Inside Look: Campus life

As Easter Sunday arrives and passes, and the sun rises earlier and higher, we have a rare weekend on campus: our buildings are empty and quiet, there will be no weekend potluck, and we won’t be giving any “Welcome to North House!” talks.  We happen to have a weekend without any classes.

Top photo: March 13
Bottom photo: March 29
To appreciate how unusual this is, hop on over to our online course calendar and scroll through the months. A weekend at North House without courses is like a 60 degree day in Grand Marais in April – you just don't see it real often.
Speaking of weather in Grand Marais, here’s an update: yesterday was 50 degrees on the lake shore, which felt positively balmy and must have been the warmest day so far in 2015. We have had the classic, unpredictable spring weather, including a few snow flurries after the snow melted, but for the most part it has been a dry, sunny spring so far.
Anyway, this quiet weekend at North House has me thinking about our space here at North House: how we use it, and how full and busy things are here.

For the number of classes that we hold, we are a small campus.  We have 4 classroom buildings with space for around 7 classes to happen simultaneously.  Our classes are from 1-14 days long, with classes averaging 2-3 days each.  When a class ends, let's say on a Sunday evening, that same classroom space has to be cleaned, reorganized and prepped for a class that might start on Wednesday morning. It might be a very different class with completely different needs. In March, we transformed our milling shop from a silversmithing studio into a door-building shop. That meant moving all the jewelry equipment out, dismantling tables, rearranging power tools, and sprinkling sawdust in key places (to help the incoming woodworkers feel at home).

This is a North House staple - a little task we like to call a "flip", when we "flip" a classroom into a new version of itself. It is constantly happening and takes many hands - interns, staff, and our weekly work study volunteers - thanks to all you helpful people!

To give you a sense of the variety and frequency of our classroom use, here's a series of photos documenting what all was in our campus kitchen in an eight day stretch during mid-March (yes, I said eight days):

A yurt cover being sewn
A milk painting class

Carving a spatula

Old-fashioned soapmaking

I wonder if our kitchen is ever confused...

One of the only classes on campus this week was the Wood
Canvas Canoe class. Brothers Buck and Tom built this beautiful
boat under the guidance of instructor Jeanne.
It also takes a lot of planning behind the scenes to coordinate this ever-changing landscape.  It could be chaos, but it is far from it.  Kudos to Matt and Jessa, our programming team, for all the energy they put into keeping things sailing straight!

Speaking of sailing, I'm happy to say the Hjordis survived the winter in the severe Lake Superior water, and today she sits in a harbor that is fully ice-free!

Goodbye ice, hello geese.
So, we will appreciate this slow weekend here, thinking about what is coming, working on projects that might otherwise be put on the back burner, and anticipating the next group of eager students that will soon fill our classes with learning and laughter.


What does an intern do?

My name is Caleb Mattison and I'll be your resident blogger here at North House for the rest of the year.

As one of the four new interns at North House, I often hear something like this: “so, what exactly does an intern do?”  I find it hard to answer that thoroughly in one sentence, so I thought I would use my first blog post to do some enlightening, since there is no sentence limit!

The "Intern Loft"
Our internship started in February and ends around Thanksgiving.  We live on the harbor in a beautiful timber-framed apartment that might be some of the best real estate in Grand Marais. The school gives us a monthly class stipend that we can spend on whichever classes are most exciting to us.

In exchange, we put in a full work week doing whatever needs doing.  We help set-up and clean-up classes, shovel snow, make soup or pizza for student potlucks, answer phones and check students in, and work with the staff on administrative projects. 
Wetsuit, goggles, life jackets? Check.
It was a howler out there
And, there are always those interesting days at North House when we will be doing something totally out of the ordinary.  During a particularly cold stretch of arctic weather in February the temperature was around -10 degrees and there was a 30 mph wind off the lake. This would normally be just fine and dandy for us northern folk, but the bubblers that prevent ice buildup around the Hjordis (our sailing schooner) were having trouble keeping up.  The ice was creeping close to the propeller and threatened disaster.  Fellow intern Martha and I joined Russ, our facility manager, on the dock to chop chunks of ice off the hull of the boat to protect the rudder and hull. We couldn’t reach out far enough from the dock, so we laid a plank out, climbed onto the deck of the boat, and hung over the railings with poles, yelling at each other over the howling wind and chopping away until some big chunks gave way. No one fell in the lake and the boat was saved. Success!

Team Intern with John after finishing the new stools!
We have all spent a lot of time in classes already.  As a group, the interns made Crooked Knives with Jarrod Stone-Dahl (now we could go into the woods with nothing more than our crooked knife and an axe and fashion a pair of snowshoe frames), and we took a Windsor stool class with John Beltman (if you need to take a load off, our colorful stools can be found in the campus kitchen).

Ben shapes his stool seat
Erin sewing a moccasin
Individually, we have taken classes ranging from jewelry-making and boat-building, to axe and knife skills and nuno felting. I’m looking forward to upcoming basketry and meat preservation classes. What an opportunity for us to meet lots of instructors, observe teaching styles, and learn new crafting skills!

Intern crew and staff checking out Caribou Lake 
We have also explored and adventured around the Grand Marais area, getting to know this beautiful corner of Minnesota that we now call home.  I have hiked up a few local frozen rivers, been skiing at Pincushion and Washington Pines, ridden on the back of a dogsled, and the whole intern crew is helping a local couple tap their maple trees and boil their sap. There is never a dull day up here! 

Looking ahead, the internship will also include developing our skills as teachers and facilitators; we will teach mini-courses, demonstrate crafting skills, and by the end of the year we will complete a culminating project in an area of interest.

For me, one of the most interesting parts of being an intern (intern-esting?!) is seeing so many different crafts as they pass through the school.  I am excited to learn about what is possible to make, and to see the crafts as they take shape in front of my eyes. I anticipate seeing how many ways I can incorporate northern craft into my daily life and needs. This year is about experimentation and curiosity. I am excited to have the opportunity to meet the instructors, many of whom are experts in their obscure art, and the students who come here to learn from them.

Martha, Caleb, Ben and Erin
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more updates on the intern crew as our year progresses, and for more postings about life at North House!


Recent E-Newsletters

DECEMBER 12 "Be a Star for NH, and Fiber Retreat Program Now Online!"
See it here: http://bit.ly/1va6JDy
- Northern Fibers Retreat Event Program Now Available
- Help Us Reach for the Stars: Final Stretch of our Year-End Campaign
- Holiday Gift Certificates

- Courses in the New Year

NOVEMBER 28 "Coming in 2015: Two New Events, Four New Interns"
See it here: http://bit.ly/1Cvtdrk
- New in 2015: Fresh Cut
- New in 2015: T Frame Gathering
- Meet Our 2015 Interns
- Support NH with Amazon Smile

NOVEMBER 13 "TODAY: Give [Thanks!] to the Max!"
See it here: http://bit.ly/1E7zsmY
- TODAY’s the Day! Give [Thanks!] to the Max!
- Winterer's Gathering is Next Week!

NOVEMBER 6 "Give [Thanks!] to the Max Day!"
See it here: http://bit.ly/1AWmClS
- Mark Your Calendars - Nov 13
- Holiday Coursework
- NHFS Gift Certificates

OCTOBER 24 "Winterer's Gathering Program Now Available!"
See it here: http://bit.ly/1zf8kdC
- Full Program Now Available!
- Give [Thanks!] to the Max Day!
- Year-End Membership Campaign
- Have a Seat!

Recent E-Newsletters

OCTOBER 3 "Fun for the Whole Family & A Tiny Home on Wheels"
See it here: http://bit.ly/1n0giYq
- Fun For the Whole Family! Join us for Family Weekend
- Intern Applications Due Oct 15 - Need inspiration? Check out Intern Mary's project!
- Winterer's Gathering Featured Speakers & Gear Swap

SEPTEMBER 14 "Points North Auction Ends TONIGHT at 10 pm!"
See it here: http://bit.ly/1rmJ300
- Points North Auction Closes TONIGHT, 10 pm
- Family Weekend, October 16-19

AUGUST 29 "Over 200 new course dates & 50 brand new courses open Sept 1!"
See it here: http://bit.ly/1rmIJOL
- New Coursework opening Sept 1 at 8 am!
- Points North Auction Now Open
- Family Weekend, Oct 16-19
- Service Learning Coursework

AUGUST 25 "Points North Auction Sneak Peek - Bid, Give, Explore!"
See it here: http://bit.ly/1pukzOg
- Bid, Give, Explore the North Shore - Points North Auction
- Fall/Winter 2014 Courses Open Online Soon!

AUGUST 14 "Winterer's Gathering is coming...as are 2015 internships!"
See it here: http://bit.ly/1rfMJ6e
- Courses at Winterer's Gathering
- Internships: Apply Starting Friday, August 15
- New for Fall
- Kristi Downing Memorial Event

JULY 30 "Fall Course Preview (You'll Find 15 New Ones Right Here!)"
See it here: http://bit.ly/ZeVfXI
- Fifteen New Course Sessions
- Unplugged Courses Now Open
- Unplugged Tickets on Sale
- Unplugged XIII Mini Courses


Recent E-Newsletters

JUNE 30 "Unplugged Tickets on Sale July 1!"
See it here: http://p0.vresp.com/lXn2t5
- 3 Great Nights Not to Be Missed!
- The Summer Series is Underway - Bake Bread, Raise a Tiny Timber Frame and more!
- New Session Added: Build Your Own Yurt
- Instructors-In- Residence Return

JUNE 18 "Hope You're Coming, Wish You Were Here!"
See it here: http://p0.vresp.com/RcRP4T
- Wooden Boat Show This Weekend!
- Thank You,Thank You,Thank You! We reached $25K - But it's not too late to give!
- Sailing to Shoes! Courses Coming Up

JUNE 2 "Now Announcing: Unplugged XIII Performers!"
See it here: http://p0.vresp.com/s74rzz
- Who's On Stage This Year?

MAY 26 "Ahoy! Wooden Boat Show is on the horizon, June 20-22"
See it here: http://p0.vresp.com/oRt3Cs
- Boats are Just the Beginning!
- Unplugged XIII, Sept 11-14
- Hands-On! Wooden Boat Show Courses

MAY 14 "All Aboard! Now taking 2014 Sailing Reservations"
See it here: http://p0.vresp.com/F1sPAg
- Anchors Aweigh - Sign Up Now!
- Open the Doors Even Wider North House's Spring Outreach Campaign 2014
- See North House on KARE 11
- National Geographic gives the "Heart of the Continent" a thumbs up!

MAY 9 "Summer is coming! (So are Northern Landscapes Festival and Spring Gathering!)"
See it here: http://p0.vresp.com/05aBty
- Northern Landscapes Festival
- OPEN: Late Summer Work Study
- See Us On KARE 11 Saturday, May 10
- Twin Cities Spring Gathering Last Call!

APRIL 3 "Two Events, Two New Employees, and A Few Course Picks"
See it here: http://p0.vresp.com/5nW2XI
- Explore Foods Grown & Gathered
- There's Still time, Register Now! Twin Cities Spring Gathering, May 17
- Welcome, Andrew & Janet!
- Coming Up

MARCH 16 "North House goes South! Sign up now for Spring Gathering, May 17"
See it here: http://p0.vresp.com/r0vG0h
- North House Heading South!
- Learn Skills & Leave a Legacy!
- Seeing Double?
- Courses Coming Right Up!

FEB 27 "150+ New Course Dates are Here--Register Starting Saturday, March 1!"
See it here: http://p0.vresp.com/utSEGX
- 150+ New Course Dates Available
- Northern Sustainability Symposium
- Northern Landscapes Festival

FEB 14 "From Us to You: 14 More New Course Dates & Spring Gathering 2014"
See it here: http://p0.vresp.com/9E7pUi
- From Us to You: 14 New Courses
- Coming Soon: New Course Dates: Pebble Jewelry to Work Boots, Plus Turning with Robin Wood!
- Save the Date! Spring Gathering May 17

JAN 29 "15 New Courses, Plus 2014 Work Study Options"
See it here: http://p0.vresp.com/TGaK83
- Shoes to Sausages Opening Soon
- 2014 Work Study Info Available
- Woodcarver's Week, March 4-6
- Job Applications Due Fri, Feb 14

JAN 8 "We're Hiring! And Fiber Retreat Program now Online"
See it here: http://p0.vresp.com/lldVvZ
- Join the North House Team
- Program Now Available Online
- Pointing Towards Sustainability
- Courses Around the Corner