An initiative of the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation

Our Stories

Sharing brings us closer

To break down barriers, we must understand one another. And to do that, we must get to know one another.

The following StoryCorps recordings feature people from across the Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin region. In each 3-minute story, friends or family members interview each other, offering moving insights about their experiences with the Opportunity Gap. Thank you for listening. When we get closer, all of us start rising.

Cindy and Tianna

Cindy Looker talks with mentor Tianna Kaye Day about breaking the cycle of generational trauma so that her family could recover and find opportunity. She recounts a difficult childhood and how others helped her overcome mental health issues, learning barriers and the stigmas of those challenges.

Stephan and Solomon

Stephan Witherspoon and his brother, Solomon, grew up in a large, loving African-American family in the overwhelmingly white and extremely fishable city of Duluth. With lessons about racism, hate, love and opportunity, the brothers share their story in words and song. We hear first from Solomon.

Dustin and Caroline

Dustin talks with his wife, Caroline, about his path to change, meeting each other, and finding momentum to succeed in life. He credits sobriety, earning a GED and witnessing the love they share for their children, which he didn’t have growing up, as transformational.

Emily and Alicia

For Alicia Ozaawaa Anakwaalookwe Kozlowski, a path of intergenerational healing was vital for repairing decades of trauma in the lives of family members, her tribal community—and her. Alicia, an official for the city of Duluth, lives a life of purpose, says her friend, Mayor Emily Larson.

Season and Yvette

Season Edwards, age 9, interviews her mother, Yvette “Eve” Farrow, and learns why she gets signed up for Duluth activities that don’t often feature many black girls. A single mother, Yvette wants Season to have opportunities to find her greatness.

Lilliana and Monica

Lilliana, age 18, tells Monica Bruning about the challenges of a childhood where her mother battled drug addiction. With a dream of attending college, Lilliana dealt with depression and proudly achieved a scholarship to pursue her goals, grateful for the support of her community.

Russell and Sunny

Sunny Helbacka and Russell Salgy say “play is the way,” as recreational opportunities remedy the anger and mental health issues our kids are facing. They recall a time when Duluth rec centers held neighborhoods together and how youth work is still saving kids’ lives.

Matthew and Kathy

Kathy Bogen and Matthew Hoeschen have seen Hillside Theatre Camp bring kids together as a community that supports each other. They say it’s helped kids to feel important and a sense of belonging. Every kid deserves that: a safe space for expression and an adult who believes in them.

Archie and Carl

Racism impacts American families in ways that can ripple out into communities for generations. Archie Davis and Carl Crawford talk about working to overcome cycles of violence and alcoholism, and how to be a black man who treats his family with respect and love. They’re building hope.

Dakota and Chantel

Chantel Dybvig tells Dakota Luke about the challenges of overcoming the stigma of felony charges and drug recovery. With the support of Community Action, she has risen to the challenge, paying off debt and enrolling in college. She looks to help others as she continues her journey.

Sarah and Nashay

Sarah Agaton Howes and her friend and sister-in-law, Nashay Howes, describe their experiences in the Kwe Pack, a running group of indigenous women. Running is medicine, freedom and a revelation for self and community. They’re running from disease and into health, creating opportunity for future generations.

Amelia and Rebecca

Amelia LeGarde and Rebecca St. George share a deep bond with each other and their running group of Anishinaabe women, the Kwe Pack. They speak frankly about how running has nourished them amid difficult stages in life, like the grief of losing a baby.

Derek and Richard

Close friends talk about moving from fear and hate to finding sobriety, pride and self love. Seeing Richard’s sense of peace and serenity is a grateful blessing in Derek’s life. Derek has been a lifesaver, because Richard got to witness transformation that inspired greater growth.

Sarah and Serrano

Teacher Serrano Robinson talks with friend and colleague, Sarah Curtis, about working with children. He’s thankful to lead and learn from kids who are curious about community and interested in helping each other. He sings a refrain from his current theme song in life, “I’m Blessed.”

Angie and Bri

Bri Waldoch interviews her mom, Angie Miller, who talks about witnessing the inspiring resiliency of people in poverty clawing their way out. Angie worked at Community Action, helping people pursue their dreams despite the challenges of the opportunity gap, racism, homelessness and educational barriers.


When we rise for our kids, we all rise. So I promise to:

Recognize the growing gap between those with opportunity and those without

Initiate action to effect change, one life at a time

Share stories and resources with my family, neighbors and community

Empower all kids to have equal opportunities to live up to their potential, independent of place and race

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