People in canoes on Shell Lake in northern Minnesota collecting Manoomin or wild rice. Wild rice is the traditional and sacred food of the Anishinaabeg, the Indigenous people whose lands are occupied by the State of Minnesota. Manoomin is endemic to the Great Lakes Region and is one of the primary species we are fighting to protect with this Public Labs project.
The lead image was pulled from drone footage by River Akemann
Starting: May 2, or ASAP
Commitment Period: roughly 15-20 hours per month for eight months from project start date
Fellowship Stipend: $3,000USD in total over the commitment period.
Where: This fellowship is open to anyone, people local to Northern Minnesota are encouraged to apply, the fellowship can be done remotely; phone in team meetings will be held in CT and be grounded in community efforts in Northern Minnesota.
Requirements for the position: This fellowship will require remote work abilities, comfortable working across diverse stakeholder groups, and strong communication skills (verbal/written).
About Public Lab:
Join our newest fellowship team on the Minnesota Land and Wild Rice Protection Project to bring about a healthier and more equitable world through community science, open technology, and the advancement of environmental justice. Public Lab supports, develops, and applies open-source tools to further environmental exploration and investigation. By democratizing inexpensive and accessible do-it-yourself techniques, Public Lab creates a collaborative network of knowledge bearers and practitioners who actively reimagine the human relationship with the environment.
About the Issue:
The beginnings of the Mississippi River run through both Aitkin and Itasca counties in northern Minnesota. These counties are rich with wild rice, wetlands, lakes, forests, and healthy habitat for wildlife. Aitkin and Itasca counties are also historically poor counties. The population is sparse and declining and some communities are concerned about their economies and livelihood. The answer that some have to that is extraction and industry. Currently, there are two proposed projects that threaten the land and the precious manoomin (wild rice) beds, the sacred food of the Anishinaabeg, the people whose land these counties occupy. This project will affect five tribes in northern Minnesota (Leech Lake, Red Lake, Boise Fort, White Earth, and Mille Lacs).
One of the projects is from a North Carolina company called Huber Engineered Woods LLC. They are proposing a 750,000 square foot facility in Cohasset, MN. This facility will require trees from within a 70 to 100-mile radius- 400,000 cords of harvested wood annually to mix toxic materials with to create their product, oriented strand board (OSB) or particle board. Huber has not been transparent about where the lumber for the project will be harvested. The production of OSB requires petrochemicals and glues that create hazardous conditions for workers as well as the environment.
The other project is the Talon Mine that is in the exploration phase in Tamarack, MN. The project would cover nearly 32 square miles of mostly wetlands. This type of underground copper mining is dangerous for the waters, land, and air. Sulfide ores that would be exposed in this project contain metals that can mobilize in the environment. "This type of pollution is commonly referred to as Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) and has the potential to devastate entire ecosystems. The close proximity of sulfide mines to valued water bodies such as lakes and rivers of the Mississippi watershed intensifies the magnitude of this issue. All of the water bodies in the Tamarack area are linked by multiple aquifers." (https://tamarackwateralliance.org/dangers.html)
We know we have to rely on each other to keep our communities and environments safe. And so, in response to the two proposed extraction projects, we must work together to gather data on all that we can to try to stop these projects before they break ground. Read more about the Fellowship Team Project and goals here.
About the Fellowship
The major components of this fellowship are to:
- To create and update the documentation materials on the team's Public Lab project page including drafting twice a month project updates, sharing team questions, and assisting with posting the team's available data.
- Create materials to share project updates through social media with the aim of reaching new audiences,
- Drafting op-eds about the project, including pieces on the local impacts, and the broader context of this work,
- Create pamphlets, brochures and other print materials to use in local project outreach.
- Help draft, review, and share public comment materials for any open commenting opportunities that arise around these issues.
- Assist in team note taking in biweekly meetings.
The workflow around this fellowship will include
- Regularly meeting with the fellowship team (twice a month), working closely with the community on project goals.
- Independent work on posting to the Public Lab website and drafting project materials.
- Share the materials for project documentation on the Public Lab website and other mutually identified media platforms.
- Advise on mechanisms of support required for the Fellowship team.
The Fellow will have the opportunity to:
- Learn methods used by community-led accountability groups who are working with unwanted land use issues.
- Learn how to use PublicLab.org and regularly post documentation on the website detailing the progress of the project team's experiences; working in public to foster a culture of resource sharing and share learning moments.
- Connect with the Public Lab community remotely through the website. Join the Public Lab monthly and quarterly public events online to share your fellowship experiences and learn more about environmental concerns.
This role may be for you if you are:
- Detail oriented: You have excellent attention to detail and documentation skills; An exceptional written and oral communicator: You have excellent interpersonal skills
- Skilled at creating and sharing materials for social media.
- Practiced at providing clarity around environmental science and a good communicator with those who hold different expertises.
- Experienced at creating print materials such as brochures and pamphlets.
- You're a problem-solver who is often praised for your organization and ability to learn quickly and adaptively.
- Team-oriented: You work collaboratively with remote colleagues, to envision and promote positive change, and to be supportive of others. You bring integrity to all situations.
- A collaborator: You've worked with people with different backgrounds, and from different fields and lived experiences; you're able to communicate on environmental science.
- Tech savvy: You thrive working in a remote work environment and a commitment to use related communication platforms daily to interact with the team (Slack, Zoom, Google Drive etc); you are excited to learn new programs and share about technology and monitoring in the context of advocacy.
- Self-directed: You work successfully with minimal supervision. You can organize work, set and meet your own internal milestones, and communicate regularly and often when help is required.