Inspire(d) Fall 2022

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Inspire(d) free!HOORAY! 15 YEARS OF POSITIVE NEWS FROM THE DRIFTLESS REGION DRIFTLESS MAGAZINE NO. 70 FALL 2022 LIFELONG learning | located at 1600 PROSPERITY Road, decorah, IA | 563.387.6700 Toppling Goliath Taproom weddings • rehearsal dinners • reunions bus tours • corporate events • holiday parties private event space catering + private bar on-site tent rental

local decorah, iowa ONEOT C OMMUNITY FO OD COO PErative 312 West Water Street, Decorah • 563.382.4666 • Over 35,000 Square Feet of Fully Accessorized Displays! ©2022 Drury’s STORE HOURS: Monday & Friday, 9 am–8 pm, Tuesday–Thursday & Saturday 9 am–5 pm, Sunday Noon–4 pm 100 Main 507-268-4363Fountain,StreetMN OUR 97th YEAR! Just 28 miles south of Rochester on Highway 52 FOUNTAIN L • PROFESSIONAL DELIVERY • INTERIOR DESIGN SERVICE • FREE IN-HOME SET-UP • CUSTOMIZED CREDIT PLANS At Drury’s in Fountain, Minnesota, you’ll find an outstanding selection of Stressless® recliners, sofas, loveseats, and sectionals. Upholstered in a variety of premium leathers in a variety of textures and colors, Drury’s carries one of the largest displays of Stressles® products in Minnesota. Stressless® recliners offer correct head and lumbar support in all reclining positions and our patented features will make it your comfort destination. Stop in Today. Stressless® Admiral Classic Base Starting at $2,095 Stressless® Admiral Cross Base Starting at $2,595 For a limited time, enjoy significant savings on Stressless Choose between four base options, two sizes (Large and colors and seven wood finishes with value savings up recliners offer correct head and lumbar support in all reclining patented features will make it your comfort destination. Stressless®SignatureAdmiralBase Starting at $2,595 Stressless® Admiral Classic Base Starting at $2,095 Stressless® Admiral Cross Base Starting at $2,595 For a limited time, enjoy significant savings on Stressless ® Admiral recliners. Choose between four base options, two sizes (Large and Medium), seven leather colors and seven wood finishes with value savings up to $1,000. Stressless ® recliners offer correct head and lumbar support in all reclining positions and our patented features will make it your comfort destination. *See store for details. Value savings of $1,000 Stressless®SignatureAdmiralBase Starting at $2,595 Stressless® Admiral Classic Power™ Starting at $2,895 Stressless® Admiral Classic Base Starting at $2,095 Stressless® Admiral Cross Base Starting at $2,595 For a limited time, enjoy significant savings on Stressless Choose between four base options, two sizes (Large and Medium), colors and seven wood finishes with value savings up to recliners offer correct head and lumbar support in all reclining patented features will make it your comfort destination. *See Value savings of $1,000 Stressless®SignatureAdmiralBase Starting at $2,595 15 Styles, 3 sizes, 3 Base choices Find Your Perfect Fit

FALL 2022 ON THE COVER: Decorah photographer Nick Chill ( captures the night sky for our cover this issue. Read about Nick and his path in life and life long learning on page 16. See some of our covers over the years above! WHAT WE’RE LOVING RIGHT NOW PHOTOGRAPHER NICK CHILL THE WROBEL FAMILY SARAHNANCYJANEJOHNSONPECKSOJKA MENTAL HEALTH - LIVE & LEARN DR. LIANG CHEE WEE PAPER PROJECT: LEAF CROWNS! SUM OF YOUR BIZ: FREE RANGE EXCHANGE LEAVE THE LEAVES DRIFTLESS CURIOSITY PROBIT: ALFRED LUDEKING 66585448474338332926231609 05 2010 2011 2013 2017 2019 15 CelebrYears!ating 23 48 58

We offer a wide range of personal banking products and convenient services to fit all stages of your life. Step away from ordinary and discover a truly personal banking experience! CHECKING | SAVINGS | CDs & IRAs We also offer: DIGITAL BANKING | DEBIT CARDS | FREE FINANCIAL EDUCATION EXPLORE SEED SAVERS EXCHANGE Display Gardens | Trails | Visitors Center Visitors Center open daily March-October Decorah, Iowa · 563.382.6104 · Trails, gardens, and trout streams are open to the public every day, sunrise to sunset. ®

If you’re heading out for a fall leaf-looking drive, visit Free Range Exchange in Hokah, Minnesota (pg 48) for picnic fare. Or maybe you want to pick up snacks for your trip to Viola, Wisconsin for a class at Driftless Curiousity. Wonder and curiosity was the catalyst for Joy Miller and Rufus Haucke launching Driftless Curiousity (pg 58) in 2021. Joy was curious about why their corner of the Driftless is so dedicated to local food and organic farming. It came down to folks having a connection with their farmers – their neighbors – and in turn, a connection to the land. Indeed. It’s all connected in this big universe. Let’s live (and learn) like we mean it.

Mental health writer Olivia Lynn Schnur taps into that, and gives us an idea on how we can use curiosity to connect to our biggest goals (pg 38).

Although Inspire(d) is free on stands, you can have it sent to your door (or extended family!) for only $28/year. Email for a membership or visit for more info. Want to make a comment about something you read in the magazine? Email Interested in advertising? Contact Benji at or call 563-379-6315. Visit our website:

Inspire(d) Inspire(d) – pronounced in-spy-erd... you know: inspired – stands for inspire and be inspired. The idea is that person one inspires person two. That person is now inspired. Then that person inspires person three (or person one again), who is now inspired. Then the cycle continues! That’s what those arrows around the (d) are about! Our mission is, ultimately, to change the world… starting with our own community!

At least (roughly) 48 times a year, I look up at the dark night sky, bursting with stars, and think, “Whoa. We are tiny specks in this vast universe.” You too?

From the Editor

P.S. We’ve been making this magazine for 15 years! WHAT. Thank you to our readers, incredible advertisers, and the entire Driftless community for always inspiring us. We couldn’t make this magazine without you, and we are grateful for your support.

It’s a region in the Midwest – Northeast Iowa, Southeast Minnesota, Southwest Wisconsin, and a wee bit of Northwest Illinois – that was skipped by the glaciers in the last ice age, leaving the area “lacking glacial drift” – i.e. Driftless. The gist of that is we get to enjoy bluffs, valleys, coulees, and other fun geographical features that don’t typically occur in other parts of our states (the Mississippi River contributes nicely to this list as well). It’s a lovely place to live and visit, and we’re happy you’re here!

Aryn Henning Nichols 07

Fall, of course, is back-to-school time for students across the world. I remember delivering fall Inspire(d)s one year and seeing then-NICC President Dr. Wee standing outside at the entrance to the Calmar campus, on the street, a big smile on his face, waving as new students arrived for their first day of classes. This is Dr. Wee at his finest. Read Sara Friedl-Putnam’s great interview with him about his life and tenure as an educator and leader at Luther College and NICC (pg 43).

WE COULDN’T DO IT WITHOUT: Sara Friedl-Putnam / contributor Sara Walters / contributor Renee Brincks / contributor Olivia Lynn Schnur / contributor Craig Thompson / contributor Tallitha Reese / contributor Steve Harris / contributor Christy Ebert Vrtis / contributor Mary Thompson/ illustrator Sammy Ferguson / Summer 2022 intern Inspire(d) Magazine is published quarterly by Inspire(d) Media, LLC, 412 Oak Street, Decorah, Iowa, 52101. This issue is dated Fall 2022, issue 70 volume 16, Copyright 2022 by Inspire(d) Magazine

The universe fascinates me. And those James Webb telescope images of distant galaxies that were released this past summer are mind-boggling. What goes on out there? How are we even here? This curiosity – about the universe, the world, and the people and things that weave into our day-to-day – is what drives us to keep learning, even beyond the traditional back-to-school setting that heralds the coming of fall.

Our summer intern, Sammy Ferguson, shares the winding path of Decorah resident Nick Chill, who took the amazing photo on this cover. We love his positive perspective on life, and his quest for lifelong learning (pg 16). We’ve been learning about our community and its people for the 15 years we’ve been making this magazine (woot, Happy Birthday, Inspire(d)!). As always, we’ve identified Community Building as one of the top positive things we can do in this life. This issue, we’ve got four great Community Builders: The Wrobel family in Viroqua, Wisconsin (pg 22); Sarah Johnson in Winona, Minnesota (pg 26); Jane Peck in Lanesboro, Minnesota (pg 29); and Nancy Sojka in Decorah, Iowa (welcome to new Inspire(d) writer Christy Ebert Vrtis, who profiled Nancy, pg 33). These people strive to improve their communities, and create spaces where others feel welcomed and connected, in this instance through historic renovations, community art, history, and quilting.Thisconnection is everything – it shows us how we’re part of a larger whole, and how we have the power to affect change, affect each other’s lives, affect our own lives.


Fall is also time for gorgeous leaves. And leave (haha, pun) it to our conservationist writer Craig Thompson to rake me in (groan) on the topic of Leaving the Leaves. I bet he’ll get you too. As Craig says, “The more we mimic nature, the more we benefit the planet we call home.”

Aryn Henning Nichols / editor & designer Benji Nichols / writer & advertising sales (& husband, distributor, head of logistics)

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October 13: Jaerv + The OK Factor

February 9, 2023: Ladama (World Vocal Quartet)

The 2022-23 Luther College Center Stage Series is shining with opportunities to catch world-class performances, right here in Decorah at the Center for Faith and Life. Join in on all the fun by subscribing to the entire series of shows, and/ or by enjoying incredible preperformance dinners on the Luther Campus. Call 563-3871357 for ticket information, or visit Septembertickets.luther.edu22:Rodney

April 15, 2023: Gravity & Other Myths: A Simple Space (Physical theatre)



The Luther College Community Music School exists to nurture students of all ages and levels of experience in order to expand their musical skills, provide affordable music education opportunities, offer teaching experience for future music educators, and encourage lifelong music making.

April 4, 2023: The Ugly Duckling (School Performance)

Across rural Iowa, young adults and families are choosing to call the state’s nonurban communities home. Organizations like the Iowa Rural Development Council and the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) are bringing voices and ideas together

October 24: The Lightning Thief (School Performance)

NOVEMBER 17 & 18 – 7:30 PM

INTO THE WOODS is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.

The first community event, Ukepalooza, will be held Thursday, October 13 at 6:30 pm in the Orchestra Room of the Jenson Noble Hall of Music. Students (ages 10 and up) and their families are invited for a fun evening of group playing. Bring a uke if you have one or borrow one onsite. \ Fall 2022 09 UNDERGROUND RADIO THEATRE OF THE AIR PRESENTS... OCTOBER 7 & 8 – 7:30 PM INTO THE WOODS NOVEMBER 3 & 4 – 7:30 PM NOVEMBER 5 – 1:30 & 9:30 PM THE TRAGEDIE OF MACBETH Mark your calendars for Luther Dance & Theatre shows! More info online at BY SHAKESPEAREWILLIAM BRITTANYBYPHOTOGRAPHYDance & Theatre JEWEL THEATRE, CENTER FOR THE ARTS • DECORAH, IA WITH MUSIC AND LYRICS BY STEPHEN SONDHEIM, AND A BOOK BY JAMES LAPINE

What We’


Lovingre right now

The Young Person’s Concert will be held Saturday, November 5 at 10:30 am. This event is created for preschool and young elementary students, as a picture book is brought to life with music, complete with activities for audience participation, and followed by an “instrument petting zoo”!

November 5: Ailey II (Dance)

March 31, 2023: Empire Wild (Riveting Trio)

The LCCMS program will also include connections with music classes at Sunflower Child Development Center, Modern Band (rock band) classes with students from Crossroads Academy, ukulele ensemble with homeschooled students in the area, and directing the Voices in Harmony choir at Gundersen Harmony Care Center. These experiences are designed to be mutually beneficial for participants and future educators.


Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass

You can also check out a great conversation with Luther College Director of Campus Programming (and the Center Stage Series) Kristen Underwood as part of Inspire(d)’s “Rhymes With Decorah” Podcast hosted by Benji Nichols. Find the fun at or wherever you listen to podcasts!

NOVEMBER 19 –1:30 & 7:30 PM

Luther College music education students are gearing up this fall to re-launch the Luther College Community Music School (LCCMS). Musicians of all ages can enroll in private lessons (all band and orchestral instruments, piano, guitar, drums, and ukulele) and will have weekly lessons with LCCMS teachers, with a student recital Monday, November 14 at 7 pm in Luther’s Noble Recital Hall. Tuition is $150 –register at

Ailey AmericanII Dance Theatre to help continue making these places viable and appealing for current and future generations. The Northeast Iowa Young Professionals Attracting Success Summit, held September 23 at the Volga Opera House (near Elkader in rural Clayton County), will be a day of great conversations about programs and tools to retain, attract, and invest in rural populations is scheduled for. Guest speakers will include Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, Keynote Speaker Gary Kroeger (former SNL actor and Iowan), Jarod Bormann of Professionally Driven Productions, the Clayton County Energy District, and more. The summit is being hosted by Clayton County Conservation, the Iowa Rural Development Council, Alpine Communications, ITC Midwest, and more. Advance registration, agenda, and details available by calling 563-245-1516 or visit:

Fall presents an incredible visual display, with changing leaves, cooler days, and crisp blue skies. It’s the perfect time to adventure out across the region and enjoy. Here are some fall art-based adventures that might help you find not only a beautiful area, but a unique piece of work from one of our regions many talented artists as well. Do check ahead to confirm details and hours on these events before traveling long distances.


What We’ Lovingre right now A LITTLE LIST OF WHAT WE THINK IS AWESOME IN THE DRIFTLESS REGION THIS FALL... CE N TE R S T A G E S ERIE S 202 2– 2 3 Call (563) 387-1357 or visit for more information. Sep. 22 The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass Oct. 13 Jaerv + The OK Factor Nov. 5 Ailey II Feb. 9 LADAMA Mar. 31 Empire Wild Apr. 15 Gravity and Other Myths: A Simple Space Lift your spiritswith the arts!

• NE Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour

The NE Iowa Studio Artists Tour is your chance to tour the beautiful roads of NE Iowa while getting glimpses into the working studios of some of our regions most beloved artists. September 30, October 1 & 2, 2022 marks the 25th year for the Studio Tour – and crosses just about every medium of visual art through the work of over 30 different creators. Artists nestled among the wooded hills and winding rivers will be open daily from 10-5. Decorah acts as the hub of the tour, with scenic adventures up to 40 miles in all directions. Find all the information, maps, and more at www.

Lyric for Strings George Walker Symphony No. 1 in E minor Florence Price Overture to Rienzi Richard Wagner

“With this series, my hope is that the humor and slight absurdity draw people in and hopefully the more you look at it, the more you start to see that this ‘thing’ in the photographs is painfully out of

• Worm Farm Art DTour Sauk County, Wisconsin and the Wormfarm Institute will again host the Art DTour October 1-10, bringing temporarily installed artworks to various locations on a 50-mile route around Reedsburg. Visitors can expect to experience roadside poetry, local food markets, pasture performances, educational Field Notes, “Mystery Spots” and more while traveling along the scenic and winding roads of Sauk County. The DTour is free and open to the public. www.



• Driftless Area Art Fair Just across the great Mississippi, Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin will again hold the Driftless Area Art Fair September 17-18, 2022. From 10-5 on Saturday, and 10-4 on Sunday, take in the scenery, stroll through exhibits, taste local fare, sip local wines, and listen to great music. Find all the details:

The Year 1812, Solemn Overture Op. 49 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky September 25, 2022 • 3 pm Decorah High School Auditorium

Join The Landing Market and Pulpit Rock Brewing for the First Annual Fall Art and Music Fest on Saturday, September 17, 11 am to 5 pm. They will present an array of local artists and vendors at The Landing to highlight the unique artistic flair of Decorah, with live music both Friday and Saturday. Pair that with good beer, food trucks, and dining specials from Justin’s in The Landing, and you’re sure to have a fun-filled time! thelandingmarketdecorah

Decorah Lutheran Church Presenting a rousing start to the Concert2022-2023Season:

• Fall Art & Music Fest

Oneota Valley Community Orchestra’s String Quartet collaborates with ArtHaus players to present A Bestiary: Beasts of the Farm, an award-winning program by artist/singer Bonnie Koloc. September 17, 2022 • 1 pm & 3 pm

MY PAPER TIGER: CARL Aaron Lurth, assistant professor of art at Luther College, has had two photographs added to the permanent collection at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa. The photos are part of his series titled “My Paper Tiger: Carl” in which Lurth depicts what it can feel like to live with anxiety. “In therapy, we often talk about the internal ‘voice in our heads,’ a voice that tends to be negative. It’s common in therapy to suggest that you name that voice and long ago, I named mine Carl. Carl is the guy constantly whispering all of the ‘what ifs’ into my ears,” said Lurth. “And when talking about anxiety, it is often likened to a ‘paper tiger.’ A paper tiger is a term used for something that appears dangerous and frightening from the outside, but when challenged or inspected further, it proves to be ineffectual.”

The photos feature a person in a ghillie suit, a type of camouflage clothing used by soldiers and hunters to blend in with their environment, participating in everyday life. When not used for its intended purposes, the ghillie suit appears very unusual.

OPENING \ Fall 2022 11 Open daily! 563-382-4275 • 112 West Water St. Decorah UpcomingDragonfly family- ned Fantastic Selection • Great Gifts • Readings & Signings • Knowledgable Staff buzz!bookyourGet Sponsored by Marion E. Jerome Foundation & The Depot Outlet Ticket info ovcorchestra.orgat

The Chatfield CFA is celebrating a grand re-opening and season kick-off September 24 with Steel Wheels, Annie Mack, and The Sudden Lovelys.Event tickets include reserved seating in Potter Auditorium for the Steel Wheels concert at 8 pm, general admission seating for guest artists Annie Mack performing on the Potter Plaza at 6 pm and The Sudden Lovelys performing in the Legion Room at 6:30 pm. Event tickets also include craft beer tastings sponsored by PawPrint Brewery and Sylvan Brewery, building tours, and event fees. Event tickets are $50 in advance and $60 at the door. Tickets for music performances are not sold separately. Food and beverages will be available for purchase from the True Smoke Barbecue food truck and CCA concession stands. Details at


Fall 2022 / 563-382-3067 RESERVATIONS Weekly + @driftlessyogacenterAlwaysVinyasa-basedWeekendYogaClasses$10/classDowntownDecorah3rdFloorofImpactCoffeeScanfordetails 124 E ELM ST WEST UNION, IAdrinkeuphoria.coffeeMonthly Coffee Club + Order SMOOTHIESAMAZINGOnlineCOFFEE+LATTESWAFFLES Specialty Coffee & Roasterie What We’ Lovingre right now

A LITTLE LIST OF WHAT WE THINK IS AWESOME IN THE DRIFTLESS REGION THIS FALL... place, yet no one seems to notice. I hope that you will start to feel a connection with moments in your life when you have felt out of place, anxious or uneasy, and start to recognize that none of us can truly tell how people are feeling internally at any given moment. I hope these images create a space for the viewers to potentially open up and talk about their struggles with mental health, and perhaps create space for empathy towards one another through shared experiences. But if all you do is laugh, I’ll be okay with that too,” said Lurth.The series of photos was recently featured in an exhibit at the Figge Art Museum. When the time came to pick up his pieces, Lurth received a call from the Director of Collections and Exhibitions informing him that they were enjoying the photos so much that they would like to add two to their permanent collection. The project was a student-faculty collaboration between Lurth and Madilyn Heinke ’20. Heinke served as the project manager and organized the shoots in order to bring Lurth’s vision to life. She is also likely the person you see behind the ghillie suit playing the role of will be on display and available to view at the Figge Art Museum later this year.


Orchestra FUN

\ Fall 2022 13 FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE, CIVIL RIGHTS, & EQUALITY Trial Lawyers for Justice • •





We’d like to give a big shout-out to two of our favorite shops on Water Street in Downtown Decorah. The Getup (consignment clothing and more) and Agora Arts (celebrating 30 years in business!) have both flanked the beautiful Hotel Winneshiek for years. Lisa Lantz & Scott Bassford of The Getup jumped at an opportunity this summer to buy a building of their own a couple blocks down – the former Sports World. The move will give The Getup much-needed space to grow, retailing newborn to adult clothing, maternity wear, gear, shoes, pop-up shops, and much more. And Agora Arts owner Gail Bolson Magnuson is taking the opportunity to move her shop into The Getup’s former space, where she will have a larger space to showcase her beautifully curated American Craft, amazing gifts, and more. We can’t wait to see what both of these business-owners do with their new spaces – we are grateful for the energy they bring to downtown Decorah! •



October 563-382-5071 W. Water St, 3rd Floor, Decorah,


• Just east at 120 E Water Street, Sarah Cousins and Hannah Garry have delighted the masses by opening up a brick-and-mortar location for Blazing Star – a vegetarian and vegan café featuring tasty grain bowls that highlight as many local ingredients as possible. Menus rotate depending on what’s in season and available – but we can attest that it’s delicious! Don’t miss out on fresh spring rolls and rotating offerings of baked goods too.

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Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death Cases Against Insured Defendants NICHOLAS C. ROWLEY COURTNEY ROWLEY BENJAMIN R. NOVOTNY DOMINIC PECHOTA JON SPECHT KAREN ZAHKA LAURA THOMPSON Albuquerque • Atlanta • Boston • Bozeman • Brooklyn • Casper • Chicago • Decorah • Denver • Des Moines • Irvine • Juneau Los Angeles • Ojai • Oklahoma City • Providence • San Diego • San Francisco • Santa Barbara • Seattle • St. Louis • Waterloo WE ONLY GET PAID IF WE WIN • WE HAVE WON OVER $2 BILLION DOLLARS FOR OUR CLIENTS Check out other Chatfield CFA

• Pop Culture! Winnebago Street in Downtown Decorah has long been the home of unique businesses, from The Hairloom and Cardboard Robot, to Donlon Pharmacy and Wildcrafted Acupuncture and Herbs. The latest addition to the block is “Pop Culture” – now the home of three different independent

Being real Trial Lawyers means we don’t settle out cheap. We fight for full justice and nothing less and see our clients as human beings who we care about. We cherish and place great value on fundamental constitutional rights (Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness). If you or a loved one ever need help, please don’t hesitate to reach out. a FREE consultation at 866-TL4J-LAW or shows too: 1: Okee Dokee Brothers 13: Galactic Cowboy Orchestra 28: PK Mayo, BackStage 4: Rod Abernethy 5: Harp Twins 20: Rochester Symphony NEW THINGS IN THE DRIFTLESS!

• The Water Street Deli has opened its doors this summer at 301 W Water St and is a haven for those seeking out gourmet imported meats, cheeses, and delicacies from near and far. Local chef Logan Clements offers sandwiches and salads, along with offerings from the deli case and catering trays too! Swing by and see what’s good on any given day – and tell him you read about it in Inspire(d)!

ELKADER NEW THINGS: The Collective opened in March of 2021 at 129 North Main Street in Elkader, but we haven’t had a chance to give it a shoutout yet! It is an art gallery and community space run by a group of professional artists and small business owners who value the arts in Northeast Iowa. Their mission is to positively impact each other and enhance the wellbeing of the community, and we love that. The Collective is also at the forefront of “First Friday” events (the first Friday of each month) in downtown Elkader, and is a vital part of Elkader’s Art in the Park. Check it all out @ TheCollectiveElkader or

VIROQUA NEW THINGS: Downtown Viroqua, Wisconsin, welcomed Salt & Tipple to the lineup of fun food offerings earlier this spring. A self-described “local deli, backyard grill, delectable cocktail bar – and a slice of something for everyone,” the counter service eatery offers up elevated options and easy to-go local food and treats. Located at the space adjacent to the Viroqua Public market (formerly Rooted Spoon) at 219 Main Street, Salt & Tipple is currently open Tuesday-Saturday, for lunch and dinner. Find the details on social @salt_and_tipple

THIS FALL... businesses under one roof. They lifted several layers off the former Radio Shack façade to make the space shine inside and out. Ott’s Pop Indie Pop, a craft popcorn company started by musician Lissie and Seed Saver’s Exchange founder Diane Ott Whealy, is at the heart of the project, alongside Big Driftless, a handmade gear, apparel, and good vibes company, as well as Elemental Décor & Design Company featuring artisan décor with global influences. Check it all out Wednesday-Saturdays 11 am to 6 pm.


Fall 2022 / iloveinspired.com14 WE ARE PROUD TO THROUGHOUTFARMERSWITHPARTNERLOCALANDARTISANSTHEYEAR Wed-Sat: 5pm-close. Reservations highly recommended. 563-382-9463 117 WEST WATER ST. DECORAH, IOWA THIS COUPON WORTH $5 $5$5 OFF PURCHASE OF $50 OR MORE QUALITY GEAR$5 406 WATERWESTST Limit one per customer DECORAHIOWA AT THE Decorah Hatchery $512/31/2022Expires LULU & BB’S PET MARKET BECAUSE WE LOVE THAT YOU LOVE YOUR PETS CONSCIOUSLY SOURCED FOOD, TOYS & ACCESSORIES FOR YOUR DOG & CAT 118 E Water St, Decorah, Iowa luluandbbs.com563-382-4431 Check Facebook for hours Reservations Required . . Decorah, IA WOOD FIRED PIZZA. GLAMPING. GRASS FINISHED BEEF & LAMB HERITAGE PORK What We’ Lovingre right now

• The Kozi Pie Shoppe in downtown Decorah is the long time brick-and-mortar dream of chef and chief pie maker Liz Lesser. What started as a pie-only pop-up business has become a daily fast casual, locally-sourced breakfast, lunch (and beyond) spot on Water Street. Several flavors of pie are offered daily by the slice, whole pies by order. Daily specials and slices galore!

• Driftless Yoga Center On the third floor of Imact Coffee in Downtown Decorah, you’ll now find a new home for Vinyasa-based yoga at the Driftless Yoga Center, founded by Laree Schouweiler of Driftless Yoga Festival and the former indoor cycling and yoga studio, Reefuel. Find details on instagram @driftlessyogacenter

The exhibit runs through April 2023, and can be seen alongside the regular collections at Vesterheim, daily 9am-5pm.



October 13, 5:30 pm - Courthouse Annex, Decorah

FIX-IT FOLKS VIROQUA! Small actions can make big differences in this world. It is this exact theory that encouraged a group of Viroqua folks to establish the “Fix-It Folks” community and hold their first Fix-It Clinic in August. Fix-It Folks creates a fun community outlet and inspires others to reduce waste that throwing away repairable household items creates. In their first clinic, repairs included lamps, small appliances, vacuums, a sewing machine, dresses, bicycles, a bench, and more! Volunteers provided the labor, organization, space, and talent. These repairs are offered at no charge, however donations are encouraged so that future parts, materials, and events can be provided. The next repair clinic is scheduled for October 9, 1-3 pm in Viroqua – but check the Facebook Group “FIX-IT FOLKS | Viroqua” or check out Rachel Wolf (Lusa Organics) great blog about the event at:

What do you love about Winneshiek County, Iowa? What are the natural, historical, and cultural resources that you most value? The county wants to know! Over the next months a series of community conversations will be held to gather information from Winneshiek County residents about the resources that you value and want to protect. This information will be shared with the County Planning & Zoning Commission and may inform future land use decisions. Any resident of Winneshiek county (18 or older) is invited to attend one of the upcoming Thursday meetings:

September 13, 5:30 pm - Ridgeway Community Center

September 29, 5:30 pm - Ossian Community Center

A light dinner will be served at all meetings, and more information can be found at:



The Inspire(d) crew has been thrilled to make a few stops at the newly invigorated Root Note café since last spring. Through many years and iterations, the Root Note has offered downtown great coffee, beverages, crepes, salads, treats, and community in a hip and welcoming spot. Stop by and take it all in – and tell them Inspire(d) sent you! or @therootnote Word on the streets is also that Rochester Restaurateurs from the Bleu Duck Kitchen and Bleu Duck Truck will soon have “Pato Azul” open on 4th Street in Downtown La Crosse. Diners familiar with the Billy Madison inspired Blue Duck can likely figure a fun and south-ofthe-border theme with Pato Azul, and we’ll be excited to see what lands - Qua Qua! Last but not least in La Crosse land – SAGRA Food & Wine has been presenting select locally- and Italian-inspired pop-up dinners around La Crosse the past few months. “Seasonal – locally sourced – house made pasta and low intervention wines come together in a casual setting…” says a pretty much perfect Sunday evening to us! Keep in the loop for upcoming dinners @sagra_lax or


Try an E-Bike for up to a week, & apply the fees toward the purchase of a new bike within 30 days of rental.

Join Vesterheim in Decorah for an exhibit with National Geographic Explorer Erika Skogg – a project funded by the National Geographic Society – featuring photography depicting the lifestyle, celebrations, and traditions of Scandinavian-American communities throughout the Midwest, including Hancock (MI), Ephraim (WI), Pequot Lakes (MN), Lindsborg (KS), and Decorah. In 2018, Skogg received a documentAmerican”“ScandinavianGrantGeographicNationalStorytellingforherprojecttotheUpperMidwest’s cultural connections to its emigrant history and promote an interest in one’s own genealogy. Erika Skogg has experience documenting cultural stories from the United States to Morocco, Greenland, Iceland, Colombia, and beyond. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Erika’s most recent photographic research is closer to home and driven by the desire to immerse, understand, and visually preserve the region’s Scandinavian and Nordic culture.

November 3, 5:30 pm - Courthouse Annex, Decorah Fall 2022 15 W, Th, F: 10-6 . Sat: 9-5 . Sun: 12-4 . Closed Mon & Tues. 101 College Dr. Decorah, Iowa . 563-382-8209 Your Bike Life!


Graduate, go to college, get a job. This formula has often been considered the “norm” when entering life post-high school. But the reality is there are many different learning paths a person can choose. Nick Chill, photographer, instructor, and Marketing/Publicity coordinator at Decorah Public Library, initially chose the path to a two-year tech school. Interested in becoming a web developer, he majored in Web Development and“IfDesign.Ihadany advice for someone debating their lifelong learning path, it would be to find a delicate balance between being open to new things but also being fully committed to new things until you know that it’s for you,” Nick says. “It is okay to say that a path is not right for you, but you won’t truly know that until you’ve given it a good try, experiencing the ups and downs. You never have to feel like you are stuck with one thing, but at the same time, don’t just quit every time something gets a little challenging.” For Nick, realizing the amount of time a web developer spends indoors was the moment he decided that path wasn’t for him. He changed course and joined the Navy to see the world. Nick was first stationed in San Diego as a “wire-chaser” electrician for the SH-60 Seahawk helicopter. He would follow a wire from one end to the other and determine any issues with the aircraft. He also earned his Bachelor’s degree in Professional Aeronautics during his time in the service.

PATHSTHE Fall 2022 / iloveinspired.com16 Continued on next page

There are many paths to pursuing lifelong learning. Decorah resident Nick Chill shares the one that led him to where - and who - he is today.

BY SAMMY FERGUSON \ Fall 2022 17

Female Belted Kingfisher. Ocean Beach, San Diego, CA. / Photo by Nick Chill –

Photo by Nick Chill –

INSPIRE CREATE • 563.382.5440 ArtHaus Masquerade Gala Saturday, October 29, 7-10 pm Convergence Cider Works, Decorah Costume March at 8 pm with $$$ Prizes $20 tickets Win, Lose, or Dash Auction & Raffle YOU’RE INVITED! ArtHaus Drag Show Dance Party Friday, September 30, 7-10 pm Convergence Cider Works Patio, Decorah Local +Luther Drag Performers $15-25 sliding scale cover Mostly standing room only Pride Festival Kick Off Giant redwoods along the coast of Northern California. Taken in the magnificent Red wood National Park. /

Above is the full Night Sky photo from this Inspire(d) cover. “This was taken while camping at Backbone State Park, in Dundee, Iowa. As the sun went down, the sky lit up with an amazing light show of stars,” says Nick. “We were truly in awe as we enjoyed (and photographed) the show by the light of the fire.” by Nick Chill

/ Photo

It was around this same time that Nick discovered photography. On a first-time visit to the Grand Canyon, he was overwhelmed by the scene. He wanted to share this beauty with the world, and upon returning home, he promptly bought his first camera. It was a new direction that would take him on many literal paths, enjoying the beauty of nature and the outdoors.

“I love the idea that I can share the view I’m seeing and the beautiful moment I’m experiencing,” Nick says. “Photography and my spiritual practice have been hand in hand. They both grow and support each other.”

Before 2007, Nick had a pessimistic view of life. But he spent a couple of weeks that year listening to an audiobook by spiritual teacher and self-help author Eckhart Tolle. One day, after listening, Nick got out of his car and felt something from within him just open up. “I literally felt weight lift off my shoulders and started uncontrollably laughing with tears in my eyes. I suddenly viewed life from a nearly opposite perspective from only minutes before. I was never the same person again,” he says. \ Fall 2022 19 supplying your creativity since 2017 downtown decorah 118 WASHINGTON ST. DECORAH, IA . 563-382-2567@theperfectedgedecorah + NOW OFFERING A GREAT SELECTION OF LOCAL ART

This experience gave Nick a new lens on the world; one he wanted to share through photography. Rather than allowing himself to be drawn in by negativity, Nick uses spirituality and photography to be intentional about a positive mindset. Continued on next page

“I approach my photographs from a feeling aspect rather than trying to overthink the composition and other technicalities,” Nick says. “Overthinking can creep in sometimes, but I love conveying how a scene or moment felt personally to other people.”

hobby quickly grew into a talent. Three years after Nick left the Navy, he decided to focus solely on photography and moved to Washington. While living there, Nick earned his Bachelor’s degree in Photography. Even though he has explored a variety of styles, Nick’s dedication lies with nature photography, mainly for its serenity. He finds peace in the magical beauty of a barren field as the sun rises and deer prance in the distance. Nature provides spaces where Nick can be content.

Fall 2022 / iloveinspired.com20

“Photography helps to facilitate the mindset of looking for the beauty in the world around me,” heNick’ssays.

Nick was living in Washington when he met Rachel, his now-wife and, at one point, his partner in wedding and portrait photography. The two began chatting on Facebook, and eventually, Nick decided to move from Washington to small-town Decorah, Iowa, where Rachel lived. He joined Green Iowa in Decorah, offering up his photography skills and handling a variety of other duties. During

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Sammy Ferguson interned with Inspire(d) Magazine during summer 2022 as a writer and editor. Sammy is a senior at Luther College, majoring in English with a minor in Management. Sammy hopes to graduate and enter the publishing field. Joshua Trees lit by a waxing gibbous moon, in Joshua Tree National Park. /

Photo by Nick Chill –

this time, Nick also established himself as a local photographer, focusing on wedding and portrait photography. He began teaching photography seasonally at Northeast Iowa Community College, showing students, ages ranging from 35 to 60, the basics of their camera.“Mystudents are interested in getting into it as a hobby, or they bought a nice camera and want to use it to take better pictures of their kids and things like that,” he says. “Honestly, after I get home from a class, I feel like I have a buzz of energy. I get so uplifted by seeing the excitement on people’s faces when they realize the beautiful photos that they’ve captured… It’s inspiring.” Nick currently works a full-time position as Marketing and Publicity coordinator at Decorah Public Library, specializing in photography and the library’s social media. And over the next few years, Nick and Rachel are determined to travel – with their two dogs, Charlie and Griffin – in their Airstream trailer across the country, experiencing nature’s beauty. While Nick has been on an interesting journey, he would not change the past by any means. “I’m a firm believer that every choice I made brought me to where I am today,” says Nick, “Any changes on the path could be better, relatively speaking, but I’m glad I did everything the way I did. I’m very happy with where I am right now and who I am.”

Apprenticeship: Apprenticeships are similar to trade schools. However, unlike students enrolled in a trade school, individuals in an apprenticeship learn through hands-on exercises that pertain to their chosen careers. This path generally leads to a licensed certificate in a skilled trade of the student’s choosing.



Associate Degree: An associate degree is an achievement past a high school diploma, but short of a bachelor’s degree. They tend to take two years for students to complete. These degrees can lead to careers in a variety of fields, or be a method to transition into a four-year university to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

Post-Secondary Degrees – What do they mean?

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Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor’s degree is one of the most common undergraduate degrees. It tends to take about four years to complete at a college or university. In that time, students choose a field of study in which to specialize.

Masters Degrees : A Masters program typically takes two years, and happens after graduating from a four-year school. It is for a very specific field of study, deepening career-oriented skills for that student’s success.

Other (Oh, the wide world of “other”): Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Volunteer Programs, Teaching in another country, Gap Year…and lots more. Trying one of these programs or traveling and working gives students the opportunity to explore interests and options before taking further steps toward their careers.

Doctoral Degree: A Doctorate program takes place after receiving your Master’s degree. This program is heavily researched-based, and is the most in-depth education within a discipline. These students are experts within a specific area of study, or field of profession.

Trade School: A trade school, also known as a career school, is an alternative to a community college or university. Trade schools allow students to have a more focused education by offering hands-on training. Examples of careers that are represented in a trade school are carpenter, electrician, plumber, painter, and many others.

Military: There are six branches of the military, including the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Space Force. Each branch has a different specialty and career track (and a maximum enlistment age), but they all share a similar structured format with a clear distinction of hierarchy within the groups.

There are many different ways and opportunities to learn, and you don’t have to be at a specific point in your life to embark on a new direction. Many are familiar with the “graduate high school, go to college, get a job” route, but what else is out there? What do all those degrees even mean? Below, we’ve compiled a handful of paths one could take to reach their lifelong learning goals. Check them out, and ask yourself, “What do I want to learn next?”

Self-Taught: There are many, many paid and free tutorials online, or books you can check out at the library, that will teach you everything from how to design a wedding invite to crocheting a koala to making a farmstead table and beyond. You can also simply learn by doing! Life and experience are excellent teachers! Sources: • • • •


The couple approached Brian’s parents, Larry and Sue Wrobel, about jumping in on the project, and the group decided to go for it. They officially purchased the building in January of 2020, with plans to eventually return it to its former hotel status.

The Hotel Fortney, built in 1899, is one of the longest-standing buildings in downtown Viroqua, Wisconsin. It’s a striking city landmark, with its three-story Queen Anne styling and circular corner oriel bay window. But time had not been kind to the historic building.By2017, brickwork on the oriel bays was starting to come loose, windows were detaching, and a back corner wall was caving in…but it was for sale. This was when Amy and Brian Wrobel, of Stoddard, Wisconsin, toured the building.

In that heyday, the grand Hotel Fortney featured a large dining room, waiting room, a grand lobby, reading room, and writing room all on the first floor with a magnificent three-story open staircase leading to luxurious guest rooms on the second and third floors. Built by Toger and Hannah Fortney, it rivaled hotels of much larger cities. Through the years, as time began to take its toll, the building continued to operate as a hotel or short-term occupancy living model with a variety of different businesses housed on the first floor and basement.

Viroqua, Wisconsin’s Historic Fortney Building is being revived by the Wrobel family, and they’re building community along the way The Hotel Fortney family reno-team (from left to right) Finn, Amy, Reese, Brian, and Burke Wrobel, with Brian’s parents, Sue and Larry Wrobel, with their Main Street Wisconsin Award: Best Historic Restoration Project of 2021. / Photo courtesy the Wrobels. on next page

“There was clearly a lot of potential there, but the amount of work that would need to be done was staggering,” Amy explains.

“We continued to discuss the possibilities off and on for the next three years, sketching hundreds of floor plans on napkins and scratch paper, until we finally came up with a way to make it all work.”

In addition to elbow grease and hard labor, Amy brings a design eye to the massive project, which won “Best Historic Restoration Project of 2021” at the Main Street Wisconsin Awards held in April of 2022.


“I serve as the design coordinator, researching and exploring the design styles that would have been characteristic at the time this hotel was in its heyday,” Amy says. “I have been working hard to find creative, modern solutions to bring that old-time look and feel back to this restoration.” \ Fall 2022 23

“Larry is our jack-of-all-trades, constantly on the move demoing, hauling, cleaning and overseeing the project on a daily basis,” Amy says. “Sue is the boss of our day-today operations, serving as HR manager and bookkeeper, to name just a few. She has also spent countless hours refinishing all things wood found throughout the building from huge oak doors, to the original lobby desk, and most recently the grand staircase. Sue and I have been able to unearth the natural beauty found beneath layers and layers of paint and years of heavy use.”


The Wrobel Family Viroqua, WI

Work began immediately, starting off with large amounts of cleaning, then moving into a full building renovation, taking the interior all the way down to the studs and addressing immediate repair needs, like the falling brickwork, detaching windows, and sinking wall. Eventually the building’s entire exterior was also repainted for the first time since around 1979. It’s been a true family affair. And while the Wrobels never imagined being the owners of a lounge or boutique hotel, they have each settled very easily and naturally into a niche role on an ownership team that just works.

“Brian is a project manager for a commercial construction company and provides a wealth of knowledge pertaining to the ins and outs of the construction phase,” says Amy. “We walked them through every detail of their build out so nothing was forgotten. Each commercial space is uniquely different, while still maintaining the characteristic charm of this big, old historical landmark building.”

When the final commercial tenant, Noble Rind Artisan Cheese Co., opened their doors in February 2022, the Wrobels switched their

The Hotel Fortney underwent extensive renovations in order to bring it to its current, beautiful state. Below, see a photo of the Historic Fortney Lounge, featuring a large image hangingon the wall that shows the Hotel Fortney as it once looked. / Photos courtesy the Wrobels

Fall 2022 / iloveinspired.com24

The Wrobel’s plan was to restore the first floor for commercial business spaces and then renovate the second and third floors into hotel“Myrooms.husband, Brian, is the visionary for our project and has brought so many of the pieces to this puzzle together,” Amy says. “He is constantly brainstorming ways to make a square peg fit into a round hole, so to speak, in a 123-year-old building where nothing is straight or level and everything needs to be brought up to present day building code.” As of this writing, the first floor has been completed and now houses The Historic Fortney Lounge, which is operated by the Wrobels, as well as four additional businesses: Noble Rind Artisan Cheese Co., Driftless Healing Arts, Pink Spruce Photography, and Linnea Wyant Salon (see sidebar for details).

As each new business planned to move into the building, the Wrobels first spent time getting to know the owner and their specific needs in order to create a unique space that would fit.

“All of the businesses within the building are growing and thriving, and each one is incredibly supportive of all the others,” says Amy, who is excited to soon be able to offer unique hotel rooms for folks who will inevitably come to check out these unique businesses and spaces. “There seems to be a widespread belief in Viroqua as a whole that we can all benefit from the success of others around us. It’s a very collaborative and vibrant community that we’re thankful to be a part of.”

• Jen Casselius, of Pink Spruce Photography, is an award-winning wedding photographer who also offers small business branding packages.

focus to stage two of renovations: the second and third floors of the building, which will house 14 boutique hotel rooms, currently set to open in late 2022 or early 2023.

Tallitha Reese is a freelance writer and content manager based in Cashton, WI. She owns Words By Reese and you can find out more about her and her work at

• The Historic Fortney Lounge serves craft beer and wines along with food from the local Driftless Café and Noble Rind Artisan Cheese Co. and is a favorite place for customers to come and relax while meeting with friends and family. \ Fall 2022 25 Small batch Fresh Fudge1930s Soda Fountain • Ice Cream, Chocolates, Candies, Fudge 207 Pearl St. Downtown La Crosse, WI • • 608-782-6655 You won’t find anything like this without a time machine. 3 floors 2 shop cats & 1 really pretty (checksmiirlus out on Instagram) Shop anytime at 206 A Street | McGregor, Iowa 211 Pearl Street, La Crosse, WI. @driftmercantile 217 S. Main St. Viroqua, WI vivagallerycooperative VIVA GALLERY

• Noble Rind Artisan Cheese Co. offers a full menu of specialty cheese and charcuterie boards, soups, salads, sandwiches, beverages and a variety of retail items.

• Driftless Healing Arts offers naturopathic medicine consultations, Tai Chi instruction and acupuncture treatments, focusing on natural and holistic approaches for healthy lifestyles.

• Lennea Wyant Salon provides exceptional salon services in a relaxing and luxurious space – their extensive knowledge of color technique is second to none in the area. Learn more at

Amy Wrobel shares details about the Fortney businesses:

A very colorful, awe-inspiring bonus. Anyone viewing Sarah and team’s artwork – adorning fences, buildings, walls, doors, garages, and more – can see that joy is very present. “In my art I like to use vibrant colors and vibrant, welcoming messages,” sheSarahsays.has facilitated a wide range of projects during her career. It’s hard for Sarah to pick a favorite, but one particularly “soul-fueling” project was with Our Voices, a group of local students of color, in the summer of 2020. “It was the first of many art projects together, finding solace in co-creation and the cadence that we’ve developed that vacillates between silent reverie and fits of giggles and silliness,” she explains. It was icing on the cake for her, and truly an impactful moment, when Sarah and Our Voices unveiled their “Hear Our Voices” mural in fall 2020, and the hundreds of present community members audibly gasped and then cheered for their work. “Creating together is community building, and these processes, too, generate light and lightness. We are better together, and art can be a bridge that illuminates that.”

Fall 2022 / iloveinspired.com26 COMMUNITY BUILDERS

Sarah will never forget hearing and seeing the delight of hundreds of community members who contributed to the Fabric of Winona panels, unveiled in May 2022. This effort was coordinated with Project FINE, a local agency welcoming, providing support, empowerment, and advocacy for recent refugees or immigrants. Through this project, hundreds of community members, ages two to 80, helped create the panels, which are displayed outside of the Winona County History Center. And as exciting as the end result was, Sarah Johnson founded The Joy Labs, where she experiments with joy and art, and builds community.

“The magic of community engaged art is the community engagement,” says Sarah Johnson, owner and operator of The Joy Labs in Winona, Minnesota. “It is always so exciting to see what evolves as community members create together.”Creating collaborative art is the premise of The Joy Labs, which Sarah started in November 2021, mid-way through the pandemic. During this time, Sarah often relied on the mantra, “Anything is Possible,” as a reminder that one should always be prepared for anything –positive outcomes, and negative ones, too.

“I’ve found that living in possibility, while at times scary, is a place where it is possible to find joy even in the darkest of times,” she says. “Being alive and human is a complex thing, and I’ve found that embracing that complexity and the privilege of being fallible and mortal is living in joy.”

WALTERSSarahposes for a selfie, with a mural in the background that she painted on a shipping container.

Winona, MN Sarah Johnson


Through The Joy Labs, Sara offers coaching, consultation, and creativity to individuals, organizations, and communities that would like to experience greater joy. Oftentimes, it’s the group effort that supports the most learning for those she serves, and brings Sara the most joy, too. “We find joy through play and experimentation, and for me, playing, connecting with others, creating, and color are the big joy factories,” she says. “The process is the point, and the outcome [work of art] is simply a bonus.”

Sarah really loved “the sizzling of synapses firing together” that she experienced with the group during the design stages.

Sarah is an artist, and also a licensed mental health professional and an adjunct professor with Winona State University. “Growth and learning are high up on my list of values, both for myself and others,” she says. “This is another reason that I find community engaged art so valuable: it can be an accessible tool for building relationships which offer opportunities for meaningful conversations where learning and empathy can happen.”

Sarah has found that oftentimes, there is much to learn about curiosity and wonder – and offering oneself grace – from the young people of a community. Even though she now sees herself as a lifelong learner, as a young adult, it was a different story. “It turns out that when I was 21 and thought I knew everything there was to know, I was dead wrong,” she says. “Every day I grow in my awareness of how little I do know. This is actually quite comforting in some strange way. I try to approach the world with curiosity and

Bottom: Fabric of Winona installation in spring 2022, an ongoing community co-created mural project. / Photo by Mary Ferrell

Top: Working on projects for mental health murals co-created with Our Voices and other area youth groups. / Photo by Tricia Wehrenberg

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Sarah’s photography exhibit, SOUL FUEL, went up March 9, 2020 at the Blue Heron Cof feehouse in Winona. The world shut down days later. Pivoting, Sarah put a modified version of the display Blue Heron’s front windows that fall. SOUL FUEL was about mindful seeking of what’s good in the world, Sarah says. /

Photo courtesy Sarah Johnson


wonder which I’ve found me more grace to myself and spilledofstreet,spilledcanthepaintcanmentionifwouldfinishedimportantsays,andtoquitecolorsometimesothers.”Forinstance,thedoesn’tmakeitthecanvas,that,Sarahisjustasasthedesign.“IberemissIdidn’talsothehalfofpurplespilledonfloor,thehalfofbluepaintonthethehalfcanpurplepaintonthelawn, and the lessons that mistakes and spills can teach us about being humble, human, and adaptive,” she explains. Through her various projects, she’s been impressed by the “authentic, empathetic, wise words of advice about mental health” young people have shared and the art they’ve created around the theme of resilience. She is excited to continue her work with area youth and others through upcoming mural projects with Project FINE in St. Charles, Minnesota, at the Catholic Worker House in Winona, and at the West Salem Library in West Salem, Wisconsin.Beyondcreating beautiful art and building community, it’s never quite clear where Sarah will go next with her work. “I have often said that if you looked at my career path from the front end you might think, ‘Huh, that is one very squiggly line,’” she says. “But if you look at it backwards from this point you might think, ‘Every point on that squiggle is what brought Sarah here.’” Sara Walters is a freelance writer based in La Crescent, MN. Her art skills are limited to rainbows and stick figures, so she is in awe of the work done through The Joy Labs. To get involved or learn more, visit

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Jane Peck’s love of long ago is making a difference – today – in Lanesboro, Minnesota. “When I was a little girl my grandfather – who was born not long after the Civil War – would tell me stories about early settler days in Minnesota,” Jane says. Her parents continued that tradition, telling her stories of World War I, the Roaring ‘20s, and the Great Depression. “That all became very real to me,” she says. “It wasn’t just history in a book – these were stories from my family.”


Continued on next page

Love for history remained a big part of Jane’s life, even after she left her hometown of Albert Lea to attend the University of Denver, pursuing a career in education. By the early 1990s she had founded “Dance Revels Moving History,” a dance troupe specializing in history that toured the upper Midwest and Manitoba. Her partnerships with the Minnesota State Arts Board also opened doors to help young students create historical plays featuring dance and whenmergedthosetheaterhistory,Stories,drama.–allinterestsJaneand her husband, Mike, moved full-time to Lanesboro in 2013. “This little town with its original 19th century storefronts was a perfect set design just screaming for theater,” she remembers thinking. She began writing short plays that could “tell the stories of Lanesboro on the streets of Lanesboro.” In 2016 she rallied a small BUILDERS


To make it all happen, Jane does extensive research in the Lanesboro History Museum and conducts dozens of interviews. “We’re blessed that a few local folks who were living here in the 1930s are still with us,” she says. “We’re able to capture their firsthand memories and stories.” That makes for some fascinating community connections. “On a few occasions actors in the play have met the people they’re portraying. In ‘Lanesboro: World War 2 and Beyond,’ Aiden Leib, a local high school student, played Bertram Boyum – who’s now 103 – with Bertram in the audience. Another year we created scenes from the 1940s when the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was in Lanesboro. Performer Logan Little met Bob Olson, an original ‘CCC Boy’. That makes for wonderful conversations and pictures!”

Hundreds of people stroll through Lanesboro over two weekends for shows presented twice daily, enjoying scenes featuring nearly 30 local actors (a few professional, most amateurs) supported by dozens of behind-the-scenes volunteers.

“It’s entertaining, but it’s more than that,” Jane says. “We learn how history repeats itself. We see how people handled change in previous times, and how they made change happen. A current example is the women’s rights movement. Earlier this year we toured one of our scenes about feminism in 1870s Southeast Minnesota to Historic Forestville near Preston. The day before that show the Supreme Court announced their abortion decision. Talk about relevant!”

“True stories are often more amazing than anything you could make up,” Jane says. “Truth is stranger than fiction. Our audience members get engaged in the stories, the music, and the period costumes. They love it.”

A bit of time travel in Lanesboro? Aiden Lieb (left) portrayed Bertram Boyum (right) in History Alive’s “Lanesboro: World War 2 and Beyond.”

The idea worked. Now each September History Alive Lanesboro presents a set of “pop-up plays” in local historic venues for an audience that moves through town. Each year the plays highlight a different era of local history, including the town’s founding in 1869, World War I in 1918, the women’s suffrage movement of the early 1920s, two shows from the 1930s, and the era immediately following World War II. This year’s show takes viewers back to the 1930s for “Lanesboro 1935: Roma, Norskies, and Bumtown.”

Fall 2022 / iloveinspired.com30

/ Photo by Andrzej Zalasinski

For many people, history has all the appeal of a musty-dusty attic. But watching it come alive through personal stories changes that, giving new energy to Faulkner’s famous line that “…the past is never dead, it’s not even past.”

group of like-minded friends and got funding to form a unique nonprofit theater group called History Alive Lanesboro.

Steve Harris is a freelance writer, the author of “Lanesboro, Minnesota,” and a former board member (and participant) in History Alive Lanesboro. ( or (952) 836-7904).

The cast of History Alive Lanesboro presents “The Founding of the Town: 1869.” / Photo courtesy History Alive Lanesboro

Jane puts these intentions into each season of History Alive Lanesboro. Audience members come away not just with memories of live theater in unique settings, but new friends, stronger community, and new knowledge of past events.

“Learning history – learning any subject, really – keeps us excited about life,” Jane says. “A commitment to life-long learning is so important! It keeps our brain cells active, it’s fun, and it connects us with other people. It makes life worth living.”

SEE HISTORY ALIVE! History Alive Lanesboro shows are presented free of charge, although donations are welcome. State-sponsored funding from the Southern Minnesota Arts Council and private donations make it all work. “Our mission is to share what we do with everyone in the region,” Jane Peck says. “We don’t own this history; it belongs to all of us. We want to make it accessible.” To learn more about History Alive Lanesboro and their upcoming programs, visit and on Facebook.

History Alive Lanesboro 2022: “Lanesboro 1935: Roma, Norskies, and Bumtown” September 17-18 & September 24-25 Tours depart from the Sons of Norway Lodge at 1 pm and 3 pm

History Alive people-connections – actors, volunteers, audience members – help build local community. Jane does that in other ways, too. She’s active in Lanesboro Community Theater, works part-time at the Museum, is a member of the Discovery Faith Community, and helped start the Fillmore County League of Women Voters. She does all that for important reasons. “I lived and worked in Minneapolis for 30 years. I enjoyed the artists I met and the block I lived on. But it wasn’t easy to form community there. A small town like Lanesboro offers more organic ways to connect. You see people more frequently, share common interests, and go to the same events. People do that because they enjoy it – we also know we need each other! Residents of a small town have to be intentional about community. We need to support what we want to exist here, like a grocery store, the museum, or restaurants.”

\ Fall 2022 31


SEP 10 FALL BEER AND WINE FEST Lanesboro | Enjoy Oktoberfest and seasonal fall beers at Lanesboro bars and restaurants.

SEP 10 TASTE OF THE TRAIL Trail Towns | Sep 10: Lanesboro, Whalan, Peterson; Sep 17: Harmony, Preston, Fountain, Chatfield; Sep 24: Rushford, Rushford Village & Houston.

DEC 4 HOLIDAY INN TOUR Lanesboro | Showcasing area B&B/Inns charmingly decorated for the Christmas season. Ticketed event.


Located just 45 minutes from Decorah, IA, and just two hours from Twin Cities, this town is the heart of the Driftless region, known for its bluffs, forests, and truly unique and vibrant vistas that are unmatched as the leaves turn bright red, yellow, and orange.

DEC 3 HOLIDAY DINNER DANCE Lanesboro, Community Center | Reconnect with your sweetheart - lighted luminaries, couple activities.

If you’re planning an overnight stay in the official “Bed and Breakfast Capital of Minnesota,” you’ll find many lodging options from which to choose. Each one provides comfortable and quality rooms and cabins, amenities for different-sized groups, and friendly customer service.

Lanesboro | Self-guided studio art tour. Weekends 10am - 5pm

The Fall Beer and Wine fest overlaps with the Taste of the Trail on September 10th, the History Alive! Pop Up Plays “tell the stories of Lanesboro on the streets of Lanesboro” (Sept. 17, 18, 24, 25) and Fall into Lanesboro (Oct. 1) offers fun activities for the whole family. Experience the Magic in Lanesboro on Small Business Saturday (Nov. 26) where you’ll find fun winter activities for the kids, while having a chance to support small businesses. A perfect lead up to the winter is the dazzling first weekend of December.


Lanesboro is known for its natural beauty, arts, and outdoor recreation, a place where you can truly relax and savor the vibe of a small town. Make plans now for your Fall and Winter Lanesboro and Bluff Country getaway. We have the welcome mat out for you!

SEP 24 BOUTIQUE & BUSINESS CRAWL Lanesboro | Fun day of exploring the boutiques and businesses. 11am-5pm

OCT 8 THE FILTHY 50 - UNSUPPORTED GRAVEL RACE Lanesboro | Race it and set a record. Ride it and take in the beauty.


On Dec. 3, the Holiday Dinner Dance allows time to reconnect with your sweetheart with dancing, lighted luminaries and a catered meal. The Christmas Inn Tour on Dec. 4 takes you through multiple historic, seasonally decorated homes, each with their own unique theme and special treats, like Norwegian krumkake and mulled cider. An artist showcase, where you can meet and shop with local artists, also happens on Dec. 4 in downtown Lanesboro. Don’t forget to get into the winter spirit by seeing “Alice in Winter Wonderland” at the Commonweal Theatre Company (Nov. 12-Dec.18).

Take a ride along our 60-mile paved bike path to other Root River Trail towns and enjoy some of the most beautiful fall colors in the country. Lanesboro celebrates autumn with activities all season long. Thanks to our many volunteers and organizations, our well-loved events have returned in 2022. Many artists, like painter Joni Finnegan, call Lanesboro and this area home. Visit their studios in-person during the Lanesboro Area Art Trail (Sep. 16-17, Oct. 7-8).

Autumn in Lanesboro, Minnesota, is packed with fun activities for the whole family, beautiful scenery, and grand places to stay.

Family-friendly fun-filled fall event with a scavenger hunt, wagon ride, pumpkin and more!

NOV 26 EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC Lanesboro | Holiday fun for the whole family! Cookie decorating, bonfires, shopping and Santa! Support your neighborhood businesses on Small Business Saturday®.

SEP 17-18 & 24-25 HISTORY ALIVE! POP-UP PLAYS Lanesboro | Afternoons 1pm & 3pm. Meet at Sons of Norway Lodge.

LanesboroDestination \ Fall 2022 33

One morning, Anna mentioned that she had inherited an antique quilt top that belonged to her aunt – a lovely, embroidered white background top from around 1940. She asked Nancy to help her quilt it – for quilting novices out there, that means finishing it off by adding the backing and additional layers to the quilt top, then handquilting all layers together to make the final quilt.

“My grandma had just given me quilt frames,” Nancy says. “So we took this beautiful antique, and we put polyester batting behind it and started quilting. And I mean, we were okay quilters, but it was pretty audacious to take the antique piece and make it into a quilt so that she could put it on her bed!”

Just like flying downhill on a bike, the idea for the quilters’ guild grew fast. Nancy and Anna agreed to meet just once a month to brainstorm possibilities of what the guild could do, like sharing their works-in-progress and having guest speakers. Then, they decided to get the word out. “So we put an ad in the Decorah paper and the Calmar paper and 35 women showed up!” Nancy exclaims with an air of wonder.

“I love flying down a hill. I love that feeling of flying,” she explains with a laugh. “So I’m willing to climb hills in order to do the downhill. I’ll do the work. But I love the payoff at the end.”

A retired North Winneshiek art teacher and a self-described organizer, Nancy uses her gifts to help community organizations – like the Oneota Film Festival, the La Crosse Sailing Club, and the Northeast Iowa Quilters Guild – grow, thrive, and get things done (and fast!). In fact, the latter has provided Nancy an opportunity to bring people together for a common cause for 40 years.

“We went to some dinner for city council members and just struck it. You know, I mean, we were just instantly friends” Nancy recalls. “Anna had the habit of going to the local bar for coffee every morning at nine o’clock. She invited me to come and Charlie [Nancy’s eldest son] was a baby. So I took Charlie and we went to coffee at the bar every morning.”

Like many great origin stories, the Northeast Iowa Quilters Guild (NEIQG) began with two people meeting in a small-town bar and drinking…coffee.NancyandNEIQG co-founder Anna Houdek were introduced at a Spillville city council event – their husbands were both on the council at the time – and they formed an immediate connection.

Since that first meeting in 1982, the NEIQG has grown to more than 100 members that meet regularly at the Luana Savings Bank. In addition to showing their work and featuring guest speakers, the Guild travels together to quilt shows in other states and hosts their own quilt show in Decorah.

This philosophy of working hard for that payoff reaches into all aspects of Nancy’s life.



One day while they were quilting, Anna mentioned she’d been hearing of other women who had started quilting. She told Nancy about her grandma’s weekly quilting bee, a group that would sometimes work on their own projects, and other times quilt for others, charging .50 cents a spool of thread and giving whatever money they had earned to the church or others in need. Anna then suggested she and Nancy make it official and start a guild. “I said, ‘Well, yeah, that’d be kind of fun, I guess. You know, I’ve never been a part of a quilt guild,’” Nancy remembers saying. “And I thought about my grandma’s quilting bee and I said, ‘I don’t want to do this once a week, though.’”

Nancy Sojka Decorah, IA N

They shifted their morning coffee routine from the bar to Anna’s house, and quilted over the next several weeks. As the quilt came together, piece by piece, so too did the plans for the Northeast Iowa Quilters Guild.

ancy Sojka loves to go fast. Those who’ve seen her zip by on Decorah’s Trout Run Trail in her red, white, and blue bicycling jersey can attest to this fact.

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The firstresponseoverwhelmingtotheguild’squiltshowhelped to bind the Guild members, who came from many different communities, together. Since then, the Guild has been very active – growing its membership, traveling to the Great Wisconsin Quilt Show together each year, and continuing to host their own biennial quilt show. The pandemic altered the regular schedule, but they’re back to hosting that show this fall (see sidebar for details), and bringing people together who might not otherwise connect.

“Many of the people in the Guild work mostly alone in their homes or studios. The Guild gives them the chance to share ideas and inspiration.” And, according to Nancy, there is usually a healthy mix of friendship, good food, and good drinks along the way. Christy Ebert Vrtis is a teacher, writer, mom, and crime drama enthusiast who loves to curate book lists for family and friends, run (slowly) on the Trout Run Trail, and adventure around the world and throughout the Driftless with her husband and kids.

The “Razzle Dazzle” 40th Anniversary Quilt Show, sponsored by Decorah’s Red Roxy Quilt Company, provides an excellent opportunity for the Guild members to share the results of their work, skills and creativity with the broader Northeast Iowa community.


Fall 2022 / iloveinspired.com34 Liz

PersonalRoeBankerKellyMahr Loan Officer, AVP Cole


The “Razzle Dazzle” will take place in the new community building at the Winneshiek County Fairgrounds in Decorah, and will run Saturday, October 15 from 10 am to 5 pm, and Sunday, October 16, from 10 am to 4 pm. The show will feature over 300 quilts and quilted items on display. There will also be a quilt raffle, canister raffle, the Quilt of Valor presentation, vendors, bed turning, lunch, a book and magazine sale, and demonstrations. The quilt show is free and open to the public. For more information about the NEIQG, or to become a member, visit

Top: Nancy (left) with her “Wheel Women,” who meet once a summer to go on a long (think 150+ miles) biking adventure over several days in Wisconsin.

“The very first year we decided that we were going to do a biennial quilt show. We decided that we would have it at the school gym in Spillville. And so we just put out something saying ‘if you have quilts, please bring them [and] send us a description so that we can make a book,’” Nancy explains with a smirk. “So 300 quilts came. And then when people brought their quilts in, you know, they’d have this big stack of quilts. And it’s like ‘you know, when I was getting these quilts out, I realized that I had these other two that my grandma gave me, and can I leave them too?’ and we ended up with 420 quilts! We didn’t even have enough places to hang them!” Nancy remembers fondly, shaking her head in amazement. “It was just so well received, that we were kind of blown away. It really was way more successful than we expected it would be.”

Bottom: The Northeast Iowa Quilters’ Guild members on their first group travel experience – to The Quilt Expo (now The Great Wisconsin Quilt Show) in Madison in 1986. This show is an opportunity for NEIQG members to travel together to Madison and see hundreds of spectacular quilts on exhibit, attend lectures and classes from quilting experts, and even engage in some excellent shopping! / Photos courtesy Nancy Sojka

“The Guild offers education in basic or new or more advanced techniques to quilters from multiple communities in Northeast Iowa,” Nancy explains.


The key is being willing to search out what interests you, what you want to learn more about. For me, right now, it’s power tools. I want to learn how to use them all, and then I want to learn how to build stuff. Fingers crossed that this fall is when I get to make my attempt – if I do, you can watch me fail or succeed at, because you can bet your booty I’m going to let you follow along on my learning adventure, ha! That’s the thing: Lifelong learning doesn’t have to be like “school”. It can be structured however you want it to be – you are in charge of the situation. Let the world be your classroom and your curiosity your driver (a little power tool pun). Class is in session!


P.S. Other things I’m excited to learn? How to play the ukulele, make sushi, and become fluent in (at least) one other language (to name just a few)!


It’s back to school time, and, as an adult, I find that brings up a mix of emotions.Iamalittle sad to see the summer go – long days, warm sunshine, more time with my family. But I love the sound of the marching band practicing in the distance, the smell of new thenotebooks,schoolandanticipation of a new despiteOkay,beginning.sohonestly,whatImayhave said on the occasional morning in junior high, I’ve always loved school. Or perhaps it’s better said that I’ve always loved learning. I know we don’t all feel this way, but I do think that all learning comes from a place of curiosity, and that we ARE all curious, in some way or Tappinganother.intothat curiosity is what pushes us to be lifelong learners. And constantly learning – bettering ourselves and being open to what others can teach us or what we can learn about ourselves – this can open up the whole world. Psychologists – across the field and over many decades – have compiled research on the many benefits of curiosity. It enhances intelligence, boosts mental and physical energy, and gives us a deeper engagement in life.

Back to school (of life…every day…)

309 E Water St. Decorah, Iowa •

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BY OLIVIA LYNN SCHNUR Northeast Iowa-based mental health counselor Olivia Lynn Schnur shares ways we can approach lifelong learning (and un-learning) to foster growth in our lives.

Of course, we will learn a great deal in our work and home environments. But that learning is guided by the choices we make in careers, partnerships, and even community involvement. We often gravitate to the environments that feel most comfortable. But what happens when that comfort-zone starts to feel a little too small? Many people who have decided to change careers or go back to school later in life are familiar with this discomfort. It can be extremely difficult to shift out of engrained patterns of behavior, even when they no longer align with our values and aspirations.


Extrinsic means something that exists outside. In this context, extrinsic learning comes from outside of ourselves. This can include learning from others or social learning. Intrinsic refers to something that naturally belongs. In the context of learning, this refers to learning that comes from within. It might include self-awareness, instinct, or patterns developed through the process of trial and error. Think of this as learning that belongs to the self.


Letting Go of the Past

Fall 2022 / iloveinspired.com38 There is no such thing as a finished product when it comes to living. Our lives are constantly evolving and with each new experience or accomplishment, we learn, grow, and change. But each time we accomplish something we are on to the next step. This can leave us feeling exhausted and discontent, living with the impossible goal of becoming a perfect version of ourselves. What if we shifted that thinking and focused on the process instead of the outcome? What if our goal was simply to live and learn?When it comes to learning there is no such thing as failure. It is an eternal process that can lead to deeper self-exploration, personal growth, and self-fulfillment.

Social learning often shifts as we enter adulthood. We continue to look outside of ourselves and integrate new ideas, but we may also find ourselves looking within for answers. Our learning becomes more intrinsic, self-motivated, and often self-guided.

Sometimes we keep ourselves stuck. We may internalize a false belief such as, “This is the way I have always done things so this is the way it will always be.”

The past does not predict the future. There is no timeline on learning and there is no limit to our potential. Even deep-seated ideas can shift once we learn something new.

In early childhood, learning is primarily extrinsic and happens in the home. Children are sponges, absorbing good information… as well as bad. “Do as I say, not as I do” rarely works. As children, we are eager to mimic caregivers and family members. As we reach adolescence, we start to model the behavior, language, and style of our peers and popular culture.

Social psychology is the study of how humans develop in the context of others. This includes social learning and the internalization of cultural norms.

To generalize, there are two ways we learn:

LIVE & Mental Health graphics / Shutterstock • davooda

If yes: Begin problem-solving and take action!


2. Examine the evidence. Does the evidence really support this thought? Are the things you’ve written true?

3. Make a conclusion: Is this thought true? \ Fall 2022 39 206 W. Water St. 563-382-5970Decorah Burgers. Sandwiches. Salads. Appetizers Great Wings. Best Bloody Mary’s in Town! EVENT VENUES LOCAL INGREDIENTS • 22 BEERS ON TAP! For current hours & menu visit 2 amazing spaces. Small or large events. Delicious in-house catering. Buy & sell in-store & online. Details getupdecorah.comat MATERNITYCLOTHINGWEARGEAR&MORE buy great sell great > < 212 W WATER ST DECORAH, IOWA WE’VE MOVED!

If no: say, “Return to the present moment.” Or come up with an affirming counter-thought.

1. Gather evidence that supports this thought as true, and evidence that proves this thought wrong. Keep identifying those patterns! You’ve got Continuedthis!on next page


As Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Group Think One of the biggest pitfalls that can keep us stuck is a term called “group think.” Dangers of group think: When people get together in groups they tend to go with the crowd. Crowds tend to favor extremes because groups lessen feelings of personal responsibility. We are extrinsically motivated in group think. We essentially lose the ability to think for ourselves. We simply go with the popular opinion. This can happen in any environment: work, school, friend groups, family systems, and societally. When you find yourself in these situations, ask, “Does this really align with my values?” It can be a fulfilling process to let go of the expectations of others and begin to explore our own values. It’s also worth noting that not all habits we get from others are bad. At any time, we can make the decision to observe and unlearn the habits that don’t serve us and explore the ones that might.

To recognize habits that don’t serve us we can practice self-awareness and tap into our thoughts and feelings.Thiscan be a challenging task. Many people find it difficult to engage in “meta-cognition,” or thinking about thinking. But it is a skill that can be learned. The trick is learning to mindfully observe our thoughts without judgment. Allow thoughts to come and go without assigning them meaning. The goal is to come back to the present moment as often as necessary.Ifweobserve our thinking long enough, we will notice patterns start to emerge. We may repeat the same worries, problems, or memories in our heads. Some of us may even attempt to predict the future or start to believe thoughts that distort reality. Once we identify any unhelpful thought patterns, we can start to change them.

If no: say, “It’s just a thought.” Or come up with an affirming counter-thought.

If yes: Do I have any control over this outcome?

When we first get started, it can be helpful to journal or create lists. Writing can help to organize our thoughts. And when we read our thoughts on paper, they become more concrete. This can be a helpful method for developing self-awareness or tracking our progress. See the following worksheet for ideas to get started.


Auny Pole Photography

Olivia Lynn Schnur is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Yoga Teacher. She combines her passion for writing with her lifelong commitment to learning about mental health and wellness. As a result, she offers practical tools for people to lead healthier and happier lives. To learn more about Olivia, or to book a yoga session, you can visit her website:

If we want a dog to learn a new trick, we reward them for doing the trick. We might even reward them for taking steps towards the trick. Over time, the dog knows if they want the bone they need to roll over. Our brains are designed the same way: we need to do the trick to get the treat. If we want exercise to feel good, we need to exercise regularly. Initially, we might not feel that reward, but it will come. Eventually, our bodies will be filled with chemicals – like dopamine – that make us feel happy (and release stress) when we exercise. Over time, we might reach a point where we actually look forward to our workout. The same can be said for any habit or skill we want to Anythingdevelop.newwill likely feel challenging at first. Yet – if we remain committed – the reward system in our brain will release chemicals that make us feel good. Eventually, that feeling of accomplishment will hopefully encourage us to turn that new habit into routine.

ASK FOR HELP Oftentimes, we need the help of others to track our progress, support us on our journey, or gauge if the changes we are making are effective. Sometimes, that person might be a therapist. Other times, that person might be a loved one. It can be difficult to notice our unconscious patterns or habits and feedback from others can give us a nudge in the right direction. In the process of lifelong learning, we will make the most meaningful and fulfilling progress when we learn to balance intrinsic and extrinsic learning. A life guided by self-awareness along with authentic connections is truly the goal. There is no secret to success or lifelong happiness. However, a commitment to lifelong learning is a great start. The end goal is not what matters, but the process of discovery may just reveal a few of your own secrets for success and happiness along the way.

Fall 2022 /




Learning = growing, but finding the motivation to learn and grow can feel elusive when we are set in our ways. If we routinely find ourselves trudging through our workday, we might not understand how others find the energy and time to pursue hobbies or goals. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for creating motivation. Generally, we become motivated by doing. Starting somewhere –anywhere – is the biggest key.

STARTING SMALL When we first start the process of turning inward, we might notice several problematic patterns we would like to shift. But attempting to make too many changes at once can throw us off course. We need to remember to start small. So much of what we do is automatic or unconscious. Shifting habits or patterns is a process of remaining present and making the unconscious conscious.

• DR. LANA W. MCDERMOTT • DR. JOHN E. WILMES 563-382-3657 . 108 Fifth Avenue, Decorah, Iowa .

Here are a few things to try as part of a self-experimentation practice: Take yourself on a date. Go somewhere you have never been or do something new. Perhaps, you engage in hobby you’ve wanted to try or explore a new restaurant. Challenge yourself to go alone. If you have been thinking about making a change for a while, take action! Apply for a new job, look into what it would take to switch careers or pursue higher education. It is never too late to start again.



A helpful tool is pairing or “stacking” one habit on another. Already brushing your teeth? Say some affirmations in the mirror! Scrolling social media? Get up from your desk and “scroll and stroll” around the office or house during a five minute timer (but look out for others!). Make a list below of habits you do that could be stacked with habits you want to do.


Life is one grand experiment full of learning. One of the best ways to be a lifelong learner is to continually practice self-awareness. The beautiful thing about self-awareness is there is no such thing as failure, just information. If we approach life with this philosophy, everything we do is simply an opportunity to learn more about ourselves. And the more we learn about ourselves, the more capable we become of expressing our wants, needs, and feelings with others. \ Fall 2022





Ask yourself: Is there anything in my life that makes me feel stuck? It might show up as a body sensation, feeling, or thought. Ask yourself: What is one new thing I want to learn? _____________________________________________________________________ What resources do I have to get this done? What resources do I need?

HABITS YOU DO > HABITS YOU WANT TO DO ___________________________ > ___________________________________ ___________________________ > ___________________________________ ___________________________ > ___________________________________

Maybe download a habit tracker app to see how much time you really spend watching tv or scrolling social media.

How can I structure this goal into my life? Can I set milestone check-ins? What rewards would keep me motivated? I commit today?


Ask yourself: What activities do I routinely engage in?

S H O P L O C A L .

An interview with Dr. Liang Chee Wee: a true servant-leader BY SARA FRIEDL-PUTNAM


“She made it very clear with that question that going to college was my only option,” he recalls with a grin almost 40 years later. “She didn’t ask, ‘Are you going to college?’” And so, in July 1983, a one-way ticket in hand, Wee boarded a flight to the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he would spend the next decade. “It was difficult for my parents to send me away, but they knew it was for the best,” he says. “They didn’t know for sure how it was going to work out, but they did it

SOMETHINGSEE Continued on next page \ Fall 2022 43 Stop to chat for even a moment with Liang Chee Wee – Northeast Iowa Community College immediate past president – and you’re sure to walk away with a smile. He’s passionate and compassionate, realistic and idealistic. And he’s inarguably, unwaveringly (and, yes, refreshingly) optimistic.“Look around, and I promise, you will see something good,” he says. “When I look around, I see challenges and I see pain, but far more often, I see good – I see people helping people in need.”That unflappable optimism has carried him far in life, both literally and figuratively.


Born in Singapore to a mother who could neither read nor write and a father who did not complete high school, Wee was taught the importance of a good education at a very early age. “My parents were not highly educated, but they greatly respected education,” he says. “And because of that, they made sure that both me and my younger brother received good educations.”Sointentwere they that their sons pursue higher education that when Wee wrapped up two-and-a-half years in the Singapore military – he enlisted right after his high school graduation – his mom had just one pressing question of her son: “Where are you going to college?”

And it worked out just fine. Wee settled in quickly to his new home and devoted himself to his studies, earning a bachelor’s degree in management information systems and master’s and doctoral degrees in business administration. He also helped teach a very large introductory computer class in a very large lecture hall, an experience that would shape the trajectory of his life. “Even though we were in a big space, the professor I taught with created an intimate setting, and even though I didn’t know it at that time, he was showing me what it really meant to be a teacher because he instructed with passion and compassion,” Wee recalls. “He understood teaching is about much more than relaying the course content; it’s about whether you really care about the students sitting in your classroom.”

It was at Luther, he says, that he was given opportunities that helped him prepare for service as an administrator at NICC. And it was at Luther that he discovered what “answering a call” actually meant. “I was planning my life all along and doing, I thought, just fine,” he recalls. “But I discovered what I needed to do was give up control because the more I controlled, the more I wasn’t listening to what life wanted to do with me.”

P e o p l e y o u c a n t r u s t P. e o p l e y o u c a n t r u s t . Q u a l i t y y o u c a Qn u a l i t y y o u c a n d e p e n d o dn e p e n d o n Est 1961 M o n d a y : 9 a m 7 p m T u e s F r i : 9 a m 5 p m S a t u r d a y : 9 a m 3 p m 3 g o l d s m i t h s 2 g r a d u a t e g e m o l o g i s t s 1 w a t c h m a k e r 3 d i a m o n d s e t t e r s 5 6 3 5 6 8 3 6 6 1 e l l i o t t j e w e l e r s . c o m 3 1 W e s t M a i n S t r e e t W a u k o n , I A “We

Wee took that life lesson with him in 1992 when he packed his station wagon with the few possessions he had acquired in Tucson and headed east to Decorah, Iowa, to fill a temporary faculty opening at Luther College. (His friends Mari Heltne and Conrad Røyksund, both Luther faculty members, were taking a sabbatical in Norway and encouraged him to apply.) That “temporary” position turned into 15 years serving the college as a member of the faculty (in economics and business) and administration (as associate dean and registrar).

journey. Our job

help them navigate their journeys.” -

In the years since, he has worked tirelessly with NICC faculty and staff to improve lives, drive business success, and enhance the vitality of Northeast Iowa. What does he view as the greatest get a chance to are lifted. I believe has a story has a is to Dr. Liang Chee

Wee Dr. Wee visits with students at NICC. / Photo courtesy NICC

every student

improve lives through education and training, and when lives

and every student

Fall 2022 / iloveinspired.com44

improved, families are

So when friends suggested in 2007 that he look at an opening as NICC’s Calmar campus provost, Wee listened. And when four years later, the NICC board asked him to serve a three-month term as interim president for the entire NICC network (the Calmar and Peosta campuses as well as service centers over a 5,000-square-mile area), he listened once again. “I could have said no, and that would have been the end of it,” he observes. “But this was an opportunity to serve, so I said yes.” In 2011, Wee was officially named NICC president following a nationwide search.

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What else does he have planned in retirement?Staytuned.“Asoftoday, I don’t know, but someday, it will reveal itself and then that will be the start of another exciting journey,” he says. “I believe that life is not done with me quite yet.” Sara Friedl-Putnam first met Dr. Liang Chee Wee when she worked as a writer and editor at Luther College. She very much enjoyed meeting him once again to conduct the interview for this piece.

accomplishment of his tenure? “We have enhanced support for the communities we serve,” Wee says without hesitation. “And in order to do that, we have had to meet our communities where they are – every one of the 24 school districts we serve is different, and every business we serve is different.”Ithasbeen a joy and an honor, he says, to serve the community: “We get a chance to improve lives through education and training, and when lives are improved, families are lifted. I believe every student has a story and every student has a journey. Our job is to help them navigate their journeys.” On the eve of Wee’s retirement this past July, Ashley Hinson, U.S. Representative, lauded his 12 years of service to NICC on the House floor in Washington, D.C. “Under Dr. Wee’s leadership, NICC became a space for addressing challenges in the community, and his passion for inclusivity ensured everyone Sat pm Sat 10-5. Sun 1-5. who stepped foot on the NICC campus – students, educators, employees, and members of the community – all felt at home,” she said. “He always has a smile and a kind word of encouragement for everyone that he meets.”

Top: the NICC Calmar campus Student Center.

Bottom: Luther College Dahl Centennial Union / Courtesy photos

No doubt Wee will bring that same encouraging tenor to meetings of the Luther Board of Regents, to which he was appointed in June. He says he will use the regular board meetings to listen, to learn, and to hopefully strengthen the connection between NICC and Luther, schools that are just 12 miles apart.

10-5. Sun 1-5. Fri 4-9

Fall 2022 / iloveinspired.com46 Nordic cooking, rosemaling, woodcarving, weaving, fiber arts, metalworking, youth and family programming and more! Sign up now!moreatscantheQRcode Find everything Scandinavian at Vesterheim’s Museum Store online! One-of-a-kind folk art, accessories, home Find everything Scandinavian at Vesterheim’s Museum Store or online! One-of-a-kind folk art, accessories, home décor, folk-art supplies, plus much more! In Scenic Decorah, 563-382-9682store.vesterheim.orgIowa Create Folk Art! Online and In Person Registration is open for new classes through December at Vesterheim Folk Art School!

MAKE IT: step-by-step instructions at ILOVEINSPIRED.COM P.S. Roxie’s shirt says “be kind, do good, seek joy,” and can be found at RenderedUniqueinDecorah! Paper Project! Okay, so there’s only one strip of paper involved in this “paper project,” but we love these Leaf Crowns anyway! They get you outdoors to hunt pretty leaves, which you artfully curate… to wear atop your head! This would be the perfect project for a Fall Equinox Party (it’s September 22, 2022, FYI)! Happy Fall, y’all! LEAF Crowns! 47

Fall 2022 / iloveinspired.com48 We are the key to your www.davekelly.comhome! DECORAH, 563-382-8406IOWA The #1 Real Estate Firm WinneshiekinCounty! , , Marcia Madrigal Janice NumedahlMike Kelly Jeanne Gullekson Jayme FolkedahlKeegan GinaSteinlageSmith Trent Ostby Ron Juve SUM BUSINESS INSPIRING ENTREPRENEURS IN THE DRIFTLESS YOFOUR Visit Free Range Exchange: 46 Main St. Hokah, Minnesota Hours: 7 am – 2 pm. Closed Sunday. Visit or call 507-894-1111 for details Photos courtesy Free Range Exchange \ Fall 2022 49 • 602 W Water St • 563-380-5772 5 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms. Sleeps up to 13. Perfect for family gatherings, friends getaways, or quilting retreats! 416 W. Bremer Ave. Suite D • Waverly, Iowa Anne E. Kaspar, LMT, MMT 319-202-1043 • www.mindfulnessbodywork.comMindfully, Anne Fascial Counterstrain A therapeutic hands-on, multi system approach to release spasm that impacts and treats the body's fascial system Mindfulness Being in the present moment without judgement Breath Work Change your breath, change your life Earthing Vitamin G, Energy from Mother Earth INTRODUCTION BY ARYN HENNING NICHOLS Free Range Exchange is a little bit café, a little bit market, and a whole lot wholesome. It sits in a charming building right on Main Street in Hokah, which is also a busy thoroughfare for travelers heading to and fro in Southeast Minnesota. Run by Minnesota natives Ben Horn and Cambria (Cami) Kolstad-DeVaney, the Hokah, Minnesota coffeeshop / market is a welcome stop for locals and tourists cozyenjoyedpick-up,carrymuchMuffins!),Pretzels!(Stickyofanflatbreads,wraps,soups–grab-and-gofindInside,’lldeliciousitemshousemadeandsalads,sandwiches,quiche,amazingvarietybakedgoodsbuns!Cookies!andmore–forout,curbsideortobeontheirpatio.Orifyou’relooking

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Driftless folks (and visitors) loving this model are in for a treat (maybe a fresh sticky bun?!), because Ben and Cami are planning to open a second Free Range Exchange location in La Crosse, Wisconsin, this fall. Watch for updates on Free Range Exchange’s Facebook page. And in the meantime, stop by in Hokah and grab a meal or a snack. Or maybe some picnic fare? Fall in the Driftless is the perfect time to stop and enjoy nature and the abundance our region has to offer.

to stock your fridge and pantry, there are lots of great items from local farmers and producers – cheese, meats, mushrooms, fruits and veggies, flowers, cider, and more. Ben and Cami originally met in college in Ely, Minnesota. After both traveling and living in various locations, and meeting their nowspouses, they settled in and started putting down roots in the Hokah “Wearea.decided working together would be a good fit based on our mutual goal and blending of skills,” Ben says. “Being from the area and my background, networking and customer service came easy to me. Cami has a complimentary background from working in delis andBenbakeries.”andCami started selling products at the La Crescent Farmers Market – Ben from his farm, Happy Horn’s Farm and Orchard, and Cami with her baked goods. When the opportunity to own their own building came up, they jumped. “With that possibility, I felt more comfortable with renovation and the blood, sweat, and tears that go with it,” Ben says. Once renovations were complete, they opened their doors and fired up the ovens. Cami’s passion for baking and cooking has led to some of Free Range Exchange’s most popular offerings: their many bakery choices, breakfast sandwiches, and delicious salads. Coupled with the partnerships they’ve fostered with local farmers and producers over the last two and a half years, Free Range Exchange is a true champion of community and local love.


2. How do you describe Free Range Exchange to people who have never heard of it?

It can sometimes be difficult to describe Free Range Exchange without seeing it. However, I often tell people we are a coffee shop bakery and a mini farmer’s market everyday. Something for everyone and somewhat of a one stop shop. Horn, Horn, Cambria Kolstad-DeVaney, DeVaney. by Katie Photography

Fall 2022 / iloveinspired.com50 Name: Benjiman Horn Business: Free Range Exchange Age: 40 Years in Business: 2.5 Business Address: 46 Main St. Hokah, Minnesota Website:

/ Photo

1. Tell us about the “leap” moment. When/how did you decide to jump in and become your own boss? My leap moment was a culmination of events or should I say small jumps that led to a final big leap. While juggling life, education, and jobs, I was busy chasing a career in natural resource management. During that journey, I met my wife Ava and we had a baby. My employer at the time offered unpaid daddy leave which I gladly took and that started the new path. During that time, my garden became a whole lot bigger and I had time to reflect on career decisions. We decided Ava’s job as a R.N. paid better so I became a Home Daddy while working part time restaurant jobs and selling produce at the La Crescent Farmer’s Market. A few years later, my longtime friends and future business partners Cami and Dan DeVaney, moved to La Crescent. Cami also had a background selling goods and bakery items at markets near her previous town. We then teamed up at the markets here and started brainstorming of a place of our own. Then one day, a potential location opened up and we started the process of the big leap!!

Photos courtesy Free Range Exchange /localfeastnetwork @Local_Feast @LocalFeast sip · sample · shop Sat., Nov. 5, 2022 Mayo Civic Center R oc he ster, Min n e sota LOCAL MFOODSARKETPLACE kids giveawaysfamilyactivitiesfun food ciderbeersamplingcookingdemoswineandtasting lots and lots of local foods sampling and shopping! Ben



3. What’s the best thing about being your own boss? \ Fall 2022 Offering over 40,000 plants! Iowa's #1 Destination Garden Center 108 E. Wilbur St, Hawkeye, Iowa • 563.427.5373 • Open daily May - September 50 mins north of Waterloo 30 mins south of Decorah K&KDecorahGardens Waterloo Working with vendors is a favorite part of our job. We specialize in local so that is a major stipulation to sourcing our products. Are you local, do you grow it or make it yourself? We look to small farms, small business and spread the love among many vendors to fill our needs. Many vendors are our customers as well and many connections made through friends and family that connect the relationship seeing a perfect fit.

4. How about the worst? For me, the worst part of being a business owner is my inability to shut off my brain during time off. Days off and sleeping can be difficult as I juggle work and personal life.

5. Was there ever a hurdle where you just thought, “I can’t do this?” How did you overcome it?

Overcoming hurdles and thoughts of defeat is not always easy. Reminding myself to take it one day at a time and that everything will work out can help ease those overwhelming thoughts. Continued on next page

The best thing about being my own boss is the pride that comes with the hard work of creating something from nothing. Building an asset that betters myself, my family, and my community is rewarding.

6. Any mentors/role models you look to/have looked to?

Photos courtesy Free Range Exchange

8. How do you manage your life/work balance? Managing life/work balance is difficult. For me, work doesn’t seem to end. However we are still in the building blocks of development and growing our business so I knew there would be long hours for the first few years. I am getting better at being present when I am at home with family. We also are growing our staff with trusted individuals and learning to delegate some tasks, which eases the work burden a bit.

My role model that I aim to please is my grandfather. A question I often ask myself as I navigate life is would my grandpa Horn be proud. He passed on many years ago but I remember him being a wonderful family man and a hard worker. He had a full time job, owned a farm, and was involved in the community. He was always happy. I even named my own farm business after him. Happy Horn’s Farm and Orchard. Over the years, many family members and his friends have told me how proud he would be of me. That makes me happy.

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7. What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you started? Getting started, I wish I had a background in business development and operations. Self teaching and finding those around me to help is working out, but a head start would have been nice.

9. What keeps you inspired? Any quotes that keep you going?

My inspiration comes from a couple different angles. First, working hard to support my family and being a good role model to my children helps me stay focused. Secondly, being thanked and appreciated by general public for the work that we do. Our community commitment to promoting local love has not gone unnoticed and that makes our work worthwhile. A quote I often refer too that can often be applied to many things in life is, “every thing happens for a reason.” Sometimes it is difficult to understand, but what is the lesson learned and the ability to move on from a situation has helped me many times.

Learn to utilize curiosity to have meaningful conversations and connections with people who have di erent perspectives! How to Tell A Story Moth the essentials of storytelling from the experts at The Moth and never bore audience/congregation/friends/familyyour again! It Yourself by Frank Perrone


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Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask by Anton Treuer Ojibwe author and professor Anton Treuer answers questions ranging from "Why is there such a fuss about nonnative people wearing Indian costumes for Halloween?" to "Why is it called a 'traditional Indian fry bread taco'?”


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Learn about the periodic table of elements with vivid illustrations and fun facts.

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The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Elements: The Powers, Uses, and Histories of Every Atom in the Universe by Lisa Congdon


Fall 2022 / iloveinspired.com54 ARTWORK BY MARY THOMPSON

Dwindling daylight and cooling temperatures signal impending seasonal change. Trees batten down their physiological hatches by terminating photosynthesis and translocating sugars out of leaves and into their trunks for winter storage. Senescence, the process of deterioration, results in the riot of fall colors – red, orange, gold, and tan – that make leaf peepers giddy. Autumn winds send senescing leaves landward. As they accumulate on lawns and gardens, leaf blowers and yard vacuums roar. Banished to mulch piles or curbside removal, corralled leaves are denied their ecological purpose. Long after the cessation of photosynthesis, long after they parachute to earth, long after they brown and desiccate, leaves continue to sustain life.

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They may be nature’s finest creation. Conspicuous, abundant, profoundly productive, leaves make life possible. A few cells thick, the typical leaf houses complex biological machinery laminated between its exterior surfaces. That machinery enables plants to convert sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into sugar and oxygen via a biochemical miracle known as photosynthesis. Remarkable yes, but for all their green glory, the magic of leaves extends well beyond their biological tenure.


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Think of it this way. A forest without a layer of leaves covering the ground – leaf litter - is incomplete. Also known as duff, the veneer of decomposing leaves is fundamental to soil health. It is the primary means by which nutrients are delivered to soil, and by extension, to plants.

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The organic detritus resulting from slow leaf decomposition attracts a host of tiny detritivores – nematode worms, earthworms, millipedes, and sow bugs are but a few – that serve as food for centipedes, spiders, and beetles that in turn become dinner for a host of species that dine on leaf dwellers including garter snakes, toads, and birds. It’s all possible because of leaves. Many species, particularly insects, rely on fallen leaves to provide concealment from predators and insulation against winter’s frigid bite. Numerous butterflies and moths, including the regal Luna moth, ride out cold weather snuggled in cocoons and chrysalises that mimic leaves. The caterpillars of fritillaries, burnt orange butterflies that rocket over meadows and slalom forest edges, find winter refuge in leaf litter. Likewise, woolly bear caterpillars, sporting their iconic red and black cardigans, are often seen crossing roads during autumn as they search for the perfect leaf laden lair in which to hole up. For brightly banded bumblebees hibernating just below the soil surface, a toasty leaf blanket can tip survival odds in their favor. Layers of leaves, it turns out, are essential for a healthy environment.Thisfall,as you prepare for winter’s inevitabilities, adopt a softer approach to leaf management. Lawns can still be raked, but where those leaves end up matters. A layer of leaves in the garden will provide needed homes for your six-legged neighbors, help retain soil moisture and insulate plants against Arctic blasts. A mulch pile in an unused portion of your yard can serve as important habitat. And let your two-legged neighbors know you’ve turned a new leaf so they can consider doing likewise. The more we mimic nature, the more we benefit the planet we call home. It all begins by leaving the leaves.

Mary Thompson has degrees in Fine Arts and Education. She has delighted in the creative arts since her first box of crayons. When needed, she brakes for Woolly Bears. Craig Thompson is a professional biologist with a penchant for birds dating back to a time when gas was $0.86 cents a gallon. He’s considering a brief leaf of absence from his day job.

Fall 2022 / iloveinspired.com58 101 West Water St. Decorah, IA OPEN DAILY SUN-SAT +EVENINGS THURS-SAT TRIVIA EVERY THURSDAY NIGHT LIVE MUSIC ON Driftless Curiosity offers a variety of workshops, events, and land-based learning opportunities focused on experiential education, farming, social justice, and the arts. Their mission is to deepen connections between people and the land through these experiences and workshops. / Photos courtesy Driftless Curiosity \ Fall 2022 59

BY RENEE BRINCKS At Driftless Curiosity, hands-on workshops help individuals cultivate new interests. retreat spaces | contemplative pursuits morning glory (563) 419-2357 downtown space 113 Winnebago Street retreat house 336 Washington Street Decorah, Iowa 563-382-4646 | 415 W WATER ST, DECORAH, IOWA M-F 10-15 • Sat 10-4 • Sun 12-4 David J. Wadsworth • 563.419.0390 • WOODEN WINDOW restoration Residentialweatherization&&lightcommercialconstruction IS Continued on next page

Joy grew up in Kendall, a small, southwest Wisconsin town along the Baraboo River, studied English and Spanish in college, and then moved to Alaska. After working for seven years as a teacher, youth mentor, and community program coordinator for a few Fairbanks nonprofits, she returned to her home corner of Wisconsin.

It’s easy to call yourself a lifelong learner when you work in education. That’s where Joy Miller started her career, before joining a farm family and co-founding Driftless Curiosity. The Wisconsin nonprofit hosts hands-on workshops, foraging adventures, wellness retreats, solstice celebrations and other activities.“Beinga lifelong learner is just part of being a farmer, because you have to constantly solve problems,” Joy says. “You’re always keeping an eye on everything and wondering, ‘Oh, what’s this bug?’ or ‘What’s this thing going to do?’ There are so many moving parts. You have to be inquisitive and curious about your environment when you’re living on the land and trying to grow food for people.”



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Angie Herrmann David Finholt about food,” she says. The bottom line, in talking to people, was that they had a connection with farmers. They had a connection to the land.” Those conversations about consumer-producer connections stuck with Joy once she graduated and started applying for jobs. She thought about them early in the pandemic, when Keewaydin Farms’ community-supported agriculture (CSA) customers in Madison and Minneapolis asked about visiting the farm for some fresh air. When she and Rufus watched two summer interns from Chicago marvel at the color of a robin’s egg or get excited about an off-trail nature hike,


Keewaydin Farms, a former dairy-turned-organic vegetable operation, is Joy Miller and Rufus Haucke’s home, and now is also the home to Driftless Curiosity. The two, pictured below, want to tap into genuine curiosity to create positive change in the world. / courtesy Driftless Curiosity


Fall 2022 / iloveinspired.com60 Joy reconnected with Rufus Haucke, the man who is now her husband, and settled on the Viola-area property his family has farmed since 1976. Here at Keewaydin Farms, a former dairy-turned-organic vegetable operation, learning took on a whole new meaning. Following a Thread When she started helping on the farm, Joy was also earning a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She joined the remote program on an English literature path, but eventually gravitated toward courses in environmental ethics, leadership, and food justice. Joy’s capstone project explored food culture in the Driftless and the connections between local farmers and consumers.


She kept that in mind while planning the first of Driftless Curiosity’s seasonal experiences, launching in early 2021 with a maple syrup workshop. Nearly two years later, it’s still one of the organization’s most popular classes. Participants learn how to tap trees, collect sap, and process and package the syrup – and then, they sample fresh syrup over a plate of steaming pancakes. Since then, Driftless Curiosity has offered instruction in no-till gardening, birding, beekeeping, botanicals, fly fishing, Ayurvedic wellness, papier-mâché, and more. During this year’s Camp Curiosity, billed as a weekend-long summer camp for adults, guests experimented with pottery, copper working, glass beadmaking, mural painting, and even pyrotechnics.

She took part in the foraging workshop again this year, and she recently taught an herbal wildcrafting workshop that walked participants through the process of identifying wildflowers, harvesting plants, and creating simple tinctures. Julie has also joined the Driftless Curiosity board of directors and regularly volunteers with the organization. “It’s just a wonderful gathering space. We’ve had a lot of participants who are new to the area and looking to meet new

it sparked long discussions of how they might share their farm with a wider audience. They wondered whether they could create a space that combined education, recreation, and back-to-basics community building.“Atsome point one night, I looked at Rufus and said, ‘What if I just farm? And what if we just try to develop something here?’ Thankfully, we had the land and the farm and the infrastructure to start Driftless Curiosity,” Joy says.

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you’ll find them here.

Julie Hanson first made the two-hour roundtrip from La Crosse for a Driftless Curiosity maple syrup workshop and later attended a foraging workshop with her teenage son. They learned to spot and safely gather various ingredients, before lunching on spring greens topped with the types of plants they’d just collected.“Itwasimpressive because this is free food and it’s high in nutrition. That was over a year ago, and since then, I have tried to forage more and eat more wild food, in general,” Julie says.


Building Community Through Curiosity Joy and Rufus launched Driftless Curiosity with the goal of deepening people’s connections to the land through programs in experiential education, farming, social justice, the arts, and, of course, curiosity. It’s an ambitious mission, but one that is rooted in the simple act of asking questions and seeing where the answers lead. “Coming from an academic background and having dabbled as an educator, I have seen that genuine curiosity sparks deeper and more impactful learning than just pushing a curriculum on someone,” Joy says.

Fall 2022 / iloveinspired.com62 people. We also get a lot of people from Milwaukee and Madison who are looking to connect to the land. It’s a beautiful way to offer that connection and help restore people’s spirits,” Julie says.

Since its 2021 launch, Driftless Curiosity has rapidly expanded its workshop mix by inviting local experts like Cathy and Julie to share their skills with community members.

In addition to spotlighting the region’s makers and artists, the nonprofit showcases fresh Keewaydin Farms food grown right on site. Workshops typically include a lunch made with the family’s produce, and during some classes, participants head to the gardens to pick their own vegetables.

“I can’t tell you how often first-time visitors have come out here and said, ‘I’ve never seen a carrot pulled out of the ground.’ They’ve never had that connection,” Joy says.

Cathy Vosseteig drove from just up the road in rural La Farge for a perennials in agriculture workshop, and she’s also done maple syrup tapping and beekeeping classes. She recently helped teach a Driftless Curiosity food preservation workshop, as well.

She encourages visitors to ramble along the farm’s rugged hiking trails, embark on their own foraging adventures, or get to know four fluffy new family members that moved in over the summer: two miniature sheep and two miniature goats.

“These events bring a variety of people together in a community setting. During the beekeeping workshop, I sat at a lunch table with a couple from the Madison area who were starting to cultivate mushrooms. I knew nothing about that, but there we were, having this side conversation. While learning from the workshops, we also learn from each other,” Cathy says.

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“It expands the diversity of our offerings, but it also highlights the amazing group of artists, farmers, and other talented folks we have here in the Driftless. I’m excited to highlight them and offer them a platform to share their art or craft,” Joy says.

Promoting Wonder

Y o u ' r e N O T g o i n g t o b e l i e v e t h i s ! *Some restrictions apply. See a representative for details. S E E I F Y O U Q U A L I F Y F O R U P T O D O W N P A Y M E N T A S S I S T A N C E O N Y O U R F I R S T H O M E P U R C H A S E ! $7,500* 8 0 0 - 5 7 7 - 5 2 7 2 w w w . k e r n d t b r o t h e r s . c o m For events & ElkaderOperaHouse.cominformationticketvisit207N.Main,Elkader,IA563-245-2098MUSICTHEATRECOMMUNITYThe setting for Driftless Curiosity could hardly be more idyllic. Conifers and views and yard games abound. Folks interested in attending an upcoming workshop or event can learn more at / Photo courtesy Driftless Curiosity

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‘Do I really want to do this job anymore? The Driftless is so unique and beautiful, and it’s a special place that encourages wonder and curiosity,” Joy says. “When people have those epiphanies or teary-eyed moments, that just makes it all worth it. You capture someone’s heart in that moment, and then they go out and spread that joy into the world. It ripples out and magnifies, and that’s just awesome.”

Renee Brincks has never tried beekeeping or foraging, but she has successfully grown lettuce in a plastic tub perched in her apartment window. Read more of her work at

spending time

Whether they intend to unplug or arrive ready to learn often experience a shift in thinking after on the Driftless Curiosity grounds.

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“People who come here get swept up in the beauty. It puts them into a different state of mind. They start to ask questions. Things like ‘Why do I do what I do?’ ‘Should I buy this food instead of that one?’ \ Fall 2022 65 Open 7Open 7Open 7 days da ays da ays a week!week!week! S m a l l b a t c h , c o n t e m p o r a r y A m e r i c a n b e e r F u l l m e n u o n o u r w e b p a g e : w w w p u l p i t r o c k b r e w i n g n e t o r c a l l 5 6 3 . 3 8 0 . 3 6 1 0 2 0 7 C o l l e g e D r D e c o r a h , I A David J. Wadsworth • 563.419.0390 • SustainableBeautiful Efficient HOMESBUILDING 110 East Water St www.mabespizza.com563-382-4297 FAMOUSPIZZAFUN&CASUALATMOSPHEREMABE’SPIZZA DELIVERY AVAILABLE! More than 60 years of great food! PLAN YOUR TRIP! Driftless Curiosity is located at 15270 Haucke Lane, Viola, Wisconsin. Visit to view a full event lineup and register for upcoming workshops. Here are a few highlights on the autumn and winter 2022 schedule: Saturday, Sept. 3: Fly Fishing 101 Friday and Saturday, Sept 23-24: Natural Dyes Sunday, Sept. 25: Building a Table Loom Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 1-2: Traditional Mexican Weaving Saturday, Oct. 8: 2nd Annual Driftless Region Dia de los Muertos Celebration Saturday, Dec. 17: Winter Solstice Celebration Clockwise, from top left: Workshop leaders share knowledge of their chosen craft; Attend a Fly Fishing workshop this fall; Mural painting was a community builder at Driftless Curiosity; Rufus and Joy stand at center during one of the Sunset Farm Dinners that are occasionally hosted on site. / Photos courtesy Driftless Curiosity

Alfred’s work ethic and desire to earn money started young. At the age of nine, he was setting up bowling pins. At 11, he became a paperboy for the Des Moines Register – you weren’t supposed to be a paperboy until age 12, but he impressed them. And by the time he was 13, he was holding three or four part time jobs at once. He would arrive at S&D Cafe in Waukon at 6:15 am to light the wood cook stove so they could start cooking by 6:30. He would start the fire, do his paper route, then go back to the S&D to fill the pop and beer coolers, empty the trash, do clean up chores, and eat breakfast. If he had time, he would help with dishes, otherwise he went off to school.


• Restful rehab to return home Valley

Alfred is turning 89 in November. His family loves hearing his stories, as it reminds them about his perseverance, independence, and determination.

The local hotel got to know him through his paper delivery job, and hired him as the weekend clerk. On Friday and Saturday nights he would arrive at 4 pm, have supper, and then help out until 10 pm. He was also working at the repair shop, sharpening lawn mower blades and fixing bicycles. By then, he was so well known as a good worker that the owners of the cowboy theater drove out to Alfred’s house in order to hire him to take tickets on Saturday and Sunday nights.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to go to college and that’s all I knew. People who went to college seemed to have a better life. I ended up going into the Air Force so that I could get the GI Bill, which would help me tend to four years of college. Once I got done with the Air Force, I went into the feed and milling business for two years and found out what it was like to have pains and discomforts, and the farmers who had pains and discomforts went to the chiropractor, so I went to Palmer College to be a chiropractor.

The carriers also received gifts every year, including a bike and a nice radio. He was a paperboy for 5 years from age 11 to 15 and that job gave him the money he needed as well as experiences he would not have had.

Coconut trees for the milk and coconut, a shady tree, and a fishing pole. Try to describe yourself in one sentence: Be kind to everybody, be conservative and cautious.

Alfred at age 12. On Sunday mornings he would sell copies of the Des Moines Register outside of B&B Clothing. The coin changer shown in the photo was for collecting weekly fees. Home delivery was .23 cents per week and the Sunday paper was .12 cents. Alfred, left, with his family.

If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life what would it be? Vegetables

Alfred Ludeking was born in 1933 and raised in Waukon, Iowa. He was known in town by his middle name, Bervene. After time in the Air Force, multiple jobs and his education at Palmer College of Chiropractic, he and wife Shirley settled in Decorah to raise their three daughters. Alfred purchased the old railroad depot, converted it to his chiropractic office, and started his practice.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?

A story from Alfred’s newspaper days: In 1947, as a Des Moines Register carrier, Alfred was given the opportunity to travel to Chicago with the other carriers, all around age 14. They took 90 cents per week out of his weekly $3.25 paycheck, which he noted was a pretty big hit for 36 weeks. There were 80 paperboys that went and the district representatives were their chaperones. They took a whole floor of the Stevens Hotel in downtown Chicago. They kept them busy! There was an informal restaurant for the help up the stairs where they would be served meals three times per day. Four days of entertainment included a Cubs game, the zoo and many museums.

Post-hospital rehabilitation following surgery, illness or injury. •Large, private, fully furnished rooms • Private bathrooms/walk-in showers


I worked at a repair shop that Carl Berg owned fixing bikes and sharpening lawn mowers and such. He was a real good guy and taught me how to work hard and stay away from trouble and drinking.

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Decorah, Iowa 563-382-3603

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When he got back to Waukon, he brought out the towel that he had taken from the hotel (as all the carriers had done), and his mother promptly cut off the Stevens Hotel logo. His family didn’t have a lot, but his mother would not have this type of souvenir in their house!

Alfred LudekingPROBITUARY – A NOTICE OF LIFE! Interviewed by his daughter Heidi & two granddaughters Kate & Andie

305 East Water St. Decorah, Iowa • 563-382-4279 • See the 9:00-5:30 MON 8:00-5:30 TUES, WED, THURS 8:00-4:30 FRI 24 HR EMERGENCY CARE Fall in Love with Clear Vision Not PHYSICIAN EMERGENCYSTAFFEDROOM 24/7 DECORAH Accidents happen. Medical needs can arise at any time. It’s nice to know trusted medical experts are nearby for you. Winneshiek Medical Center offers Urgent and Emergency Care available in Decorah. 563.382.2911 •

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