Vol. 1, No. 6 - July/August 2016
THE ADVENTURE ISSUE
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We create a magazine that shares the stories of makers and innovators spanning our great northern state. As we feature bold and inspiring Minnesotans—from craftsman to beekeepers, artists to farmers, brewers to foodies—we’re here to build a timeless collection of tales from each region across the state. We aim to strengthen and promote sustainable, beautiful, altruistic, unique, and creative communities. We are so proud to share our one-of-a-kind Minnesota magazine with you.
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Editor’s Note Why Adventure? Some time ago, I was lucky enough to happen upon a book called Vagabonding in America. Beyond its inviting title, I was drawn to its inside cover, which featured a sweet, handwritten message in pink ink addressed to “Bloomer” on his 18th birthday. I’m a sucker for notes between strangers, so naturally, I bought the book. As I perused the bulky, black and white beauty written by Ed Buryn in the distant, dreamy year of 1973, I enjoyed tales of self-discovery, a hitchhiker’s guide, unassuming illustrations, and strangely specific tips for American adventure. I was particularly struck with something Buryn notes early in the book. “Yourself is all you’ve really got, and if you don’t get a grip on him, her, or it, you haven’t got anything.” For me, this is what adventure lends us. Each time we open up to the spoils of honest adventure, we become aware of a previously undiscovered fragment of ourselves. As we purposefully explore our outside world, saying yes to new experiences (like flying above the treetops on a zip line in Northern Minnesota), we see and feel the world, and ourselves, from a new perspective. And though trepidation may be lurking in the back of your mind, threatening to make you lose your nerve—it’s important to push past it. Because once you’re there, my oh my is it an extraordinary view. The individuals and businesses featured in this Adventure Issue are beautiful examples of adventurous innovation, talent, and authenticity. Their stories build a bold collection that will no doubt inspire you to get outside and explore. It’s a pleasure to be able to feature their hard work, dedication, and the adventure of their journey as makers, artists, and humans. Enjoy the Adventure Issue, fellow explorers.
- Kara Larson
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Editor Kara Larson
Production Manager Leah Matzke
Contributors Benjamin Matzke Sean McSteen Lindsay Strong Jamie Carlson Matt Frank Cover Photo Staff image
Born and raised in a St. Paul suburb, Sean grew up being exposed to and participating in the rich and diverse culture of the Twin Cities. His passions range from playing cello, filmmaking, Gonzo journalism (on the weekends), and traveling to any new place around the world, near or far.
Benjamin Matzke was born on the 4th of July -70 days. He loves the Minnesota outdoors and enjoys a trek into the boundary waters whenever possible - even in January.
LINDSAY STRONG Lindsay is a brand new Minnesotan who has quickly adopted the North as home. She teaches yoga, photographs pretty things for fun, and hangs out with teenagers for work. She also dreams of creating a memoir worthy life filled with love, art, and friendship. Copyright All images contained in Make It Minnesota are subject to copyright of the artist, illustrator or photographers as named, but not limited to. Reproduction of any part of this magazine without prior permission is prohibited. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. Disclaimer The views and comments expressed by the writers are not always that of Make It Minnesota. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of the information in this publication, Make It Minnesota accepts no responsibility or liability for any errors, omissions or resultant consequences, including any loss or damage arising from reliance on information in this publication. Make It Minnesota (ISSN 2471-6744) Volume 1, No. 6, is published by Make It MN LLC
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He works as a registered nurse at the VA hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota and he, his wife, and two children live in Burnsville, MN. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and the great outdoors. Jamie takes great pride in knowing where his food comes from and how it was obtained and enjoys sharing his knowledge with others, particularly those who are new to hunting, fishing or foraging. Most of all he believes that all food can be delicious but, you have to cook it right.
MATT FRANK Matt’s passions for urban agriculture, regenerative landscape design, and food justice issues led to From the Ground Up North’s creation as an educational and inspirational tool for change in the Upper Midwest. He strongly believes in the power of narratives to shape minds, open eyes and shift perspectives. Learn more about his work at www.fromthegroundupnorth.org
Contents Featured Communities
Hidden Cities: On The Road
Local by Local: Duluth Loves Local
Maker Workshop Series
The Adventure of Making At Ely Folk School
Out & About
Minnesota Primitive Skills and Survival School
A Local Adventure: Food Building
Behind The Creative
Voyage To Hudson Bay
Creative Challenges 24 On the Water Essay Contest 28 Adventure Instagram Contest: Get Outside!
Leather Works Minnesota
You Have To Cook It Right
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On the Road By Sean McSteen
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To me, nothing presents more possibilities and outlets for adventure than the North Shore along Lake Superior. There is something so deeply meditative about driving up Highway 61 with the beautiful and vast body of water stretching infinitely into the horizon on your right, and the intimidating, yet inviting lush forest of your left. The north holds stories, myths and secrets so deeply rooted within the fabric of the land that the only way to find them is through exploration. We began our journey up Minnesota’s eastern coast with a brief stop in Duluth at Northern Waters Smokehaus. Every time I visit, I convince myself to try out a different sandwich than my usual choice. And every time, I throw that idea to the wind upon arrival and go with the tried and true Cajun Finn; a delicious sandwich with cajun smoked salmon, roasted red peppers, pepperoncini peppers, lettuce and a green onion cream cheese. All in all, a perfect meal before a long drive north. The first two nights, we camped at Tettegouche State Park, just north of Silver Bay. Reserving a cart-in campsite rather than a drive-in, we were far more isolated within the woods and were also looking out directly onto Lake Superior. After a tasty dinner by the fire and a little bit of Far North Rye we had bought as a special treat for the trip, we hit the hay with excited anticipation for coming day. Waking early, we tidied the camp and were on our way to Ely to explore the town and meet new people. Having skipped breakfast at the camp, we stopped in Finland at the restaurant called Our Place for a greasy breakfast sandwich and black coffee; a perfect early morning pick-me-up. Driving to Ely, and really anywhere in Northern Minnesota for that matter, is so incredibly beautiful. With rocky areas, wetlands and thick forests along the road, it’s fun to ponder the many intermingling circles of life—living and dying just out of sight—in a land that is, for the most part, untouched by humans. And though we did not see any
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wildlife other than deer, mice and squirrels on this particular trip, we did get to learn about and see one creature native to Minnesota. The wolf. Ely, Minnesota is home to the International Wolf Center, a facility designed with the purpose of educating people about the lives and behaviors of wolves. At the center, there are four resident/ambassador wolves that live in a large enclosure attached to the main building that also houses a small wolf museum filled with information ranging from different culture’s myths and legends of the wolf to a wolf ’s behaviors and lifespan. The International Wolf Center also recently received two very rare newborn Arctic Wolf pups from a facility in Canada to raise at the IWC, furthering its education of wolves during every step of their lives. The International Wolf Center was our only set-in-stone plan that day; so the rest of the time we had to spontaneously walk the streets of Ely. We went to the Ely farmer’s market, which is held in Whiteside Park every Tuesday evening, and then went to a local restaurant, Insula. Sitting at the bar of the beautifully designed restaurant, we enjoyed a late-afternoon snack of seared scallops and french fries with béarnaise (probably the best béarnaise I’ve ever had) and talked with the bartender, Brett Ross, about the town, the community and the beautiful land that surrounds Ely. He, like many others we talked to that day, cited the strong community and the incredible wilderness to be his favorite aspects of life in Ely. Yet, as close-knit and inclusive as the community in Ely is, there are very real issues and undertakings having to do with this wilderness that have split so much of the larger Northern Minnesota community. The argument of whether or not to renew two preference rights leases currently held by Twin Metals and its parent company, Antofagasta, is a divisive one. While
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the two portions of land within the Superior National Forest are currently untouched, plans and proposals are in the works to develop the plots into copper-nickel mines. And up north, there is a veiled juxtaposition between the mining community who have worked the depths of the land for generations and those who choose to live so far north for the exact opposite reason; to be as close to the clean, untouched wilderness as possible. Both sides appreciate the land for different reasons, but are all part of the larger community of their town; making this polarizing issue especially hard as the proponents and opponents of the issue are neighbors, or employers, or even family. We had a chance to witness the difficulty and differences that are currently running deep through the Ely community and beyond at an official listening session that the U.S. Forest Service held in the Ely middle school auditorium. There, supporters of both sides were given an opportunity to voice their concerns and insights on the lease renewal to a panel of Forest Service officials. Standing at the back of the auditorium, it was clear just how deeply split the town is. With jeers and boos from both sides scattered intermittently through the evening, it was evident that neither side will come to an agreement and whichever way the decision goes, a portion of the community will be left frustrated and angry.
Trail Lodge. Similar to that of our route to Ely, the Gunflint Trail was possibly even more beautiful and diverse when it came to the nature surrounding us. Each curve in the road held something new around the bend and to both my disappointment and relief, we did not come face-to-face with either a moose or a bear. Instead, we eventually arrived at the Gunflint Trail Lodge to take part in their Towering Pines Canopy Tour, a zip line tour consisting of eight different lines stretched through the trees with its largest line spanning 800 feet. Before going up to the platforms to begin our tour, our guides, Jake and Katlin, took us through all the safety instructions and taught us how to take off and break on a small zip line a few feet off the ground. When we
After a full day in Ely, we headed back to our campsite at Tettegouche, and the next morning, we woke early to get straight on the road headed further north. We had a big day ahead of us and needed to cover a lot of ground as we were headed past Grand Marais and on the Gunflint Trail on our way to Gunflint
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were all set and trained, we took a short drive through the woods to our first platform and with nervous anticipation, we began our adventure above the trees. As soon as we stepped off the first platform and let the combination of our weight and gravity pull us down the line, all past worries and doubts dropped away. It felt as close to flying as we could achieve without jumping out a plane with wing suits on. Having the different stations on which we switched from line to line gave us some time to ask questions about the area and talk to Jake and Katlin about what makes the north—and their job—special to them. Similar to many we talked with in that area, Jake and Katlin talked about the awesome combination of genuine and friendly people within the wild setting of Northern Minnesota. It is the wilderness and sense of adventure that is the common denominator that runs deep within every person living and working in Northern Minnesota; a commonality to build off of and create deep and meaningful friendships and experiences. We left the Towering Pines Canopy Tour feeling exhilarated and thankful to have experienced something completely new and exciting. We were staying at Temperance River State Park that evening, so we needed to make it back to set up camp before dark. But, that didn’t keep us from making stops along the way to explore Grand Marais’s businesses and eat a delicious lunch at the Angry Trout. With one more night of camping, we arrived at Temperance River and set up camp before heading back out to explore a bit more of the river itself and grab a quick cocktail and bite to eat at the Bluefin Bay Grille, which has one of the most picturesque and serene patios along the North Shore that we
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have found. That, and their scallop appetizer remains unbeaten in my opinion with creamy polenta, grilled pork belly, large sea scallops and a balsamic reduction. Returning to our campsite, we were invited over to the neighboring campsite for a drink around the fire where we talked late into the night with three wonderful people whom we had never met before. The friendliness of strangers up north is something I have found and enjoyed over many years of exploring the area, and it really was a perfect way to round out our adventure. Meeting friendly people and sharing a moment in time with them is one of the most enjoyable experiences while traveling in Minnesota. The Minnesota wilderness presents a blank canvas for connecting
with people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. Most, if not every, person is there to appreciate the world around them at its most wild core, and there is a beauty and happiness that comes from sharing that appreciation with strangers along the way. You hear their stories and you share your own, and with that comes a peaceful growth from hearing new and different perspectives on the world around us. Driving back to Minneapolis the next morning, we were filled with appreciation for what we had seen and done; who we had met along the way; and the world that we get to call home. There was a sadness in having to leave, but also a reassuring calm that we would be back time and time again with full hearts and adventurous spirits.
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A Curated List of
by Duluth Loves Local
Duluth Loves Local is a community of local-loving Duluthians who support the hard-working, independent small businesses that make Duluth such a great place to work, visit, and raise a family. “We are a grassroots movement that wants consumers to think local first, and by doing so, positively impact the place we call home. When you buy products and services from independent and locally-owned businesses, you’re supporting the Duluth economy. Best of all, you’re supporting our friends and neighbors.” So, who are the members of Duluth Loves Local? That’s a secret! The members are set up to be hidden from the public as they hope to avoid getting special treatment or an inauthentic experience when visiting their favorite spots, so they do their best to stay under the radar. You can join in on the fun and do your part to support local businesses by using their hashtag (#duluthloveslocal) and shopping at local establishments!
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Wildroots Body Care
Wildroots is a Duluth, MN based herbal body care company. Small-batch, super luxe body care treatments are crafted from seed-to-skin using simple and pure ingredients inspired by nature and the harmonious oils of flowers, resins, barks and roots. As the founder and maker behind Wildroots, Megan Desmarais-Rush produces each and every one of her products in small batches with the purest ingredients. Many of the botanicals used in the Wildroots product line are grown, dried, and saved right from her own backyard. Wildroots proudly encourages others to plant daily self-care rituals with their simple, earth-loving, skin-nourishing beauty products. “My art is healing and making people feel beautiful in their own skin. My hands are my most valuable tools—them and, of course, my handwritten recipe book.” Megan adds, “And my customers are my biggest source of inspiration. All my products actually started as recipes for myself, my first born, or friends and family.”
Epicurean was founded in 2004 by TrueRide, a custom skate park manufacturer, as a way to repurpose excess skate material generated during manufacturing. Today, Epicurean has an impressive lineup of premier cutting boards and essential utensils—all made in the United States using innovative environmentally responsible materials and business practices. The Epicurean brand is all about innovation, quality, functionality, durability. A well-equipped kitchen would benefit from adding their cutting boards and kitchen tools into the mix as they are at the center of everyday life for both casual cooks and seasoned gourmets. Duluth Loves Local recommends adding a cutting board to your camping pack or home kitchen… or both! Beyond being user-friendly, Epicurean is environmentally responsible from start to finish. They choose materials to be both durable and eco friendly and use production processes that minimize and recycle waste. Their goal is to create the highest quality products that balance performance with respect for the environment.
Hemlocks Leather Works
Hemlocks Leatherworks is a one-woman operation based in downtown Duluth. This one woman—Candace LaCrosse. Drawing inspiration from Lake Superior’s North Shore, the history of traditional shoemaking, and cultures around the world, Candace crafts each leather good one at a time with the finest materials and greatest care. With a degree in graphic design and journalism, Candace has an eclectic professional background in fashion journalism, education, and art. Her work can be found in boutiques in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and of course, Duluth. She is also currently an instructor at North House Folk School and a board member of the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council. Each pair of Hemlocks shoes are made to order and fit. This one-woman operation guarantees it.
Va Bene Caffe
Va Bene Caffe is an Italian staple in Duluth. If you’ve never been to Italy, this cozy restaurant might just do in a pinch. Stop by for a delicious, made-from-scratch Italian meal and a glass of wine… And then, Duluth Loves Local suggests the house-made Italian gelato or Italian coffee. As you dine, relax, and socialize above the Lakewalk, your seat overlooks the vast, beautiful Lake Superior. Va Bene prides itself on serving fresh Italian cuisine prepared with quality ingredients in a casual, friendly atmosphere. Their lunch and dinner menu includes creative salads, fresh pasta, panini, fresh-baked pizza, steak, and made-from-scratch soups, sauces, dressings, breads, gnocchi, Italian gelato, sorbetto and fresh baked desserts. Restaurant owner Mary Kay Beraducci shares, “We like to say, ‘we’re not your Nonna’s trattoria.’ We take a modern, fresh approach—no redcheckered tablecloths or heavy sauces in sight. People who travel to visit Italy pay us a huge compliment when they say it reminds them of restaurants they dined at on vacation.”
Northern Waters Smokehaus picnic at Park Point
If you’re in the market for a really well-executed sandwich, look no further than Northern Waters Smokehaus. However, Duluth Loves Local takes it one step further, suggesting that you get those sandwiches to go and head on down to Park Point for a picnic on the beach. The Northern Waters Smokehaus sandwiches feature their very own unique, premium ingredients. From dry-cured Salamini to fermented sauerkraut, these master sandwich makers strive to incorporate as much of their own stuff as possible in each menu item. What that means is that when you order an Italiensk, Dewitt Seitzer, or Squealy Dan, you will receive salami that started out as Berkshire hog raised on a small farm in Southern Minnesota, was ground here at Northern Waters Smokehaus, mixed with fresh garlic, herbs, spices, and sometimes wine, hand stuffed and tied into casings, and hung to dry for 20 days in our small curing room before again being sliced daily by our prep team. VOL 1, NO. 6 - 2016 11
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T h e A d v e n t u r e I s s u e â€” M a k e r Wo r k s h o p S e r i e s
The Adventure of
By Kara Larson
Just a year into existence, Ely Folk School has weaved itself into the community of Ely as if it were built right alongside the town more than 100 years ago. This folk school is impossible to miss, located on the highly traveled Sheridan Street in Ely, attracting locals and visitors traveling by car, bike, or foot. Stepping inside the main structure of the folk school, the charming space is filled with friendly people, beautiful quilts made by Ely Folk School instructor, Autumn Cole, ample space, and a wonderful little gift shop with things made right here. The space is warm, inviting, and filled with possibility. Ely Folk School Program Coordinator Jaime Brennan was kind enough to show us around a bit, helping us visualize the world of inspiration, growth, and making that Ely Folk School fosters. As luck would have it, Jaime was only the first of three marvelous hosts we had that dayâ€”next on the list was the famed quilt maker herself, Autumn Cole. As
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IMPACT ON COMMUNITY
an instructor since the folk school’s founding, Autumn teaches many of the quilting and sewing classes and was also in charge of the Ely Folk School booth at the Farmer’s Market that evening. So, as Autumn bid us a adieu, she headed off to Whiteside Park to share birch bark weaved crafts, her own sewing creations, handmade art and goods, and to sell the story of Ely Folk School with locals and visitors alike. Enter our third host and guide— Molly Olson. Growing up on a small dairy farm powered by draft horses, Molly learned to value the preservation of traditional skills. When she and her husband, along with their three children, considered a move to the North Country in the fall of 2014, she dreamed of starting a folk school on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Molly shares,
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“My husband enjoys making things with his hands like brain-tanned leather mukluks, birch bark baskets, and wooden flutes. I enjoy folk dancing, cooking, and gardening as well as building community. We were drawn to the idea of a folk school as a way to find other people who enjoy the same things.” To Molly’s excitement, in January of 2015, the Ely Folk School was already starting. So, when Molly and her family moved to Ely last June, they came with the intent to get involved in the young folk school. As soon as they arrived, Molly started volunteering with the school during the summer months, and became a board member in September. She has a hand in many of the diverse aspects of EFS, serving on the Marketing, Events, Governance, Futures, and Curriculum committees.
At the heart of Ely Folk School are the people. The people drawn here are geared to create. But more than that, these individuals have shared experiences through conversation, activities, events, and unique learning experiences here. Their desire to make things and engage with other members of the community is enhanced by the sense of satisfaction that is uncovered along the way— an increasingly precious experience in the world today. Through classes, workshops, and events for people of all ages, individuals eagerly participate in cooperative learning that may no longer be critical for survival, but, as Molly assures, certainly enhances well-being. “Ely Folk School provides events that bring people together such as our folk dances, potlucks, concerts, and campfires,” Molly begins. “The classes we offer celebrate the culture of the area—from outdoor adventuring to the regional ethnic groups, including the Native American crafts and traditions. Our school connects artisans and experts with excited lifelong learners. Even people who have not taken a class here are supportive of our efforts, and follow our story with interest. We are adding to the already rich community in Ely, as well as the extended community of Minnesota.” We saw the impact on community firsthand as we sat around the campfire in front of Ely Folk School, building s’mores and talking, while just a few feet away, a focused crew of community members worked together
to build a birch bark canoe. We watched in awe as they hand stitched the frame of the canoe with spruce root, carefully shaved away pieces of wood to perfect the ribs, and measured their work with precision. Long before this point is reached, Instructor Erik Simula takes students into the forest to harvest spruce root, cedar, and birch bark for the building of this community canoe. Erik has made more than a dozen traditional Ojibway birch bark canoes and his expertise and skill makes this project an especially bonding one for everyone who decides to contribute.
THE PROMISE OF ADVENTURE
To make, engage, explore, connect—it’s all an adventure at Ely Folk School. We had the pleasure of meeting and talking to the keen individual leading an upcoming adventure at EFS—Paul Schurke, a devoted Ely community member, one of the famed members of the Steger International Polar Expedition, and Ely Folk School board chair. With the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness so near, Paul is excited to lead the August Flotilla to the Lac La Croix Pow Wow, a canoe trip over lakes and portages. The paddlers will make the trek as a group, then arrive to celebrate with the members of the tribe during their end of summer pow wow.
In the way of functional, real-world adventure, there is opportunity to learn survival skills in the winter when taking fire-building class, learning to draw an ember from a hand-drill, and cook a meal over the fire that is created. There is also a class on the ancient practice of wild rice harvesting—giving people a taste of what native tribes did every fall long before European settlers arrived in the Americas. “Other adventures are imaginary, as when participants in the ‘Discovering Your Power Animals’ class travel to the underworld to explore their inner spirit through journeying with the assistance of drumming,” says Molly. “Still more adventures are more joyous, as when community comes together to learn folk dances in the dead of winter, warming their hearts with laughter and music.”
BUILDING A FUTURE HERE
With a dedicated board planning for the future, there is much on the horizon for Ely Folk School. Beyond a hope to have an annual Birch Bark Canoe Project and host a variety of community events throughout the year, the dedicated team behind Ely Folk School is currently working on a kitchen project that will allow more cooking classes to be held, have future plans to remodel a garage for the potential use of building a brick
bread oven and open-air pavilion, and are exploring options for a jewelry studio, pottery, and woodworking spaces. Additionally, they are planning a saunabuilding course that will culminate in a raffle for the finished product at the end of next summer. With anticipation of a budding future, Molly shares, “Our long-range desire is to keep our location on Sheridan Street with its large windows and EFS Mercantile, while expanding to have a lakeside campus for many of our classes.” She adds, “We hope to grow our membership, add more staff, find funding sources, and expand our marketing to other states. Our focus will continue to be on celebrating the wilderness heritage as well as the culture and craft of the people of northern Minnesota.” As we explored Ely Folk School and met the instructors, board members, and lifelong learners, we saw the impact of traditional craft in this community. Here, in this beautiful little town surrounded by the vast wilderness of Northern Minnesota, we experienced Ely Folk School as a place for interaction and renewal, for inspiration and learning, for personal growth, shared experience, and adventure. And best yet, there’s so much possibility ahead.
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Out & About:
Minnesota Primitive Skills and Survival School By Lindsay Strong
ften, it seems that depictions of adventure focus on the individualâ€™s experience. The images of adventurers are depicted as solo world travelers who, armed with only a backpack and a thirst for something more from the world, set out to explore. If you happen to be Indiana Jones, there might also be a really cool hat, but I digress. While these dreamy images might be fun to look at, the reality of adventure is actually much more about connection. For Mason Grove, the creator of the Minnesota Primitive Skills and Survival School, adventure is about oneness with the world and with other people. The skills that Mason cultivates and shares are as much about survival as they are about a sense of belonging to a world that is vast and important. Growing up in and around the Twin Cities, Mason would often find himself seeking the
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wilderness. As a child, he recalls seeking out the little areas of nature he could find: the woods next to the railroad tracks or the parks by the Mississippi river. What originally began as an interest sparked by books and exploration, Grove chose to further his education in the skills of survival by taking actual, in-person primitive skills classes that both deepened his understanding of his own ability to survive in the wilderness and opened the doors to starting his own primitive skills school in Minnesota.
Based near Mankato, the Minnesota Primitive Skills and Survival School provides in depth 3-day long classes as well as hourlong workshops aimed at providing essential knowledge for staying alive even in the most dire of circumstances. Through this school, Grove is able to marry his own passion for survival skills with the opportunity to share with others. For him, this sharing of his knowledge and passion goes beyond survival and begins to encompass a much larger scope of the world. He writes, â€œI believe that the more people who have these skills, the more connected our society will be with the earth and each otherâ€Ś If a person has had to gather their own food from the forest, purify their own water from creeks, and catch, kill, and butcher wild animals for food, they will think more about how we clear cut forests,
pack. The choice to leave the modern world behind for an hour or a few days can teach students, “what plants to collect and how to prepare them for food or medicine, how to make friction fires starting with just a couple sticks, how to survive and move through the landscape undetected.” Not only does
Grove’s school challenge one’s perspective on how we tend to live our day-to-day lives, but also prepares his students for a life full of adventure, connection, and exploration.
pollute our water with chemicals and farm runoff, and raise animals inhumanely and unsustainably.” It is through education and knowledge that Grove hopes to inspire people to, “have respect for the land and live in harmony with it.” It is through this harmonious connection to nature and other people that, one hopes, can heal the planet and begin to prevent future destruction. For Grove, learning and understanding how to survive in the world not only provides an important outlook on the world’s environments, but also a helpful perspective on the self. He writes that these skills give his students, “confidence in their lives, knowing that no matter what happens in the world, they will be able to take care of themselves and their family.” And through his school and the classes he
provides, Mason remarks that his favorite part of survival classes is getting to meet and spend time with people who have the same interest and passion for survival skills. “You just don’t get that anywhere else,” he reveals. Beyond connection with the world around you and with other people who also have an interest in learning how to survive, Grove’s MN Primitive Skills and Survival School provides a well-rounded education in realtime and in the real world. In his multiple day classes, prospective students can expect to camp out in the woods where class is held and learn and practice all day. Through lecture, demonstration, and hands on experience, Grove’s students learn everything from how to survive with absolutely nothing to what kind of gear to put in an emergency survival
Mason Grove’s perspective on the world is one that is full of insight, sustainability, and surviving amongst landscapes, “on a different level than just passing through them.” His thoughts on living life adventurously and following passions are just as thoughtful and educational as the lessons he provides through his school. It simply begins where you are. He suggests that, “you can find adventure anywhere you are. Explore the forgotten parts of your area that are often looked over, small patches of woods, abandoned lots, city parks, and if you want to, start learning how you can survive off of what you can find in those places.” Mason adds, “living life adventurously means deciding to go against the norm, living life doing the things I love even if it’s less secure, and even if I don’t know exactly how everything will work out.” Perhaps, with a little bit of knowledge, a little bit more connectedness, and a lot more nature, we can all learn how to live our lives adventurously. VOL 1, NO. 6 - 2016 17
Tastebud Adventures in Minneap By Matt Frank, Founder & Editorial Director of From the Ground Up North Photos by Food Building, unless otherwise noted.
As urban residents, we rarely see firsthand where our food comes from or how it’s grown, raised and produced. Enter the Food Building, a 21st century destination food production hub that seeks to raise local craft food awareness among Twin Citians. The Food Building houses three food production start-ups—Red Table Meat Company, The Lone Grazer Creamery and Baker’s Field Flour & Bread. This foodie trifecta 18 MAKE IT MINNESOTA
produces salumi from Minnesota pastureraised pigs, cheese from Minnesota grassfed cows, and stone-milled Minnesota flour and naturally leavened bread under one roof in the heart of Minneapolis’ burgeoning NE arts, foods and craft brewing district. The icing on the cake sits literally nextdoor—a deli, restaurant and bar named The Draft Horse features products from Food Building producers, along with grab and
go sandwiches, soups, salads, and a line of local craft beers on tap. The Food Building rallying call, “Farmed Near, Made Here”, says it all. This network of collaboration and direct partnership among family farmers, food entrepreneurs, salumieres, cheese makers, bakers and restaurateurs are redefining our taste of place, one delicious locally made sandwich at a time.
By Matt Frank, Founder & Editorial Director of From the Ground Up North
olis: A Trip to the Food Building - ORIGINS The Food Building was founded by Kieran Folliard of Twin Cities area Irish pubs fame (The Local, Kieran’s Irish Pub, The Liffey and Cooper Pub). This restaurant portfolio, known as Cara Irish Pubs, was sold in 2011, after which Kieran founded 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey. Two years later, the whiskey company had taken off with such a successful bang that it was acquired by Beam, a global liquor manufacturer and distributor. After four decades developing and building food, beverage and hospitality brands and businesses, Kieran has leveraged these experiences to develop the Food Building, which opened to the public in 2015. Inspired by the growing market for locally produced foods, Kieran’s vision for the space and the businesses that occupy it showcase distinct, savory, handcrafted foods made in Minnesota. By connecting people to the process of how meats, cheeses and breads are produced, from field to fork, the Food Building has begun to establish a greater sense of reverence for the farmers, animals and process behind some of our favorite foods.
town in partnership with Kieran. As a result of the products’ appeal and rave reviews, Red Table Meat Co., a USDAinspected whole hog salumi company, was born. The Lone Grazer Creamery was cofounded by Kieran and Rueben Nilsson. Rueben has a Bachelor’s Degree in Food Science from the University of Minnesota and a history of cheese making. For seven years he worked at Faribault Dairy Company, now known as the Caves of Faribault. Considered one of Minnesota’s best cheese makers, Rueben has worked with both conventional and grass-fed milk and has gained a nuanced perspective into the array of flavor profiles that develop in cheese based on the diet of cows that provide the milk.
Rueben serves as the head Lone Grazer cheese maker. Kieran and renowned Twin Cities baker Steve Horton of Rustica Bakery fame co-founded Baker’s Field Flours & Bread. Because of an antiquated law still on the books in Minneapolis, flour milling is illegal within most areas of the city as a result of flour mill explosions that occurred during the mid twentieth century along the banks of the Mississippi River near downtown. Until very recently, zoning codes limited grain-milling operations to a relatively few heavy industrial areas of the city. The Food Building worked closely with the city to amend the zoning code ordinances so that grain milling could once again be legal in NE Minneapolis.
Red Table Meat Co. was co-founded by Kieran and local chef turned salumiere Mike Phillips. Mike has been cooking in the Twin Cities since 1991 and has operated two restaurants, Chet’s Taverna and The Craftsman. His ongoing commitment to local farmers and their products is a steadfast quality that Mike brings to Red Table. Initially, he began testing his dry-cured meat products at various Cara Irish Pubs locations around VOL 1, NO. 6 - 2016 19
- THE FACILITIES The Food Building consists of two main structures, an older building built around the turn of the 20th century that currently houses the facility’s entrance, administrative offices and The Draft Horse, and a “newer” addition built during the 1940s that houses production spaces and public commons. The older part of the building, located primarily on 14th Ave. NE, was originally used as a large animal veterinary clinic to care for horses that hauled grain and beer at nearby Minneapolis Brewing Company. This brewery later became Grain Belt Brewing, whose iconic complex still stands today along the shores of the Mississippi River and has been redeveloped into offices and artist studios. Remnants of the horse stalls and halter ties can be seen in the Food Building today. The Draft Horse deli, restaurant and bar’s name is a nod to the building’s history. The newer part of the Food Building, located primarily along Marshall Ave. NE, was originally used as a light manufacturing facility. The site had been abandoned for a number of years before being purchased and turned into the Food Building. Part of the vision of the Food Building includes having it serve as an educational facility that connects people to their food. The Food Building offers self-guided tours from 11:00am-5:00pm, Tuesday through Friday, for people interested in learning more about its tenants and the products they produce in-house. A local artist was hired to create artwork that
depicts the Food Building’s history, location and production facility processes. These artistic chalkboards are located throughout the building—mainly near its entry and the large windows that peer into the Red Table, Lone Grazer and Baker’s Field production spaces—and are reminiscent of blueprints, a metaphor depicting both the food world and the facility’s on-going state of flux. Large format photographs also adorn the walls throughout the building’s public spaces, displaying farmers, animals and finished goods. As the food world is large and often very amorphous, these photographs and displays further bridge the gap between who produces our food and where it comes from. In the nearterm future the Food Building hopes to offer guided tour packages throughout the week and weekends that will include food sample tastings. As visitors walk between the Food Building production spaces they are welcomed into a central gathering space, known simply as The Commons. This space is separated into two main rooms, one consisting of a cafeteria, kitchen and bar, and a second that serves as a tasting room where public and private food-related events are held. Food Building employees are also encouraged to use the space to mingle, relax and eat. Both rooms are furnished with unique wooden tables, chairs and benches made from reclaimed wood and shipping pallets. These items were created by Minneapolisbased reclaimed wood mill and wood products manufacturer Wood From the Hood (WFTH). This partnership has also
resulted in custom branded reclaimed wood meat and cheese boards that Food Building tenants use to showcase their goods to visitors. The facility hopes to implement an in-house retail area soon in order to sell food produced on-site in addition to wooden home goods created by WFTH. Rounding out the unique characteristics of the Food Building facilities requires a trip to the rooftop. A partnership with local bee advocates The Beez Kneez has recently resulted in rooftop honeybee hives. The bees serve as another agricultural education tool for teaching visitors about the importance that pollinators play in the food world. The Food Building is located within the
Beekeepr and Food Building photos by Laurie Schneider
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Mississippi River’s pollinator fly zone, a major corridor for birds and other lynchpin species including bees. Next to the beehives 76 solar panels power three-fourths of the building’s central energy use. Another form of renewable energy production such as an anaerobic digester, a system that breaks down biodegradable materials using microorganisms and biological processes in the absence of oxygen, is planned for the building in the long-term. This type of energy system could make efficient use of on-site generated food waste by producing biogas and utilizing it to generate electricity. In this manner, the Food Building would become entirely energy selfsufficient and sustaining. An anaerobic digester would also create a closed-loop system, effectively using ‘waste’ as an asset to produce energy as opposed to shipping it off-site for disposal. This type of regenerative design places importance on waste streams and brings them back into the value stream by up-cycling material typically sent to a landfill.
- THAT’S A WRAP! Although the Food Building has faced obstacles along its path to success, it has become a thriving Twin Cities institution in a relatively short amount of time. Word has it that the Food Building may also serve as a model for similar urban food production hubs in major cities throughout the country. The business is a
boon to the local neighborhood, city and region that has successfully repurposed an abandoned industrial facility and given the public a glimpse of where their food comes from and how it’s made. Their edible products can be purchased at many local area restaurants, grocery stores and food co-ops. And don’t forget to visit The Draft Horse for a delicious handcrafted meal straight from the horse’s mouth.
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VOYAGE TO HUDSON BAY By Benjamin Matzke
York Factory, Manitoba: July 12th, 9 p.m. It is a torrential downpour outside. With cold winds, rough waves beating them down, two young adventurers spot the Canadian flag through the fog and paddle up to their destination after a 2,000-mile, 50-day journey across Minnesota and Canadian waters.
â€œSuch sights as these are reserved for those who suffer to behold them.â€? - Eric Severeid 570 N, 920 W
What you are about to read should not only be understood as the story of two adventurers but as a challenge to those who believe the world has been so totally civilized that there are no great adventures to be had, and also an encouragement to anyone who has dreamed of lacing up their boots and setting out on a journey only partially knowing where they are going and what to expect. This all began in the small town of Gibbon, Minnesota, not earlier this summer, but several years ago. It starts with two childhood friends, Sam Gatton and Jesse Rider, and a passion for exploring the outdoors. During high school they embarked on their first 22 MAKE IT MINNESOTA
canoe trip together; a two-night trip to the Boundary Waters to explore the beautiful fall forest near Ely. “The Boundary waters gave us the love for paddling. Seeing pristine sights cleanses the soul, and acts as its own therapy,” Jesse said. At the end of that school year, the two both got maintenance jobs at Camp Birchwood for Boys, a wilderness camp located on the edge of the Boundary Waters. It was here that Sam and Jesse were introduced to Minnesotan Eric Severeid’s book, Canoeing with the Cree (if you have not read it, pick up a copy to enjoy). The book chronicled the journey of two novice paddlers, Eric Severeid and Walter Port, who launched a second-hand 18ft canoe into the Minnesota River in 1930. This original trip extended over 2,250 miles from Minneapolis to the Hudson, and was done both without the support of family and friends or proper gear. It was this story that inspired the adventure of a lifetime. Sam and Jesse found themselves talking and dreaming of making the journey themselves. Three years after igniting the dream and 86 years after the summer Eric and Walter made the expedition, Sam and Jesse decided to make the trip themselves. “Jesse and I were talking this past March and the topic came up of what we were doing this summer. With both of us not having anything planned, I jokingly suggested we should paddle up to the Hudson Bay. It went from a joke to, ‘we could really do this.’” The idea hatched and with little time to get things rolling Jesse reflects, “I bounced the idea off my family and they were all super supportive. A few weeks later I asked my sister about getting us a website to promote and fundraise for the trip. It went live a few days later (voyagetohudsonbay.com) and at that point I said to Sam, ‘well, we have a website and people know about it, now we have to do it!’” Jesse and Sam left on May 24th, 2016 at 9:00 am. Wanting to make the adventure their own, they decided to embark from their hometown, Gibbon MN, at a creek about 3 miles west of town. Sam remembers him and Jesse saying, “What a fine idea to start at the creek! We left in high spirits and the song “Paddle On Through” my sister and her husband, Kristoffer and Abby Jo Robin wrote for us and played at the waters edge.” Starting at the creek ended up not being such a fine idea, however. They encountered fallen tree after fallen tree in the muddy creek, and after miles of dragging a heavy canoe though impassible waters, the men did what had to be done. “I called my mom,” Jesse laughs. “We were discouraged and exhausted and my leg was bleeding.” Jesse’s mom, Linda, came and picked them up at a country road and delivered them safely a few miles down the road to the Minnesota River near the historic Fort Ridgley, Minnesota. From here the friends had a much smoother paddle, though they were going against the current until reaching Lake Traverse, from which a downstream paddle began on the Red River all the way to Lake Winnipeg. Once across the monstrous lake Winnipeg, a paddle through Canadian wilderness begins and the Hayes River was the final leg to reach York Factory on the Hudson Bay. Their trip was made especially memorable by the people they met along the way. In Redwood Falls, MN, the local Pizza Ranch came down to the river and delivered the hungry paddlers to their pizza VOL 1, NO. 6 - 2016 23
Th e H a n d - C r a f t e d C a n o e Th at C a r r i e d Th e m S o Fa r A unique addition to Sam and Jesse’s trip was the wooden canoe that carried them so far. It was custom built by Jesse as a senior shop project while he was in high school. Made of beautiful white cedar, the canoe took about four months to build. It was such a beautiful piece that friends and family repeatedly commented, “You will never be able to use it, this canoe is too pretty to risk on rocks!” Jesse had other ideas and quickly tested it out on a full-fledged boundary waters trip. When asked what made him decide to use the canoe he built for the trip Jesse commented, “It was the only canoe I owned, and is the best canoe I have ever rode in.” He was pleased with how the canoe handled the long journey north, and was thankful he got to keep it at the journey’s close, made possible by his brother-in-law and sister who made the 24-hour drive by land and water north to bring the wayward adventurers and the canoe home.
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buffet. At the north end of Fargo, ND, six kids playing basketball sang out to them “row row row your boat.” Jesse and Sam pulled to shore and challenged them to a two on six friendly game of basketball to stretch their legs. At one point on the Red River, a nice old lady brought them rhubarb cake and a pop.
all trip; I was cold and miserable yet happy and content at the same time to be paddling this final leg on such an amazing journey,” Sam emotionally recalled. Jesse echoed the sentiment, adding, “Seeing the Canadian flag as we rolled into York Factory after 55 miles of paddling through waves, rain, fog, and the cold was exhilarating.”
“Everywhere we went people were helpful and very interested in our trip,” Sam noted. “Everyone loved us,” Jesse added. “We did not expect such continued support.” When they crossed over into Canada the hospitality continued. “On the edge of the Winnipeg, we met some people who said we had perfect timing because they had just ordered pizza! We stopped for a couple slices, and were offered a bed, a shower, along with good company and advice.”
Now safely home, Sam and Jesse reiterated how glad they were to have made the trip and encourage others with a dream to do the same.
The morning before Sam and Jesse left to take on the massive and potentially lethal Lake Winnipeg, a local named Edgar asked them when they thought they’d finish the lake. “Jesse said seven days and Edgar said he didn’t think we’d make it that fast. And yet, we finished it in four,” remembers Sam. Favorable southern winds and long days of paddling helped them complete such a feat. “Had we not pushed so hard on the North Basin of the lake and got off when we did, we could of been stuck for a while with the storms we got Saturday night and strong winds all day Sunday.” Sam said. The two literally made it off the big lake 10 minutes before a massive storm came crashing down after them. Once the weather cleared the pair started the last leg of the journey on the Hayes River.
“I think the time commitment is what holds most people back on a trip like this. You have to put your life on hold and say goodbye for a while to those you love back home. Also the physical and mental discipline you need to make it through. But if you plan it out, know why you want to do it, and decide it will benefit you as a person afterwards, I would say just do it!” “This has been one of the best decisions of my life to take on this trip,” Sam concludes.
Half way down the Hayes they were met with an unexpected adventure. “The conservation office in Oxford House (a small village along the Hayes that can only be accessed by water or air) had a forest fire fighter crew, and a few of the guys came and asked us if we could help them with something,” Jesse said. “Next thing we knew they invited us up into their helicopter for one of the routine air inspections scouting out any fires. We saw a fire from the air that hadn’t been there the last time they had flown over as well as a moose.” It was also at Oxford House that Jesse and Sam made friends they sadly had to leave behind. “Simone was a stray dog we met while in Oxford House. She was so sweet. Kind of like our entire visit in Oxford House. I will never forget all of the hospitality and interest in us from the locals as we pulled up to the sandy beach at the center of town with our canoe. Kids would ask for rides, elders would tell us tales of when they use to paddle, and others would let us know how much they enjoy getting visitors by way of watercraft,” a nostalgic Sam recalls. And So… York Factory, Manitoba: July 12th, 9 p.m. It is a torrential downpour outside. With cold winds, rough waves beating them down, two young adventurers spot the Canadian flag through the fog and paddle up to their destination after a 2,000-mile, 50-day journey across Minnesota and Canadian waters. After the stormy and swift final leg of the Hayes River, Sam and Jesse reached their destination. “We gave each other a hug and smiled saying, ‘we did it.’ The last day was the worst weather we had
I find it necessary to note that this story is but a glimpse of the adventure these two extraordinary men embarked on, we simply do not have the pages available to tell it all and I sincerely hope that one day Sam and Jesse will make the full telling of their story available for the public. Also, I would like to add my personal encouragement to all who sit on the edge, deciding on whether or not to walk out their door and look for an adventure. There are so many adventures to be had, both great and small, and we often let fear dictate whether or not we take the first step. Fear is a healthy thing; it keeps us alert and keeps us safe, but it often keeps us stationary, with preparation and forethought, fear can be returned to its proper place, as a reminder to use care rather than a chain that holds us back. To see a list of the types of equipment that were necessary for Sam and Jesse to have a successful and safe journey visit www.voyagetohudsonbay.com VOL 1, NO. 6 - 2016 25
Creative Adventure Challenge:
ON THE WATER ESSAY CONTEST We are excited to announce the winners of our short essay contest for our water-loving Minnesotans! A huge thank you Sanborn for their generosity as the sponsor of this contest!
Emily Falkenberg: WINNING ESSAY
On the water. That’s where I will be. Sun on my shoulders, rubber boots on my feet. Weathered hands fit perfect, holding a wooden oar. My arms know just what to do when the water pulls me from the shore. I go where it heeds. I am drifting, floating, gliding. Grounded in movement with water beneath. On the water. That’s where I can see. The sky touch the banks and the tops of the trees. River rocks, sandstone bluffs, fog blankets at dawn. I stay until blue sky becomes painted before night. Tired head held high to soak up all within sight. On the water. That’s where I feel. I belong. I am tested. My character shines. Storming, blowing, rocking. I am strong, alive. On the water. That’s where I will be. For the water moves me. It moves me to be me. 26 MAKE IT MINNESOTA
RUNNER UP ESSAY: REFLECTIONS The more the merrier may not always be the best bet. Upon setting up our trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota with my son, several friends asked if they could come along with their boys. As much as I thought that would be great, I told them this time, this year, I just want it to be my son and I on his first trip into that canoeing wilderness. This year we were to be solely together. With excited anticipation we pushed off into the largest lake in the BWCA at the end of the Gunflint Trail, Lake Saganaga, and proceeded to canoe north, towards the Canadian border. After passing the islands in the middle of “Sag”, surprise! We were introduced to some of the winds that we had been explicitly warned about when canoeing that lake. For most of the next two hours we painstakingly paddled primarily from our left side, to keep us nose into the wind and from blowing into the rocks on the shore. This was the first of many lessons for my son that weekend. He had no choice but to practice perseverance with the knowledge that there was no option to give up. Eventually we found an open campsite with a wonderful view of Canada, where my son made us his first ever open fire steak. In the days to follow there were moments of hard work blended with times of reflection and enjoyment. Between walking our canoe around downed trees over a series of rapids, to relaxing as we ate our lunch on the backside of a portage, we felt we were in heaven. Or from building our camp and hanging our bear bag, to following a family of young loons on the lake and sitting in the hammock, watching the little critters around the camp doing their thing while we devour wild raspberries found around our campsites. All the time marveling in the beauty around us and occasionally being interrupted by the sound of nature and the rare passing of another canoeist shouting a friendly “hello, how are ya? Best yet, our canoe took us off the grid! We left our phones in the truck and had four days to talk to each other. For example his world of sports and music, movies and TV, school and friends. I taught him things like how to read a map, look at scat and wilderness survival. Not to mention, we’re guys, so we farted, peed in the bushes, never used soap and talked about girls (his sisters and my wife that is). To put it simply, that canoe trip brought us closer together than we’d ever been. Waking up before sunrise on Alpine Lake to a beautiful foggy sunrise was the icing on the cake for our last day. Entering the 145 foot deep, 4000+ acre Sea Gull Lake, the water turned from flat to glassy. An incredible beauty that I cannot put to words. Then to find that my son couldn’t stop commenting about how amazing the scenery looked. Never expected to hear that from my 13-year-old boy. The elements of self-satisfaction and pride was evident in his face as well as the stories he shared with my wife upon our return. When reflecting back to the trip, I clearly see that the life lessons learned this weekend would have not been possible had we not been in a canoe throughout our trip with Minnesota’s BWCA as a backdrop. A trip that I will never be able to forget or replace.
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Adventure Issue Instagram Contest
GET OUTSIDE! #MakeItMN_GO
Itâ€™s no secret that Minnesota is full of active people who love to get outside in the summer, walk around the lakes, run with canine companions, hike in the woods, bike beautiful trails, and more! So, for the Adventure Issue Instagram Contest, we invited our readers to share their summer outdoor walking, running, biking, and hiking photos with the tag #MakeItMN_GO.
summertime! Make sure to stop by Run MNâ€™s retail location in Burnsville, MN to check out the poster that will feature these elite winning photos as well! proudly sponsored by
With Run MN as our partner and sponsor of the contest, we were so pleased to support a fantastic local store and inspire people to share their active summer adventures! More than 250 photos were submitted and here, the Top 10 photos are published as a celebration of getting outside in the glorious Minnesota
WINNING IMAGE @elin.neugebauer Elin Neugebauer
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@susan_esss Sue Buck
@runlongrun Long Nguyen
@nklokphoto Nathan Klok
Joshua J. Roberts
photo by Matt Guertin (@borealiswoolco)
@pixelcrave Ivan Maramis
@storiedlifepictures Shannon Svensrud
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AN INTERVIEW WITH
Since their humble, basement beginnings in 1999, Lee and Kent Begnaud have worked hard to keep Leather Works alive and fighting the good fight, and all the while, have stayed true to their initial goal of inspiring a return American manufacturing. Every quality item is designed, sewn in house, and inspected by the sagacious, skilled Leather Works team. Their work is minimal, clean, and most of all, functional and well made. This is a two-part interview. In the first part, we talked with Lee Begnaud, half of the husband-wife founding duo behind
Leather Works Minnesota. And in the second, we caught up with her son, Nathan Oâ€™Malley, who contributes through his sewing, photography, and website design skills.
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PART I: LEE BEGNAUD
What inspired you begin this endeavor? My husband, Kent, has been making leather goods since 1976, so he’s been around the leather world for a long time. Leather Works began in 1999 when he was a plant manager at a Leather promotional company in Woodbury that was sold and went to China. About 55 people were out of work for no reason. It was a frustrating time and Kent half jokingly said, “let’s bring American manufacturing back to America.” So we decided then to start our own mini version of that corporation, which turned into Leather Works Minnesota. How has Leather Works Minnesota evolved since the beginning? Because we were small, we had to be open-minded. We were a leather shop that had a line of wallets, keyfobs, and purses, and also did repairs. And it was different every day. We had a guy that called who played the bagpipes and he needed a bagpipe purse—and we’re like, “heck yeah we make those!” Lucky for us, Kent can make anything. Interestingly enough, our wallets have pretty much remained the same. We’ve added some new wallets, like our No. 9 Bilfold. The Dad’s Bilfold and the Money Clip are the classic wallets we’ve had from the beginning. What is your role at Leather Works? I run the front end of the company and do the shipping on the back end. All the magic happens in the middle! I talk with all of the buyers and storeowners that request to sell our products. We want our products to be special and not something that everyone has, so I visit the store and determine what would fit best. We’re in a lot of stores in the North Loop, but none of them carry the same thing. Askov Finlayson probably has the biggest selection, the Foundry has a couple items, Wilson & Willy’s has different items as well as Shinola; we’re sprinkled all over, but it’s all different. How has living in Minnesota influenced your creative work, specifically through your business? It was a big moment for us when Northern Grade invited us to be apart of the American Made Pop-Up and put us alongside well established brands such as Red Wing Boots, Faribault Woolen Mills, Filson, and Duluth Pack—that definitely shot us up to be more recognized as a brand. Additionally, most of our leather comes from Red Wing’s S.B. Foot tannery. 32 MAKE IT MINNESOTA
Who buys Leather Works Minnesota goods? We’re privileged to work in the Lowertown Arts District and get a wonderful, diverse group of customers who come visit our studio—from the starving artist to the bank president to the Instagram follower from Russia. We feel that our prices seem to fall somewhere in the middle where everyone can afford a Leather Works MN piece. We try to measure pricing by “what can we afford and feel good about buying?” We are in the Northern Warehouse Artists’ Co-op, which is apart of Artspace. Artspace loves to bring people from around the country who are considering turning their building into an “artspace for artists”, for tours through our shop to show folks how their space at home could potentially be used. What are your most popular items? I would say that our wallets are very popular. We have slim styles for those who don’t want too much bulk in their pocket and we have, for example, the No 9. Wallet that has several slots for those who have a lot of cards to carry. We sell a lot of belts. Our belting leather comes from Weaver Leather in Ohio. We use the double shoulder of the cow, the strongest part of the hide. We always tell people: “you’ll pass it down to your grandkids or you’ll pull your friends out of the ditch with it.” Same classic belt— our style has not ever changed since the beginning. Guys just want something well made. Our least expensive product is our toothpick holder, which is $6.00. I thought it was the goofiest product ever when Kent decided to make one up. We generate a ton of scrap leather and this was a good way to use up almost every inch of that. He made 100 of them for a show and sold every one! To date, we’ve sold 70,000 of them. It’s our highest selling product in numbers and recently, the Northern Grade store in New York, where a few of our items are sold, just called us saying, “you’ll never guess who was just in our store and bought your toothpick holder—Leo DiCaprio!”
PART II: NATHAN O’MALLEY What are your roles at Leather Works Minnesota? I do a little bit of everything—I originally started full time at the shop about four and a half years ago, right before we moved our shop to Lowertown. I started to take over our social media and realized back then that I was pretty good at photography, so I just kind of highjacked it. And I started doing some web design for my parents as well— they had an old website that someone had built for them years ago, so I built a new website and we noticed some revenue coming in. And that was around the same time as Northern Grade, a couple blogs wrote about our wallets, we were in Martha Stewart Magazine—a lot of things started happening for us right around the time I built the website. So we went from little to zero online sales to averaging a pretty good amount now, five years later. And I just built us a new, new website one year ago, which is even more smooth and sleek. I do a majority of the product sewing, all the photography, all of the website management, and some of speaking events as well where I talk about the company. You recently took a trip to Iceland and Norway. What kind of adventure was it? Iceland was amazing. I’ve been a lot of places in the world and I think it was the most beautiful country I’ve ever been. I spent more time in Norway, which was also very beautiful, but Iceland was completely different. Everything is volcanic rock and black sand beaches and green moss everywhere, huge mountains and waterfalls. Very dramatic—it felt like being in a Lord of the Rings movie. We found a really nice house in Reykjavik to stay in—it was a bit outside of town and right by the ocean and it was really quiet and restful. The whole thing just felt like a rejuvenating retreat. We traveled about 500 miles while we were there; we found some hot springs and went swimming and ate a lot of hot dogs because they love hot dogs in Iceland. But they’re the best hot dogs; they wrap them in bacon and put them on a bun with fried onions—and it’s so good. We traveled to west Iceland and drove out to this peninsula called Snæfellsnes, found a jet-black church, climbed a volcano, and we got caught in a windstorm in the mountains as we were driving through to the other side of the peninsula. Norway reminded me a lot of Northern Minnesota on the north shore— very Boundary Waters, but with big mountains everywhere. Our family lives in Heimsnes, which is about a four-hour drive north of Trondheim, and we stayed there with our family. They live on a fjord, so we went fishing and kayaking and saw whales and climbed mountains, so that was awesome. What do you think travel does for the individual? I rebel against that wanderlust mentality that there’s something better somewhere else. I’m an advocate of finding a place to be planted and exploring your local community instead. However, I really just needed to get away for a little bit and have a little vacation to clear my mind so I could come back to work rejuvenated and focus on some other things in life with a clear mind. For
me, traveling, especially with people you really care about and trust, that you can just be yourself and relax with… is a time to gain some new experience and memories and things that you’ll have for the rest of your life. Do you feel like making and creating through your business allows you to contribute to something larger than yourself? Growing up in a family that was always creative in some way and having the leather shop, I have that creative bone in me as well. I think that’s why I enjoy being here so much. I get to make things with my family and friends who work here that people hold on to for the rest of their lives. I can go just about anywhere in Minneapolis and I’ll see someone with a piece of Leather Works. It is so fun. It feels like we’re making things that are long lasting that people really enjoy and are passionate about. They enjoy telling the story and we like helping people tell that story, too. VOL 1, NO. 6 - 2016 33
By Jamie Carlson
ummer means a lot of different things to different people. For some, it means boating and water sports; for others, itâ€™s a time for travel. For me, summer is all about fishing and gardening. All of the hunting seasons are closed, so my time in the woods is limited. I still get out into the woods occasionally to pick berries and the occasional mushroom, but for the most part my attention is directed towards catching some fish and stocking my pantry with canned goods from the garden.
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I have fished all of my life, but I am fairly new to the gardening game. When I was a kid, I spent most of my summers at my grandparentsâ€™ cabin on Leech Lake. I would fish almost every day and my grandmother would always clean those fish and fry them for me. Most of the fish I would catch off the dock were Yellow Perch. The meat off those fish was always firm and slightly sweet and if you got into some good-sized fish, they were easy to clean and made excellent table fare. To this day, they are still one of my favorite fish to eat.
Whenever I would get enough fish to feed everyone, my Grandmother would break out the saltine crackers and a rolling pin and start making her fish breading. She fried all of the fish the same way—it didn’t matter if they were walleyes or rock bass, and everything got dusted with flour, dipped in an egg wash and then coated in saltine cracker crumbs. The breading was always crisp and light and never overwhelmed the fish. All fish was served with a side of Hellman’s tartar sauce, except when we ran out. In those instances Grandma would whip together some kind of homemade tartar sauce using pickled relish and mayonnaise. Looking back I sometimes wonder if I enjoyed the fried fish or if I just used it as a vessel to eat tartar sauce.
Looking back I sometimes wonder if I enjoyed the fried fish or if I just used it as a vessel to eat tartar sauce.
I don’t get out fishing as much as I used to; these days it’s not as easy as walking out the backdoor and heading down to the dock. I miss the days when I could head out fishing whenever I felt the urge. My garden has replaced that and I can just walk out into the backyard and look over what is growing. When I bought my house five years ago, one of the first things I wanted to put in were garden beds. I have been slowly expanding my garden every year since and by some stroke of luck have managed to grow enough vegetables to freeze and can for use later in the year. One of the things that I have had the most success with is my zucchini. Year after year I manage to do a pretty good job and usually by midsummer I have eaten my fill of zucchini. Anyone who has every grown their own zucchini knows that once they start producing, they don’t slow down. You can go out and pick all the zucchini off your plants and by the next morning you will find a small submarine that you somehow missed the day before. Finding ways to preserve your zucchini
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can be challenging. You can only use so much shredded and frozen zucchini. A few years ago I came across a recipe for a zucchini relish. I gave it a try and really enjoyed it. It was sweet and flavorful and went well on just about everything, so I started playing around with the recipe until I got it just right. I now make two different versions—one with some horseradish in it and one with habanero peppers. I found that I really enjoy the sweet and hot combination. I also found out that when mixed with some mayonnaise, lemon zest and a dash of old bay seasoning it makes a wonderful substitute for the Hellman’s tartar sauce.
5 cups diced zucchini (I use an assortment of yellow summer squash, limelight and Black beauty zucchini)
2 peppers diced (green, red, yellow doesn’t matter) 1 1/2 cups diced onion 1 3/4 cup sugar 1 1/2 cups white vinegar 1/4 cup water 1 tsp turmeric 1 tsp celery seed 1 tsp mustard seed 2-3 Habanero peppers ¼ cup all-purpose flour 1/4 cup pickling salt Water
Saltine Cracker Crumb Breading
2 sleeves of plain saltine crackers 1 tsp garlic powder 1 tsp onion powder 1 tsp lemon pepper Break the crackers up and place in a blender or food processor, add the spices and pulse into a fine powder. I like my breading really fine so that it evenly coats the fish.
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When you dice the vegetables, try to get an even size dice for all so you have an even texture, about a 1/4 inch squares. After you dice all the veggies, sprinkle with pickling salt and cover with cold water, then let it stand at room temp for 3 hours. After 3 hours, rinse the veggies and drain. Add the vinegar, sugar, water and spices to a large pot and bring to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes. Add all the veggies and the flour, bring back to a boil and then simmer for ten minutes. Ladle into sterilized jars and process in a water bath for ten minutes.
My Homemade Tartar Sauce 1 cup mayonnaise ½ cup zucchini relish Zest of one lemon 1tablespoon lemon juice ½ tsp old bay seasoning Mix all ingredients together and chill for 30 minutes before using.
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A dventurous S pirit
I close my eyes and take a breath Inhale deeply and take a step Dirt roads and overgrown paths Empty lakes and quiet streams Not destinations, But paths to dreams Some crave the city and the lights But others solitude and star filled nights For some to climb a mountain is only metaphor And to some it is so much more I close my eyes and take a breath Inhale deeply and approach the crest Wild flowers and open plains Saddle sore and tight held reins There a Vision Of wagon trains Some crave crowds and the noise But others silence overjoys For some, pioneers are only metaphor And to some, kindred gone before I close my eyes and take a breath Inhale deeply and feel refreshed A journey, a path, a paddle, a climb Well earned rest Frozen time A ride, a walk, an adventure, and then Home at last where Iâ€™ve never been.
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Vol. 1, No. 6