Meet The Funder: LBC/Margaret A. Cargill Lodge Website Funding Story

This article was written by Gene Champeau, Wolf Ridge ELC Donor and Board Member

As one of the newest members of the Wolf Ridge Board of Trustees, from the beginning, I began to immerse myself in the “Making Waves” Capital Campaign to fund new student and naturalist facilities on Wolf Ridge’s expansive 2000 acre campus. Through the forward thinking of the Wolf Ridge Trustees, a decision was made to embark on a highly ambitious program of using advanced sustainable architechural designs/systems as defined by the “Living Building Challenge” to create the crown jewel of this project, the Margaret A. Cargill Lodge. I began to educate myself on the tenants of the “Living Building Challenge” and came to realize how resource optimization is woven into every aspect of this unique design and construction philosophy. And also, ultimately, into the day to day existence of those residing in this unique dwelling.

As I learned more about the construction of the Lodge, I began to realize that there was a valuable story unfolding as to how an LBC project is executed and the many special requirements placed on stakeholders and partners to make an LBC building a reality. Not only was Wolf Ridge taking on a special challenge, it was doing so as the first LBC facility in Minnesota and in one of Minnesota’s harshest climates. Capturing this story in the form of the Wolf Ridge Living Building Challenge website began to take form and I agreed to support the effort to tell this story through a series of vignettes as shared by those building the Lodge. I felt that capturing the story as it was unfolding was the best way to communicate to the rest of the world the experiences of all those involved with this incredible project.

Now that the website is fully functioning, stories from those on the ground making this a reality are being shared by regular posts via blog and video interviews. The level of dedication from construction partners and everyone involved has been incredible despite many hurdles and new ways of thinking about how to construct buildings in harmony with the environment. The North Shore of Lake Superior is one of those special places on earth so what better place to show the world how new construction methods can lead to a more “sustainable” future.

The MAC Lodge is one project on the North Shore that has garnered my attention over the years. In addition, I’ve been helping those involved with the “Save the Boundary Waters” campaign up in Ely and the “Weber Stream Initiative” at the University of MN Duluth chartered with restoring stream quality along the north shore of Lake Superior. The Weber Stream Initiative was founded by Ron Weber, widely known as the founder of Normark/Rapala, an iconic Minnesota company involved in the fishing tackle industry. Although these are all separate causes, they are all interconnected with the goal of protecting our special Minnesota wilderness.

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