Low-tech craft finds new popularity in high-tech world

Nestled into the lake shore in Grand Marais, North House Folk School is a hotbed of learning. But the skills you’ll acquire here might seem other-worldly compared to modern life. For example, would you like to learn how to build a yurt?” Or maybe you’d like to sew your own anorak?


Tim Schwiebert of Osceola and Brian Belanger of Edina work on a timber frame at North House Folk School Grand Marais

Photo: Derek Montgomery for MPR

According to reporter Dan Kraker, in the age of iPads and Twitter, this center of low-tech handcraft has never been more popular:

The chance to work with their hands, learn from peers and create something lasting draws a growing number of people like Belanger to North House, and to other folk schools sprouting up around the region: from the Driftless Folk School in southwestern Wisconsin, to the Milan Village Arts School in southwestern Minnesota.

North House started with 14 students taking a single kayak-building class 15 years ago. Last year the school hosted 13,000 participants from 36 states.

Mark Hansen, a founder of the school who taught its first class, said the reason for the school’s growth is simple: people are born to create.

“People like to do for themselves,” Hansen said. “We live in such a high-tech world that I think people are really looking for low-tech and high-touch.”

You can hear the rest of Dan Kraker’s story by clicking on the link below:

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