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Strong Rural Women on Climate: Discussion at Balsam Moon Preserve


We gathered women to talk about the connection to the land and climate. We learned that women bring community, adaptability, and a globally-informed, locally-enacted mindset to the climate crisis.

In our final Strong Women focus group we went back to our roots and got on the road and headed over to visit Barb Mann and Balsam Moon Preserve in Pine River. We took a tour of the Preserve, then gathered on the screen porch to continue our conversation about Strong Women and Climate.

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It never ceases to amaze us how women show up to the focus groups - no matter where they are held - ready to have open, honest, and forward-thinking conversations. Like all the other groups we have hosted, we ended up with the perfect mix of strong women. Many participants invited other women, knowing they would be comfortable and want to join the discussion.

We asked the women to share the ways in which they were thinking about the climate crisis and ways in which they thought feminist principles are needed now more than ever as part of the solutions. Here is what we heard:

Themes & Insights
Community Building 

Solving the climate crisis can’t be done alone, and we are stronger together. There are a lot of small spaces, groups of women gathering together to support each other in using our unique gifts and lived experiences to affect positive change in environmental justice, equity, and sustainability efforts.

“Small groups like this exist everywhere and my mission is to find them and attend them. My sustainability, my wellness, and groundedness has to be a part of the healing of the earth.”

“I’ll be 76 this summer. In the past, you always kind of knew what was coming. Now it feels like you don’t know what tomorrow will bring and that feels hard to know what to do. Knowing yourself well enough to know what you’re made of and made for. My thing is feeding people and growing things. That’s what I know. That helps me stay more centered and basic. I went back and read what was said and I want to share that I experienced loneliness like never before, and yes we need to heal but we need to accept healing for others. We don’t have to carry all of it. I keep seeing this image of small women’s groups all over because we can’t do it alone.”

“I have done what I could on the ground to move the people I have to a more sustainable, safe environment. I have come to recognize the importance of women networking together, we are stronger together. I would love to see us keep making networks and grow small communities of women to work together.”
Sustainability and Adaptability Mindset: Think Globally, Act Locally 

Based on the climate crisis, women have had to pivot accordingly and change their mindsets around how to do our work, live our lives, and take care of ourselves and the earth. In times of transition, women show up. We listen to each other, our intuition, and our earth.


One woman who was a cattle rancher had to sell the cattle because of the drought next year. Now they are exploring different business opportunities, including planting apple trees and growing food for Veterans.

Transition, change is messy. The old has to crumble and break down. That feeling of chaos is the system’s crumbling - what has been happening isn’t working and it is changing. Listen to the earth. Mother earth is starting to rumble herself - nudging us along. She doesn’t need us to survive - we need her to survive.”

“It’s an overwhelming time but new things are coming out of it.”

“I’m not an activist any more, but the things I saw about climate change in Texas knocked out power across the state. My biggest problem was I could not grind my coffee beans - a woman had a battery operated grinder, so we went around the neighborhood and ground people’s coffee. The sea turtles were coming up on the beach and they were dying because the water was too cold, and women went out and gathered up the turtles, put them in warmer water and then had a collective release of the turtles back into the water. It’s a woman thing - we mobilize and get things done.”

Stewardship = Connection and Relationship to Each other and Our Earth 

We are better stewards when we have strong connections to each other and to the earth.

“I love to be in proximity with other women who are trying to make a difference in the world. I love gardening, I spent a lot of time in the mountains growing up so I feel a strong closeness to the trees.”

Learning Indigenous Ways of Caring for Our Earth

Learning to live as a part of the earth, not power over the earth, but with the earth is critical to our survival as a species - we can learn from Indigenous Peoples around the world how to do this.


Transforming our Economic System 

Mass consumption and a society guided by market principles must change - the earth and, therefore, humanity can’t survive in the current system.

“How can we create a moral/ethical economy? Just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we should. Why do we have the giant crab legs in northern MN. We need to be learning more about impact and relationships. Most of our systems, maybe all have been without heart and spirit, women can bring those back to the systems.”

Thank you to all the Strong Women who have participated in our focus groups over the years. Your strength is evident and needed.

Heidi Holtan is KAXE's Director of Content and Public Affairs where she manages producers and is the local host of Morning Edition from NPR. Heidi is a regional correspondent for WDSE/WRPT's Duluth Public Television’s Almanac North.
Sarah Mitchell (she/they) joined the KAXE team in February of 2022. Sarah creates the Season Watch Newsletter, writes segment summaries for the website, and coordinates our Engaging Minnesotans with Phenology project. With a background in wildlife biology, Sarah enjoys learning a little bit about everything, whether it's plants, mushrooms, aquatic invertebrates, or the short-tailed shrew (did you know they can echolocate?).