Storyboard / Behind the scenes on America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston, “Minnesota: A Better World” with TPT’s Arwen Tag

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Behind the scenes on America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston, “Minnesota: A Better World” with TPT’s Arwen Tag

The new series from PBS premieres July 5

June 28, 2022

America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston is a new 6-part series produced by Twin Cities Public Television. It follows the bestselling author and podcaster as he explores the country’s diverse landscapes to see how they shape the way we work, play and interact with the outdoors.

We’re excited to announce its’ arrival on TPT 2 and the PBS App on July 5. Arwen Tag, a Senior Associate Producer at TPT, was able to experience filming of the episode, Minnesota: A Better World, based on Minnesota’s north shore. Here’s Arwen:

As Minnesotan’s know well, the North Shore and Arrowhead region is a destination all year ‘round for skiing, canoeing, hiking and exploring the small towns and great lake coastline. Select highlights of the region will appear in TPT’s original new series, America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston. In the other episodes, viewers will follow Baratunde to the extremes of Death Valley, Idaho wilderness, the Los Angeles urban ecosystems, Appalachia, and the North Carolina Coastline.

Last summer, when the filming for the final episode in Minnesota took place, there were fires spreading quickly across the Boundary Waters region. Upon the crews’ arrival in Duluth, the smoke was so significant that the view of Lake Superior was entirely obscured, even from Hawk’s Ridge where we kicked off filming with birder, Dudley Edmondson. I reminded the crew that normally they would see an epic view of the lake, as we stared into the haze, perched above the city. The next day we filmed wild rice harvesting with traditional ricer, Veronica Skinaway and Michaa Aubdin, and TPT’s own Leya Hale joined us as a guest producer that day. Baratunde, Veronica, Michaa and the crew ventured into the lake to gather Manoomin, disappearing from view as a gentle rain began to clear the air.

On our third day of filming, artist Anna Orbovich met us at the dark, rocky beaches near Tettegouche State Park. The smoke had cleared, and Lake Superior was visible. At last! By this point Baratunde, and the crew were settling into the region, getting their bearings and enjoying the trek through the Arrowhead region. We carried on with our week, spending a glorious, sunny fourth day of filming at the sustainable farm of Lise and David Abazs, munching on carrots straight from the garden. We packed our things, departed Silver Bay, and ventured farther north towards the wildfires, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Taking back roads, to avoid the fires, we safely arrived in Ely, MN for our final day of filming with Dave and Amy Freeman.

The Arrowhead Region episode captures a variety of activities and places in northern Minnesota, but by no means is all encompassing. Hopefully when you tune in or stream America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston you are inspired to venture out into your own neighborhood park, or plan a road trip to a new part of the state, because there is more to discover than can ever fit into one episode of television. With a destination, a sense of curiosity and a respect for the land and those that live there we can find adventure, and a stronger connection to the world and ourselves. And with a bit of patience, the smoke will clear, and we will be greeted by a new perspective.

Happy viewing & safe adventuring!!


America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston premieres on July 5. Watch online or by using the PBS Video App.

© Twin Cities Public Television - 2022. All rights reserved.


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