Northern Bedrock Corps Restores Historic Buildings Across Minnesota
In the Chippewa National Forest near Walker, there’s a group that will be spending their next six months fixing up historic buildings all over the state. That group is called the Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps.
“Our main goal is to get people interested in hands-on preservation trades. So, we’re in the process of working with different project hosts that have historic properties,” says Rolf Hagberg, the executive director of Northern Bedrock.
“Doing this type of work, it’s a very specialty type of crafts work because you’re not just fixing something, you’re fixing it according to a certain standard,” says Northern Bedrock Crew Leader Erika Birnbaum.
This year, there were more than 120 people who applied to work with the corps. This group is a part of a lucky chosen few: all the corps members are between the ages of 18 and 25, and they work eight 10-hour days in a row and camp out on their worksite. After the eight days, they get a six-day break.
When talking about the building the group is currently restoring, the Shingobee Recreation Area, Heritage Program coordinator Sean Dunham says, “A porcupine had taken an interest in some of the siding on the building and had begun chewing on it, and so one of the things they’ve done is repair those planks that were involved in that.”
Mahu Ya, a corps member who lives in St. Paul but is originally from Myanmar, says, “[You get] really good experience like construction work and painting right here.”
Another thing the corps members get out of the work is learning how to work as a team member, and with that, friendships are formed.
Qwa La, a corps member who also lives in St. Paul but is originally from Myanmar, says, “For me, this is the first year, so I’m really excited to join with groups and the crew.”
Last year’s corps group did more than 18,000 hours worth of service, and this year’s group is setting that number as their own personal bar. Corps members say the work they’re doing is something they can be proud of while looking towards their last day of work in October.
“A lot of the corps members had never used hand tools before. They’d never done any saw work and to see them learn that throughout the process for the past couple of days has been awesome,” says Bedrock Crew Leader Haven Epstein.
After the project at Shingobee, one of the of the corps groups will head down to Minneapolis to restore a cemetery.