The Apostle Islands Ice Caves: A Winter Hotspot

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BAYFIELD– I recently had the honor to visit the Apostle Islands Ice Caves on the southern shore of Lake Superior. Although treasured for it’s kayaking in the summer, this gem of a place can also be a hot spot of activity in the middle of winter. This can only mean one thing… that the shoreline to the main body of water submitted to the cold and actually froze. This freezing doesn’t happen very often however, which makes it quite an attraction when it does. In the last month, thousands have make the trek to the caves to walk out onto the frozen-yet-noisy sheet of ice. Unlike a typical frozen lake, the deep waters below may influence the ice’s stability even when it’s terribly cold out. The National Parks Service has a great site on the caves, with some culture and history to boot.

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Finding a Sense of Place with Malcom X

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Malcom X at the nature center. Malcom X at a National Park. These don’t seem to go together, do they? Well, why not? There isn’t a way to answer without including some aspect of racism. The cultural forces of the past 50, 100, even 200 years have shaped “nature” in the US to be catered to a culturally white space. Where there is land ownership, decision making, and wealth, there is power. In the US today, that power rests predominately in the networks of white folks. To understand how this power works, let’s look to Malcom X’s autobiography. Although Malcom X is a common historical figure to look to in the topic of race, let’s look a little deeper for an insight to the land. After all, he did say that “to understand that of any person, his whole life, from birth, must be reviewed. All of our experiences fuse into our personality. Everything that ever happened to us is an ingredient” (p.153).

There are four situations, or “ingredients” in Malcom X’s autobiography that I’ll highlight which pertain to the natural world and his relationship with it. After that though, we’ll be better able to re-frame our sense of place -both in the US and beyond- towards a reflection of a diverse, democratic humanity.

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