Welcoming Community: Environmental Equity

Northeast Minnesota is known for its natural beauty: pristine lakes and forests filled with fish and wildlife. However, these notable characteristics are not free from the environmental pollutants of modern life. Residents in some areas, often those from historically underrepresented groups, face disparities in health outcomes, access to resources, and life expectancy due to environmental inequities.  

Efforts are being undertaken by various groups in northeast Minnesota to promote environmental justice and mediate the impacts of negative health outcomes for those living in inequitable environmental conditions.  

A recognition of the past and continuing inequities in environmental conditions can help local governments, community members, and organizations advocate for environmental justice in an effort to move toward environmental equity for all community members in the region.  

Welcoming efforts around environmental equity might consist of:  

  • Including community members impacted by environmental inequities in decision making 
  • Educating about past and present environmental inequities 
  • Considering how policies related to the environment will impact specific groups 

Considering environmental equity is essential to understanding a more complete picture of equity across the Northland. Visit the Resources to Explore section below to learn more about current initiatives and stories around environmental equity in the Northland.  

“The current situation is not equal; it’s never been equal. Some people are more equal than others in the U.S.—if you are poor, working class or a community of color, you get less protection, you get less enforcement of pollution laws. Environmental justice isn’t just a slang term for these people, it’s real. If a community is located on the wrong side of the tracks, it’s going to get a larger amount of pollution.”Robert Bullard

Continued Learning

The goal of the Welcoming Community program is to provide continued opportunities for learning and connection related to topics relevant to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our region. In our monthly emails, we highlight a specific equity topic and provide resources related to the monthly theme.  

The theme for the month of December is Environmental Equity. When exploring the learnings in the Resources to Explore section, we ask that you consider the following question: 

“In terms of environmental equity in northeast Minnesota, where have we come from, where are we now, and what steps do we need to take to reach an equitable future?” 

Resources to Explore 

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Final Duluth Lyceum of 2022  

Northspan’s Welcoming Community programming, in partnership with the Lyceum Movement, has hosted monthly gatherings of the Duluth Lyceum at Bent Paddle Brewing Co. since March of 2022. Bent Paddle has generously donated their meeting space for these community learning and engagement opportunities set in a social and historic atmosphere.  

The Lyceum movement began in the 19th century and at its height over 3,000 lyceums existed across the United States. The national lyceum movement is seeking to bring life back to the idea of engaging community members in conversation around topics significant on a local and national level outside of a traditional academic or government setting.  

Lyceum participants follow specific habits of conversation to create an environment where respectful dialogue can occur. Guidelines include listening to our neighbors’ words in the best light and seeing ourselves as fundamentally on the same team, even if we disagree.  

The lyceum begins with a 15-20 minute presentation from a local expert followed by 50 minutes of lightly facilitated small group community conversations around that topic. Some examples of topics from the past months include: Understanding Local History, The Meaning of Home, Building Local Democracy, and Art and the Meaning of Life.  

Seven lyceums were held in Duluth in 2022, with the final event happening on November 28th, featuring Dr. Gary Boelhower as the presenter on the topic of Intersections of Religion and Democracy. 

Look for continued updates on the Duluth Lyceum in 2023! You can learn more and participate in future lyceums here.

Welcoming: In the News! 

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Welcoming Events Across the Northland 

Many initiatives are ongoing to support Welcoming across northeast Minnesota. Listed below are some in-person and digital opportunities to explore and participate in! 

Do you know about a connection opportunity we could highlight in an upcoming newsletter? Submit events to alewis@northspan.org by January 5th, 2023. 

The CHUM Homeless Community Vigil
December 24th, 12:00PM
City Hall, Duluth, MN
Learn more here 

The Queer BIPOC Community Dinner
December 29th, 7:00PM-8:30PM
Learn more here 

Thirteen Moons Fond du Lac Tribal College Extension Program:
2023 Gichi Manidoo Giizis Pow Wow

January 13th &14th (multiple times)
Black Bear Casino Resort, Otter Creek Event Center

Hibbing on Howard: Winter Edition  
Sundays in January, 2:00PM-4:00PM
Vic Power Park, Hibbing, MN 

Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians but Were Afraid to Ask with Anton Treuer
January 7th, 5:00PM-6:30PM
Rainy River Campus, MN North College 

Ojibwe storytelling events at FDLTCC  
January 7th & 25th, 5:00PM-9:00PM
Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College Commons
Learn more here 

Cooking Around the World
January 30th, 5:30PM-7:00PM
Cloquet Public Library


4th Annual Ojibwe Language Symposium
February 3rd-5th
Fond du Lac Tribal Community College Commons
Learn more here 

3rd Annual Northland Black Business Showcase
February 11th, 1:00PM-4:00PM
The Depot, Duluth, MN
Learn more here 


Ongoing Events 


Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa:
Ke Go Naa! Language Lessons

Learn more here

International Falls Rotary:
Welcoming Community Initiative Speaker Series  

Learn more here

Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging:
Classes, Workshops, Trainings

Learn more here

Entrepreneur Fund: Stride 
Learn more here

Members Cooperative Credit Union:
Financial Education Webinars  

Learn more here
Banzai Financial Wellness Library

Fond du Lac Language and Cultural Center
Wednesday Events, 5PM-8PM
Learn more here

Minnesota Women’s Press Changemakers Alliance   
Learn more here

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Invite a Friend  

If you know others in your community who are interested in participating with Welcoming Community programming, please share this page so they can learn more & Click Here to join our email list. 

Contact Northspan’s Welcoming Community Program Coordinator Amber Lewis at alewis@northspan.org with any questions.