of the head and hear example after example of the character flaws in politicians, business leaders, celebrities, and even members of the clergy. Those of us on the North Shore just witnessed a community dealing with a crisis of character with a mayor well into his second term. On August 9th the voters in the City of Two Harbors voted to recall Mayor Chris Swanson, by an eight to one margin. In the words of a former character playing a business executive on a television “reality show,” the voters told Mayor Swanson, “You’re FIRED.” Swanson became widely known for proposing the construction of a high-end, underwater hotel in Burlington Bay, working in conjunction with an anonymous billionaire of dubious repute. He proclaimed the hotel as the “Eighth Wonder on Lake Superior.” While he claimed not to have a personal financial interest in the project, he was listed as

The Long Way Home/Tourist or Traveler 8.12.22

My friend Tor Torkildson is an adventurer and traveler, not a tourist. When Johnny Cash wrote “I’ve Been Everywhere” he could have been thinking about Tor. Tor has traveled in and lived in various places around the world. From Africa and Europe to southeast Asia and Hovland, MN. Although he’s seen many of the globe’s tourist sites, he takes the traveler approach. He learns the language and immerses himself in the culture. He knows what MN Children's Press Chief Creative Officer, Anne Brataas calls “the spirit of place.” Tor and his wife Siffy published a travel anthology titled “The Walkabout Chronicles: Epic Journeys by Foot.” This remarkable anthology, 35 essays of travel writing, gets to the heart of the spirit of place and the people who live there. The authors are adventurers and travelers, not tourists. I recommend it. Paul Theroux, a prolific fiction author, and travel writer is a traveler. In his book “Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads,” published in 2015, Theroux reco

The Long Way Home--Overtourism Again

I’ve been watching events for a couple of months to see if there really is such a thing as overtourism. Wikipedia defines it as “the congestion or overcrowding from an excess of tourists, resulting in conflicts with locals.” Locals have always had conflicts with tourists and tourism. It is a people business after all, and sometimes people just don’t get along. Those conflicts and resentments boil up from time to time. Recently the proprietor of a local business went online to eloquently say she wouldn’t tolerate the rude behavior of some recent customers towards her employees. Sadly, the rude visitors tend to taint the local's perception of tourists in general. Within a week of hearing her heartfelt plea for civil decorum, I saw that a restaurant in Charlevoix, MI, East Park Tavern, shut its kitchen for a day during Venetian Festival, an annual tourism event similar to Fishermen’s Picnic, when abusive customers reduced a staff member to tears. Charlevoix is located in northern Mich

Much Needed New Daycare Center Opening in Grand Marais

Available child care is often one of the reasons cited when discussing the difficulties in recruiting people to fill jobs in Cook County. To help with that, Hunter MacLaurin is setting up a home-based childcare business in Grand Marais and she hopes to be open before school starts this year. “I wanted to open a daycare because I, myself, know how difficult it is to find childcare in the county,” Hunter said. “Also I personally love kids! They bring so much joy to my life.” Hunter is the mom of three daughters, Pyper (7), Ariella (6), and Teagan (2). Hunter, a graduate of Cook County High School in Grand Marais in 2012, was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Her mother immigrated to Illinois when Hunter was seven years old. They moved to Lutsen, MN in 2007. As Hunter was preparing her new business, she retained the services of Cook County resident and community leader Pat Campanaro. Pat is a business consultant with the Northland Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for the Cook County

Minnesota Children's Press Puts Down Roots in Grand Marais

Visitors to Fisherman’s Picnic in Grand Marais this weekend will receive “The Awesome Story Scouts Star,” a 12-page newspaper put together by children in the community and published by Story Scouts. Story Scouts will have a booth at the Picnic. The newspaper is edited by Sammie Garrity a high school senior who has been involved in children’s journalism since she was in fifth grade at Great Expectations school in Grand Marais. In 2017 she joined with Anne Brataas and Boreal Media, the longtime ISP in Cook County, to form the now dormant Boreal Corps, an online local journalism effort that included students from around the county reporting on issues important to them. Sammie, who attends Mounds Park Academy in St. Paul, plans to pursue a journalism degree in college. She’s interested in long-form and print journalism and wants to focus on global issues. Ultimately she wants to, “Tell the stories of real people from around the world.” Story Scouts is an entrepreneurial publishing club set

The Long Way Home--City vs. North House

I long ago gave up on FOX “News” and CNN, and by long ago I mean 20 years. I was much closer to some of the news back then and watching MSNBC left me less agitated than the other two cable networks. None of them were any good at presenting news. I eventually gave up on MSNBC as well. The problem with all of them is they fit a bit of news into their format. Since most of us aren’t “news junkies” they need to add theatrical “talk” shows to keep us tuned in. A cadre of guests spouting one gossipy political point of view or another is “zoomed in” on the checkerboard panels to bellow pronouncements that keep eyes on the advertisers' commercials. I gave up on the talk radio crowd long before the internet and podcasts were just a dream for shouting white guys, and they were almost all white guys. I decided that if I wanted to hear shrill screams I’d simply walk into the house without taking my boots off. Works every time. I apologize, clean up my mess, and get on with a happy wife, and h