Wisconsin college students visit Marquette for community development discussion

MARQUETTE – Students from Northland College in Ashland, Wis., visited the area last week for a chance to learn about efforts to increase the community’s sustainability.

The group, camping out at Perkins Park in Big Bay, spent time Friday afternoon learning about the history of the ore dock in Marquette’s Lower Harbor and the lakeshore surrounding it.

Northland assistant professor of sustainable community development Brian Tochterman said the class was circumnavigating Lake Superior, stopping in several communities to meet with groups working to increase sustainability in their areas.

Tochterman said the schedule was concentrated on areas with similar history to Ashland – that of iron ore mining and shipping.

Ashland, like the Marquette area, is rich in mining history. It also had its own iconic ore dock, but the city began work in 2012 to tear down the massive Soo Line ore dock.

Tochterman said the group was concentrating on sustainable community development and was examining the impact of human development on Lake Superior’s watershed.

The class met with some board members of the Ore Dock BotEco Center, a community group looking to build a botanical garden and ecological center on or near the ore dock along the Lower Harbor.

Tochterman said he met with the group because of the demolition of Ashland’s ore dock and to show his students how some communities are working creatively to preserve their own histories with sustainable ideas.

“It’s to show them they can do something innovative and interesting related to any type of development,” he said. “We’ve been here looking at mining legacies … examining the heritage of iron mining.”

The group also stopped in at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee Township before heading up to the Copper Country at the end of the weekend, planning visits to Copper Harbor and other areas in the Keweenaw Peninsula before traveling back to Ashland.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.


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