Will came here nearly 50 years ago to shape the land and be shaped by it, taking care not to over do it. He fashioned his Homestead in submission to Nature. The wilderness so prevalent in this region of northern Minnesota embraces the Homestead fully, ensuring that the values of Nature remain a dominant shaping influence perfected by the natural beauty of it all.
People come here to be so shaped. The multitudes who have sojourned at the Homestead over the last 50 years – paid and volunteer – come with a job to do. Lately that job has been to finish the Castle and further the progress of the Steger Wilderness Center. In the past, it was preparing for major expeditions. It is the kind of work that brings its own reward because it is on behalf of a greater and nobler cause. The shared experience of contributing meaningfully to a better world while in isolation from civilization creates a working community united in purpose, whether that experience lasts for a weekend of clearing brush, or a summer of setting stone, or the years required for a successful polar expedition. And when the day’s work is done, that community only gets richer as leisure duly earned is enjoyed to the fullest.
The Homestead community continues to resonate with a long line of residents, present and past, many of whom rekindle their connection with annual visits. The Steger Wilderness Center, as an extension of the Homestead, draws on that same sense of community. But the deeper pool of inspiration from which human habitation and cooperation flow remains the same as it was when Will first arrived: Nature. The wilderness that encompasses this humble human outpost informs everything the community thinks and does. It fills the senses and infiltrates the collective consciousness with its raw beauty and rare serenity. As a result, the human culture, such as it has been carefully conceived and carved out of the landscape by Will, leans more toward the wild. That way, residents at the Homestead remain in close contact with the wilderness and open to the lessons and wisdom that it imparts.
Life in a close knit community, working to leave the planet better than we found it, nourished by the wilderness – Nature rules, the Homestead abides.