Our Shores: Ultrarun for the Love of the Lake

by: Evan Flom, Andy Butter, Allissa Stutte
contact: ourshoresultra@gmail.com
17:50 Oct 24 2016 Ashland, Wisconsin

Our Shores: Ultrarun for the Love of the Lake
Why should we work towards a Great Lakes Commons and how ?

Our Shores: Ultrarun for the Love of the Lake from Evan Flom on Vimeo.

Why Should We Work Towards A Great Lakes Commons And How?

There are countless threats to freshwater all over the world. During our 1,300 mile run around Lake Superior we were aiming to find out what those threats are, and we did this by listening to the voices of people who live closest to its shores. Our goal was to bring awareness to the concerns of both human and ecological communities that call the Lake Superior watershed their home. By listening and by paying attention to the land and those who live there we were able to collect a series of stories that we hope demonstrate what it means to live in communities alongside the world’s largest freshwater lake.

In partnering with Great Lakes Commons over the course of our journey we were able to connect our project with a wider movement of people concerned with protecting water and the places they love. The conversations and stories that we documented throughout our travels each had their own specific location and concerns, but were tied together through the binding themes of freshwater, resiliency and the health of Lake Superior and its communities.

As we ran around the lake our path crossed with the paths of many other travelers. We found that once you toss yourself into the world as a “traveler” it seems that the world naturally introduces you to other travelers – other people looking to disrupt their usual day-to-day life with an adventure or a chance to view the world in a different light. As we met with these folks on the side of the road, at campgrounds or the grocery store, we used the opportunity to offer a Great Lakes Commons Journey Guide to a fellow traveler to try and engage in conversation about stewardship and our responsibility to protect the places that we love.

One of these fellow travelers was a woman named Leah who was bicycling from the western coast of Canada to the eastern on her own. We ran into her one afternoon at a tourist stop near Pancake Bay, Ontario where we had both taken a break to rest and resupply. We got to talking about the journeys that we were on and eventually offered her a Journey Guide. Upon receiving the guide and initially flipping through it she was ecstatic. While her journey was cross-country and did not have the same sort of Great Lakes emphasis as ours, she expressed her desire to read about other journeys that had such a meaningful focus on something as important as freshwater. As we both had destinations to get to by the end of the day, she thanked us for the gift and we all carried on.

A few days later we crossed paths again with Leah in Sault Ste. Marie. We had a chance to connect more as we sat down to catch up on each other’s trials and rewards from the road. She told us that she had since read through all of the Journey Guide and that each of the writings in it had really moved her as she took them in, sitting alone along the shore of the lake. It seemed that the intention in each of the writings had struck her as both important and inspiring.

As people on a journey, our interactions with others were always fleeting. No matter how well we connected with someone on the road, we always had a destination to get to by the end of the day – there was always the larger vision, pushing us to keep running. This became difficult at times when we wanted to stay and connect with a place or person for longer than we had. Despite this difficulty, however, we found that when you have a larger purpose in your journey – like that of the commons of freshwater – it shines through in every interaction that you have. When you hold those values close they’ll shine through in everything you do.

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