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For Loeffler-Kemp, activism is a way of life

Besides a few framed photos of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, the office walls at Clean Water Action are naked, allowing the soft yellow paint to add a sense of sunshine to the rectangular room.

The room is temporarily under construction, as is evidenced by the sporadically placed file cabinets and plastic sheets covering the boxes on the floor.

Pamphlets and flyers of events scattered about the office suggest that even if the room wasn't under construction, the woman who occupies the office would most likely not be there. There's a broad spectrum of issues to tend to in Duluth, and Rosie Loeffler-Kemp is the activist that will bring them to your doorstep.

Loeffler-Kemp is married to her high school sweetheart, Ken, and proud mother of four kids, Rachel who is 15, Hannah who's 11, Seth who's 9 and the youngest, Mariah, 2. Loeffler-Kemp can be seen all over town from up the northeast Branch of the Clean Water Action Alliance of Minnesota to sharing her skills with youngsters as a Girl Scout troop leader.

Loeffler-Kemp has only been in Duluth for 10 years, but her work as an activist has made positive differences in the environment, public schools, politics and her own neighborhood.

It's almost impossible for her to recount all of the different ways she's touched the Duluth community.

"I tried to total up all of the organizations I am or have been a part of, and I got scared, so I stopped," she said.

Growing up in Hallock, a town of 1,200 people in northwestern Minnesota, Loeffler-Kemp recognized the need for a sense of community.

"People knew each other, scheduled events with each other, and cared about the idea of building a community," Loeffler-Kemp said. "Those roots have been the inspiration to my involvement in the community."

As a founding member and president of the Lakeside Lester Park Community Club she helps bring a sense of community to Duluth, starting with her own neighbors.

But activism isn't always easy.

"I've seen an increase in activism in Duluth, but the city still has a long way to go," said Loeffler-Kemp. "There is still a lot of apathy. It's easy to say 'someone else will do it.'"

Instead of letting community apathy get her down, Loeffler-Kemp goes in search of the main thing that keeps her going -- hope.

To find hope in the community, Loeffler-Kemp often goes door-to-door canvassing on current events.

"When you go door to door you meet America," Loeffler-Kemp said. "When I can hear concerns and pass on information, that gives me hope."

She also credits her children for her motivation.

"I like knowing that I can look my kids in the eye and tell them I'm fighting to keep the water they drink, the fish they eat and the lakes they swim in safe," she said.

For Loeffler-Kemp activism is a way of life.

Despite the road blocks and opposition she faces she says that activism is all about building positive relationships with people and treating people with respect, even if they don't see eye-to-eye,

"Paul Wellstone once told me, 'Never make lifelong enemies,'" said Loeffler-Kemp. "That is a motto I've held on many issues."

Throughout the summer, Loeffler-Kemp will be continuing her 20 year campaign to inform people about the dangers of mercury contamination. She frequents health care centers and bait shops, distributing information on fish advisories and the dangers of consuming fish contaminated with mercury.

If you are interested in further information about mercury and its health effects you can contact Loeffler-Kemp at the Clean Water Action Alliance office at 394 Lake Avenue South, office number 312A, or call at 722-1754.

She'll also be seen gearing up for the upcoming elections by encouraging Duluthians to register to vote and attend candidate forums.

"I like what I do," Loeffler-Kemp said. "I'm fortunate to wake up every morning and love my job. Duluth has strong neighborhoods and a strong sense of community, and it's because of the individuals and organizations that have made it that way."

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