Bent Paddle Brewing Company is caught in the middle between a mining company (which I won’t give them the pleasure of mentioning), the mining community of Silver Bay, Minn. and 10% of the world’s freshwater (which happens to be Bent Paddle’s source of water in their beer). The town of Silver Bay voted to prohibit Bent Paddle from being sold in the town’s liquor store because of the brewery’s affiliation with the Downstream Business Coalition, a group of businesses aligned against North Shore mining.
But this post won’t detail the news. I’ll let media outlets do that. This post will share my perspective on the issue.
Few towns in the Arrowhead haven’t relied on mining in the 20th century. It’s an area rich in iron ore and heavy metals. Towns on Lake Superior, while not actually locations of mines, load ores and metals onto ships and send them on their way. Mining meant jobs and livelihood.
Mining today is a dying industry. Economies that thrived on products of the Earth will soon be dependent on a clean planet–namely pure drinking water. We can’t rely on metals pulled from the Earth when we need clean natural resources to survive. The Downstream Business Coalition shares my sentiment.
I was on the North Shore a few weeks ago to enjoy one last wintry blast in a favorite place of mine. We drove up Highway 61 and stopped in Beaver Bay, a town three miles from Silver Bay, to pick up some suds. They had a cooler stocked with Bent Paddle. I was elated. We packed beers for our hike and enjoyed the pure, natural beauty of the North Shore.
While I have a strong perspective as an environmentalist, I don’t know what it is like to live in a community dependent on mining for survival. However, as a human, I put importance on drinking water free of mining chemicals. Industries come and go, but we’ll always need clean resources if we are to survive on this planet. I’ll raise a Bent Paddle to clean water for generations to come.