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Grand Marais Businesses and Residents Featured in PBS' Craft in America HOME Episode

Dec 13, 2022 09:28AM ● By Content Editor
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From North House Folk School - December 12, 2022

Several Cook County residents and businesses will be featured in an episode of the Peabody Award-winning series Craft in America, premiering December 16 on PBS stations nationwide. The soon-to-be released episode is titled HOME, and features Hedstrom Lumber, North House Folk School, and multiple instructors and students.

“Through the artists and stories represented in this episode, HOME honors the significance of our surroundings, while also acknowledging the challenging histories that have shaped our ideas of it,” shared Carol Sauvion, Executive Director and creator of the Craft in America series in a press release.

North House Folk School first welcomed Sauvion to campus as the featured Unplugged gala speaker in 2019, sparking the connection that inspired the Craft in America film crew visit in August 2021 to capture footage for the upcoming episode.  

Local viewers may recognize familiar Cook County faces from North House Folk School, Hedstrom Lumber Company, and area resident Susan Scherer. A segment of the episode also features Biskakone Greg Johnson, a member of the Ojibwe Tribe in Lac du Flambeau, WI, and an instructor at North House. Other artists and organizations featured in the program span the United States, including Philadelphia-based Syd Carpenter, Helen Drutt English, and Wharton Esherick, and California-based Sim Van der Ryn and the Outlaw Builders. 

Tina Hegg Raway, Vice President of Finance at Hedstrom Lumber Company, said that it was interesting to welcome the production team to the sawmill and that she enjoyed sharing some history and the connection with North House’s timber framing programs. 

“Hedstrom Lumber has been operating steadily now for over 100 years through destructive fires, brutal winters, economic uncertainty, and dozens of iterations of the original sawmills and logging camps,” Hegg Raway said of the sawmill’s history on the land that was originally settled by Ojibwe people thousands of years prior. She noted that several fourth-generation members of the Hedstrom family currently own and/or work at the mill. 

“The new roles Hedstrom Lumber plays in this community include providing economic diversity to the area to counterbalance the strong tourism focus, offering full-time careers with living wages and benefits so that people can put down roots and establish their own homes here, and preserving local history while acknowledging past damages done to the peoples and lands of this area,” Hegg shared. “We are the second-biggest lumber mill in MN, yet we are a small, flexible, specialty shop with creative, hardworking people who think outside the box. That is why we've survived so many different ups and downs over the decades: by sticking to our specialty, treating people fairly, and using creative problem-solving.”

“The connection between craft and people’s sense of place is a central focus of North House’s mission,” said North House Folk School Executive Director Greg Wright. “As the film crew recorded one of our signature classes -  a build-your-own timber frame class led by Gerald David - they also captured the simple and satisfying joy of working with your hands. Simultaneously, they underscored our investment of our community in hands-on learning and the affirming tangible connection between nature, the materials, and traditions of our home in the North. It was a tremendous honor to welcome Craft In America to Grand Marais and Cook County.”

Located on the Gunflint Trail, Cook County resident Susan Scherer’s timber framed home is featured in the episode.

“The Craft in America crew who came to film the house were very gracious and they made me feel at ease as they worked. Loving solitude, it was a bit daunting to consider that my home would be seen publicly,” Scherer said. 

With encouragement from North House instructors Tom Healy and Peter Henrikson, Scherer began the process of building her own home at North House Folk School in the summer of 2003. Over the course of three summers, she cut the frame and completed the joinery.

“The inspiration came step by step from doing the work and seeing a model of the complete frame. Tom's and Peter's confidence that I could do the work led me on,” she shared. 

Scherer continued, “My hope for people to take from the episode is that we all gain an understanding that home has special meaning for all of us, no matter what it looks like. It's a sanctuary. However, as another participant stated, it's a building; the nature around us that is so important. The woods and creatures that live here are my great love.”

When asked what she hoped viewers would take from the program, Hegg Raway shared, “One thing I really enjoyed about the episode was that it didn't make Grand Marais look like the next "best place" to get that perfect Instagram shot. It showed a place with meaning, where people are connected to the land. A place to connect with craft, and to work hard with your hands to build a home or learn a new skill.”

Hegg Raway noted the comparisons she identified between Andrew Hedstrom’s early efforts to make a home in the area and start the sawmill and Scherer’s feature in the episode. 

“This persistence and resilience reminded me of the way Susan built her home - the toughness of the North, the lengths that folks are willing to go in order to put down their roots here. You see it in the daily struggles of people who are working hard to make ends meet and survive in this place - which is no longer primitive, but is certainly expensive - it's not all fun and games, and it certainly builds character. Not everyone is able to make it. But you also see how much people love to celebrate, to live and breathe fresh air, to craft and express themselves. I believe that is why Grand Marais is such a strong arts community. The land speaks to people, and the people use the strength and insight they gathered to make this remote region home and express their vision.”

The HOME episode was screened on North House’s campus in November during the Winterers’ Gathering Arctic Film Festival. It is currently available for streaming on digital PBS platforms and the Craft in America website, and may be viewed on PBS stations during the December 16 release.

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