Meet Sandi Weindling! Sandi is an adventurer, artist and creative professional, she is a strategic and brand communications expert most recently working with nonprofit organizations involved in the arts, education and the outdoors. She is proud to serve as Director of Marketing and Development at Dunes Learning Center, where her work helps to connect kids to the unique ecology of the dunes. An enthusiastic wanderer and explorer, Sandi once took second place in a demolition derby and recently spent 10 months traveling the country while living in a 26’ vehicle. Read more at anythingcanhappenday.com
What brought you to the dunes? HGTV. Hahaha. I had been watching far too many home renovation shows while living in a lovely Chicago condo when I decided that I wanted to buy a house. My boyfriend (now husband) and I enjoyed a lot of “quiet” sports and were looking for a place near the beach, forest or bike trail. Eventually, a friend directed us to the dunes. We couldn’t be happier.
How long have you lived here? 12 years. Maybe 13? There was a transition period while we renovated.
What is your favorite thing to do in the area? Tough one because it changes with the season! In winter, I love to cross country ski—a sport that I never thought I’d take up (I was Downhill Only for most of my life). In warmer weather I am all about the water—sail, surf or paddle.
Tell us a secret about the dunes. Did you know that Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Headquarters was once a Nike missile site?
Give us your top three “hidden treasures” (restaurant, shop, trail, beach, event…really anything!)
a) Dunes Learning Center, of course! No other organization in Illinois or Indiana offers year round residential outdoor education programs in partnership with the National Park Service—an arrangement common to less than 20 environmental learning centers in the nation. It is a truly rare, valuable and unique resource, right in our backyard.
b) Tucked behind Michigan City’s police station, Lubeznik Center for the Arts offers world-class art exhibitions and education—plus the Lakefront Art Festival and monthly First Friday programs. It is an easily accessed art oasis, just blocks from the casino and outlet mall. I’m always surprised at how few people know of it.
c) The East Branch of the Little Calumet River has been “unnavigable” for many years. The National Park Service has been working on an Environmental Assessment that could lead to recreational access to this hidden treasure. I’d love to paddle it!
What would you like to teach people about the dunes? I am fortunate that I get to teach about the dunes for work. The diversity found here has inspired artists, scientists and conservationists for centuries. It is the birthplace of ecology! There are so many opportunities to learn and explore, but you don’t have to make a big deal of it. Just take a few minutes to observe nature. You’ll be glad you did.
Anything else? Everyone—please help keep our dunes clean! There are so few places left in the world where we can escape our own impacts. Have you been to the beach the morning after a holiday? It makes me sad.