Collaboration over Competition

Nature of the North owner, Jon Walters

Karen Midgarden

 Nature of the North owner, Jon Walters, may be found indoors this winter as he and his partner, Brody Morken, work to remodel Suite 3 at 814 Center Avenue in Moorhead.  The building houses their business which will include an indoor bouldering wall.  Walters explained that bouldering walls and rock-climbing walls both provide the opportunity for a simulated climbing experience for those wishing to learn that skill.  He elaborated, “We want to build a community at the base of our bouldering wall.”

Bouldering is a form of rock climbing performed on small rock formations. Nature of the North’s wall will be fifteen feet high with instructors present to supervise and to teach skills.”  Bouldering is performed without the use of ropes or harnesses and with a mat at the base to protect those who may fall as they learn new skills.  The wall will be professionally installed next month by Kumiki Climbing, a company located in the Twin Cities area. The projected opening date is planned for spring, 2020.  Walters reports that the bouldering wall business will be family-friendly with options for hosting adult events such as bachelorette parties and company gatherings. Nature of the North will provide a space for facilitating youth events like birthday parties, gym time for homeschoolers and as a meeting/activity destination for clubs.

A native of Kewaskum, Wisconsin, Jon Walters traveled extensively before finally settling in the FM area in 2014.  His indoor climbing interest was piqued when he lived in Denver. In an effort to make new friends, he decided to join a climbing gym which included a bouldering wall.  The congenial atmosphere of the gym led not only to an expansion of his friendship circle but sparked an interest in the climbing aspect of the fitness community.

Keeping his love for the outdoors in mind, Walters decided to settle for good in the FM area.  He says that after much traveling as a young adult, he realized that the upper Midwest was where he wanted to settle permanently.   He began working in the FM area as an office and human resource manager for Myriad Mobile, now Bushel, a software company.  Always interested in startup businesses and entrepreneurship, he began attending 1 Million Cups events, a free national program designed to educate, engage and connect entrepreneurs. According to the 1 Million Cups website, the local chapter meets weekly to hear from individuals who are building on their ideas, launching products and starting companies.  As he became acquainted with 1 Million Cups participants and helped new friends launch businesses, Walters decided to combine his love of the outdoors and fitness with the skills he learned through his employment and through becoming part of the 1 Million Cups chapter.

“Collaboration over competition is a strong part of the startup community here,” says Walters.  He cites the friendliness of the business community and willingness to work with others as factors motivating him to locate Nature of the North in Moorhead. He continued, “Our building is a great example of collaboration. Hot Dog! Pet Salon is already open.”  Walters and Hot Dog! Owner, Cristen Voeltz, are collaborating to co-sponsor Frostival’s Dog Pack Walk on February 2, 2020.  He continued by stating that Swing Barrel Brewery and an LGBTQ-friendly business will open in the remaining building spaces.  Other scheduled future collaborative activities include classes in paracord bracelet construction, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, A winter gear equipment swap is scheduled as part of Frostival activities.

Nature of the North’s mission statement, as found on their web page, is: We build and recharge community through the outdoors. Walters observed that creating and running a business is exhausting, physically and mentally.  The business partners’ desire is to help everyone, not just entrepreneurs, unplug from the working world and reconnect with nature.  Walters explained that he frequently hears people talking about sports or outdoor hobbies they would like to try, but hesitate to do so because of the cost of equipment.  Nature of the North’s mission is to provide rental equipment for people exploring new summer and winter outdoor activities like cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Nature of the North also plans to act as a facilitator for busy families looking for an outdoor adventure.   Jon used the example of a busy family wanting to go camping for the first time.  “Call or visit our business to explain what your plans are and we will discuss equipment needs, services, and fees.  The family can leave work and school on Friday, stop at our business to pick up equipment and hear last-minute instructions, and simply return the equipment when they finish.  We can even make reservations or provide a guide, if desired.”  He added that Nature of the North will do meal planning and purchase groceries for a trip if a client wishes to add that service.

Walters shared some of his personal favorite spaces for outdoor adventures around Clay County and in outlying areas.  He particularly enjoys Buffalo River State Park, MB Johnson Park, Gooseberry Park, the Sheyenne Grasslands, and Glendalough State Park. He pointed out that parks within Moorhead’s city limits are so well-planned that visitors will enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of an isolated area without leaving town.

 For more information, Nature of the North may be contacted at 262-483-8912.   

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