Apply to become an Ecolibrium3 Resilience Corps Member!
The 2018-2019 Ecolibrium3 Resilience Corps has some amazing new members starting on August 2nd and September 4th. Two positions remain open with a start date in October. Join these amazing individuals and serve in northeastern Minnesota! Applications open through 10-15-18, but may be filled in advance.
Open Positions – Apply Now by Clicking on the Position Titles!
St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services has taken the lead in addressing the opioid epidemic in northeastern Minnesota. With one of the highest rates of overdose and opioid related deaths, St. Louis County is working with multiple partners to create effective prevention models in rural and urban environments. The Opioid VISTA will work in close colllaboration with the County’s Public Health Educator focused on Sustance Abuse Prevention and Intervention, the University of MN College of Pharmacy- Duluth Campus, and the Regional Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Prevention NE facilitator. The VISTA will expand collaborations with other regional AmeriCorps VISTAs on projects that reduce morbidity/mortality from the opioid crisis, work with the State Health Improvement Program Opioid Pilot Project to increase proper disposal of unused medication through outreach and education of community members. The member will also identify and work with rural community, including partnering with Take Back Events, St. Louis County Environmental Services, and local pharmacies to promote disposal and to increase the number of drop off locations for old prescriptions. In addition, the member will build educational capacity of local organizations about substance abuse issues including prevention, intervention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery being worked on through OARS North efforts and SHIP Opioid Pilot Project. Educational outreach work will include developing a student summit for college students, advancing continuing education for prescribers and providers, partnering with local high schools in curriculum and program implementation to prevent substance abuse, and deploying Positive Social Norms Messaging as part of a broader communications plan.
A project of Life House’s Futures Education and Employment Program, the Legitimate Hustle Program gives youth an opportunity to safely earn money while learning entrepreneurial and employment skills. Life House staff guide and mentor each LHP cohort to start and operate their own social enterprise business.
The first cohort founded Limitless Candles in early 2017. The Ecolibrium3 VISTA Corps member will build the capacity of this program to continue to advance opportunities for at-risk and homelessness including creating partnerships with mentors and businesses that can distribute developed products.
Welcome to Our New Members
Community Disaster Resiliency VISTA
The Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation is a member of the 10-state Philanthropic Preparedness, Resiliency and Emergency Partnership. Through this partnership, the Community Foundation has convened community leaders across multiple sectors with the goal of building capacity to mitigate the impact of, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. Focus is particularly on increasing the disaster resilience of community members experiencing poverty, homelessness, mental and physical disabilities, and language barriers. This group of community leaders is forming a network with the goal of increasing disaster resilience. Ecolibrium3’s VISTA member will build the capacity of this network and further its goal by strengthening and establishing whole-community systems and partnerships. With the leadership of the VISTA, these systems and partnerships will focus on communicating disaster mitigation and preparedness tools, and building capacity for rapid disaster response and comprehensive recovery.
Devin Low is serving in the Community Disaster Resiliency VISTA position. He is a recent graduate of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell. Devin’s interest in disaster resiliency came from classes he took on Emergency Management, Homeland Security, and atmospheric science classes during his time in Lowell. As an Americorps VISTA member Devin will be focused on making sure that vulnerable people in the Duluth community have access to the resources that they need for disaster response and recovery. He is from Cape Cod, MA, and is excited to explore a new part of the country. When not working Devin’s hobbies include running, hiking, playing games, or just reading a good book.
Children’s Museum Community Learning Advocate VISTA
The Duluth Children’s Museum believes that children need free play time to discover new things about themselves and the world around them. Their exhibits are designed with little instruction to give kids the freedom to find their own solutions. Programs and exhibits provide opportunities for children to try out their passions, to test their own abilities, and to explore new topics. Spaces are designed to encourage imaginations- dress up, pretend, invent stories and songs. There are no limits to how you play! As fun as The Duluth Children’s Museum makes learning, they know they are in a serious business. In Duluth, there is an opportunity gap experienced by families with lower incomes. This opportunity gap can often result in loss of learning during school breaks, placing children further behind others that have more resources.
Lincoln Park Innovation Zone Developer VISTA
Ecolibrium3 is a Duluth-based organization that has been nationally recognized for development of innovative approaches to difficult problems. Our use of design-thinking to effectively empower people and create unique partnerships allows us to develop strong community relationships and impactful programs. Working in concert with the Duluth Mayor’s Office, Ecolibrium3 is applying our approach to the new Lincoln Park Innovation Zone. The goal of the Lincoln Park Innovation Zone is to revitalize a neighborhood that has suffered from historical disinvestment. The neighborhood has seen expanded economic interest and has been recently become #CraftingSomethingGreat, as smaller craft-based businesses have relocated or started in the neighborhood. Through the Innovation Zone concept, the VISTA member will work to ensure that revitalization of the neighborhood business district results in expanded opportunities for low-income neighborhood residents. The Innovation Zone Developer will build the capacity of residents and businesses to define ongoing issues and secure partnerships and programs needed to address the challenges.
One of two Innovation Zone Developer positions will be filled by neighborhood resident Autumn Soli. She has recently graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a major in philosophy, minors in psychology and cognitive science, as well as a certificate in business administration. Far from her hometown of Detroit, Michigan, she now resides in Lincoln Park with her beloved partner, cat and betta fish, spending most of her free time immersed in creative activities: baking, painting, macrame work, felting and collaging. Looking ahead to her VISTA service, she is most excited about the personal stories she will get to hear and the professional skills she expects to further develop.
Garden Education and Volunteer Specialist VISTA
Fond du Lac Reservation Food Sovereignty VISTA
The Fond du Lac Reservation is located next to Cloquet, MN just 20 miles southwest of the city of Duluth. The Treaty of 1854 between the United States Government and the Lake Superior Band of Chippewa established the Reservation, comprised of 101,400 acres. The government is overseen by the Reservation Business Committee, comprised of five popularly elected officials. The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has over 40 programs including, but not limited to, a K-12 School, Head Start and Early Head Start, Human Services and Social Services, Resource Management and Transportation. In addition to full government services, the Band also runs enterprises such as a Gas Station, two Casinos and Propane Company. The Ecolibrium3 Resilience Corps member will work to build capacity with the Band’s Planning Division and collaboratively create a new Agricultural Department for the Fond du Lac Band. The member will lead evaluation of food sovereignty efforts.
Ellen Friedrich is serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA working with food sovereignty at the Fond du Lac Reservation. Ellen is a native of Northeast Iowa. She has degrees in Anthropology and Environmental Studies from Iowa State University. She has a passion for conservation, cultural diversity, human rights, and the environment. She recently spent a year in Madagascar as a teacher and farmhand at an agricultural school designed to enable aspiring farmers to be able to meet nutritional needs, improve their economic standing, and care for their land. Ellen can frequently be found hiking, exploring, and poring over a book.
Habitat for Humanity Capacity and Sustainability Developer VISTA
The Western Lake Superior Habitat for Humanity strives to increase lower-income residents’ access to decent, affordable housing. They build new homes in partnership with aspiring homeowners and the community. They also repair and retrofit homes belonging to older adult homeowners. WLSHFH is in a period of growth, with concerted efforts to develop capacity and sustainability. The Capacity Building VISTA will play a key role with staff and volunteers to drive sustainable organizational growth. The VISTA will focus on assessing, developing, and implementing fund development and volunteer data management systems in order to increase volunteer involvement and donor support. The VISTA will also build systems to increase community awareness of and engagement with WLSHFH.
Wesley Frank will be serving as the habitat for Humanity Capacity Builder. Wesley comes from a family of those that have served, including his Navy nurse mom and Marine father. Wesley received his degree in International Relations and Global Studies with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas-Austin.. He has studied the Farsi language and has a goal of serving as a diplomat. When he has time, he is active in yoga, lifting, fishing, hiking, and surfing.
Zeitgeist Creative And Healthy Community Building VISTA
The Zeitgeist Center for Arts & Community is an arts and community development organization working to build a healthy, connected community empowered to create and thrive. They bring the arts and culture to each of their programs and projects, as well as a commitment to the natural environment and to building equity in our community. Much of their current work is dedicated to advancing access to fresh and healthy food, expanding equitable multi-modal transportation, and creating cultural and artistic opportunities through the facilitation of the Zeitgeist Arts Building – a community building designed to produce and present performance art and independent film. The Ecolibrium3 Resilience Corps member will build capacity with the Executive Director to enhance their ability to tell the full Zeitgeist story through communications and programming in partnership with the Communications & Creative Director.
The Ecolibrium3 Resilience Corps member that will be serving at Zeitgeist is Vaughn Birchler. Vaughn grew up in Plymouth, Michigan, and graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in Health Communication. He has internship experience as a writer for a class-operated online public news journal and supported the outreach efforts at the American Red Cross of West Michigan. He is a lifelong hockey player and competed as a club athlete during college and worked as a referee for local youth games. A year after graduating from college, Vaughn joined AmeriCorps NCCC and was assigned to the Pacific Region where he worked alongside a team of young individuals contributing to community service projects in disaster relief, environmental stewardship, and urban and rural development.
Damiano Center Sustaining Community Coordinator VISTA
The Damiano Center of Duluth honors the dignity of all people and strengthen our community by providing essential services to individuals and families who are in need. The Damiano Center is the largest emergency meal provider in Northeastern Minnesota and has the only free store in Duluth. They also offer children’s programming, a clothing program specifically for people seeking employment, and provide referrals and other basic assistance to those struggling in our region. The Damiano Center Sustaining Community Coordinator VISTA will increase the Damiano Center’s ability to serve those in need and help lift them out of poverty by expanding their volunteer programs and improving the efficiency of our multiple programs. The VISTA member will help define future programming that brings urban agriculture, social enterprise, youth training, and urban food growing together. Programs that will be supported by the VISTA member’s capacity building include the Damiano Soup Kitchen, community service referral service, the Kids’ Kitchen (reduces childhood hunger by providing nutritious meals, nutrition education and a fun and nurturing place for kids after school and during the summer), clothing programs, and youth job training.
The Damiano Center VISTA is Aaron Axford. He has been living in Duluth for the past two years, but came from a small town in southwest Minnesota called Windom. This past spring, he graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a B.A. in Geography and GIS. During his schooling, he completed a planning internship with the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission and later at teh Metropolitan Interstate Council.
Utility Partnership and Low-Income Program Developer VISTA
Ecolibrium3 is an organization that has been recognized nationally for developing innovative approaches and partnerships to tackle difficult community problems. A major challenge in the northwoods of Minnesota is energy poverty experienced by low-income families. Using design-thinking approaches, the Utility Partnership and Low-Income Program Developer VISTA will create a unique partnership between local utility providers (ComfortSystems, Minnesota Power, delivered fuel providers), governmental agencies, and nonprofit organizations to establish a groundbreaking cross-sector approach to alleviating energy poverty. The VISTA member will strategically engage service providers, develop best practices and evaluation methodologies to target resources, and expand outreach to decrease families facing “heat or eat” situations. The member will have access to energy program data and staff, coordinate community engagement to define opportunities and challenges from the customer’s perspective, and receive design-thinking mentorship from nonprofit and utility conservation program designers. The VISTA member will align utility program and other low-income services to create a seamless experience for economically challenged households, develop outreach strategies to match need with resources, and create integrated pilot approaches that can leverage existing and proposed programs.
Lincoln Park Children and Families Outreach/Policy VISTA
Increase and deepen partnerships with organizations and volunteers to improve health and social connectedness among young families. • Develop a sustainable funding plan for LPCFC that will continue to advance child and family-centered programs in health, nutrition, and culture at a neighborhood-level. Key Responsibilities Specific Duties: 1. In conjunction with LPCFC staff, recruit, assist with training, orient, and place volunteers within LPCFC programs. 2. Assist with development of evaluation tools for assessing the success of the volunteer efforts and incorporate into a volunteer management plan. 3. Be familiar with LPCFC’s programs, activities, and priorities and how resources can support them. 4. Work with LPCFC staff to develop, record and institutionalize policies and procedures. 5. Attend staff meetings and other meetings as needed. 6. Participate in training related to volunteer, nonprofit, and grants management as needed. 7. Expand and develop key partnerships to advance LPCFC mission to address health, food access, and anti-poverty issues. 8. Assist in fundraising and development of a 5-year sustainable funding plan. Job Relationships 1. Will work with LPCFC Executive Director to develop skills and set goals for position. 2. Will receive support from other Ecolibrium3 VISTA cohort members serving in the community including training, inservice opportunities, and community programming. 3. Will work with community members, partner organizations, and funders to advance LPCFC anti-poverty mission.
Ecolibrium3 Resilience Corps VISTA Leader
The Ecolibrium3 Resilience Corps began in 2017 with ten members focused on expanding capacity of local organizations and government agencies to address intractable community issues. Member positions range from working with City government on building equity and health into community plans, to working on community development at arts and neighborhood-based organizations, to combating opioids and hunger. In 2018, the Ecolibrium3 Cohort is expanding to sixteen members with additional focus on closing the opportunity gap experienced by children in poverty, expanding partnerships with the Fond du Lac Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa, and defining the Lincoln Park Innovation Zone. As an innovative program, the Ecolibrium3 Resilience Corps uses its depth of community knowledge to identify which levers may produce the largest impact on reducing poverty. The VISTA Leader helps develop the support resources needed for VISTA members to succeed in their positions. The VISTA Leader also leads one joint cohort activity designed and implemented by the members.
Roger hails from Illinois and recently graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BA in Environmental Studies with a focus on policy. He says he is “just really excited to be here and to serve the community . The reason that I decided to do AmeriCorps is that I believe that everyone has a duty to the country. This lined up with the fact that I have a strong interest in helping others.” Roger’s main goal for his service term “is to understand mitigation and the vulnerability of a community caused by multitude of factors.” Roger loves to go hiking and ride his bike on trails and hopes to experience what this region has to offer.
Click on the AmeriCorps logo below to learn more about the AmeriCorps Legacy Building, an ongoing Resilience Corps project
Thank You to Our 2017-2018 Members!
Emilie Voight- City of Duluth Planning Technician
Emilie Voight is a Minnesotan who doesn’t talk like a Minnesotan. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature and French from Williams College (Massachusetts) and a Master of Arts in Geography from Queen Mary, University of London (England, U.K.). Emilie has professional experience in publishing, education, and event management, and most recently spent three years working for an international nonprofit organization based in Paris, France. As Planning Technician with the City of Duluth, her focus is on Imagine Duluth 2035, the City’s comprehensive plan update, and working to ensure that principles of health and fairness are reflected in the plan’s policies and strategies. When she’s not busy serving as a VISTA, Emilie likes running, trying exciting new sandwiches, and enjoying the beauty of Lake Superior.
Zoe Respondek- Comfort Systems Energy Conservation Technician
Zoe Respondek is an Energy Conservation Technician with the Ecolibrium3 Resiliency Corp. She recently completed her Masters of Science in Energy and Society from Durham University in England. This course of study taught Zoe how to take an interdisciplinary approach to looking at today’s energy issues and motivated her to accept the AmeriCorps VISTA position in Duluth. Previously, she studied biology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she also competed on the university’s NCAA DI water polo team. Zoe’s professional interests include renewable energy, conservation, sustainability, and the environment. She also enjoys swimming, hiking, and spending time with family and friends. Zoe’s VISTA project focuses on the development of a low income energy conservation program through a collaboration with Comfort Systems, the public natural gas utility for the City of Duluth. Their goal is to facilitate the energy efficiency process and make it more affordable for households to save energy, reduce costly utility bills, and increase the overall comfort of homes in the Duluth area.
Mark Harris- Ecolibrium3 Giving Comfort At Home Energy Specialist
Mark graduated this past May with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota – Duluth’s Swenson College of Science and Engineering. At UMD a class in sustainable engineering sparked his interest in working with communities to improve energy efficiency at home. This lead him to the apply for the Ecolibrium3 Resilience Corps, commit to a 5th year living in Duluth. Originally from Silver Bay, one-hour North of Duluth, Mark grew up with a great appreciation for the natural world around him. Since moving to Duluth his love of the lakes and rivers in the area has grown exponentially through his passion for surfing and whitewater kayaking.
Yodit Gidley- Lincoln Park Children and Families Outreach Coordinator
Yodi is an Americorp Vista at Lincoln Park Children and Family Collaborative (LPCFC). LPCFC is a nonprofit organization that is committed to strengthen the Lincoln Park community by connecting families who care about young children. As a Vista, Yodi will be working on capacity building at LPCFC by applying for grants, fundraising, recruiting volunteers and etc. Yodi has a Master of Arts degree in Public Health. Yodi is also a qualified health coach and holds Health Promotion certification.
Zach Shears- Lincoln Park Leadership Development Coordinator
Zach recently graduated from the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota – Duluth with his B.A. in Urban and Regional Studies. He came to Duluth by way of the tiny town of Cotton, MN. He currently resides in Central Hillside with his fiancée, Alexandria, and their Boston Terrier, Mack. Zach’s favorite thing about Duluth is the week of Homegrown Music Festival in April/May; during Homegrown 2017 he performed with the rock band Paper Parlor as well as reading some of his work at the Homegrown Poetry Showcase. Most of his free time that doesn’t involve creating or appreciating some sort of art is spent appreciating the natural world, especially the slices of it that lie along the Superior Hiking Trail. He finds Duluth to be a place of unparalleled synergy and play between wilderness and the built environment. As an AmeriCorps VISTA, Zach will be working to build capacity for leadership among the residents of Lincoln Park, and to identify possible neighborhood improvement projects. His work will enable these resident leaders to develop skills in project management, volunteer organization, government interaction, and more so that they can strengthen their communities going forward.
Madilyne Wegener- Zeitgeist Center for Arts and Community