That's a wrap, 2022: A look back at some Northland makers, fixers and activists from DNT Lifestyle

Here are some of the folks featured in 2022.

Amber Buckanaga, from left, Christina Woods and Candace LaCcosse, are among the makers, activisits and more featured in this year's Lifestyle section.
File / Duluth News Tribune / Superior Telegram
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DULUTH — This year in the News Tribune's Lifestyle section, we spent time with makers, business owners and more in the Twin Ports and beyond. Here's a look back at some of the folks featured in 2022.

Duluth Art Institute director Christina Woods chats with people as they set up for The Depot Great Hall Marketplace at the Depot
Duluth Art Institute director Christina Woods, right, chats with people as they set up for The Depot Great Hall Marketplace at the Depot in Duluth on Dec. 17, 2021.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram

Christina Woods

Months after speaking with Christina Woods, executive director of the Duluth Art Institute, about efforts to decolonize the organization , she leveled up — again.

Woods and 12 others from across the country were appointed to the U.S. Senate's Curatorial Advisory Board. This group of experts advise the Senate on its collection of art and artifacts.

"One of the things that I will bring forward is my ability to pick up on the missing narratives. … If you're immersed in normative culture, it's very difficult to know what you're missing,” Woods said in a News Tribune story in April.


The work at DAI includes amplifying erased, overwritten and unremembered narratives; creating a network for artists to be informed of opportunities to show work; and BIPOC artist shows and classes, among others.

“I’m one of a few people nationwide running a predominantly white arts organization, and I’ve shifted it to a BIPOC-led arts organization, not just because I’m there, but because of who’s on my board.

“That’s the kind of leadership and contemporary thinking that the Anishinaabe are bringing to Duluth today,” Woods said in early 2022.

Cathy and Bruce Hill sit in their home Feb. 6. Cathy lost her wedding ring, which was found by a woman whose twin daughters Cathy had taught.
Steve Kuchera / 2022 file / Duluth News Tribune

Cathy Hill

Months after celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary, retired Duluth teacher Cathy Hill lost her wedding ring during her annual trip to the Minnesota Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” with her friend and their grandchildren.

Hill retraced her steps from Bridgeman’s to the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, and no luck. So, she took a chance and posted a call on Facebook.

The post yielded 85 shares and 70 comments — which eventually led to a reunion with her ring.

Since the News Tribune last spoke with Hill, she and her daughter, Amy, have made the news — more than once — for their work as AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers , tutoring in elementary school reading programs.


Her granddaughter appeared in the Chicago Tribune , marching in the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade on Nov. 24. And Hill’s other granddaughter was interviewed by a national TV station.

As for Hill’s nuptials, she celebrated 51 years with her husband — and her wedding ring — on Oct. 23.

“I knew that that was the biggest shot in the world,” Hill said of her Facebook post.

Women talk in exhibit.
Julia Cheng, left, talks with Kim Nordin near a sample of Sharon Kwong’s writing Jan. 18 at the Duluth Art Institute. Cheng and Nordin are among the artists whose work is included in “Like Me, Like You,” an exhibit examining the experiences of Asian Pacific Islander Desi American community members in the Twin Ports.
Steve Kuchera / 2022 file / Duluth News Tribune

Twin Ports APIDA Collective

The Twin Ports APIDA Collective launched its art exhibit last winter at the Duluth Art Institute Steffl gallery. “Like Me, Like You” featured art, textiles, photography, jewelry, film and podcasts created and curated by TPAC, a local group aimed at advocating and building awareness and equity for the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American community in the Duluth-Superior area.

“We’re preserving lessons learned from our families, preserving culture, preserving our history and we’re putting it on this very intimate display. It takes a lot of courage,” said member Pakou Ly in early 2022.

“You know someone hit on something that’s missing if it surprises you,” said exhibit visitor Heather Halberg of Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Since forming, the collective has hosted a session at the St. Louis County Health and Human Services Conference on “Confronting Asian Hate as One Community.” They appeared in an “ Intersections ” episode on WDSE and have been invited to the Duluth Public Schools' Education Equity Advisory Committee.


This week, Ly shared an update. The collective held its first retreat, set priorities for the new year and are seeking new board members and planning internal and external events for outreach and cultural sharing.

Amber Buckanaga works on her clothing designs.
Amber Buckanaga talks about her work May 1.
Steve Kuchera / File / Duluth News Tribune

Buckanaga Social Club

In May , we checked in with Indigenous fashion designer Amber Buckanaga and her collective, the Buckanaga Social Club.

Each member’s talents span multiple mediums: Buckanaga (fashion, beadwork, leather work); Chelsy Wilkie (blankets, bags, jewelry); Sophie Glass (multimedia painting, jewelry); and Buckanaga’s sister, Alyssa (beadwork, leatherwork). Along with offering classes, the collective hosts events that showcase Indigenous-made work.

When we checked in with Amber Buckanaga in her McGregor, Minnesota, studio, she was beginning to imagine a new collection, based on her taste alone: shirt and short sets, a mix of solids and patterns, and a color palette of burgundy, browns, dark greens and deep yellow.

In July, models showcased her latest collection during a fashion show co-hosted with Duluth Coffee Co. in its roastery. And in September, the collective traveled to the Big Apple to walk the runway at Rise New York Fashion Week for a second time.

“People underestimate what native artists do,” Buckanaga said in May. “I want to make sure there’s opportunity for people to see us for what we’re worth.”

Woman makes a shoe.
Candace LaCosse works on a shoe in her Lincoln Park business June 22.
Steve Kuchera / 2022 file / Duluth News Tribune

Candace LaCosse

Candace LaCosse, shoemaker and owner of Hemlock Leatherworks, was preparing for a move. The building that housed her business was on the market, LaCosse updated us on her years at the location and what’s next.

“When I moved in, OMC was under construction, and there was Frost River, Bent Paddle and Damage. Great businesses, but people didn’t come here to shop, right?” LaCosse recalled in June .

LaCosse’s shop had changed, too, from a studio to make and sell her leather goods to a curated space with clothing, jewelry, ceramics and more by 100 makers and artisans across the U.S. It was a move that aided her business during the COVID-related changes.

“It was bittersweet leaving Lincoln Park. I have great memories of that space and neighborhood, but it’s not quite the same vibe any more and I’m ready for fresh energy,” Lacosse said last week. In 2023, after a small buildout, she’ll reopen her shop in the Board of Trade building on Third Avenue West in downtown Duluth in “a quirky little spot that I love for the new shop,” she said.

Heidi Breeggemann laughs with her dog Aug. 11 as she tells of some of her bloopers while she was renovating her camper in Willow River.
Jed Carlson / 2022 file / Superior Telegram

Heidi Breeggemann

In August, Moose Lake do-it-yourselfer Heidi Breeggemann shared about demolishing a camper, cutting corrugated steel sheets, replacing flooring and turning lime-green walls and cupboards turned into clean, off-white.

Breeggemann renovated a camper solo and took us through a tour of her labor of love and a lakeside cabin she had recently purchased with her partner.

“Sometimes, it’s good to get away from your own house, even if it is just 5 miles away,” Breeggemann said this summer.

Literal days after the News Tribune toured her work, and after she installed an electric fireplace in her cabin, Breeggemann was at it again with posted photos of her freshly painted home, garage and gazebo — in a matching deep navy.

And she painted her camper to match.

Checking in with her this week, Breeggemann reported that after landing her dream spot at Ray and Marge’s Resort on Sturgeon Lake, they’re thinking of selling. “We want to save up for a winter escape, hopefully a park model type place in Florida, California or North Carolina,” she said.

Darin Bergsven shoots “Coffee & Guitar” from his living room-adjacent, home studio. “I can play all day and still be part of the family, not a reclusive dad down in the basement,” he said.

Melinda Lavine is an award-winning, multidisciplinary journalist with 16 years professional experience. She joined the Duluth News Tribune in 2014, and today, she writes about the heartbeat of our community: the people.

Melinda grew up in central North Dakota, a first-generation American and the daughter of a military dad.

She earned bachelors degrees in English and Communications from the University of North Dakota in 2006, and started her career at the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald that summer. She helped launch the Herald's features section, as the editor, before moving north to do the same at the DNT.

Contact her: 218-723-5346,
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