West End News March 8

There are lots of skiing opportunities on the West End after the latest snow!
There are lots of skiing opportunities on the West End after the latest snow!

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 Congratulations to Frank Moe of Hovland who recently completed a sled dog trip from Grand Marais to the state capitol in St Paul. Frank made his trip to raise public awareness of the danger of water pollution from several large-scale precious metal mining operations that are proposed for sulfide-bearing rock in northeastern Minnesota.

I’ve observed two things from the discussion that Frank’s trip has provoked. The first is that very few people are against mining. The second is that everyone is in favor of clean water. The difference of opinion seems to revolve around how much risk we’re willing to accept along with the mining. The people supporting Frank’s effort are asking the legislature to adopt a policy that would require the mining companies to prove that there will be no harm to the watershed before they are allowed to start mining. The mining companies and their supporters are asking that we trust them to protect the water, in spite of a record of truly terrible pollution from this type of mining in the past.

I feel that due to the long history of catastrophic pollution associated with mining sulfide bearing minerals, it’s perfectly reasonable to require the mining companies to prove that there will be no significant harm before they open a mine. Our clean water is just too important to gamble with.

On the local scene, a group of Hobbits is getting organized in Tofte. Hobbit is an acronym for: Hearth Building, Bread Baking Initiative Team. Jeanne Larson and Bill Higgins are working with the Birch Grove Foundation and North House Folk School to build an outdoor hearth oven at Birch Grove this summer. Their organizing announcement on Boreal News last week is so good that I’m going to quote it word for word.

“Hear Ye! Hear Ye!
A Gathering of H.O.B.B.I.T.’s (Hearth Building, Bread Baking Initiative Team)
We believe that in these challenging times there is value in strengthening the essence of our community. By having a place where we can gather together and bake bread, have “pizza-pot-luck” suppers and other events, we can nourish relationships and cultivate the support and resources that attend to the needs of our community (and have cheap fun!) Currently, we are in the planning stages to build a community hearth oven at Birch Grove Community Center this summer. A priority in our planning includes YOU! We want to know your interest and role in this endeavor. Here are some of your options:
1. I love to eat artisan breads and I support the project.
2. I am interested in attending “pizza-pot-lucks” and other community bread making gatherings.
3. I would like to be a HOBBIT - a founder. I want to help build the oven this summer, contributing my time and money 4. I am not interested in building the oven but would contribute money for the project.

Please contact Patty Nordahl at Birch Grove Community Center either by email bgf@boreal.org or call 663-7977 and share your number(s) of interest.”

For those of you who are thinking about attending kindergarten next year, don’t forget the Birch Grove Community School Kindergarten Round-Up from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 13. It includes an invitation to Birch Grove Community Lunch. Call Diane at 663-0170 for more information.

When my daughter Ruthie attended her kindergarten round-up as a 4-year-old, she was delighted to be given a popsicle. She remembers thinking that kindergarten was going to be awesome because you got popsicles there. Ruthie just turned 30 and to this day she reports, with a trace of bitterness, that she never received a single popsicle while actually in kindergarten.
West End are now fully open and groomed for the first time this season. Everyone is reporting wonderful conditions, so take advantage of them while they last. With this crazy winter, who knows how long they will stay in good shape?


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