Committed to Historic Preservation means Committed to Your Community

By Jonathan Ringel

Iron Mountain Main Street/DDA Manager
MHPN Volunteer and Committee Member

Downtown Iron Mountain from the Millie Mine Overlook

Being employed as a Main Street Manager, my day is filled with plenty of activities ranging from promotions and mediator to historic preservationist and educator. While all of these activities add excitement and variety to the day, it is important to know that many of these situations cannot by learned from reading a textbook. Each day brings a new challenge with mounting government cutbacks, struggling businesses, and a society with increasingly less time to volunteer.

I bring up these difficulties because I am committed to my community and am dedicated to making a difference by working through the hard times. Members and supporters of the Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN) should be eternal advocates for historic preservation, not just between the hours of 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. There are a full 24 hours in each day when preservationist can be making a difference. I am not just a Main Street Manager but a community member. As preservation advocates we should be leaders in the efforts to make not just our downtown but our overall community and region better places for people to live, work and play.

Growing up, my parents taught me the importance of giving back to the community. I have fond memories of playing soccer in our riverfront city park, singing in the choir during our annual Christmas parade, serving as youth group leader in my historic country church, participating in U of M drama productions at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre, educating others in 4-H, and working two jobs in high school.

Historic Robbins Block and Eskil Building in downtown Iron Mountain

I am not just serving as the Main Street Manager of Iron Mountain and working to advance preservation because it is my job. I advocate historic preservation because Iron Mountain is my home and I believe in the placemaking benefits of cultural preservation! I want the best for my community and the best for my family’s future. Too many people take the opportunity to let others get involved while they take a back seat. I volunteer and get involved because it strengthens my community and I enjoy doing it.

Braumart Theater, Iron Mountain

I am not just a Main Street Manager but a community member. When the local Dickinson County Community Chorus called and asked if I would sing tenor with them for the Christmas concert, I accepted. When the local theater organization asked me to audition for a local play with funds restoring the historic Braumart Theater, I was more than happy to take a part. When a downtown restaurant asked for some help on busy days during the summer, I jumped right in and hosted. When the local Building Healthy Communities Coalition asked for assistance with the community garden and bike path surveys, my wife and I pitched in. When asked to join the Iron Mountain-Kingsford Kiwanis Club, I was thrilled to have another networking opportunity and pool of volunteers to assist with Main Street events and accepted their offer. When a homeowner asked me to conduct research on their home so they could learn more about the history I gladly accepted because by working together, we can make a difference.

Jonathan Interviewing a local artist guild live on the radio

I am not just a Main Street Manager but a community Member.  Positive energy builds community spirit and brings people together. I have been strengthened by the hard work and dedicated efforts of the Iron Mountain Main Street, and the Iron Mountain Main Street has been strengthened by my commitment to the community. I am not just the Iron Mountain Main Street Manager, but an active member of our culturally rich Upper Peninsula gateway city!

I encourage all of us to remember that we are not just working an 8-5 job, but serving as perpetual historic preservation advocates and active community members helping to create stronger and more vibrant communities.

Jonathan with his wife Shelley and their son Josiah, preparing to sell popcorn at the weekly "Out to Lunch" summer concert series

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7 Responses to Committed to Historic Preservation means Committed to Your Community

  1. Eric says:

    Jonathan is the epitome of an upstanding community member. Volunteers, whether for historic preservation or otherwise, don’t volunteer for the recognition, they volunteer to make their community a better place to live.

  2. mhpn says:

    Speaking on behalf of the all-volunteer board of MHPN, we totally agree Eric!

  3. Kathryn Eckert says:

    What a great place Iron Mountain is to turn out people like Jonathan Ringel and Tom Izzo!
    Kathryn Eckert

  4. Lee Ringel says:

    Jonathan: You certainly have my vote. Ringel for governor. Vote for Jonathan Lee.
    Yours truly , Lee Ringel

  5. Jan Bassett says:

    Jonathan,
    I would like to clone a dozen of you for every community in Michigan! You said it all. Volunteering is a way of life, not something folks do once a month at a meeting.
    Thank goodness for all community volunteers.

  6. Kaitlin says:

    Here, here! I completely agree and it’s so nice to read from someone who feels the same. Preservation is a lifestyle, not just a job.

  7. Couldn’t agree with you more! As part of the Pekin Main Street Design Committee here in Illinois we face the same challenges you pointed out. Preservation is the duty of all within the community, it trickles down to many facets day to day living.

    If you have a chance please check out my last blog post. Unfortunately, one of our greatest treasures is being torn down as we speak!

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