Culture Club: Connecting With Björklunden

Björklunden Vid Sjön (Birch Forest by the Water) offers a remarkable site for hiking, peaceful reflection, learning and getting spiritually reconnected. It possesses a rare natural beauty which has been in the orbit of my life for nearly 30 years. As the still relatively new Director of Björklunden, let me welcome you to my first Culture Club installment with a little information about Björklunden, about myself, and about how you can feel connected to this place too. 

First off, I appreciate the Peninsula Pulse and PAHA (the Peninsula Arts and Humanities Alliance) for making this space to feature stories from the remarkable organizations and their leaders who reflect and define arts and culture in our region. I am humbled and honored to find myself in this company. These organizations enrich Door County life in so many ways. Beyond sublimely uplifting our spirits when we engage in their offerings, they have a huge economic impact. 

You may have already read about the Arts and Economic Impact study which found that Door County arts and culture nonprofits are a catalyst for $21.8 million of spending in our local communities. Additionally, using US Census data, the Door County Economic Development Corporation reports that arts, entertainment, accommodations, food service and retail collectively make up the biggest facet in Door County’s economic profile, outpacing manufacturing, education, healthcare and all other sectors.

I lived and worked in Los Angeles for 21 years before moving back to Door County. My experience there included working for the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, where I experienced first-hand the importance of nurturing a robust creative ecosystem to serve a diverse community and fortify a mighty creative economy. Door County, though much smaller in many respects, is fortunate to be in a relatable position. With both a long history and a growing interest in the arts, and the way these cultural activities show up across our elegant constellation of villages that dot this significant piece of the Niagara Escarpment, the Door County peninsula deserves focus both on nurturing its cultural ecology while preserving its natural splendor.

Björklunden is Lawrence University’s north campus, and for those who have not been here, it is located one mile south of Baileys Harbor. We feature 441 acres of pristine forest (most of which is protected with the Door County Land Trust), one mile of Lake Michigan shoreline, and amenities that include three miles of publicly accessible trails and historic buildings designed in the Scandinavian tradition. Our 37,000-foot lodge houses our seminar program in summer through fall, student weekends during the academic year, as well as community events and retreats. 

The historic garden is home to Door Shakespeare Theater Company, which performs under the great maple each midsummer. In early fall each year, we host DKAF (Door Kinetic Arts Festival), a week of experimental works and collaborations that push the boundaries of the performing arts. This winter, please stay tuned for Peninsula Player’s The Play’s The Thing reading series

A spiritual anchor for the campus is the Boynton Chapel, a lovingly designed and hand-crafted stave church. It embodies a 12th century Norwegian design with frescoes that blend Scandinavian and Christian traditions. Built by Winifred and Donald Boynton between 1939 to 1947, it rang peace into the world as it opened toward the close of World War II.

Our Net Zero Björklunden Initiative took a major leap forward when a 217kW solar array was brought online last May. We partnered with the Door County Climate Change Coalition to inaugurate the array and promote education around sustainable development. Björklunden is now a net electricity producer, and the carbon credit applies toward offsetting emissions from continued use of LP gas. 

We hope you visit the campus to walk, ski, or snowshoe the trails; take in the chapel; or spend time learning, convening, or enjoying cultural and community events.  

Peninsula Arts and Humanities Alliance, which contributes Culture Club, is a coalition of nonprofit organizations whose purpose is to enhance, promote and advocate the arts, humanities and natural sciences in Door County.

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