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About Us

Our mission is to enrich lives and build community by teaching traditional northern crafts in a student-centered learning environment that inspires the hands, the heart and the mind.



North House was founded in 1997 by a small handful of inspired locals passionate about traditional craft and cooperative learning. When we published the first catalog of 23 courses (including Inuit kayak building, Scandinavian bowl carving, and canoe paddle making), North House didn't yet have a home — or even a classroom. However, two old forest service buildings on the harbor serendipitously became available, and North House settled in and began building a campus.

Campus has changed and expanded over the years, but those two original buildings — the Red Building and the Blue Building — are still at its heart. North House has thrived over the ensuing two decades, and now hosts over 350 classes and 3,000 students per year, and connects students and instructors from all over the state, country, and world.

See our About Us booklet for a photo history of North House and an introduction to folk schools.

Ready to step into craft? Sign up for a course, check out our community programs, or visit us for one of our annual events!

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Our Mission

North House’s mission is to enrich lives and build community by teaching traditional northern crafts in a student-centered learning environment that inspires the hands, the heart and the mind.

Our Vision

North House's vision is to be an iconic northern crossroads of traditional craft and folk school learning that champions the enduring skills, diverse landscapes, and rich histories of all northern cultures.

Our Values

PEOPLE • North House seeks to build a culture of respect and appreciation that supports individuality, celebrates curiosity, fosters lifelong learning, bridges generations, and builds relationships across diverse backgrounds.

PLACE • North House aspires to accentuate craft’s connection to northern landscapes and advance the world’s need for sustainable solutions. Our work on every level is inspired by Lake Superior’s horizon and rooted in the place we call home. 

CRAFT • North House stewards and advances traditional craft and celebrates the natural materials of the north that reflect an incredible diversity of cultures, environments, traditions, and histories, and weaves together the past, present and future. 

COMMUNITY • North House celebrates the power of working together to create a better world. We believe in the circle of community and the importance of belonging—connecting with our neighbors, meeting new friends, and sharing our stories. All are welcome here.

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What is a Folk School?

What is a Folk School?

Folk schools emphasize learning for the sake of learning. There are no exams, no credits, and no term papers. As much as our courses teach a particular skill (timberframing, basketmaking), they also encourage lifelong learning. This type of learning environment is inspired by Scandinavian folkehøjskolers (folk high schools).

Folk schools can be found around the world. In America, the number and popularity of folk schools is growing. Many of these new folk schools emphasize subjects such as music, theatre, art, tradition, and craft.

Our focus at North House is born largely from our location. In the northwoods of Minnesota, on the shore of Lake Superior, we emphasize traditional northern craft.

Five basic tenets guide all of our classes and programs:

  • Create a rich, positive environment that inspires lifelong learning in a non-competitive environment
  • Promote and preserve the knowledge, skills, crafts and stories of the past and present
  • Help students recognize and develop their creativity, talents and interests in a student-centered environment that affirms individual differences
  • Foster the concept of intergenerational learning
  • Provide creative and meaningful opportunities for individuals, families and groups

In discovering the cultural heritage of the north, our students integrate the technologies of the past with those of today, expanding their personal perspective and elucidating both the present and the future.

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Reports & Materials

Reports & Materials

North House Folk School is a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit, and depends on the generous support of donors at many levels.

Check out our member newsletter, Shavings:

Become a member to receive each new issue by mail!

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Staff & Leadership

Greg Wright

Executive Director

Greg has been immersed in educational nonprofit leadership his entire career. Arriving at North House in its fourth year, he has relished its strong community, powerful mission, and steady evolution. Northerner travelers by nature, Greg, his wife Jeanne, and daughter Olya prefer life outdoors. Chickens, bees, garlic, birch firewood, a CSA and some fiddling keep them moving.

Jessa Frost

Program Director

An educator by training, Jessa is passionate about lifelong learning and the connections of craft, community and landscape. She has served as North House’s Program Director since 2010, leading a wide variety of programmatic initiatives to both expand and deepen the school’s curriculum and commitment to both folk education and the craft educators who make the work possible. She currently is plenty busy exploring the natural world with her young son, while attempting to keep up with her personal interests in gardening, skiing, cooking, basketry and music as well as burgeoning need to mend toddler clothing! 

Tom Morse

Development Director

Tom grew up in the Pacific Northwest with a love of deep woods and deeper water. He enjoys working with donors to connect their passions with the vision and mission of the North House and sharing the impact of their support. Tom, his wife Lynnea, and daughter Runa enjoy family time outdoors — whether it's hiking, canoeing, fishing, or just hosting friends for something tasty out of the smoker!

Liv Sulerud

Administrative Director

Liv began her North House experience as a perennial work study volunteer, which opened the door to coursework in many crafts including herbalism, woodworking and spoon carving. Drawn back again and again by the smell of sawdust, the community spirit of North House, the boreal forest and the Big Lake, she now enjoys supporting staff and cultivating a welcoming place for all to explore the world of craft.

Joe Beres

Facilities Director

After growing up in and around Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Joe began his glacial trek to the West and North, with stops in Madison and the Twin Cities, finally making a longstanding dream come true landing in Grand Marais. With a foundation in the arts and a DIY ethos, he brings a love of music and traditional craft to the North Shore.

Rachel Andrus

Front Office Host & Development Assistant

A lifelong forest dweller, Rachel grew up in Illinois, bounced around the country teaching environmental education, and landed on Minnesota’s north shore in 2010. She lives on a yurt- and garden-studded homestead in the big woods with her husband and two wee children. She is inspired by the drastic changes each new season brings to the northland, and loves to knit, write, and wander through the woods.

Sarah Beggs

Program Manager

An Oregonian with Minnesota roots, Sarah came to North House with a love of craft and community education combined with a thirst for North Shore adventures. A kid at heart, Sarah finds joy making art and playing outside. She is thrilled to be a part of the North House programs team, building community through craft. 

Alex Blust

Classroom Manager

Alex has worked in non-profits interspersed with brief stints across the country where she worked as a white water raft guide, ranch hand, and organic farmworker.  This former intern loves talking with current interns and artisans about their craft!  In her free time you'll find her hiking, paddling, swimming, reading books and building things.

Beth Faraone

Front Office Host & Program Liaison

With a deep love of forests, flowers, fiber arts, fresh air and getting things done, Beth transplanted herself to Cook County in 2002. She is excited to be the office manager for North House and be in the presence of lovers and teachers of craft. Beth lives with her husband Bob and their dog Charlie in a little cabin on Devil Track Lake. Beth would love to meet you and share stories about your crafts the next time you stop in to the School Store!

Susan Ferguson

Youth & Family Program Coordinator

With a penchant for living in the north including 7 years in southeast Alaska, Susan finally landed in Ely and taught there at the elementary school for 24 years. After retiring and as an avid student at North House Folk School, she built a home in the area to be closer to the school. Besides activities at North House, she enjoys hunting for agates and wild mushrooms as well as gardening, canoeing, and cross country skiing.

Cindy Lou Hansen

Front Office Host & School Store Manager

Locally grown (born and raised in Cook County), Cindy recently become a “townie” after moving to Grand Marais from waaaaay back in the woods where she’d co-owned and operated Sawbill Canoe Outfitters for 30+ years with her husband, Bill. Together they raised a couple more locals while living off-grid. She loves to tap dance and enjoys a good laugh!

Amy Henrikson

Finance Manager

Born and raised in Iowa, Amy migrated north in her teens to guide canoe trips in the BWCAW. She fell in love with the boreal forest so when her husband, Peter, had the opportunity to help North House get off the ground in 1997, they naturally jumped at the chance. When not out paddling or nordic skiing with Peter and their two daughters, Amy uses her passion for spreadsheets and numbers to keep North House’s finances organized. She feels very fortunate to be able to use these skills for an organization that aligns so closely with her passion to keep old traditions alive.

Kaitlin Kimmel


Kaitlin hails from southeastern Pennsylvania and fell in love with Northern Minnesota while studying for her PhD in ecology at the University of Minnesota. She is grateful she is able to connect with all the students and be part of the North House community in her role. Kaitlin feels most at home in a pair of overalls digging around in her garden, paddling her two dogs (Jackson and Hank) through the BWCA with her husband (Robbie) in their canoe named ‘The Yacht’, or skijoring on their lake.

Libby Larson

Grants & Fundraising Events Manager

Growing up in the lakes region of western Minnesota, Libby gained a range of nonprofit experience while serving with an organization in Delaware. Returning to the Midwest in 2018, she is excited to share North House’s mission and story through her role. The local landscape provides the perfect fuel for Libby's swimming passion - from indoor laps to long-distance, wetsuit-clad swims in Superior’s invigorating waters.

Samantha McCauley

Program Manager

With a background in foreign language and outdoor education, Sam engages with the world as a life-long learner. She enjoys connecting with people, going new places, and making beautiful things with her hands. She is proud to support the many meaningful programs at North House. Growing up, her favorite thing was playing in the woods, and it still is. Now she has graduated from building fairy houses to building a homestead with her husband Zach.

Kjell Olsen

Technology Manager

It was always a goal to "move north", so when the opportunity to take charge of technology at North House presented itself, Kjell packed up his skills programming computers and putting digital tools to the task of making the world a better, craftier place and got to work.

Tracy Olson


A lifelong Minnesotan, Tracy has a love for the north and the outdoors as well as helping teams and organizations thrive. Tracy relishes reading, being active and nourishing her friends and family through her love of cooking. She is always game for an interesting and challenging adventure and is thrilled to support North House!

Rae Poynter

Communications & Marketing Manager

Rae grew up surrounded by woods in rural northwest Wisconsin and moved to Grand Marais in 2016. A storyteller at heart, Rae is thrilled to help share the story of North House with the world. Rae likes challenging herself with outdoor adventures and has trekked across the Scottish Highlands, Swiss Alps, and Annapurna region (just to name a few!). She also enjoys writing fiction, spending time by Lake Superior, and crafting her own blends of tea.

Linda Ricklefs Baudry

Front Office Host & Online Store Coordinator

From the beginning, a seasonal taste of the North Shore was not enough, and Linda has now transitioned to a year-round embrace of both nature and craft. Having always worked with her hands, she is a lover of patterns and rhythms, and finds joy in the serendipity of life. At the School Store, she supports the creation and the telling of stories. She can often be found outside among the trees or somewhere along the Big Lake.

Jennifer Starbright

Registrar & Administrative Coordinator

After being introduced to the north shore by rainy camping trips with her family when she was young, Jennifer is now thrilled to embrace the changing weather and seasons as a full-time resident. She looks forward to transferring the skills gained as an art museum registrar to being the North House registrar as well as greeting students and visitors in the School Store. Jennifer is fueled by being in the woods, on the water, and by continually learning and exploring.

Mike Ulen

Shop & Grounds Manager

Mike, another former intern, fell in love with the joys of craft at North House. He found his way back after writing about folk schools while at Marlboro College in Vermont, studying at Ronshoved Hojskole in Denmark and interning at Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont. He enjoys viking metal, woodworking, reading, thoughtful design, and being near the Big Lake.

Board of Directors

Carol Winter, President
Todd Mestad, Vice President
Greg Koschinska, Treasurer
Jane Alexander, Secretary
Terri Cermak
Robert "Bobby" Deschampe
Amy Hubbard
Reid Lindquist
Clair Nalezny
Phil Oswald
Cecilia Schiller
Randy Schnobrich
John Schoenherr
Stephen Skeels
Kari Wenger

Interns & Resident Artisans

The North House team also includes four interns and four resident artisans. Meet our interns here and our resident artisans here!

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