JAN 8 "We're Hiring! And Fiber Retreat Program now Online"
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- Join the North House Team
- Program Now Available Online
- Pointing Towards Sustainability
- Courses Around the Corner
DEC 30 "Celebrate Hands, Celebrate Craft"
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- Celebrate Hands, Celebrate Craft
DEC 16 "Still Shopping? We have some ideas..."
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- Think Inside the (Toy) Box
- Is North House on Your Gift List
NOV 19 "Winterer's this week -- and thank YOU!"
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- Ice on the Harbor - It's Here!
- Thank You for Your Support!
- Northern Fiber Retreat, Feb 12-17
NOV 14 "Give to the Max Day Update"
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- The Party Continues - Two Ways to Give!
NOV 14 "Today's the Day! Give to the Max!"
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- It's Finally Here - Donate TODAY!
- Need More Reason to Give?
NOV 6 "Join the Party, Give to the Max on Nov 14!"
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- Mark Your Calendar for Nov 14
- Coming Up: Arctic Film Festival
- Celebrate the Holidays at NH, Dec 6-8
OCT 23 "Reported: Snowflakes in the Air. Winterer's Gathering Approaches!"
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- Winterer's Gathering: Learn the Skills to Survive & Thrive in the Outdoors
- Join the Great Give-Together - Give to the Max Day, Nov 14
- Shop the School Store for Holiday Gifts
SEPT 25 Coming up: Family Weekend and Winterer's Gathering!
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- Family Weekend, Oct 17-20
- Winter is Coming!
- Are You Waiting to Hear From Us? Database Transition
AUG 29 "Opening Soon: New Course Dates & Points North Auction"
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- Over 200 New Course Dates Online
- Points North Auction Opens at 8 am
- Space in Music Coursework at Unplugged
There’s a beaver living on the Grand Marais Harbor. As a recent transplant to Grand Marais, I missed last summer’s drama, but locals tell me the beaver ruffled some feathers by doing what beavers do: chomping down trees throughout town.
My intention is not to open old wounds; instead, let’s take advantage of the juxtaposition of beaver and folk school. A recent trip up to the classy new interpretive center at Grand Portage National Monument AND instructor Brent Gurtek’s trade gun class here at North House ignited my curiosity about the fur trade on Lake Superior (not to mention that I’m from Duluth, a city named after Daniel Greysolon, a French fur-trader/explorer, AND that I listened to voyageur songs on tape when young, so I had plenty of opportunities to get curious...). I checked out Fur, Fortune, and Empire: the epic history of the fur trade in America by Eric Jay Dolin, a detailed account of just how the fur trade shaped American history and settlement. The Grand Marais Public Library even had it on CD. Score. Perfect for a road trip down to the Cities. Here’s the scoop, 10 disks later...
APRIL 10 "Spring Gathering 2013, plus New Shoes & Solar Panels"
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- Twin Cities Spring Gathering: Hope we see you in Plymouth, MN on May 11!
- Shedding Light on Solar: New Sustainability Classes on the Calendar
- New Course, New Shoes! Shoemaking with the Cordwainer Shop
- To Build a Bridge: Trade Tech Timber Framing
MAR 22 "NEW NH Video Now Live!! & Sustainability on the Horizon"
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- Full-Length NH Video now LIVE!
- Everyday Solutions: Northern Sustainability Symposium, May 3-5
- Build it, Split it, Fire it! April 19-21
- A Dragon's Tenth Birthday: Dragon Boat Festival 2013
The Story of the Weeping Camel
The potential of spontaneous group activity is a perk of living in a small community of North House interns; recently, Angela suggested we watch "The Story of the Weeping Camel," a recommendation from the spouse of a staff member. So we did, and I think I speak for my fellow interns when I say that we highly recommend it.
"The Story of the Weeping Camel" is a 2003 German docudrama—part scripted fiction, part non-fiction documentary—set in the Gobi desert of Mongolia. The film stars a small family of nomadic sheepherders, 4 generations of whom live under the same canvas yurt-roof. At first, the film highlights their routines during the camel birthing season; soon, however, the quiet drama of a camel mother who has rejected her newborn albino colt sets in motion seemingly age-old rituals. A plot-driven narrative, the stage is set against the striking, sand-blown steppe of the Gobi Desert.
As you'd expect from North House interns, we spotted the various crafts and crafting highlighted in the film. After taking the time to sharpen an aggressive pair of scissors, the grandfather and great-grandfather help each other shear a camel's neck. The great-grandmother then twists the long strands of unprocessed wool as she forms a two-stranded rope, shaping it into a decorative bridle for one of the newborn colts. She does this sitting in the one of the yurts —or ger—that is decked-out in colorful rugs and tapestries. The stability and insulation of the ger is proven in a later scene, when the wind is howling outside but only a faint hum is heard from within the desert home. Must be felted wool panels, we thought. Gotta love wool.
Aside from the more utilitarian crafts, the film also features games and music. The young boys play a dice-like game using animal teeth (or other bone fragments). Toward the end of the movie, you hear a visiting musician play the Mongolian "violin"—morin khuur—while the mother sings a haunting melody. The movie ends with all 4 generations sitting around the ger in the evening, singing.
I had a personal reaction to the film, having spent two years living in rural society in Paraguay. Children playing pretend in the sand, the pace of life, sheep sounds... even some of the personalities reminded me of people I knew. This is not to say there is a pan-cultural rural identity. Instead, there is something familiar when you step outside our culture and into a more traditional, elemental way of life.
The film addresses other themes as well—technology, Westernization, animal husbandry, anthropomorphism—but to cover all those would take a very committed blogger and a patient audience. Go watch the movie instead.