inBemidji Winter 2023

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Employee Carrie Jessen, with Just Dandy owner Sonya and her husband John, general contractor Mike Green and Sonya & John’s foster son Brad Blanchard in their boutique in Puposky. Photo by Annalise Braught.

ON THE COVER inBemidji’s mission is to be Bemidji’s and the surrounding area’s local lifestyle magazine. We strive to enhance the quality of life for the people of the Bemidji area by informing them about all of the amazing people who live in our community. Our concentration is on everything local: fashion, food, health, and most importantly, unique individuals and stories. We strive to maintain a high level of integrity as an inspiring, local media presence for our readers and provide advertisers with a high-quality, effective marketing medium.

4 | in Bemidji Winter 2023
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Volume 10, Issue 1 Copyright © 2023 Bemidji Pioneer in Bemidji All rights reserved. Although some parts of this publication may be reproduced and reprinted, we require that prior permission be obtained. 802 Paul Bunyan Dr. SE, Suite 19 Bemidji, MN 56601 218-333-9200 A BEMIDJI PIONEER PUBLICATION Email inBemidji at
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That's Just Dandy

of Wellness

Larisa Cooks

At Random

Columnist Jennifer Koski talks to Bemidjian Craig Cameron as part of inBemidji’s person-on-the-street interview series.

inside Winter 2023 10 06 23 In this issue Bookmarked Spot the difference 30 06 09 DIY pine cone Christmas tree Features
new location. 10
Sonya Wolf of Puposky reflects on her journey of becoming the owner of her boutique, Just Dandy, which just opened in a
We’ve compiled some Bemidji organizations and resources to help you hone your health inside and out.
The Larisa Cooks kitchen is serving up some delicious
desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth.
27 Winter 2023 in Bemidji | 5

DIY: pine cone Christmas tree

During the holidays, many families want to find a cute project to craft with the little ones, or even as a simple night-in activity for adults. This pine cone Christmas tree isn’t only adorable, but it’s super quick to make and mess free. Enjoy the holidays with this kid-friendly craft that can sit among your other festive decorations.

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Winter 2023 in Bemidji | 9
will be out
For the winter edition of Bookmarked, inBemidji has partnered with Four Pines Bookstore, located in downtown Bemidji, to pick some winter releases. All titles
snow sticks, so check out these holiday stocking
The Magic Kingdom
The Lives
of Puppets
The Do-Over
We Heart Harry
Big Nate Prank You Very Much

Thats Just Dandy

Bringing an eco-friendly perspective to the boutique scene

A few years ago, Sonya Wolf started creating homemade candles to give to friends. She used a small pitcher, heated jars on the kitchen stove, and cooled them on baking sheets in her farm kitchen along Great Divide Road in Puposky.

One day in 2016, a childhood friend asked Sonya to show her how to make candles. Admiring their work at the end of the day, Sonya said, “Oh look, they’re perfect. They turned out just dandy.”

A light bulb went off.

“You need to sell these,” the friend told Sonya. “And that’s what you need to call it because you say that all the time. ‘Isn’t that just dandy?’”

That’s the day Sonya’s business, “Just Dandy,” got started. Its simple beginning has now grown into a thriving enterprise with a recently completed 4,700-square-foot building a few miles down the road from the farm where she made those first candles. Loyal

customers and curious shoppers got to see the big black barn during a grand opening weekend in mid-November, shortly after Sonya and her husband of four years, John Wolf, put the finishing touches on the structure. It’s located on the 93-acre farm that’s been in John’s family for three generations at 16544 Puposky Road NW. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. More information is available online at

10 | in Bemidji Winter 2023


Just Dandy is way more than candles these days. Sonya calls her business an Eco Boutique and Refillery. Products include handpoured candles, handcrafted soaps and products for bath, body, face, hair and home.

Sonya has taken classes to become a certified formulator of anti-aging organic skin care products and is now studying for a similar certification in organic hair care formulation. In addition to a welcoming retail space, the new building includes a large upstairs room for studio classes and an extensive formulation lab.

“I’m always researching, learning, trying a new thing, bringing a new thing to the area,” Sonya said. “How can we make things better or how can we help people slow down?”

Judy Mackenroth of Bemidji, a loyal Just Dandy customer, is impressed with Sonya’s determination, personality and flexibility.

“She and her husband are just phenomenal people,” Judy said. “She’s brilliant. If you want a certain scent, she’ll really try to work with you and try to develop the scent. She’ll go above and beyond what a store would -because it’s personal. It’s not just her products or the price point, but it’s her personal input into the product. If she doesn’t believe in something, she’s not going to sell it. She just puts a lot of work into everything, and I’m really proud that she’s part of Bemidji.”

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-Sonya Wolf
“I’m always researching, learning, trying a new thing, bringing a new thing to the area.”


As a self-named Eco Boutique and Refillery, Just Dandy promotes sustainability. Many products have ecofriendly packaging and customers can refill containers of certain products.

“We’re starting with gallon jugs,” Sonya said, “but if it is successful and people like the products that we make or bring in, I can do 30-gallon drums.”

Just Dandy’s website states: “A priority of our business is to reduce our plastic use. We would like to encourage you to reduce yours as well.”

Sonya is transitioning her own home to sustainable products as well.

“I realized that we had to change some things in our own household,” she said. “Paper towels can be replaced with unpaper towels, which (are made of) organic cotton fabric. We have tree-free toilet paper that’s made from bamboo. Just lots of small little things that you can do to stop all the pollution.

“Then I started looking at my business and a lot of the stuff was packaged in plastic or shrink-wrapped. So we started switching over to glass quite a while ago. All of our products are packaged in glass or aluminum bottles, unless it goes in the shower. I’ve spent two years sourcing companies that follow certain standards. We’ve been bringing in a few different products to tie it all together, so you can get everything in one spot.”


The eldest of three children of John and Shirley Workman, Sonya grew up on a farm along Highway 89 northwest of Bemidji. Grandparents Marilyn and John Workman lived across the road.

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“As kids, we spent a lot of time running across to grandma and grandpa’s house,” Sonya said. “Basically everything I learned, I kind of learned from them, like gardening and cooking. Lunch was whatever you could grab out of the garden and take off on the horses. And not come back until dark.”

She has fond memories of time spent with her grandma Marilyn.

“We’d get off the bus and run over there right away,” Sonya recalls. “She would have some lemon bars for us. We’d play board games, or we would knit and crochet, or cook something. She was always reading, so then I was always reading.”

It wasn’t all play, of course.

“I’ve always made my own products,” she said. “I don’t know if that comes from growing up on the farm or just being curious. I made basic lip balms and sugar scrubs when I was young.”

Winter 2023 in Bemidji | 13
-Sonya Wolf
“ I’ve always made my own products. I don’t know if that comes from growing up on the farm or just being curious. I made basic lip balms and sugar scrubs when I was young.”

Sonya attended elementary school at Pleasant Valley and Deer Lake, then went to Bemidji for junior and senior high school, graduating in 1991. She studied nursing at Bemidji State and Northland Community and Technical College, eventually becoming a registered nurse.


Sonya’s nursing career has taken her to both ends of the country. She started in the Boston area, working in a long-term care facility as a night supervisor while also doing some modeling during the day.

“Between working the night shift and

running into Boston during the day to do modeling stuff, it was busy,” she said.

Sonya’s next stop was California. She moved into an apartment in Beverly Hills and worked at Century City Doctors Hospital, taking care of celebrity patients like Charlie Sheen and Diana Ross.

“I need to write a book,” she said with a laugh.

She left that hospital and moved south to Laguna Beach to work at Saddleback Medical Center.

But Minnesota beckoned her back home. In 2005, Sonya bought her farm and property on Lake Puposky, and two years

later she moved there.

She got a nursing position at what then was North Country Regional Hospital (now Sanford), working in several posts, from second floor to telemetry, ICU and the cardiac catheterization lab, and finally home care and hospice.


As the Just Dandy business started to grow, something had to give. Sonya was juggling a full-time nursing job with a fulltime passion for her new venture.

“So I cut my nursing hours back,” she said. “Then the business got busier. Then

14 | in Bemidji Winter 2023

John said I probably needed to pick one. I spent like 25 years in nursing; it’s been a good career. But I took the leap, gave my notice, and a few weeks later COVID hit.”

While many businesses struggled during the ensuing pandemic, Just Dandy flourished.

“Luckily I had built my website years earlier, and it blew up,” Sonya said. “That first year of COVID was huge. I was constantly packing and filling orders. So it actually worked out and I never thought twice about nursing because I got so busy.”

She was working out of the farmhouse and at times things got a little cramped. Especially in February 2021 when John and Sonya welcomed an adult foster son, Brad Blanchard, into their home.

That’s when the couple started planning their new building. With help from retired contractor Mike Green, work began in early 2022 and was completed just in time for the holiday season.

Early on, Sonya sold some of her products wholesale to stores in the region, but John encouraged her to change that business model.

“I felt that she was kind of wasting time and selling things so cheap that she was just wearing herself out,” John said. “She finally started to agree with me. We built this (new structure) because we had to get her out of the house. When you can’t find a place to pull the chair out for supper, it’s time to do something. It’s been a hard push, every waking moment of every day all summer. It was well worth it.”

Sonya agreed, adding, “Now that the building is in its place and the business isn’t running over the house, I feel like this can be a peaceful place for Brad and us, and things can finally slow down.”

And that’s just dandy. n

Winter 2023 in Bemidji | 15
“She finally started to agree with me. We built this (new structure) because we had to get her out of the house. When you can’t find a place to pull the chair out for supper, it’s time to do something."
-John Wolf
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Get ready for WELLNESS

In the midst of the snowy sludge and general dreariness that may come along with the winter months, many people look forward to the new year to rekindle their excitement for life.

When the Times Square Ball Drop brings in the new year – and us Midwesterners enter 2023 an hour later – you may idly create a New Year’s resolution that doesn’t always pan out.

An article in Psychology Today details that some people establish a resolution because they feel pressured to do so when Jan. 1 comes around, and they aren’t truly ready to make a lifestyle change like starting a new diet or exercise regimen. This leads to many failed resolutions and a return to behaviors that don’t contribute to a person’s overall wellness.

Despite these failures, however, each day is a chance to make better choices in terms of physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional and occupational pursuits, and making a conscious choice to form healthier long-term habits in each of these areas of wellness.

The National Wellness Institute defines “wellness” as “an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.”

Developed by Dr. Bill Hettler, a cofounder of the National Wellness Institute, the Six Dimensions of Wellness is a model depicting the interconnectedness of each dimension and how they contribute to healthy living.

Bringing this model home, we will delve into each dimension starting with definitions from the National Wellness Institute, then look at the many organizations and resources in the Bemidji area that address these dimensions.

Winter 2023 in Bemidji | 17
Learn how to ‘be well’ in Bemidji in 6 different ways


The dimension that’s perhaps the most front-of-mind when people think about wellness, the physical dimension recognizes the need for regular physical activity, learning about diet and nutrition and discouraging the use of tobacco, drugs and excessive alcohol consumption.

The Bemidji area has several gyms and activities for those looking to warm themselves up while outside temperatures dip below zero.

Starting their new year in a new location by Bemidji Bowl, the Bemidji Boxing Club offers cardio boxing and competitive boxing classes for people of all experience levels and backgrounds.

“Individually, the boxers are building confidence, but are also helping their teammates through things. They also aim to believe in themselves, lose weight and just try to piece together a healthy lifestyle,” co-owner Joe Lorenzi said regarding the physical and non-physical benefits of taking boxing classes.

You could also get in some punches with the Bemidji Total Martial Arts Academy, which offers instruction in Taekwondo, Kumdo and Hapkido. Taekwondo is a South Korean martial art that translates to “the way of hand and foot” and includes kicking drills, sparring and self-defense techniques. Kumdo is the Korean art of fencing that uses bamboo swords and armor for combat, partner drills and cutting techniques. Hapkido is a Korean art of self defense that focuses on striking, joint locks, throwing and weapons defense.

More information can be found on the Bemidji Boxing Club and Bemidji Total Martial Arts Academy Facebook pages respectively.

Paired with a balanced diet and sufficient sleep, these and other activities can help ensure you’re physically well to manage whatever curveballs – or snowballs – that winter throws your way.

Celebrating 73 Years!

18 | in Bemidji Winter 2023 Agnes & Leonard Dickinson Skiing • Snowboarding • Tubing Lessons • Rentals Gift Shop • Cafe • Weddings
Making Family Memories since 1949. Now in the 5th Generation
Members of the cardio boxing class do an exercise on Jan. 13, 2022, at the Bemidji Boxing Club. Photo by Annalise Braught


Social wellness encourages contributing to one’s environment and community, and posits that it’s better to contribute to the common welfare of the community than to think only of oneself.

Volunteering is one way somebody can build upon their social wellness, and there is no shortage of volunteer opportunities in the Bemidji area.

The United Way of Bemidji Area runs www.volunteerbemidji. org, which hosts opportunities from several organizations including the Bemidji Community Food Shelf, Evergreen Youth and Family Services, Hope House, Support Within Reach and Northwoods Habitat for Humanity – just to name a few.

The abundance of ways that people can help out their community is a chance for everyone to do better together, a notion that United Way Executive Director Denae Alamano lives by in her own work.

“Most people who come to the United Way are looking to make a difference, and we all do better when we all do better,” Denae said.

The United Way of Bemidji Area keeps busy all year with their Backpack Buddies program, which provides food packs to children at times when other resources are not available including on weekends and school vacations. Between 50 and 100 volunteers are needed each time there’s a food packing.

“That would be a way to socialize and get involved at the same time,” Denae added, “and do something good.”

The United Way of Bemidji Area is also preparing for Holiday Gifts for Kids where the community can donate toys or monetary gifts for volunteers to shop for gifts that area families need. A total of 630 children received gifts through this program last year alone.

More information can be found on

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Volunteers fill bags with food items during a United Way of Bemidji Area Backpack Buddies packing event on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, at Lueken’s Village Foods North. Photo by Annalise Braught


Intellectual wellness recognizes one’s creativity and the potential of somebody to expand their knowledge and skills, and share these with others. A tenet of intellectual wellness is that it’s better to stretch and challenge our minds with intellectual and creative pursuits than to become self-satisfied and unproductive.

On the creative side of things, the Watermark Art Center offers a plethora of classes and workshops where registrants can pick up new skills or hone their current artistic ability.

Local artists make visits to lead classes such as standing fabric rug making, which has class slots open for Jan. 14 and Jan. 21 with a $45 nonmember registration fee. Participants must know how to crochet as a prerequisite for the class.

Other craft classes include woven birch bark star ornaments and an open beading circle every Thursday with Red Lake Nation member Thomas Stillday, which is open to people of all ages and skill levels.

“While (Thomas) has developed his own distinct and personal style of work, his art honors the traditional beading techniques, designs and concepts given to him by his elders,” Thomas’ biography states on Watermark’s website. “His commitment to ‘making’ is important to the collective voice and continuing history of the Ojibwe cultural arts.”

If you want to travel back in time to your college days, Bemidji State University hosts their annual series of 12 lectures as part of their Honors Council Lecture Series that is open to the public in person and via Zoom.

Lectures from their fall 2022 line-up covered topics ranging from philosophical to scientific to cultural, and their lectures for spring 2023 will be announced on the BSU website once the new semester begins.

Watermark Art Center is located at 505 Bemidji Avenue North. Photo by Annalise Braught


Spiritual wellness recognizes the search for meaning and purpose in human existence, and doing so while being tolerant of others’ beliefs and remaining true to ourselves.

Spirituality looks different for each person, and the Bemidji area has several churches and organizations focused on this area of wellness.

An organization made up of 27 area churches, Churches United formed in 2002 as a way to address the issue of low-income and homeless families frequenting Bemidji churches in need of financial assistance.

Churches United determined that a central location where various churches could pool their resources to assist low-income individuals would be most effective.

“Since that time, with the support of many community churches, Churches United has successfully achieved our goal and continues to this day to be a place ‘where ministry happens’ as we work cooperatively to ‘welcome the stranger as Jesus,’” the Churches United website states.

Those who are interested in volunteering can visit

The Headwaters Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is another option for those seeking a religious community focused on diversity, social responsibility and building bridges with the community. Considered a creedless religion, the Fellowship welcomes people regardless of beliefs.

The Fellowship has engaged in various community events, more information for which can be found on


Emotional wellness recognizes awareness and acceptance of one’s feelings. This includes the capacity to manage one’s feelings and related behaviors including the realistic assessment of one’s limitations, development of autonomy and ability to cope effectively with stress.

Barb Houg, executive director of Peacemaker Resources in Bemidji, spoke on Peacemaker Resources’ training and other opportunities that aim to empower youth and adults to build the skills necessary to better understand and manage their emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, make responsible decisions and maintain positive relationships.

“Peacemaker Resources is known for bringing high quality learning opportunities to our community’s schools, childcare providers, nonprofit organizations and businesses,” Barb said. “We work alongside community partners to strengthen assets that have been demonstrated to reduce substance abuse, child abuse and other long term societal problems.”

Barb noted that anyone interested in Peacemaker Resources’ work can join their mailing list where more information will be shared regarding their workshop series for 2023. Open to the community, sessions will include topics like cultural identity and humility, trauma-sensitive schools and communities, workplace wellness, self-care and completing the stress cycle.

More information can also be found at www.

Winter 2023 in Bemidji | 21
Headwaters Peace Center is located at 1826 Mikrantip Road Southwest. Contributed photo
“We work alongside community partners to strengthen assets that have been demonstrated to reduce substance abuse, child abuse and other long term societal problems.”
-Barb Houg, executive director of Peacemaker Resources


Occupational wellness recognizes personal satisfaction and enrichment in life through one’s work. This dimension includes the contribution of one’s unique gifts, skills and talents to work that is personally meaningful and rewarding.

Recognizing the need to connect job seekers and employers, CareerForce offers employment services across Minnesota and has had a presence in the Bemidji area as well.

Among their most common services are career counseling, resume preparation, online job application assistance, interview preparation and assistance with finding job leads.

They also host job fairs including a unique type of job fair in September where employers set up stations with their cars, similar to Blackduck’s Trunk-or-Treat event. They have also done drive-thru job fairs in the past.

Providing these opportunities, along with “Employer of the Day” events where job seekers can meet with employers, comes with several benefits beyond receiving a paycheck.

“If your job is a good match for your interests, it is likely that you’ll find it fulfilling and that friendships and supportive relationships will form while you are at work,” said Julie Sachs, field operations area manager for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. “Working can give a sense of purpose and emotional well-being.”

CareerForce has two offices in Bemidji that people can visit to enrich their life with a job: CareerForce Downtown and CareerForce Westridge. The Downtown location can be reached at

218-333-8200 and Westridge at (218) 444-0732.

Other resources and information can be found at www. or at, which lists thousands of available jobs.

Now you have a bit more information to holistically address your personal wellness throughout the winter months and beyond.

If you’re still curious about the Six Dimensions of Wellness, visit n

22 | in Bemidji Winter 2023
Attendees visit with Cole Beusekom and Shelby Worel at the U.S. Forestry Service table during a CareerForce job fair event on Sept. 19, 2022, in the Westridge Commerce Center parking lot. Photo by Annalise Braught

With all the cooking that takes place throughout the holiday season, sometimes you just want some simple recipes that don’t require a stovetop or broiler. For this reason, the Larisa Cooks Kitchen is serving up some no-bake desserts that only require a bit of mixing, microwaving and refrigerating. Enjoy!

Delicious desserts

Directions: In a large bowl, prepare both boxes of pudding according to package instructions and set aside to thicken. Gently fold whipped topping into pudding and set aside. Place a single layer of graham crackers in the bottom of a 9-by-13 dish, breaking as necessary to cover the bottom. Spread half of the pudding mixture on top of the graham crackers. Top with another layer of graham crackers followed by the rest of the pudding mixture. Finish with a third layer of graham crackers on top. Remove the lid and foil from the frosting container. Microwave for about 15 to 20 seconds or until soft. Spread frosting over the top of the cake. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours – preferably overnight – to allow time for the cake to set. Slice into squares and serve.

WinWinter 2023 in Bemidji | 23
Eclair Cake
2 3.4-ounce
boxes of vanilla instant pudding mix
8-ounce tub of whipped topping (thawed)
whole graham crackers
cups of milk
16-ounce can of chocolate frosting
Photos by Annalise Braught in Bemidji staff

Lemon Pie


1 8-ounce cream cheese (softened)

1 3.5-ounce instant lemon pudding mix

2 cups milk

1 pre-made graham cracker crust

1 8-ounce tub whipped topping (thawed)

1 tablespoon lemon zest (optional)


In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. In another bowl, prepare pudding per box instructions and set aside to thicken. Add thickened pudding to cream cheese and beat until smooth. Pour mixture into graham cracker crust. Add whipped topping and garnish with lemon zest. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

24 | in Bemidji Winter 2023
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Chocolate Pie


1 pre-made graham cracker crust

1 8-ounce tub whipped topping (thawed)

6 regular size chocolate bars (about 9 ounces)

¼ cup mini chocolate chips (for garnish)


Break apart chocolate bars and place them in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 20 to 30 second increments until the chocolate is melted. Add whipped topping to the melted chocolate and mix well. Spoon the chocolate and whipped topping mixture into the graham cracker crust. Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips on top. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before slicing.

Winter 2023 in Bemidji | 25 Make winter complete, experiencing new meals and drinks! Hours: Mon-Thurs: 11am-9pm | Fri: 11am-9:30pm | Sat: 8am-9:30pm | Sun: 8am-9pm | Brunch: Sat-Sun: 8am-Noon | Lunch: Mon-Fri: 11am-4pm Now taking orders online! Take out meals available! Call 218-444-8212 and we’ll have your order ready. Daily Drink Specials Door Dash available simple


Butterscotch Pudding Torte


1 16-ounce package cream-filled vanilla sandwich cookies (crushed)

½ cup melted butter

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese (softened)

1 cup powdered sugar

1 12-ounce tub whipped topping (thawed & divided)

4 cups of milk

2 3.4-ounce boxes instant butterscotch pudding mix


Set aside 1 cup of cookie crumbs for topping. In a small bowl, combine remaining cookie crumbs and butter. Press into a greased 13-by-9 dish. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Fold in 1 ½ cups of whipped topping and spread over the crust.

In a small bowl, prepare pudding per box instructions and set aside to thicken. Spoon pudding over cream cheese layer and top with remaining whipped topping. Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

26 | in Bemidji Winter 2023 427 Mag Seven Court SW, Bemidji, MN Phone: (218) 751-4964 | After Hours: (218) 308-0028 License #PC644057 Serving the Bemidji area for 51 years! 500 Paul Bunyan Dr SE1700 Paul Bunyan Dr NW 2 LOCATIONS IN BEMIDJI Open 7 Days A Week 8am - 7pm


Editor’s Note: Writer Jennifer Koski believes everyone has a story to tell — from the person in line behind you at the coffee shop to the person who delivers your mail. And for 12 years, she’s been proving this theory month after month with her awardwinning “Random Rochesterite” magazine column in Rochester, Minnesota. A recent Bemidji transplant, Koski is now bringing these random, person-on-thestreet interviews to inBemidji.

Winter 2023 in Bemidji | 27
by Jennifer Koski special to in Bemidji
NAME: Craig Cameron
Financial advisor at Edward Jones WHERE WE FOUND HIM: Mississippi Music at the Bemidji Waterfront

WE MET AT MISSISSIPPI MUSIC. ARE YOU A FAN OF LIVE MUSIC? I am, but I’m a bad fan because I don’t know musicians. I just know good music when I hear it. And at Mississippi Music, I love the atmosphere as much as I love the music. It’s this big gathering, it’s outside and I’m seeing people I know and don’t know. That’s pretty cool.

ARE YOU ORIGINALLY FROM BEMIDJI? I am not. I am from Brandon, Manitoba. It’s 100 miles west of Winnipeg on the TransCanada highway.

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO BEMIDJI? My wife is from Blackduck. We met when we were teaching English in Japan. We were trying to think of where we’d settle when we came back from Japan, and we learned it was a lot harder to get landed immigrant status (permanent residency) in Canada for Mary than for me to get my green card in the United States. So it was easier to go with that plan.

TELL ME ABOUT JAPAN. HOW DID YOU END UP THERE? I graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1991 and it was a recession. Jobs were hard to come by. When you’re brand new with no experience, you look around and get creative. My sister cut this tiny little notice out for me that said, “Teachers wanted in Japan. Apply at your local consulate.”

AND YOU LEAPT? I thought it sounded cool. I didn’t know anything about Japan, but I thought, what can it hurt? I showed up, interviewed and found out it was a really good program, the JET program (Japan Exchange in Teaching). We were working in public schools with Japanese teachers of English, helping with verbal and listening skills.

HOW DID YOU FIRST MEET MARY? I happened to sit down beside her at the welcome conference in Japan and we started visiting. She had a boyfriend at the time, so it was purely, “Hey, how’s it going?” We became good friends right off the bat. Sooner or later, she broke up with that boyfriend and we got together. But we were good friends long before we were partners, and that’s a good way to start.

HOW LONG DID YOU STAY? The teaching program was a one-year contract that you could renew twice, and that was it. So we finished our three years, and then we packed up our stuff in a container, shipped it home and backpacked through Southeast Asia. We went to lots of different countries: Korea, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Fiji. It was awesome, I’m not going to lie. And think of it, that was 1994. That was pre-Internet.

We drove our parents crazy because our letters were few and far between and they didn’t know where the heck we were. There was no itinerary. We made it up as we went along.

I BET YOU HAVE A LOT OF GREAT TRAVEL STORIES. One of the cool things that happened was in Singapore. We were getting ready to go to Indonesia, to Bali and we were about to take a flight. We were getting ready to leave when we saw a sign in our guest house. It said that a crew was wanted to sail from Singapore to Phuket, Thailand, and there were directions to connect with these people. We thought, “that looks cool, but we’re leaving tomorrow.” So we went to the laundromat to wash our things before we left. At the laundromat, we met two Mexican brothers, Rene and Raul, who were doing the same thing we were doing, backpacking. We told them about this sign and

they said, “That sounds great. We’re doing it!”

TALK ABOUT BEING SPONTANEOUS. They were right! Mary and I looked at each other and said, “Tell them we’re on our way, too! We’ll call and change our flights.” So we followed the directions on the sign — “get on subway, get off at this stop, go to beach, yell ‘Jean-Pierre!’” And we got on this boat, and there was a group of us — a Canadian, an American, the two Mexican brothers, Jean-Pierre and his wife from France, a Swiss woman, a German man and a guy from England. And we all got on his boat together and motored up the Straits of Malacca, the busiest shipping strait in the world, in a little boat. It was the best. We went to islands you couldn’t access if you were taking a bus or taxi. We went snorkeling in the most untouched, beautiful waters. Where else are you going to get that if you don’t get out of your hometown and experience the world?

28 | in Bemidji Winter 2023
Craig and company take part in a skiing excursion at Itasca State Park in February 2022. In the background from left to right: Stacy Bender, Mark Morrissey, Monica Hansmeyer and Craig’s wife, Mary Anderson. Submitted photo

can't live in Bemidji if you don't love all four seasons."

IF YOUR KIDS WANTED TO MOVE OVERSEAS, WOULD YOU SUPPORT THEM? Sure. We have two kids, 23 and 20, Elliot and Clara. And I’d say, “Let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about street smarts.” But absolutely. Go. I feel like every kid at some age, 18 or 21 or pick an age, should be handed a passport and told, “You have to leave the country for a year. We don’t care what you do, but you can’t come back for a year.” They’d come back with a greater appreciation for this country. They’d learn to appreciate everything we have and to care for and nurture it because we’re so lucky. We lose sight of that, and travel is so good for that.

BEST SATURDAY AFTERNOON IN JULY VS. JANUARY? In a way, it’s the same. They’d both involve doing something outside. You can’t live in Bemidji if you don’t love all four seasons. I came from prairies, farming and flatland, so I’ve been fascinated with the trees and the lakes here. So it would be spending time in the woods. And, in the summer, getting in a body of water somehow — swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, cooling off on a hot

July day. And in the winter, I’m trying to get into cross-country skiing. That’s pretty fun when you start to learn about the trails, and more importantly the people who are into cross-country skiing in the area — the people who thrive on enjoying the winter.



LIVE BY? Jean-Pierre, the captain of the boat we were on in Singapore, had so many experiences in his life. He had been a barge captain, worked with a sailing school, had been a DJ in a radio station in the Middle East. Lots of life experiences. And there was a quote of his that I wrote down during that journey. He said it offhand, but I’ve quoted him ever since: “The exploration of the earth is as important as the exploration of the people around you. It’s the same journey, really.” And, to me, that’s really lived out as a guiding philosophy. With a degree in social work, I’ve loved learning about people. As a financial advisor, I learn intimate details about people. That exploration is important to me. But still, always, I have a million places I want to go and explore in the world. It is the same journey.

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The annual Night We Light parade is a festive launch into the holiday season. Can you spot 6 differences between these two photos from last year’s event?

ANSWERS: 1) One small orange light missing on left end of float, 2) candy cane top missing on sixth smaller light candy cane, 3) extra snow pile under snowmoblie, 4) extra white pine tree in lower left corner of Season's Greetings banner, 5) missing white stripe on large middle candy cane, 6) missing white cross walk rectangle behind second woman.

30 | in Bemidji Winter 2023
Winter 2023 in Bemidji | 31 Local news works for you. Asking questions. Reporting facts. Keeping you informed. • Business news • Local sports • Community events SUBSCRIBE NOW: 3 months for 99¢/month! Get Unlimited Digital News: Get Print + Digital: $3 for your 1 st month! Hearing WellnessCenter 218-333-8833 | you’rebackinthegame! Better He ar in g Me ans. .. Hearing Tests PrescriptionHearingAids HearingAid Repair Lab Tinnitus TreatmentPlans Customized Ear Protection VA CommunityCare Call to Schedule TODAY! 677AnneStNW | SuiteG| Bemidji 302Irvine AvenueNW,Bemidji,MN56601 •218-751-2009 • Exper tService •Organic &Local Produce AffordablePrices •Bulk Foods&Herbs Fair Trade &Organic Coffee •FullService Deli •Nitrate &AntibioticFreeMeats PlantBasedProteins•SpecialtyCheeses &somuchmore! HarmonyCelebrates you! Bemidji’sDowntownFull-ServiceGroceryStore &Deli
Discover Your Calling. Pursue Your Passion. Bemidji, MN Beltrami County Solid Waste • 218-333-8187 • Click on: Solid Waste tab BELTRAMI COUNTY RECYCLING GUIDE Not Accepted Cartons, plastic bags, film and wrap, plastic foam; Styrofoam™, food waste, paper cups and plates, glass dishes, drinking glasses, window glass and ceramics, trash, containers that held hazardous products; oil, antifreeze Paper • Mail, office and school paper • Magazines and catalogs • Newspaper and inserts • Phonebooks Boxes • Cardboard • Cereal and cracker boxes • Shoe boxes, gift boxes, electronics boxes Glass • Food and beverage bottle and jars Metal • Food and beverage cans Plastic* • Empty Water, soda and juice bottles • Milk bottles • Ketchup and condiment bottles • Dishwashing and detergent bottles • Shampoo, soap, and lotion bottles • Yogurt, pudding and fruit cups • Margarine, cottage cheese and other containers • Produce, deli and take out containers Packaging* • Clear, rigid packaging from toys and electronics *Look for this symbol - Only “containers/ bottles” with a 1 and 2 can be recycled in Beltrami County.