Salt of the Great Lakes: Capturing the Innovative Spirit of a Region
They always tell you to write down your inspirations. In fact, Candace, managing editor for Salt, said that to me the first time I sat down with her to talk about this project. Of course, I didn’t listen. So here we are today on launch day, and my opening column is proving to be one giant run-on, rambling thought … I’m sure she will fix it before it reaches your eyes. (Thanks, Candace!)
The idea for Salt of the Great Lakes has been forming in my mind over the course of the last few years. During that time, I’ve noticed something. As the Great Lakes region, we proudly publish our home and lifestyle tips, our beautiful cottages along the lakeshore, our outdoor recreation, and our historic architecture. While all this icing gives us an edge when it comes to Instagram photos and sport fishing, it doesn’t really reflect the foundation of our region.
Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario and Superior: These five Lakes define us. The founders of our cities settled in these locations because of these bodies of fresh water. Enterprises that grew up around them made the region an economic generator to rival any in the world. The Lakes give our region its identity. There is none other like it on the planet. We aren’t all in the same state – or even the same nation (hey, there, Ontario) – but we are all beneficiaries of the gifts of the Great Lakes. Shouldn’t we celebrate that?
Think back to the “Age of Transportation” when Henry Ford changed the world from Detroit, or in 1947, when Margaret Hurlburt set the world’s air speed record in her “City of Painesville” plane out of Northeast Ohio. The Great Lakes saw the birth of traffic lights and Interurban transit (modern day Amtrak). The region was home to railroad barons such as John D. Rockefeller, shipping magnets like Harry Coulby, and leaders such as Susan B. Anthony. We are currently home to the world’s highest-ranked orchestra and the largest theater district outside of Lincoln Center in New York.
So why are we only promoting our beach glass when we should be touting our current inventions, our resources, and our change-makers?
I’ll tell you this much – degrading titles like the “Rust Belt” and the “Mistake on the Lake” certainly don’t help inspire new generations of leaders and innovators.
So, that was my thought: Let’s create a publication where we can brag about ourselves. It will be a place where we can change the way people think about the Great Lakes region, where we can encourage collaboration. Here, we can restore our innovative reputation of years past. Throughout this process, it is my hope that we inspire new generations and new discoverers (both young and old) to try something new, to leave the office cubicle, to create something.
Here we are. Day One.
Why would we name a publication focused on the largest freshwater source in the world, Salt? Because, salt is quite literally the foundation of our Lakes. An estimated 71 trillion tons of salt lie 1,200 feet below the pretty, rippling surface and lakeside cabins. It is the largest salt deposit in the world. In addition, Salt reflects our rather sassy nature and raw sense of humor. (Pun intended)
While we insert honest, sometimes witty insight into our articles, we also embrace the nature of media in today’s market. Salt is more than the published word. It is a community that encourages new experiences, exploration, and innovation. We will encourage our readers to complete monthly exploration challenges and share their work by using #SaltShakers. Please follow us on social media, participate in the Great Lakes Forum on the Salt website, and subscribe to our email for bonus articles.
Our writers are located as far west as Milwaukee and as far east as New York City. They have been featured in WCPN-NPR Cleveland, The Plain Dealer, The Boston Globe, The Houston Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, Inc., The Muse, Forbes, Fast Company, Mashable, Time, and Business Insider.
Thank you so much to everyone who has helped, inspired, and provided Band-Aids along the way. I could never have imagined being able to work with such amazing writers and experts. Had you asked me a year ago if I would be talking to a woman who could make Jurassic Park a reality (keep reading Salt for more about that one), I would have passed you another bottle of bourbon. Today, it doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
It is amazing what a little collaboration can do. “Thank you” to all who have already joined us, and “welcome” to those of you who are about to do the same.