After a lengthy and dense tour of the Forest Hill Cemetery (more on that v. soon) from Heidi Bakk-Hansen, a self-described history nerd (and deserver of the description), we went to Gazebo Point for dessert — a wide and slightly backdoor view of Duluth. Our conversation mixed with the sounds of a youth hockey game from down below and occasional gust of needy wind. We filled our time up there with a single open-ended question — why ought a hypothetical person move to Duluth?
Heidi started straightforwardly and spiraled outwards from there, touching on a few major themes of living in Duluth and the city on the whole. She spoke for about ten minutes with little interjection from me — below, I’ve sliced out a handful of representative and bite size chunks:
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-Duluthians aren’t necessarily looking to keep their city secret, but they’re a bit protective. So who fits in? According to Heidi, people who prefer the groaning of huge ice slabs in the harbor to workaday bellyaching:
-With all the hills and trees, Duluth is the kind of place with enough of folks to grab a beer with, but it’s just as easy to retreat into solitude. Many choose both:
-Heidi expands upon Duluth’s “do-it-myself” spirit, something I’ve been exposed to, particularly amongst the creative types in town:
-That ‘do-it-myself’ ethos extends to, and probably originates from, Duluth’s blue collar background:
-So what does Heidi think about city-fied interlopers rolling through town looking for an authentic Northlands experience to call their own? (Ahem.)
-Her final thoughts drift to the ultimate final thought — whether she’ll ever leave Duluth and what kind of animal she’d like to gnaw on her bones someday (at about 0:24, off-mic, I say “it’s kind of like being eaten by vultures.”):
I get the feeling that if somebody required much convincing to move here, most Duluthians wouldn’t waste a breath on it (unless it was a romantic partner, that is). That being said, in its impressions of Duluth, I think the view from up there was about as candid as Heidi.
Coda: The walk up to Gazebo Point, starting from an access just off Woodland, was treacherously slippery going up. So, to get back down with maximal speed (I needed to catch a bus) and minimal falling, Heidi improvised a seated slide down the path, which I copied and filmed: