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Letteracy Deck in Grand Marais Exceeds Projection  

Letteracy Deck opened last June to promote what some think is the old-fashioned art of writing letters and postcards, stamping them, and sending them off through the USPS.

Over the Labor Day weekend, the Deck reached 3,000 pieces of mail written by kids and adults on the harbor in Grand Marais.

The effort, sponsored by Minnesota Children’s Press, received grant funding from the Blandin Foundation. In its funding request, the Press forecasted that visitors to Letteracy Deck would complete 1,400 letters/cards this summer. The results after Labor Day show the effort more than doubled.

In June, Anne Brataas, Chief Creativity Offi­cer at Minnesota Children’s Press, said, “Letter­acy Deck’s sole purpose is to provide people of all ages a free seat for the best view of Lake Su­perior (the south end of Lake Superior Trading Post) to reflect and connect through handwritten letters or drawings.”

In June, YMCA day campers wrote expository advocacy letters called “Love Letters to Lake Superior.” Those were addressed to media ed­itorial pages, elected officials, environmental groups, friends, family members, and worship groups. They were giving these young people civic participation and environmental education.

Over the Labor Day weekend, Letteracy Deck hosted visitors to write, draw, and mail 400 letters and cards in four days.

Titled “Love Letters to Lake Superior Post Card & Stamp Event,” each visitor receives, free of charge, all writing, illustration, and mailing supplies. Included were blank postcards visitors could illustrate in the style of internationally esteemed Cook County Ojibwe artist the late George Morrison. Morrison is well known for using vivid colors in landscapes, drawings, and prints. Samples of his art were on display.

Morrison was honored in April of 2022 with a stamp by the USPS. Each letter/postcard writer received one of those stamps free of charge.

Brataas said, “3,000 cards and letters show the idea of a public letter-writing park is more than a valid approach to building community—it really took off.” She included, “Letteracy Deck exists to renew well-being through reflecting and con­necting via mailed cards and letters.” Brataas is inspired by the positive response that 3,000 mailings represent. “It suggests to me that we should create public letter-writing parks around the world as a healing and unifying force of civ­ic good.”

Minnesota Children’s Press is a Grand Mara­is-based 501(c)(3) charity that mentors rural children in researching, writing, illustrating, publishing, and selling books through its Story Scouts Publishing Club. More information can be found at www.minnchildpress.org  and www.storyscouts.org.

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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