The North’s Urban Sauna Revival

Member-Owners of the 612 Sauna Society Cooperative enjoy and share the Sauna tradition with the Twin Cities by partnering with local businesses and governmental organizations to provide reservations at its mobile sauna hot spot (aka The Forge) from October to April. 

Meet the Steering Committee

John Pederson

John Pederson

Founder, 612 Sauna Society

John Pederson (aka JP) is the creator of ...

… the Firehouse Sauna, founder of the 612 Sauna Society Co-op and humble host of many hundreds of sauna gathering. 

He is the Community Manager of Capella Tower downtown Minneapolis, just a few blocks from where he learned the trade as one of the first Community Managers at CoCo Coworking and Collaborative Space.

John trained as a journalist by producing programs for NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” and “To the Best of Our Knowledge”  before moving to Indonesia to start the country’s first student-run radio station as a Fulbright scholar in Sumatra. When he’s not at Capella Tower or in the sauna, he’s heating things up on the dance floor as a DJ and organizer of The Dance Shanty.

Margie Weaver

Margie Weaver

Yoga Instructor, margieweaver.com

From her first session on John Pederson's Firehouse bench...

…last Fall, to bench time at every residency he hosted for Little Box Sauna this past Winter, to moving into 612 Sauna Society HQ in June, Margie has been faithful witness and champion of sauna’s many benefits and the mission of making sure the sauna tradition stays alive and well in the world.

A self-employed, unconventional artist, Margie’s eclectic love of learning includes both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in theatre performance, and many years of professional acting and university teaching and directing. For the past 14 years, she’s been teaching yoga full-time in a variety of settings, which is how she and John first crossed paths. She has been honing handwork skills and studying The Mandatory Arts of Living Deeply and Dying Well at Stephen Jenkinson’s Orphan Wisdom School in Ontario since 2011.

“I’m humbled to be called on to serve this project and honored to be in such esteemed company on a grand culture-making adventure.”

Teke O'Reilly

Teke O'Reilly

Executive Director, The Pitch

Teke O'Reilly comes to Community Building honestly...
… having worked with public radio stations across the country to create vibrant, active, happy, and sustainable Membership bases – since 1984. Moving into the CoWorking world in 2011, Teke was the 1st employee of COCO. It was in the confines of COCO that our lauded Sauna Meister John Pederson first presented his radical hospitality ideas, sketching out a mobile sauna design on a white board, while a dozen Members gaped in awe. Teke was walking by the expedition tent that contained this meet up, right as JP finished the sketch. He stopped, said, “That’s the most brilliant idea I have ever heard – I’m in.” And here we are.
Max Musicant

Max Musicant

Founder & Principle, The Musicant Group

Max Musicant is the Founder...

… and Principle of the The Musicant Group. Under his leadership, the firm has pioneered a holistic and organic approach to the creation of place that integrates design, events, and management systems all through the lens of the user experience. Since its founding the firm has demonstrated that community and commercial interests all benefit from more humane, inviting, and lively places for people. He was the first Partner-Sponsor of the 612 Sauna Society and has been instrumental in the groups emergence as a community movement in the Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Prior to founding The Musicant Group, Max began his career at the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) in Queens, NY. While there he worked with one of the early leaders of the Bryant Park Corporation to devise and implement placemaking strategies for the GJDC, one of the oldest and largest community development corporations in New York City.

He received an M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, as well as a PH.D. in Fire-tending from the 612 Sauna Society.

Michael Gordon

Michael Gordon

AWH Architects and Lazor office

Michael Gordon has over 8 years of professional...

… experience in design, architecture, historic preservation, adaptive reuse and rehabilitation. Michael has worked on a wide array of projects including residential, commercial, urban infill, adaptive reuse, and historic preservation projects. In addition to his professional work Michael teaches design based studios and workshops in the College of Deign at the University of Minnesota. Working professionally and in academia allows him to weave his passions together and interact with different communities. Understanding how individuals, organizations, and communities relate to design and the spaces they inhabit is a constant pursuit for Michael. Outside of his professional endeavors Michael spends his time drawing, printmaking, cooking, biking, and most importantly outside with his dog. He also enjoys the occasional sauna…

Rodney Buhrsmith

Rodney Buhrsmith

Global Head of Business Development, East View Companies

Rodney Buhrsmith is a Business Development professional...

… and heads that function at East View Companies.  He has two children in college and is a resident of the Bancroft neighborhood of Minneapolis.  His dog Vancouver is often by his side and his wife resides mostly in Dallas.  Formal education in International Business at Georgetown and Entrepreneurship at Louisville. The 612 Sauna Society provides him an opportunity to contribute his passion for business growth in a way that provides job creation and a healthy and novel experience in a grass roots community kind of way.

“This project is a testiment to the sauna tradition as well as the aspirations and potential of this community.”

Glenn Auerbach

Glenn Auerbach

Founder & Author, saunatimes.com

Glenn Auerbach is an authentic sauna evangelist...

He has built a dozen saunas himself including a mobile sauna, his Minneapolis backyard sauna, and his Northern Minnesota island sauna. He has helped hundreds build their own saunas thanks to his DIY “Build Your Own Sauna ebook. He freely shares building tips and sauna culture via his website, saunatimes.com. Glenn ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for his invention nICE mug, a drinking glass made entirely out of ice (a sauna companion), which JP helped advise.

With over 25 years of sauna experience, Glenn is pleased to be part of JP’s mobile sauna project. “JP is a rare breed. He is deeply committed to what a mobile sauna can bring to a community: a gathering place for expanding physical, mental, and spiritual well being. JP is an extremely committed and generous person. He cares deeply about AUTHENTIC sauna, and creating an awesome vibe. I am totally confident that this project will produce something meaningful, memorable, and kick-ass fun for all who contribute and join our tribe.”

Alex Goldfarb

Alex Goldfarb

Real Estate Broker, alexopensdoors.com

Alex is a Minneapolis native who has always enjoyed...

…creative ways to push the ordinary grind of modern life even just one degree more in the direction of awesome, whenever he can.  His involvement in sharing the art of a good sauna with more people is toward that end. He has owned and operated a real estate brokerage for many years and has experience in construction and home renovation as well as being able to play a mean jaw harp under the right circumstances.  Currently he is working toward creating the Twin Cities’ first brick and mortar public sauna and bathhouse.

Andrea Johnson

Andrea Johnson

Architect and Professor

Andrea is a licensed architect and educator...

…who values fostering health and creativity through design and design practices in both urban and rural environments. Andrea grew up within a culture of sweat lodges in South Dakota, and has since immersed herself in the experiences, spaces, and languages of bathing cultures around the globe, most often finding herself in deep conversation with an old or new friend in the banya at the Russian & Turkish Baths in the East Village. At the University of Minnesota, Andrea is a research fellow and lecturer, teaching in the undergraduate and graduate architecture programs, and conducting research on best practices for delivering integrated, high-performing architecture projects, the space of artist studios, architecture and maker culture, and architecture and poetry. She is the co-creator of Little Box Sauna, which introduced sauna society to city hot spots from Como Park to Downtown Minneapolis last winter. Her current experimental “hot room” project is for her mother on Lake Koronis, MN.

Lee Sarkela

Lee Sarkela

Human Resources, Valspar Corporation

Growing up Finn, Lee has been enjoying sauna...

… Lee has been enjoying sauna from practically birth.  For him, sauna was aWednesday/Saturday ritual at his grandparents in Sparta, MN (a small mining location on the da’ range).  He had less opportunities to sauna when he moved away for college and his business career except for weekend getaways to the hunting shack or family cabin.  Relegated to the local gym “sauna”, AKA dry-steamless-hot room, he saw a TV news story about the Littlebox Sauna and had to try it out.  From his first experience with the 612 Sauna Society at Como he was hooked; finally a real sauna experience in the Twin Cities with other cool people that were “drawn to the steam”!  Joining up with the society and pitching in to help JP whenever needed, his goal is to help bring this old world tradition to reality in the Twin Cities…and a ritual for generations to come.

Scott Pollock

Scott Pollock

Director of Exhibitions, Collections and Programs at the American Swedish Institute

Scott could, and probably will, spend...

… the rest of his life dedicated to creating vibrant gathering places.  In a former life, he stumbled into a 4 foot high steambox in the middle of the Alaskan tiaga forest and spent two years totally transfixed by the power sauna can have on community in a tiny Athabaskan village.  Scott later spent ten long winters on Minnesota’s North Shore, kickstarting the North House Folk School into action.  Sauna again seemed to be the common denominator in Grand Marais, as decisions about the creative direction of the fledgling educational non-profit were more often decided on the bench than in the office.  And now Scott finds himself in love with this city, and the creative community being built one sauna at a time through the work 612 Sauna Society is doing.

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