Itasca Waters is hosting the We Are Water MN exhibit at the Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids from August 4 - September 16, 2019. The exhibit and events are designed to build awareness of the ways water shapes the history, culture, and identity of those who live in the headwaters, and to invite people to enjoy and protect the many lakes and rivers in Itasca County.
We Are Water MN is a popular statewide traveling exhibit and community engagement project that invites visitors to reflect on the experiences of local people and come to a deeper understanding of what taking care of water means to people. Science and history are also included via this 1,000-square foot, hands-on exhibit created by the Minnesota Humanities Center, MPCA, Minnesota Historical Society, and Departments of Health, Agriculture and Natural Resources.
This is the second statewide tour of the We Are Water MN exhibit. It will visit eight Minnesota communities between October 2018 and November 2019: St. Paul, Bemidji, Crookston, Duluth, Austin, Northfield, Grand Rapids, and Onamia.
Visiting the exhibit
We Are Water MN is open August 4 – September 16, at the Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids (720 NW Conifer Drive, Grand Rapids, MN 55744). Hours are Monday – Friday, 10:00am – 4:00pm.
As a part of the exhibit, Itasca Waters and their partners will offer an opening celebration on Friday August 2 from 4:30 to 7:00pm at the Reif Center.
Vicki Andrews pays attention to Pokegama Lake
Part of the work of the exhibit has been to collect stories from the community and that's why we connected with Vicki Andrews.
As a child growing up in Grand Rapids, Vicki's family frequented Pokegama Lake, where her parents owned property.
“We spent our summers out here,” she recalls, “We’d come out here and go swimming, and the water was just perfectly clear. One of my fondest memories is the sand castles we would build on the beach — we’d have contests, and that was a lot of fun.”
Years later, she moved back to the area to raise her own children. When they were adults, she returned to Pokegama Lake. “Over the years, I have noticed a lot of changes in the lake that make me very sad,” Vicki says. “A lot of trees are dying off, the water is murkier, and we don’t even have a beach now.” The lake has flooded a number of times in recent years and Vicki posits that has caused some of the erosion and problems with water quality.
In 2013, Vicki founded an environmental group called Earth Circle, with a mission to raise awareness and inspire action in Itasca County. Her environmental activism builds on her many years of community action protesting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, promoting peace and a more just society, and her career as a social worker in Itasca County. Her interest and drive also stem from her personal experience of living near the lake and observing its changes. “It’s still a beautiful lake, and I still feel very connected with it,” she says.
You can listen to more local stories in the exhibit or at mnhum.org/water.
Other events include:
- The Water Bar at Klockow Brewing, Thursday Aug. 1 from 4-7 p.m.
- Nibi Water Walk Orientation on Aug. 9 from 1-4 p.m. and Pokegama Water Walk on Sept. 13-14. http://bit.ly/2Uuhwki
- Chamber Luncheon featuring MN Research Scientist Paul Radomski. Monday Sept. 9, 11:30-1 p.m. at the Timber Lake Lodge. RSVP required.
Visit Itasca Waters’ website for a full schedule and details.
- The Judy Garland Museum, home to the world’s largest Judy Garland and Wizard of Oz collection, a restored Historic House, gardens, and the Children’s Discovery Museum.
- The Forest History Center, where you can experience life in 1900 through an authentically recreated white pine logging camp.
- Visit the Scenic State Park to hike the Chase Point Trail, take a swim at the beach or go fishing off the pier. There’s a historical lodge, picnic grounds, and campsites available if you’re staying the night!
Find more at vistitgrandrapids.com.