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Boreal Community Media

Minnesota Children's Press in Grand Marais creates news project called Letteracy Deck; encourages locals and visitors to create

Jun 23, 2023 10:52AM ● By Content Editor

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From the Minnesota Children's Press - June 23, 2023


The Minnesota Children's Press in Grand Marais has created a new public project, with funding from Blandin Foundation, called Letteracy Deck for the summer of 2023. 

Located on the south end of the Lake Superior Trading Post store in the former "Outdoor Java" store. 

Anne Brataas, executive director of Minnesota Children’s Press, originated the concept. She explains the project this way:  

“Letteracy Deck’s sole purpose is to provide people of all ages a free seat for the best view of Lake Superior in town where they may unplug from screens devices and pause to reflect and connect through handwritten letters or drawings. We  encourage all to dwell in beauty and be better people for it, which is why we also call the project "Letteracy Deck, a Kindness Commons."” 

Letters may be sent to anyone, about any topic by anyone—and be as simple as a hand-drawn heart, no words. During Letteracy’s soft-opening of early June, letters memorialized a second wedding anniversary; the memory of being 19 years old and sitting at the Paris, France grave of Jim Morrison, the Doors’ lead singer; a thank you letter to a deceased mother, addressed to Heaven. 

“That’s the point,” Brataas says. “To be surprised and deepened by what the lake calls forth from us, and allows us to dwell in. To reflect, connect, dwell: a letter-writing park is an invitation.” 

Letteracy Deck offers tables and chairs, and rolling supply carts with everything needed for letter writing, drawing, and mailing, including free stamps and unused postcards from around the world.  

A Leadership Boost Grant from Blandin Foundation has allowed this project to take place. 

“Blandin Foundation Leadership Boost Grants were launched to encourage Minnesotans living in rural and Tribal communities to be visionary and creative as they move their communities forward after two years of snowballing challenges,” said  Sonja Merrild, director of rural grantmaking at Blandin Foundation.  

“The last two years of complex crises have taken a toll on leaders across rural Minnesota. In times like this, of great challenge and opportunity, the resilience and fortitude of rural people and places shine through. Yet, we recognize the critical need for more resources to move small communities from where they are to where they want to go.” 


The project runs through Sept. 11 and is open every day but Thursday, 10-4 p.m., at the south end of the Lake Superior Trading Post in Grand Marais. 


About Minnesota Children’s Press 

Minnesota Children’s Press (MCP www.minnchildpress.org ) is an award-winning Grand Marais-based 501(c) (3) charity that mentors rural children in researching writing, illustrating, publishing and selling books through its Story Scouts publishing club www.storyscouts.org and www.icecreamandfish.org. Its goal is to develop and  preserve young children’s inborn creativity and communication abilities without screens while also raising funds that improve local child culture. Since MCP began in  2020, it has mentored approximately 160 Cook County youth through programs in  schools, afterschool workshops and in the summers through Cook County YMCA Day Camp to create books and newspapers. It its prototype publishing club in 2017- 19–then called Boreal Corps–children distinguished themselves by developing  impactful public health messaging campaigns against vaping. www.borealcorps.org 

About Blandin’s Leadership Boost Grants 

This genre of grant was launched to encourage Minnesotans living in rural and Tribal communities to be visionary and creative as they move their communities forward after two years of snowballing challenges. 

More than 300 Letters of Interest were submitted for funding, far more than anticipated. Based on the type of requests received, Blandin Foundation opened three grant rounds for Community Planning, Capital Projects in small towns under 3,000 people, and Creative Placemaking. To better support the many strong requests, the total amount of funding available increased from $1 million to $5.5 million after Blandin Foundation’s board approved an additional $3 million in June  and a $1.5 million grant was secured from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.  

“Rural and Tribal places simply don’t get their fair share of funding and  resources,” said Merrild. “When we see stats like only 5 percent of philanthropic  dollars and 10 percent of federal small business loan funds go to rural, this creates  resource roadblocks to future opportunity. While the leaky pipes intended to bring resources into rural communities need a complete overhaul, Leadership Boost Grants are one way we can spark energy and action toward sustainable rural futures.” To see other Rural Boost projects, visit https://bit.ly/RuralBoostGrants.