The complex forces at work on Minnesota’s North Shore shape an ever-changing network of people, businesses, natural resources, and beautiful views of Lake Superior.
A recent report from the McKnight Foundation has examined how the North Shore is changing, for good or bad. In an article excerpted from the report on MinnPost, writer Jay Walljasper describes several examples of how communities from Two Harbors to Grand Portage are trying to steer through big swells in the economy, tourism interests, and other shifting waters.
“It’s a more diverse place in every sense of the word than the postcard views would have you expect. From the native community at Grand Portage to the workaday port town of Two Harbors, from the rugged scenery found on the Superior Hiking Trail to the bounty of local ingredients found on restaurant menus, from mom-and-pop resorts to test-your-mettle wilderness challenges, this corner of the state relishes what makes it unique more than ever. It’s easy to fall in love with this place yet hard to make a living here, fostering a spirited sense of creativity and community that explains the region distinctive appeal.”
The writer goes on to highlight initiatives in Two Harbors, Grand Marais, and elsewhere that demonstrate promising new trends, including the Heart of the Continent geo-tourism initiative. Walljasper explains the partnership of public and private groups across the Arrowhead and northwest Ontario seeks to make tourism authentic and sustainable. “Sustainable” represents two goals for the coalition: economic and environmental.
National Geographic Society’s geotourism director, James Dion, told Walljasper that the Heart of the Continent is “smartly sharing the region’s tremendous scenic, historic, and cultural assets, and helping them thrive together for future generations.”
Seeing the global forces and local initiatives, Walljasper also presents a philosophy of economic development that can’t count on high-paid mining jobs.
“Continued prosperity depends on digging deep into the region’s assets beyond ore in the ground. This means natural beauty, community pride, cultural traditions, renewable resources of the forests and waters, a robust work ethic, a hardy entrepreneurial drive, and the unique appeal and social solidarity of a place like no other in the country.”