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Bridging the gap of isolation with wood carving

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North Star Township, MN --A rural St. Louis County man uses his wood carving project to connect with his community.

To bridge the gap of isolation during COVID-19, Chris Chouinard in North Star Township is taking on a new project: carving a wooden viking.

Earlier this week on Barrs Lake Rd, Chris began carving his viking using a fallen 200-year-old white pine tree. Though he has done small wood carving projects in the past, this project is his biggest undertaking yet.

Usually, chainsaws are used for sculptures of this size but Chris is limiting himself to only using small electronic tools and an old fashion chiself. According to Chris, "It's a little more defining, and I can focus better."

As he carves away, neighbors driving by stop to see his progress. "It's coming along really well, and it's neat to have something artsy and cultural here in the area," said Rachel Phillips, one of his neighbors.

A conversation starter is exactly why he wanted to start this project. "I get to see my neighbors and my friends everyday." Chris continued, "It sparks up a conversation. We communicate about how I'm doing on my sculpture, and then how they're doing with work and life."

There's no end goal in sight, and he's considering the possibility of future wood carving projects. Nevertheless, he hopes to continue interacting with his community, even if it's six feet away.

Photojournalist Wyatt Buckner

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