Minnesota group working to make rowing more inclusive launches site

North Star Community Rowing is celebrating the grand opening of its very own launch site in northern Minneapolis. The new site is three years in the making and leaders hope this is just the beginning of attracting more people to the sport of rowing.

What at first glance might look like a simple switchback, is a game-changer for North Star Community Rowing.

"This is really what our dream was all along," says board member Anne Jasper Hinrichs. "In the entire Twin Cities there is no place someone in a wheelchair can access the Mississippi River in the entire metro area."

Since the nonprofit started in 2016 volunteers, students, and people with disabilities have launched from various lakes and places along the Mississippi often around broken glass and other hazards. Now just north of the Lowry Bridge, North Star is leasing part of the Upper Harbor Terminal from the city of Minneapolis.

Hinrichs says grants, donations, and committed partners made site remodel worth about $185,000 possible.

"This is the Mississippi River, it’s a beautiful place to be especially in the fall," says Hinrichs. "Shouldn’t it be available to everyone?"

Hinrichs hopes this will allow North Star to recruit more new rowers. She’s seen firsthand perceptions change over the years, that the sport is exclusive, expensive,  privileged,  and only for white people. Rowers learn various life skills - especially teamwork.

"The value of kids doing that sort of thing to blow off steam, and make friends and prove to themselves they can do the hard work. It makes me really emotional," says Hinrichs. "You see them just trying so hard."

Which makes all the challenges up river worth it.

"Mostly we are trying to make rowing more accessible and make the river more accessible. And this is the perfect match."

North Star Community Rowing is looking to recruit more rowers, and always looking for volunteers, and people willing to donate. For more information about how to get involved click here: