Heart of the Community: An Interview Lauren Dake

By Terry Miller

Lauren Dake is thrilled to be living in Elk Rapids with her husband James and raising their daughter here. She’s also a very involved community member and enthusiastic supporter of the Library expansion project. Lauren appreciates the sense of community in Elk Rapids and sees the public library as a key contributor to community life.

“We love the walkability of our village and the opportunity to connect and visit with people as we’re out and about,” says Lauren. “One of our favorite destinations with Mira is the library grounds. Crossing the bridge and climbing the stairs is a fun little adventure all by itself. From there, if it’s winter, we might go sledding or during warm weather, it’s just a short walk to the beach or the playground.”

Lauren describes 19-month-old Mira as a toddler on the go, generally via bicycle trailer, stroller or her very quick feet. Mira and Lauren often attend the Library’s story time on Wednesdays. “Story Time is always fun for the two of us. It’s a chance for Mira to interact with other children and an opportunity for me to meet other moms. You’ll often find us at the Library on rainy or very hot days too, when we’re looking to change-up the pace at home.”

For the Dakes, the Library is also their go-to source for books, CDs and DVDs. Lauren says her husband, who is the Education Director at Grass River Natural Area, often uses the library porch as a remote office when extreme weather keeps him from driving to his office at Grass River. “Working at home with a busy toddler in the background isn’t exactly the most productive environment,” laughs Lauren. “The library with its wifi access is a lifesaver as a quiet refuge to get some work done.”

James has another connection to the Library, occasionally offering some of the Grass River educational programs there. “It’s a wonderful way for James and Grass River to connect with people who may not have access to or be familiar with the resources offered at the Natural Area,” explains Lauren. “It’s a great partnership that works out well for everyone.”

One weakness that Lauren has observed at the Library is the limited amount and quality of space available for programs, meetings, and presentations. “It’s a concern that the library expansion will alleviate, but I worry whether we’ll be able to reach the goal in a timely manner. She pauses as she reflects, “I hope Mira and her library friends will have the opportunity to enjoy the new children’s area. It will be a place where children can be children, without us adults always shushing them to be quiet.” Lauren laughs. “Or at least enjoy the new teen area; but I really hope it won’t take that long!”

Lauren also serves on the Village Planning Commission and is an instructor with Norte, a regional non-profit advocacy organization with a mission to help build stronger, better connected and more walk/bike friendly communities. Lauren teaches balance bike and after-school bike safety classes at the local schools. -- TM

Gera Witte