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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

North House's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Statement

North House’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is rooted in our values, mission, and the vast diversity of people, crafts, and cultural traditions of the North. The work of continually broadening the circle of people engaged in craft is central to who we are. Our goal in engaging in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is to make North House a community which supports experiences that build relationships across diverse backgrounds.

The crafts of the northern landscape are a powerful reflection of these values. Many peoples have drawn inspiration from similar natural materials (birch, wool, steel, hide) to create an incredible diversity of handcrafts that reflect different cultures, environments, traditions, and histories. By bringing these cultures of craft together we can find common threads and celebrate differences.

In the same way we celebrate the diversity of northern cultures and craft, North House seeks to foster a community where each person feels comfortable sharing their own ideas, history, hopes, talents, and dreams while enriching each other’s experience.

We believe that craft can be a powerful bridge across culture and difference. We appreciate the many kinds of diversity that are present in the North House community including but not limited to: race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, age, cultural experiences, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religion, political ideologies, education, learning styles, and physical and mental ability. We believe that bringing together people from many backgrounds strengthens our organization and furthers our mission.

For that vision to become a reality, North House is investing considerable time and resources. We will remain committed to listening and evolving as we learn. We know that we will need to acknowledge missteps along the way.

This statement is meant to create a guide for the organization’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts, to keep the broader North House community informed of our plans, and to hold us publicly accountable to these commitments. It has been shaped by staff, program participants, instructors, and the North House board.

Our Definitions

Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, encompassing the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. While diversity is often used in reference to race, ethnicity, and gender, we embrace a broader definition of diversity that also includes age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. Our definition also includes diversity of thought: ideas, perspectives, and values. We also recognize that individuals affiliate with multiple identities.

Equity is the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions or systems, as well as in their distribution of resources. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society.

Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people. It’s important to note that while an inclusive group is by definition diverse, a diverse group isn’t always inclusive. Increasingly, recognition of unconscious or implicit bias’ helps organizations to be deliberate about addressing issues of inclusivity.

Our Next Steps

In an effort to make North House a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization, we commit to building on our first steps in this work by allocating the time and resources needed to make the following projects possible in 2023 and 2024. We also believe that more opportunities will emerge as we engage in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and will continue to seek ideas and feedback from the whole North House community.

  • Invest in scholarship and financial accessibility programs to expand opportunities to increase the diversity of students on campus.
    • Set an initial goal of funding 50+ scholarships and 45+ work study opportunities annually.
    • Raise gifts to match the $80,000 grant from the Manitou fund towards scholarships and work study.
    • Work with motivated individual donors to secure commitments that will create endowment funding for scholarships.
  • Identify and remove barriers and biases in application processes, including hiring of staff and selection of program participants, scholarship applications, and instructor recruitment.
    • Review our scholarship and Work Study applications to streamline the process for applicants.
    • Review all staff/intern/Artisan Development Program hiring processes to make sure they are communicating North House’s commitment to being an inclusive workplace and ensure equal footing for all applicants.
    • Review recruitment practices to expand the channels used to reach diverse applicant pools
  • Provide regular training for the staff, board of directors, and instructors on diversity, equity, and inclusion to make DEI as part of our work culture.
    • Utilize instructor retreats and virtual connections to share DEI training opportunities with North House’s instructor community.
    • Create opportunities annually for board members at the board retreat, and more frequently for staff, to engage with DEI training and support staff seeking additional professional development that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion in their work.
    • Encourage staff to identify and address DEI opportunities as part of their daily work.
    • Include funding for training and DEI work in our annual budget and as part of staff’s individual professional development funds.
  • Build meaningful relationships of mutual respect and benefit with individuals and organizations that represent a wide range of backgrounds.
    • Continue regular communication with the Grand Portage Tribal Council around joint program opportunities and in understanding the history of the West Parcel, adjacent to the Green building.
    • Grow our collaboration with Fireweed Community Woodshop and the Society
    • for Inclusive Blacksmiths - paired with scholarship support for these courses.
    • Explore opportunities that align with our commitment to center the voices of people from diverse communities in the sharing of their stories of craft and culture.
  • Seek opportunities to bring diverse voices and perspectives to our programming and publications.
    • Work to ensure balance between cultural traditions across thematic weekends and signature North House events, building on the success of the past three years.
    • Dedicate resources towards expanding the pool of our instructor applicants to increase opportunities for our instructor base to include more instructors who bring additional cultural understanding to the craft traditions they are teaching.
    • Convene Indigenous artisans in 2024 to gather additional perspectives on appropriation and the respectful teaching of Indigenous crafts
    • Continue to host course work for women and non-binary students in course themes that have a history of marginalization, and explore other teaching themes where this model may address barriers
  • Focus on making North House’s campus and public events more accessible to people with disabilities.
    • Include ASL interpretation or closed captioning for featured speakers.
    • Provide clear signage and instructions for accessible parking and/or drop off.
    • Designate seating for those in wheelchairs and those who are deaf or hard of hearing at events.
    • Work with the City of Grand Marais to improve physical accessibility across campus corridors.
    • Update language on website to clarify accessibility on campus
    • Review classroom and policy options for coursework related to physical accessibility


Our Recent Efforts

We would also like to share the initial steps we have taken in recent years towards making North House a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse community. We share these with the hope that they illustrate our efforts in this work and provide concrete examples to other organizations of how diversity, equity, and inclusion practice can strengthen an organization.

  • Made Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion a permanent part of North House’s board structure by integrating DEI with the Human Resources Committee.
  • Invested over $125,000 in scholarship and Work Study programs 2021-2022.
  • Shifted printing of Annual Report, Shavings newsletter, and donor communications to a Native American owned print shop (Visions), a first step towards identifying opportunities to support minority owned businesses in the region.
  • Provided ASL interpretation for Unplugged 2022 - our first on-campus event with support for the deaf and hard of hearing community.
  • Hosted inclusivity training with Out Front MN at the annual instructor retreat in April 2022. 
  • Staff and Board completed IDI assessments with Aurora Consulting in 2021 in an effort to identify developmental tasks for the organization to make North House more inclusive.
  • Made strides to accommodate instructors that travel with family members by improving housing on campus and increasing flexibility in our housing policies.
  • Initiated an unique partnership with the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Grand Portage National Monument to host coursework together starting in 2021.
  • Launched the “Spotlight on Indigenous Craft Initiative” to increase the number of Indigenous instructors at North House and highlight Indigenous voices in North House publications and at events in 2020.
  • Modified the Work Study program so that participants could take coursework during their volunteer session in the Summer of 2020.
  • Enhanced physical accessibility in campus planning, including the addition of an elevator so that all community members can connect in a meaningful way with the shore of Lake Superior. 
  • Added closed captioning to all Zoom programs to improve access for the deaf and hearing impaired.
  • Simplified all local youth scholarships to a simple check box for reduced/waived tuition in 2020.
  • Formed Diversity, Equity, Inclusion task force in 2020.


Questions and comments can be directed to Liv Sulerud, Administrative Director

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