Jack Pines Cleared for French Fries

46.4425° N, 95.1361° W

12,000 acres of pine forest were purchased by a North Dakota company to convert into potato crops. The clearing of this rare Minnesota forest in Wadena impacts wildlife unique to the area and creates a possible water safety issue. Potato crops typically use heavy pesticides, a potential threat to a local aquifer and drinking water source. 42 square miles of Jack Pines were cleared, an area equivalent approximately to three cities combined, before the clearing was stopped by the Minnesota DNR.


Heather On Collaborative Partnerships and the Human Need to Connect

Heather Dudley-Nollette is co-founder of The CoLab, a coworking space in Port Townsend, Washington. This increasingly popular model of sharing space and resources strengthens community and encourages entrepreneurs and freelance professionals to share ideas, collaborate and innovate. While Heather is investing energy into the new collaborative workspace model of The CoLab, she is also helping to preserve and restore a prominent historical landmark in Port Townsend. As project manager of the Hastings Hotel Project, she is leading the historic rehabilitation of the 125-year old building into a boutique hotel.

The synthesis of cultivating the new, restoring the old and preserving the historic, gives Heather a unique and broad understanding of the effort and humanity required to collaborate. She believes that at the core of this work is the human need to connect. Whether she is collaborating to restore and bring into service a cultural and historical landmark or creating partnerships with small business owners to stimulate a new economy, the intent is the same: to bring people together to connect, make good things happen and help community thrive.

I’m a performing artist, a business person, a mom, a wife, a daughter, a niece, a sister, a friend. Art and relationships tend to lead my perspectives on the world. So, when I put on my entrepreneurial, business and community leadership hats, I tend to see all of my work through that lens.


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Brian and Marianne Grow Their Urban Homestead

Brian’s academic training is in groundwater geology and environmental engineering, but his interests are much broader and have been always evolving. He spent a lot of time at his grandparents’ house on Lake Michigan, which imbued in him a deep reverence for water. He also spent some time living on a hobby farm in rural northeast Wisconsin, where he worked on dairy farms. In the past, his jobs involved remediating contaminated groundwater—mostly from leaking underground storage tanks. He wanted to help clean the planet. His job at Chevron, and later engineering consulting work, allowed him to see oil production in far-flung places (Azerbaijan, Angola, Kazakhstan).

I began to realize that humans were mis-using this one-time bounty of stored energy from the sun—cars and plastic bags being examples of mis-use. We’re using this carbon too quickly—and we might just eliminate our species in the process. Not to mention all the others. I am trying to fight my own anthrocentrism.

Marianne Combs and Brian Davis

Marianne works as an arts reporter at Minnesota Public Radio, and has always had a strong connection to the environment, which has deepened significantly over the past decade. She grew up along the Pacific Ocean, and remembers picking up plastic trash that washed up on the shore with her mother. Her mother and walking buddy Laurie would using a Swiss Army knife to release birds caught up in fishing wire.

When I return to the coast these days, I’m always saddened to see how the wildlife—starfish, sea anemones, mussels—has diminished.

As a high school exchange student in France, she learned the importance of locally-sourced food, but didn’t connect it to her own actions until she bought a house in 2002. She planned to fill the yard with roses, lilies and tulips, but her mother suggested she start a little herb garden behind the kitchen. Now the tulips she planted have been overrun by strawberries, and the lilies are crowded out by the tomato beds.


Continue on to read the interview with Bran’s 3 Tips for Urban Gardeners and Marianne’s 3 Tips for Reducing Household Waste.

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T.R. Boyce Jr. Reflects on Taking a Leap and Making a Film in Africa

T.R. Boyce Jr. has been working on sound for film and television since 1995, from “The Bourne Legacy” to the HBO series “Girls.” A few years ago, filmmaker and writer Andrew Mudge persuaded T.R. to make a film in Lesotho, a tiny country that resides completely inside the borders of South Africa. Together, director Andrew Mudge and producer T.R. Boyce Jr. made the film The Forgotten Kingdom, a beautiful story about a man who travels back to his homeland, and begins a journey to discover who he is.

I interviewed T.R. in the sculpture garden at the Walker Art Center where we talked about how making this film changed him. In this video, he draws a line of contrast between holding on and letting go, calculating and taking a leap, preoccupation and being present.


Producer T.R. Boyce Jr. reflects on taking a leap and making a film in Africa with director Andrew Mudge. Music by Karen Kopacz.

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Tom Builds a Skateboarding Cooperative and Community In Fargo

Tom Kemmer builds beautiful handmade skateboards at his tiny shop Kemmco Cruisers. But he’s built so much more than that where he lives in Fargo, North Dakota. He and a handful of skate enthusiasts spent 6 months building a skateboarding cooperative called The Hawk’s Nest. Tom Kemmer, Ryan Turner, Mark Leski, Steve Bohr and others work together to continuously refine the cooperative and expand their community. Tom’s philosophy: “All are welcome.”

Tom Kemmer of Kemmco Cruisers

Eric Hansen skating the bowl at The Hawk’s Nest in Fargo, North Dakota. Music by dArKAngLe.

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Lisa Becomes an Artist-In-Residence In Her Own Home

As an artist, illustrator and animator, Lisa’s creative spirit ripples through the household where she lives with her husband, son and daughter. She has always been an artist, and has a long list of accomplishments, but now she is dedicating a period of time to making her art into a business, using the family dining room as her studio.


You have to protect your life as an artist. It’s like having all the tabs on the computer open all the time and that openness requires focus. I don’t multitask. I fully focus in  with a project or an animation.

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Personal Chef Kristin Hamaker Explores the Constellation of Life, Work and Creativity

Farm to Fork chef Kristin Hamaker is blurring the lines in life, work and creativity to make stronger connections between personal life, family, her writing and her job as a personal chef in the Twin Cities in Minnesota.

Chef Kristin Hamaker

I’m finding myself at once in the throes of growing an in-demand business and diverging to pursue other interests, such as writing. Slowly, I’m coming to terms with the reality that my professional and personal lives are ever-entangled and one way I’m grasping that now is with the help of an image, that of constellation.


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