Unpacking our Privilege of Running Around the Lake

As we noted at the end of our last blog post, it is important for Our Shores to recognize the privilege that we three, white, college-educated people have in dreaming up and carrying out this project. There is only so much that can be accomplished by verbalizing this knowledge, therefore we hope our actions speak more loudly as we go about our way.

From the beginning of this planning process, when this run wasn’t more than a daydream, our motivations for embarking on this journey have remained rooted in something much deeper than personal satisfaction or gain. Throughout each of our experiences with Lake Superior and that region, the three of us have connected deeply and fallen in love with both the lake and the communities that live around it. This love is what drives our efforts to give something back. This love and intention is also why we feel the need to better identify and understand who we are, where we come from, and what we carry with us.

It would be a shortcoming of us to not acknowledge how our education at Northland College has shaped many of our worldviews and perspectives, and it would also be remiss to not acknowledge the privilege of that education. We gained knowledge, experiences, connections and relationships through our time spent at this institute, many of which we carry with in this journey. And though we want to acknowledge the privilege of our education, one of the main objectives of this upcoming journey is to listen and to learn. We recognize that the individuals and groups we will be learning from are the experts of their own experiences living with this body of water, and hope to not only gain their perspectives on issues affecting this lake but also help to bring those voices to a larger audience.

As we run around this immense body of water, it is also essential to place ourselves in the complex history of this lake and region. We are living in colonized territory; similar to the the rest of the country, white Europeans were not the first people to call this place home. Native American communities have made their homes on this lake for several hundred years, and remain here to this day. And although we refer this place as Lake Superior, it is a place of many names. For example, the Anishinabe people refer to this lake as Gitchi Gami, and it is an integral part of their migration story, history, and culture.  Recognizing the web of histories, stories, people, and communities around the lake is critical in understanding the present landscape we will be running through.

Finally, although we are contributing personal funds to this run, we are also asking for help. Despite any personal contributions that we are making in order to see this project come to fruition, we recognize that the very fact that crowdsource fundraising is an option for us is an advantage. We are incredibly grateful to the network of friends, family and other supporters that we have for this journey.

We don’t acknowledge these things to feel better about ourselves or feel that we are making enough of a difference by declaring our privilege. We know that it’s not enough to understand these facts, they must also be followed by actions which work to make changes in the systems of oppression we live in. This is the lens through which we view this run and the work we are setting out to do. It’s not the easiest to talk about these things, and we try to do the best we can, and are always open to conversations and questions to help us all continue to educate ourselves.

This run is not only for us, it is for the lake and everyone who calls it home. We move forward with love.