Will Steger Wilderness Center

Ely, Minnesota

Drawing on his knowledge as an expedition leader and educator, Will Steger has designed the Will Steger Wilderness Center that bears his name to maximize the potential for inspiration, collaborative problem solving, and innovation. It is designed to activate our understanding of what it means to be interdependent—with each other, with our earth and as a society—it will strive to gather the finest minds dedicated to solving the problems of our age at a place that inspires clarity and break-through innovation. It is built to be a living example of viable carbon solutions and ecological stewardship, a demonstration center for devising new solutions to the seemingly intractable issues we collectively face.

The Will Steger Wilderness Center is a towering, grand, yet earth-friendly building; a place to escape the din of modern life and build focus; and a construct for approaching sustainability and problem-solving that can be taken into everyday life. It is built on the principle that “small is beautiful” – with group size determined by a respect for what the land can bear; and featuring programming that will add to the social and intellectual capital of the “North Coast,” which can be exported as models to other local groups grappling with similar challenges.

Its setting in the boreal forest of northern Minnesota, and purposeful design by Steger during the Trans-Antarctica Expedition of 1989-90, provides the backdrop for productive small-group (8-10 people) interaction. Steger bases the group size on the decision-making efficacies he experienced with expedition teams. The measured numbers of participants also honors the desire to respect the pristine wilderness. The mindset and approach to problems that can be learned at the Center are tools that will help to sustain group dynamics in the future.

Relying on wilderness-based principles and practices, the Center will host:

  • Thought leaders who can spearhead a broader societal movement to bring nature and mankind into sustainable balance.
  • Business people who want to prosper and sustain the environment and their communities.
  • Educators who want their students to have a practical experience of incorporating solution-building skills into the classroom experience.
  • Summer apprentices working under master stone masons, carpenters, gardeners, and forestry managers.

Our Mission Statement:

“To create a transformative wilderness experience that will inspire and motivate new discoveries and bold action to improve the world.”

This is the legacy Will Steger wants to leave.