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Project Summary:
Ways of Wisdom is doing case studies of five families who practice sustainable living in Northeast Minnesota. The case studies focus on how these families cope with such issues as food, energy, shelter, finances, community, transportation, and waste disposal. This study includes people living in rural or wilderness areas of Northeast Minnesota. The participants are comprised of both farmers and homesteaders. The case studies not only examine how and why these individual families are living sustainably but also compare similarities and differences between them.
Project Goals:
The goal of this project is to identify families living sustainably in Northeast Minnesota and to study their lifestyles to gain an understanding of how and why they live this way. Families included in the study earn at least a portion of their income from resources on their own property, have an ethic of stewardship, employ appropriate technologies, practice self-reliance, and cooperate with others in their community. The results of the study will be shared with people living in this region through a written report and local workshops. The objective of this study is to inform residents of Northeast Minnesota on the benefits and challenges of the sustainable lifestyle and show them how they can take practical steps to live this way if they choose.
Criteria for Case Study Candidates:
Must live year around in a rural area of Northeast Minnesota.
Should have a portion of their income earned from resources on their property (examples: farming, market gardening and maple syruping).
Should have a sustainable economic philosophy, such as living frugally and working to be debt free.
Be willing to participate in the study and supply information about their lifestyle.
Desire to share their story and philosophy with others. This could be done through a workshop, open house or farm tour, hosting an intern, or acting as a mentor to others.
Be aware of how their lifestyle affects the environment and act accordingly.

Project Need and Relevance to NE Minnesota

As the population of Minnesota grows there will be increased pressure on the rural/wilderness environment. This is especially true in northeast Minnesota where people choose to live year-round or have a second home. In order to perpetuate both a healthy environment and maintain a balanced use of renewable resources it is vital that people have information on and examples of how to live sustainably in this part of the state. Many people visit northeast Minnesota as tourists and then make a choice to live here. Some want to homestead and others desire to enjoy an outdoor life. Individuals who have lived in urban environments may not be aware of the economic challenges that a life in remote areas can present. For example, the Cook County, Minnesota median income is $10,000 lower than in the Twin Cities. A sustainable lifestyle allows people to live comfortably on less money while maintaining a productive and creative life. This study of sustainable living in the rural/wilderness areas of northeast Minnesota is intended to provide people with information on how and why others have adapted their lifestyles to the unique nature of the north woods. The opportunity will then be to share this information with people who want to live more sustainably or gain a better understanding of why people choose this lifestyle.

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