Ecolibrium3: The people who build a better Duluth

By: COLE WHITE, Lake Voice If a community in Duluth needs help to better themselves, one organization stands out as a driving force for that change.

That organization is Ecolibrium3, whose mission statement is “to inspire and lead change in our community toward an equitable and sustainable future.”

Ecolibrium3 Workers

As a nonprofit organization, Ecolibrium3 focuses primarily on revitalizing West Duluth communities.

Efforts to improve the communities, both for local residents as well as businesses, include pushes towards more renewable and sustainable energy.

Among these projects was Lincoln Park Shines, a collaboration between UMD Students and local businesses to go green.

Shannon Szymkowiak, the Director of Partnership Development, is currently administering a marketing grant for Lincoln Park. In doing so she has convened residents, business owners, and city and county staff to “give background and guidance as we move forward with strategies to show people what a gem and what potential Lincoln Park is and has.”

Szymkowiak is one of five staff members that spend their days pursuing grants and engaging in the community.

“I came to work for Ecolibrium3 was because I wanted to work on sustainability issues on a broader scope,” Szymkowiak said. “The neighborhood revitalization work and citywide initiatives like the Georgetown University Energy Prize we are involved in, are opportunities to make a difference in our community and that is important to me.”

The organization has been proven committed to helping communities in need. Following the 2012 flood, they assisted over 112 families with grants for home repair. The recovery model Ecolibrium3 helped create following the flood has been adopted throughout the region.

As of today, Ecolibrium3 is currently “in the midst of a National Disaster Resilience Competition Phase II application, which represents several million dollars in potential grant money,” Szymkowiak said.

Their actions have not gone unnoticed. They have been awarded the US EPA Climate Showcase Seeds of Change Award and the Duluth LISC Building Healthy Communities Award. As well as founder and CEO Jodi Slick, honored as a White House Champion of Change for Community Resilience.

Local businesses in the area have nothing negative to say.

“We love Lincoln Park,” Co-owner of Bent Paddle Brewing Company, Karen Tonnis said. “We’re happy to partner with them.”

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