Meet Meg Richardson! Meg grew up in Hammond, Indiana. She attended Indiana University for an undergraduate degree in which she studied studio art and non profit management. Meg went on to receive a Master of Education. After teaching for several years, Meg began developing study abroad programs for high school students. She is currently the Business Director for the Marquette Foreign Exchange Company in Michigan City, which creates opportunities for local students to travel abroad while also bringing many international students to study in the area. In her spare time she dabbles in creating dunes inspired artwork, which she sells locally. She also serves on the board of the Michigan City Mainstreet Association, a non profit organization that seeks to increase visitation and commerce in the Michigan City Uptown Arts District through collaboration with the arts.
What brought you to the dunes? I was born to a queen beach bum, so I grew up dipping my Oreos in the sand. Any chance or excuse to get to the beach, and my brother and I were packed in the back of a station wagon on our way to the shore. My mother liked to mix it up, so we went to every beach from Hammond all the way up to Lakeside, Michigan.
How long did you live here? 21 years. I left to pursue my undergraduate and Masters degrees. After 8 years in Bloomington, Indiana, I decided that it was time to get back near the lake. I currently live in the Uptown Arts District of Michigan City, less than a mile from Washington Park Beach.
What is your favorite thing to do in the area? My favorite thing to do in the area is to drive down route 12, taking detours to drive along the lake where possible. No matter what the season, something about route 12 always seems beautiful and American to me. I am always grateful and happy to live here after making that drive.
Tell us a secret about the dunes. I think the dunes themselves are a pretty well kept secret, especially when you get away from this area. I coordinate foreign exchange opportunities for high school students and I am never prepared for the look on a visitor’s face the first time I take them to the beach – they are typically floored. It never ceases to amaze me that so many people are unaware of the magnitude of the Great Lakes, not just internationally, but domestically as well. Believe it or not, there are people in our own state of Indiana or even the city of Chicago that have never visited The Dunes.
Give us your top three “hidden treasures” My top three hidden treasures .. this is a tough one!!
A. There are some parts of Miller that are very interesting. The area surrounding the lagoon in Marquette Park, the trails in Miller woods and the artwork along downtown Lake street are just a few. If you have the time to explore Miller one day, do it. There are some little pockets that could really pique your interest. During the season you can stop at Wells Street Beach and grab a beer or a glass of wine right on the water, which is something most people don’t know about. On the weekends they usually have live music as well.
B. Of course I have to say First Friday events in the Michigan City Uptown Arts District. I have had the honor of serving on the board for the Michigan City Mainstreet Association. While the MCMA is responsible for a number of fantastic events (Taste of Michigan City, Shelf Ice Brew Fest, Fashion Affair), the first Friday of every month is a simple and amazing event, not only because of the sense of community created by the collaboration between local business owners, residents and artists, but also because it serves as a great framework and inspiration for surrounding communities that may have suffered struggles similar to Michigan City. I see many people from outlying areas attend this event and leave feeling encouraged to get behind revitalization efforts in their own towns.
C. Checking out locally owned spots along the coast. There have been so many great businesses spring up in the little downtown communities along the coast. I am always on the look out for new places!
What would you like to teach people about the dunes? I don’t know that I can teach people about The Dunes, but I hope I can inspire people to love the area and to spread that love. We live in one of the most amazing areas of the country, if not the world. Talk your neighboring towns up. Bring people to the area, show them what you know. Whether you’re from Portage or Chesterton or Gary or Michigan City, we are all in this together, aren’t we? Support The Dunes, shop local, check out some new spots the next town over. There is SO MUCH right here, so many bright minds, so many good people, so much to see and do. There are areas that have fallen, but surely it cannot stay that way forever. Be a part of the comeback story for those areas.
I would love to recommend a few of my favorite local things!
Urban Soles in Michigan City – A true hidden gem in the dunes. Not only do they have shoes, but they also have clothing, local art work and home furnishings. Not to mention they are the local home of the “Lake Michigan Unsalted No Sharks” shirts.
Indie Indie Bang Bang in Miller – SUCH a great little shop. I can always find the perfect gift here. I recommend the Havssalt Tval Sea Salt Soap aka “The Scratchy Soap”. It’s 6 bucks and you will not be disappointed, especially after sweaty day on the beach. Guys and gals both like it.
Walnut Ink in Michigan City – Two ways to “treat yo self” here. 1. Buy one of the unbelievably beautiful pieces that frequent the gallery or 2. Sign up for one of the workshops. From Skateboards to handmade serving utensils to toboggans, they provide a fun opportunity to make-your-own custom piece. It’s a great date night.
Trattoria Tonelli in Michigan City– Whoa. Closest thing to Italy in the region. They are just starting out, but the wine, home made pasta, and cappuccino are all great.
The Flamingo Pizza in Miller – it may have taken over for Ed Debevic’s in terms of service, but the pizza is so worth it.
If you like ethnic food: Cool Runnings Jamaican Restaurant and Hokaido Sushi, both in Michigan City are new and very worth the stop.
18th Street Brewery in Miller – has the best chicken and waffles – just sayin’
Journeyman in Three Oaks – you cannot go wrong here. Their new restaurant, Staymaker, is equally beautiful and delicious.
Maxine’s in Michigan City – Ally’s weekly cocktail is always worthy.
Lucrezia in Chesterton – has a chocolate Manhattan that will knock your socks off.