Seven years after the 2012 flood, community foundations from all over the nation are touring the Northland to discuss philanthropy’s role in preparing and recovering from disasters.

Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation is hosting more than 50 visitors for a Philanthropic Preparedness, Resilience and Emergency Partnership gathering that included a stop at Jay Cooke State Park on Monday.

Holly Sampson, president of the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, said that communities can better prepare for natural disasters and a changing climate by building a network of organizations that is prepared and resilient. The gathering aims to share tips and strategies on how to do just that.

“We all have experienced increasing severe weather patterns in our communities and know the entire philanthropic sector needs to play a stronger role in helping prepare for natural disasters and become more resilient,” Sampson said.

Lisa Angelos, park manager at Jay Cooke State Park, spoke about the importance of prioritizing relationship building so that when disaster strikes, communities already have those relationships in place to work with. She used the park’s collaboration with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior following the 2012 flood as an example.

“We have been working very hard during the reconstruction of (Minnesota Highway 210) to make sure all the tribal interests and entities are involved in the coordination there,” Angelos said.

David Montgomery, former chief administrative officer for the city of Duluth, said a lot of relationships start from people on the front lines, such as emergency responders. And it’s the job of leadership to nurture those relationships and share objectives and resources across entities.

“You have to be willing to give up ownership a little bit,” Montgomery said. “You've got to recognize you don't have a monopoly on the good ideas, and you really got to be willing to take that input and look at ways to connect the dots even though it may not include you.”

The tour also included stops at Chambers Grove Park on the St. Louis River to learn about restoration efforts there as well as the Duluth Seaway Port Authority to learn how severe weather events affect the port.