Getting to work in Duluth

Tone Lanzillo

While catching up on the news about the COP27 climate conference in Egypt, I heard about the “Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE).” It’s a term that was adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and refers to Article 6 of the Convention’s original text from 1992.

The ACE focuses on six key areas including education, training and public awareness. 

With COP27 taking place in Egypt, there is now a new initiative right here in Duluth which will hopefully provide the support and resources for our greater community to act for climate empowerment.

Established by the Lake Superior Living Labs Network, the Duluth Climate Action Field School is being led by Randel Hanson and Kathryn Milun. 

“Social and ecological changes are both rapidly emerging and are in need of responses in ways that correspond to the needs of our human and more than human communities here,” Hanson said. “So, how do we empower and inspire diverse groups of people to belong to this place in ways that work towards diverse collective and individual climate actions? One way is through this school which uses a living labs approach to think about and act upon ways of adapting ourselves to this changing world around us. The school will prepare people to be more knowledgeable and to engage more fully with the climate crisis as it unfolds in our Lake Superior watershed and the planet.”

The Duluth Climate Action Field School is part of the Duluth Hub, which was established as one of the four principal hubs that is supported by the Lake Superior Living Labs Network. This network serves as a platform to connect academics and community groups to develop new partnerships and collaborative initiatives across the Lake Superior watershed.

Its mission is to identify innovative solutions at the intersection of water, food, land, climate, energy as well as individual and community well-being. The four hubs are located in Duluth, Houghton (Michigan), Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie (Ontario, Canada).

In October, the Duluth Climate Action Field School presented its first program to a group of 10 local artists.

“Our Duluth hub decided to engage working artists to learn about and engage with people working on infrastructure change and adaptation; including with food and agriculture, housing, energy and water, with the intent that the creative forces of these artists can help amplify, translate and otherwise engage our communities in the reality of climate change and the work of climate action,” Hanson said. “We worked with Christine Woods, the executive director of the Duluth Art Institute, and are planning to hold a public event at the Institute in the near future. Also, we will be staging a public conversation among the working artists and school presenters on the school’s mission, the seeds it’s planting and where these emerging collaborations might lead.”

Hanson and Milun were kind enough to invite me to the last gathering with the artists where I was given an opportunity to talk about my writing and work to address climate change. Being a musician and writer, I talked about how the creative arts community can engage, educate and empower its audiences.

Also, was able to share the experience of organizing the Culture x Climate: Duluth event in November, 2020, where we highlighted the work of 28 local artists, poets, writers and photographers at the Zeitgeist and with PACT-TV. 

It’s initiatives like the Duluth Climate Action Field School that will offer many of us a valuable opportunity to undertake different climate actions, individually and collectively, that could help us build a more sustainable city.

And no matter what your place or profession is in our greater community, everyone can play a role in creating a more climate-ready and resilient city along Lake Superior.

“We see the school as fundamental to building what some call social capital for the work of climate action,” Hanson said. “If we are to succeed in building a just and resilient response to the forces of climate change, we all need to get out of our silos, learn about the issue more clearly, listen to each others’ perspectives, and explore how we can collaborate with empathy and intent in building the foundations of change.”

If anyone would like to learn more about the Duluth Climate Action Field School, you can contact Hanson at Also, you can go to for more information about the Lake Superior Living Labs Network.