Duluth’s Lincoln Park Resilience Hub envisions powerful community support

November 2022

Over 6,600 residents in Duluth, MN call the Lincoln Park neighborhood home. Lincoln Park hosts an iconic 37-acre park with Miller Creek cascading over exposed bedrock, an active craft district, and engaged residents working to improve their neighborhood. Lincoln Park exudes a pride of place, yet contends with a landscape of challenges.

“Residents here face extreme economic and health disparities, including being in the lowest half percent of life expectancy for all Minnesotans,” says Jodi Slick. Slick is the founder and CEO of Ecolibrium3, a Duluth-based nonprofit dedicated to sustainably revitalizing the Lincoln Park community and similar work throughout northeast Minnesota. 

“Lincoln Park is a frontline community. It's where there's been the most disinvestment, the most injustice, the most inequity. And we want to figure out how to address those issues as best as we can.”

- Lora Wedge, Ecolibrium3’s COO,

The southernmost portion of the neighborhood is the area with the highest needs. “This includes the commercial district, housing, the port, regional wastewater treatment, and significant heavy highway infrastructure,” says Slick. “It’s our focus area for innovating models of environmental justice and climate action.”

With these barriers in mind, in 2021, Ecolibrium3 took on the administration of a closed senior center and outfitted it as a community center. Now known as the Lincoln Park Resilience Hub, the space is centrally located and attached via skywalks to two public housing buildings. Last year the hub’s winter warming shelter opened its doors to accommodate unhoused people. The rest of the building remains under construction for other services. Measuring 11,200 square-feet and two stories high, Ecolibrium3 sees the sky as the limit for the hub. 

  • $30,446 Median Household Income (vs. $52,463 in Duluth)
  • 27% of 18-64 year-olds have a disability (vs. 11% in Duluth)
  • 71% residents report lack of affordable housing (vs. 53% in region)
  • 41% report barrier to getting food (vs. 22% in region)
  • Lincoln Park has no grocery store
  • 20% often or always feel isolation or loneliness 
  • (vs. 11% in region)
  • 41% feel no sense of belonging or social connectedness


Building an equitable and sustainable future

Ecolibrium3 has a rich history of serving northeastern Minnesota. The organization’s roots in the region can be traced back to 2004, and in 2011 the 501(c)3, known as Ecolibrium3 was officially launched. Today the organization focuses on all aspects of sustainable revitalization that advance opportunities for residents and businesses in the Lincoln Park Neighborhood, and general community sustainability and resiliency in the region - including aspects of energy transition, housing stock improvement, economic security, and health.

“Ecolibrium3 really works at this issue of complexities of community challenges…With everything that we’re doing, we try to think of what are those multiple benefits that one project can take on,” says Wedge. “We do that in a number of ways, including food access, transportation, health, the built environment, and energy efficiency work. All through the lens of sustainability and equity.”

It’s that multi-faceted approach that launched the Lincoln Park Resilience Hub project. The Ecolibrium3 team envisions more for the hub, with expanded access to resources for the community by making available multiple agencies in one building. In addition to the current winter warming shelter, the team is working with community to implement the following services:

  • A summer cooling shelter
  • A BIPOC-led organizational space,
  • A computer lab for digital access
  • Financial, tax, housing, job navigation
  • Energy efficiency and service referrals
  • Summer youth programming;
  • A grocery store
  • Food processing and small food-based entrepreneur development
  • Amicromobility hub
  • Power and access resilience in case of disaster or grid outage
  • A kitchen/dining space for disaster relief and response


“Resilience Hubs are community-serving facilities augmented to:

1. Support residents, and

2. Coordinate resource distribution and services before, during, or after a natural hazard event. They leverage established, trusted, and community-managed facilities that are used year-round as neighborhood centers for community-building. 


Designed well, Resilience Hubs can equitably enhance community resilience while reducing GHG emissions and improving local quality of life. Moreover, Resilience Hubs provide an opportunity to build local community power and leadership.” 

Untangling energy resilience

“Our hope is to optimize the use of the community center, not only to provide resources on a day to day basis but also to provide community support in the event of a disaster scenario. To do that, we needed to look at this idea of energy resilience for the hub,” says Slick.

“We had to collect a lot of data: utility bills, division of loads by meter, floor plans, roof plans, electrical plans, HVAC information,” recalls Wedge. “This building is very complicated…and it's not always entirely clear what is serving what. It’s just a lot of mess to untangle.”

After a six-month long process, the study concluded that solar wasn't a viable option, but found that certain parts of the hub have strong potential for resilient power solutions. Additionally, the study uncovered an unusual energy baseload location requiring additional circuit by circuit analysis. Ecolibrium3 says the study made a big difference in helping determine the future of the hub. The team also says they’re looking at implementing the project model into other organization projects in Lincoln Park.

“It was very helpful to have the grant from CERTs. There's an awful lot of burden involved in trying to get all of the data we need, and the answers from the analysis have been really useful to us,” says Slick.

- Jodi Slick

In return, CERTs is proud to partner with Ecolibrium3 in helping support resilience in northeast Minnesota.

“CERTs has collaborated with Ecolibrium3 for years and years,” recalls CERTs Statewide Director, Lissa Pawlisch. “They’re one of the organizations that we point to all the time for the amazing work that they do in and with community.” 

Check out Ecolibrium3’s COO and CERTs steering committee member, Lora Wedge, presenting on the organization’s work with the Lincoln Park Neighborhood at a recent steering committee gathering.

Clean Energy Focus: Technical/financial feasibility study for a community hub with resilient power

Northeast CERT Seed Grant: $5,000

Other Funds Leveraged: $7,500 from Clean Energy Group for technical assistance grant for American Microgrid Solutions and $80,000 from MN Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for future window upgrades.

People Involved and Reached: 155


The One Block project assisted in determining the best solution sets for hyper-local implementation in an environmental justice neighborhood of Duluth. The grant supported Ecolibrium3’s Building Performance Professional in home and property evaluations to determine potential scopes of work and funding needed for healthy and efficient transition to Ready4-Rain housing with beneficial electrification. 

Clean Energy Focus: Localized climate readiness for housing, including affordability and weatherization
Northeast CERT Seed Grant: $5,000
Other Funds Leveraged: $3,000 from American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, $5,000 from Minnesota Power and Comfort Systems (for direct installation of energy saving items and home energy audits), and $500,000 from Department of Energy (National Renewable Energy Laboratory technical support).
Energy Saved Each Year: 9,100 kWh and 345 therms
Money Saved Each Year: $1,500 (that's about $70 per household)
People Involved and Reached: 60 (including 22 households)


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