Currently participating in Springboard for the Arts’ Homecoming Hinge Residency is Ranae Hanson, who spent her early childhood in Wheaton.
Hanson has been a climate activist and educator for 45 years, spending much of her time “listening to land” near the boundary waters. “I want to come to know this area again,” Hanson explained. “I don’t know how to (listen to the land) here.”
Born into a community of storytellers, Hanson was compelled to write at an early age. Later, as an educator with a diverse student population, Hanson was inspired to write about topics that are difficult — climate change, ecological justice, and sustainability, among others.
Hanson learned much from her students. She explained that she set to believe the influx of Somali refugees to Minnesota was because they couldn’t get along. She came to learn that the conflict in Somalia was a result of climate change, which caused drought and led to violence surrounding the access to water. Her focus shifted from sharing her stories to sharing her students’. Processing their stories was difficult. “Writing helped,” she shared. “It helps to make something beautiful from really difficult things.”
Now retired, Hanson continues to seek inspiration and tackle difficult topics head on. She is currently working on a “family legend” regarding a girl who was killed by a poisoned strawberry. Through research, Hanson learned the legend is true, which she discusses in a work of nonfiction that is not yet complete.
Interested in the rural farming community, exploring culture, and the Ojibwe lands her ancestors originally settled on, Hanson hopes to gain insight and knowledge during her residency. What she will do with that information is yet to be determined, but will rely greatly on what she learns during her time in the Fergus Falls area.
More information and a method to contact Hanson is available on her website, renaehanson.com.