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  • Writer's pictureMarKei Photo & Video

Front Step Project: Laura Dorle & Mini-Mammals

Welcome to another Columbia Heights, MN, Front Step Project brought to you by MarKei Photo & Video. I began this initiative to facilitate connecting the humans in my city, to celebrate our diversity, and share our challenges during this pandemic and beyond.

If you’re enjoying this series, please share. To support my photography, like & follow MarKei (on FB, IG, Twitter, &/or YouTube). To be notified of new posts, subscribe at We are still offering socially distant photography in MN, so please reach out!

Meet Laura Dorle!

Buddy & Laura

Laura Dorle has owned her home near McKenna Park in Columbia Heights for nearly two years. Living with her are her cats Jorge & Pumpkin (littermates), her dog, Buddy, a Maltese Yorkie mix, and a renter, Amanda. Laura and Amanda support each other in creating a routine during this time by planning meals together (which inspired me to pursue the same with my housemates!) Laura also tries to do something every day that brings her joy. When she plans out her day, a practice of high importance when you're self-employed, she makes sure to schedule in time for a break, usually something like playing with her pets or painting. She has personally struggled with mental health and knows that if she doesn't make those breaks a priority, she'll likely burn out. Again, I was very inspired by this as I also struggle with mental health but also super struggle with executing self-care.

Laura's garden

For the last few years, Laura has been self-employed doing political consulting for campaigns and a variety of other projects. Fortunately, the pandemic has not impacted her employment nor her day-to-day workflow, since she was already working from home. But like many people I've talked to, it has definitely impacted her social life. Laura says it's been really hard to not have as much social interaction. There was even a period of time when she didn't even have a housemate and was extra isolated. Additionally, she doesn't presently have a partner and so the aspect of dating and meeting new people is nigh impossible in this climate.

However, Laura remains very busy, running for a city council seat. If you've read the news last week, you'll see that she made it past the primary! Laura decided to run for City Council in May. She had already been dedicating her career to being an organizer and doing advocacy work. She's worked with a lot of elected officials and candidates, too. She had been considering running for a political office for 8 years, in fact, but kept thinking about when would be the best time to do it. Clearly, Laura has deemed it a good time for it! I asked her why. Reason number 1, she said: She's in love with Columbia Heights. She also says there are so many challenges facing our residents but our council doesn't represent the diversity of the city nor is the council very connected to the residents. Laura desires to see the council more involved.


Creating a strong connection between the municipal governing body and the People is exactly what Laura has been doing in her experience with communities. She says she's driven toward conflict. I'm grateful for people like her as I constantly work to make myself more resilient and engaged when conflict arises. It's my Scandinavian heritage, I reckon, that is conflict-avoidant. Laura has a vision of our leaders being able to approach things with a lightheartedness and maintaining balance.


#FRONTSTEPPROJECT: If YOU want to be featured, message me! It is free for Columbia Heights residents. Donations to SACA Food Shelf & Thrift Store are encouraged. Please share this opportunity with your neighbor who may not be on social media.


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