Inspire(d) Holiday + Winter 2020-21

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NO. 63 • 2020-21 HOLIDAY+WINTER



ty S E i n mu R MB



r e l l ro





Gnome Card Yo

! t i o d an c u

s e t a sk

mental health Q&A with

Dr. Michael Osterholm

Look for the



Bright Spots

Grand PAD



WINTER checkli s t

UR O Y BOOST Protected by Shield Antimicrobial Coating


! d o mo

For Everyone Born O N L I N E P R E M I E R E C H R I S T M A S AT L U T H E R 2 0 2 0

Friday, December 4, 7:30 p.m Join the Luther community for the online premiere of Christmas at Luther 2020: For Everyone Born. All are welcome to experience this free performance from the comfort of home. Please register in advance; a viewing link will then be sent to you prior to the performance.

Sign-up for free at All are welcome!

Post-performance selections and more videos on Youtube: Luther College Music

A legacy of caring for Northeast Iowa for over a half century Skilled Nursing • Rehabilitation • Senior Living Now Offering Outpatient Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy. For more information, please call 563-864-7425. 563-864-7425

Toppling Goliath Taproom 20+ TAPS new seasonal menu upper level event space

call us at 563.387.6700 or visit us online

Planning your holiday gathering?


Email to reserve our spacious upper level for private events.


Eggs, Minneola Organic Farms, Zumbrota, MN Rochester: 29 miles Green Pastures Poultry Farm, Cashton, WI La Crosse: 32 miles

your partner in

local food.

Downtown La Crosse, WI and Rochester, MN 7 days, 8 am–9 pm Open to the public • Free parking!

Check Out Our New Mural!

Ceramic Cafe




Virtual & Small Group Studio Classes

O p e n S t u d i o Pa s s e s

Makers Market Support local artists by purchasing their work!

M-Th 1-5, Fri 1-9, Sat 9-5 • 107 W. Broadway, Decorah, IA • 563.382.5440 •


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HOLIDAY 2020-21 +WINTER contents 14


what we’re loving right now




make the best of winter!


Pete espinosa


adrian lipscombe


paper project: cross stitch gnome card


q&a with Dr. michael osterholm


look for the bright spots


focus on mental health


local books / winter reads


ferndale market


moxi + riedell skates


end-of-life doula


Community Builders!

...and more!


Roxie got out her magnifying glass for this photo shoot. Here at Inspire(d) HQ, we’re hard at it – as always – Looking for the Bright Spots! Photo / illustration by Aryn Henning Nichols We want you to feel 100% safe picking up this Inspire(d) Magazine, so this cover is protected by Shield, a new product offered by our printer, Crescent Printing. It’s an antimicrobrial treated coating that’s 99.9% effective at killing bacteria. Thanks for reading and supporting Inspire(d)! <3



Grab & go (...or stay!) food & drinks – coffee, ice cream, baked goods, local bites, wine, cider, craft beer & more!


Nestled in the West side of Decorah, The Landing Market is a modern food hall. Our goal is to provide opportunities and support for all groups of people in Decorah through positive interaction and inclusion. This vision of warmth and community delivers a comfortable, convenient setting to relax and indulge, while also extending a welcoming opportunity to employ our friends at The Spectrum Network.


local vendors

bottle shop

211 College Drive, Decorah, Iowa

Support your local business community! Money spent locally supports the local economy, which directly impacts the future community. Join the movement and

support local! Photograph by Randy Haugen

From the Editor


ou know those winter days when you head out for a walk and the sun is shining…and you tilt your face up to meet it and it feels like everything is going to be alright? This is feeling we’d like to encourage you to find in your day-to-day lives – even when the sun isn’t shining (and everything doesn’t feel alright). We want you to Look for the Bright Spots everywhere. 2020 has been a year where we’ve had to frequently reinvent ourselves. How we communicate: We found platforms like Zoom to stay social, something that is more important than ever, according to nationally renowned epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm. I got to chat on the phone with him for 15 minutes to talk COVID-19, Zoom, and how his path took him from Waukon, Iowa, to his current role at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota – see the interview on page 29. For our relatives who have a little more trouble with tech, or needed a little more help on a regular basis, we turned to devices like GrandPad, based out of Wabasha, Minnesota. Decorah native Scott Lien and his son created a tablet purposefully sans complicated features – but with large, easy-to-use buttons and instant access to online help (pg 14). How we think: We have had to dig deep to find positivity this year. And we’ll have to keep digging. Learn some strategies from regional mental health counselors like Olivia Lynn Schnur, who joins us as a new contributor this issue, plus tips on staying positive from yours truly, too. I’ve spent more than 13 years running Inspire(d), and it’s offered a great foundation for keeping on the sunny side of life. I’d love to help you do the same (pg 33). How we find joy: Contributor Erin Dorbin found it in a pair of super colorful and totally awesome roller skates – Moxi’s Lollys. Then she discovered they were made right here in the Driftless Region at Riedell Skates Co. in Red Wing, Minnesota. It led her down a path of a pretty darn cool collaboration, and the story of how roller skating popularity has surged across the nation during this pandemic. How we live: We carry on, Building Community, like Pete Espinosa and Adrian Lipscombe. And how we die: Kristine Jepsen takes on this important topic about choice and comfort, end-of-life doulas, and how we need to be having these conversations. Through it all, we find the Bright Spots. Making the most out of winter and holidays, cozy reading, cross stitching, kits in the mail, cooking a big fancy meal just because, and small town charm. Speaking of, every issue, we hope to get suggestions for probituaries. This issue, we got a few from a Decorah resident, and we reached out to one: Ruth Woldum. She agreed to be featured, and not long later, we got an email from her granddaughter… Britney Bakken! The same woman who interviewed her grandfather in the Summer/ Fall issue! We had no idea that Ruth was her grandmother (on the other side of the family), and we all laughed at how perfectly “small town” this coincidence was! Finding creative ways to overcome the challenges of the year has definitely highlighted bright spots for me. That said, I am looking forward to next year with… what else?...hope and optimism! As we come to a close with 2020 and take tentative steps into 2021, let’s keep looking for the Bright Spots. Looking forward,

What’s it mean?

Inspire(d) Inspire(d) – pronounced in-spy-erd... you know: inspired – stands for both 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! And our mission is, ultimately, to change the world… starting with our own community!

Who are we? Co-founders: Aryn Henning Nichols / editor & designer Benji Nichols / advertising sales & logistics

We couldn’t do it without: Kristine Jepsen / contributor Sara Friedl-Putnam / contributor Sara Walters / contributor Maggie Sonnek / contributor Erin Dorbin / contributor Olivia Lynn Schnur / contributor Inspire(d) Magazine is published 3-4 times/ year by Inspire(d) Media, LLC, 412 Oak Street, Decorah, Iowa, 52101. This issue is dated Holiday/Winter 2020-21, issue 63 volume 14, Copyright 2020-21 by Inspire(d) Magazine.

support inspire(d) 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.

Write inspire(d) 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: Aryn Henning Nichols


New Nordic Cuisine

Exhibit opening November 27, 2020 Come to Vesterheim to see New Nordic Cuisine, an innovative new exhibit about one of the most influential global food movements of the 21st century.

Find everything Scandinavian at Vesterheim’s Museum Store in Decorah or online! Norwegian cookbooks, kitchen utensils, home décor, folk-art supplies, plus much more!

Announcing soon - new Folk Art School online classes with Nordic cooking, baking, and cocktail themes. Check Vesterheim’s open status is subject to change due to COVID-19. Be sure to check the website before planning a visit.

New Nordic Cuisine is sponsored by Jon and Mary Hart, Jim and Marge Iversen, Tom and Linda Brandt, John and Birgitte Christianson, and Philip and Sarah Iversen. The exhibit is on loan from the Museum of Danish America. 563-382-9682

What We’re


right now

A little list of what we think is awesome in the Drifltess Region this winter... La Crosse Area’s Coulee Loot Kits We are loving this new project launched by fellow publishers Coulee Parenting Connection: the Coulee Loot Club! Each month, folks can purchase a themed kit filled with local goodies. It makes supporting businesses local to the La Crosse area super easy and fun! November features a Thanksgiving kit filled with holiday treats and family activities focused on gratitude, developed by Coulee Parenting and Gateway Scouts. Each month through February (keep an eye on for updates), Coulee Parenting will collaborate with other organizations to feature a new themed kit that highlights local products, businesses, and organizations. Recipients will get bios and materials about each kit contributor, as well as fun and useful family-friendly activities and treats. Collaborators include the La Crosse Children’s Museum, Girl

Scouts, Boy Scouts, and The Parenting Place, as well as Coulee Parenting Connection’s partner, Engage Greater La Crosse. Each kit is $30 and 100 percent local, and there’s free curbside pickup at designated times and locations, or you can have the kit delivered to your door for $5 extra (local deliveries only - La Crosse, Onalaska, Holmen, West Salem). Upcoming kit themes are: November – Thanksgiving. December – Holidays. January – Winter. February – Valentine’s Day. Make sure to order early; the cut-off date is generally around mid-month for each kit. Check it out and order yours at!

Helping Services - Holiday Lights! In the past several months, many of our lives have been affected in ways we couldn’t have imagined even just a year ago. Even in the best of circumstances, the pandemic has stretched families, resources, organizations, and the every day experience of life. For organizations like Helping Services for Youth & Families, the importance of supporting communities has only grown through outreach, mentoring, education, support, and domestic abuse advocacy. One of Helping Services’ largest fundraising events happens each winter with the “Holiday Lights” drive-through displays at the Decorah Campground. Like so many events in 2020, the ever popular “opening night walk-through” of Holiday Lights has been cancelled – but the lights will go on, with the drive-through only experience opening on Wednesday, November 25 and running every night from 5-9pm through Sunday, December 27. More details, opportunities to donate, and find our more about Helping Services available at

Preston Get Hooked. Cozy

Shop. Dine. Get Cozy. Support Small Businesses. Plan your visit today – | 507.765.2100 \ Holiday+Winter 2020-21


A little list of what we think is awesome in the Drifltess Region this winter... Chosen Bean – Backstage Concert series






101 West Water St. Decorah, IA. 563.419.3141 @impactcoffee

The Chatfield Center for the Arts is bringing their “Backstage” Concert series back this fall and winter, with a limited indoor crowd, but unlimited streaming. Catch some of our regions great musicians from the comfort of your own home, or from the sensibly distanced seating in the cozy “Backstage” of the Potter Auditorium. Here’s what’s on the schedule for the rest of the season: • Winona, Minnesota’s own bluesman Mike Munson will be featured on November 14. Munson has established himself as an adept slide guitar player and a member of the next generation of bluesmen. With his fourth release, Rose Hill (2018) Munson traced the tradition to its roots, recording at the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, MS on the Blue Front Record label. • On November 19, the one-man noise machine known as HEATBOX will bring his incredible array of beat box, dj, and general funny noise-making to the Backstage and beyond. • American singer-songwriter Johnsmith rounds out the 2020 “Backstage” series on December 12 with the beautifully crafted songs he’s shared across America and abroad past thirty- plus years.

Elisabeth Fondell Culinary Resiliancy We love the projects created through the Crystal Creek CitizenArtist residency each year in Houston, Minnesota, and this year’s project was no exception. Decorah’s Elisabeth Fondell dug into how COVID-19 has affected food systems in Houston County. She collected stories by touring the region and meeting with food consumers, farmers, and restaurant owners (all in a safe, distanced way) throughout July, August, and September 2020, and is now putting those stories together on her blog. At, you can learn about the innovations of Spring Grove’s Fat Pat’s BBQ, Cross of Christ Lutheran Church’s Meet Up & Eat Up project in Houston, and more. Check out the Crystal Creek Citizen Artist Residency at


3012 Middle Sattre Rd, Decorah, IA . 10

Holiday+Winter 2020-21 /

Decorah’s community art resource, ArtHaus, has experienced some exciting changes in its new home on the corner of Broadway and Washington Streets home in Downtown Decorah. The building that ArtHaus now occupies has lived many “lives,” perhaps most famously as the former Hostess Bakery Outlet store for many years. Several upgrades have been made on the space, and this summer and fall saw the outdoor transition of the corrugated metal walls into an incredible mural painted by Decorah Artist Mathew Havran. The colorful mural is a really fun combination of scenes, patterns,

and people that represent the many different influences and leaders that have made ArtHaus what it is today. ArtHaus continues to offer safely distanced opportunities to experience studio time, ceramics painting, classes (both online and in person), and art exhibits, as well as the popular Artist’s Gallery and Maker’s Market, which features work from many local artists for sale (and is a great place to shop for the holidays!). Check it all out at the corner of Washington and Broadway in Decorah, or at

250 artists. 7 days a week. 1 gallery.

Decorah Library book bundles What’s better for a cold winter night than sitting down in a cozy spot with a great book? How about cozying up with a bundle of good books!?! The Decorah Public library has made the most out the past few months to accomplish several interior maintenance projects that have been waiting in the wings. While closed to the public, the Library has gotten creative on how to still provide some fantastic services to the public – one of them being book bundles! How does it work? Easy! You head to news/2020/book-bundles and choose whether you want a book bundle for an adult or a kid/young adult. Then you fill out info on one to three authors or books you enjoy, the type of books you’re looking for (fiction, biographies, etc), and any additional details. The library staff takes it from there, curating a collection of five books for you to try at home. They email or call you when your book bundle is waiting at curbside pick-up. The handy (covered) drive-through pick up area is located under the library in the parking garage. Book bundles can be put together for all ages – from board books to big print, and beyond. It’s like a free present (to borrow, of course)! Another service that the Decorah Library offers (along with many others!) is the “Libby” App for your phone or tablet. This App is free to download and use as long as you have a library card, and allows you to electronically “check out” downloads of e-books or audio books! Take advantage of these awesome services from the Decorah Public Library – or check in with your local library to keep yourself engaged and entertained through these winter months! www.

Great Gifts Readings & Signings

Fantastic Selection

Bestsellers Mysteries Puzzles Poetry Childrens Books Scandinavian And more!

Get your book buzz!

Vesterheim MUSEUM Family Adventures Hei Hei! If you are a regular reader of Inspire(d), then you know how much we love Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum – and we’d love to challenge you to engage with the Museum at some point this winter! The main buildings of the museum have been closed to the public through much of the pandemic, but are now tentatively opening back up with precautions in place. But just as exciting are the incredible online and interactive options that the Museum is creating, available to anyone, anywhere. Here at Inspire(d) HQ, we’ve been loving the monthly Family Adventure

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Open daily! 563-382-4275 • 112 West Water St. Decorah \ Holiday+Winter 2020-21


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A little list of what we think is awesome in the Drifltess Region this winter... boxes that the online Folk Art School has been offering. For around $20 / month, participants receive a box in the mail and access to several online offerings – including an interactive “Goosechase” App that allows adventurers to work in teams and share their – and compete in – challenges. From Norwegian language lessons to scavenger-type hunts, these have provided hours of entertainment and education for our family, and they could do the same for yours! The Folk Art School is also expanding their offerings of interactive classes, lectures, and cultural experiences. To top it off, Vesterheim is in the midst of several major physical upgrades, including their outdoor park, which will be completed in 2021 with accessible common spaces and exhibits. Plus, mark your calendar for February 6, 2021 for the 22nd annual Barneløpet, a non-competitive ski or walk event for the community’s youngest skiers, ages 3-13, at the Decorah Community Prairie at 10 am, with registration beginning at 9:30 am. Skiers must provide their own skis. Barneløpet is free, and open to children of all skill levels. Plus, you when you finish you get a medal, hot chocolate, and homemade cookies by a fire! No snow or skis? You’re welcome to simply do a walk-through of the course. Check Vesterheim’s Facebook for weather cancellations.

The historic Fortney Restoration! Who doesn’t love a good before and after?! We are loving watching the renovations of the Historic Fortney Building in Viroqua, Wisconsin. The Wrobel’s of Ridgeland Restorations LLC – Larry, Sue, Brian and Amy Wrobel, all of Stoddard – are the new owners and renovators of the landmark. A Queen Anne style design, The Hotel Fortney was built in 1899 and rivaled big city hotels of the era. The Wrobels are working to bring back an icon on Viroqua’s Main Street, so that “it can stand for another 121 years.” The Wrobel’s started renovation in spring 2020. They moved more than 60 tons of plaster in the demo process, and this fall, they installed 157 new windows throughout the building, and will be restoring the beautiful, stained glass windows that have hung in the lobby for over a century, plus the original tile, tin ceiling, a grand staircase, and a lot more amazing original features. Follow along on the project through social media to see the befores and keep up on the afters – thehistoricfortney – or on their fun YouTube channel (watch for the fake beard videos!) – search The Fortney Building.

Only 30 minutes away from Decorah, this full service community offers a variety of great dining options, unique antiques, furniture & gift shops, & exciting recreational opportunities. Explore Niagara Cave, tour the Amish countryside, & pedal your way through 60 miles of paved bike trail! Harmony also offers a wide array of service businesses ready to meet your every need.

Welcome to HARMONY, MINNESOTA Catering now available!




Open to the public daily

Golf Club

Tuesday Ladies Day Thursday Mens Day

Carts Available

Banquet facilities available for meetings or special events

535 4th St. NE • 507-866-5622 • From Hwy 52 N, turn east on 4th St. (Kwik Trip Corner), go 3 blocks

Amish Tours of Harmony Experience a lifestyle...

Chef/Owner Matt Brown 121 Main Avenue N 507.886.1234

July 2-4: Harmony’s 125th Anniversary Celebration & Fourth of July Celebration • Grand Parade • All-School Reunion • Street Dance • Jim Busta & Molly B in the Park • Car Show • Kids Games and so much fun for the whole family!

See you there!

Niagara Cave & Mini Golf

July 2-4,


Nationally recognized as one of the Top Ten Caves in the United States

Enjoy an exciting tour of Harmony’s Amish community with one of our knowledgeable guides!

On our 1-hour guided tour…

Mini Bus Tours . Car Tours . Group Bus Tours . Spring thru Fall Call 507-886-2303 .

• Hike 1 mile underground to depths of 200 ft. • Discover fossils ~450 million years old • See delicate & massive cave formations • Temperature is 48° F (9°C) • Walking shoes are recommended

Also enjoy… Cold Brew Frappes & Smoothies Assorted Sandwiches Bridgeman’s Ice Cream

• Miniature Golf • Concessions • Gemstone Mining • Picnic Grounds • Unique Gifts

Check website for hours & availability

Located in the Village Green Open Year-Round 94 2nd St NW, Harmony, MN • • Check for hours

507- 886 - 6606 29842 County Road 30 -

Harmony, MN 55939

Due to Covid-19, please call ahead to confirm travel plans • 1-800-288-7153 •

GrandPad Tablet delivers telehealth for homebound, and an innovative spark for rural entrepreneurs



hen Scott Lien and his family traded in one adventure for another, leaving behind their beloved sky blue Victorian house in Wabasha, Minnesota, they silently promised they’d be back. And 25 years later, they were. In March 2020, the Liens shuttled back to the Midwest from Silicon Valley, where Scott had taken the leadership helm at a handful of corporations. Returning with a newfound perspective gained from travel and experience, he was surprised to find storefronts along the town’s main corridor empty and boarded up. That’s when he decided to combine his love of rural America with his knowledge and innovation for entrepreneurship.


Holiday+Winter 2020-21 /

In 2013, Scott and his then-college-aged son Isaac wanted to stay connected to Marlys Lien, the duo’s mother and grandmother. While Scott and Isaac were in Silicon Valley, Marlys lived 2,000 miles away in Decorah, Scott’s hometown. GrandPad, a tablet sans complicated features, was born. Designed specifically for seniors, the tablet has fun games, customized music, and apps, plus large buttons paired with an intuitive interface to make chatting with friends and family a breeze. But, Scott, who now splits his time between Silicon Valley and Wabasha, learned that in the Midwest, attracting funding from investors is anything but a breeze.

With one swipe, GrandPad allows seniors to stay connected with family and friends / Photo courtesy GrandPad \ Holiday-Winter 2020-21


Scott and Isaac Lien (far left and far right) with two of GrandPad’s oldest employees, another father-son team, Elmer and Richard Thill / Photos courtesy GrandPad

“The Midwest is quite risk adverse,” he says. “And, because nearly 90 percent of startups fail in the first three years, local investors don’t jump on board right away. The majority of capital comes from the coasts.” The data backs this up. According to the Center of Rural Development, less than one percent of all venture capital goes to rural startups. And, in 2017, five metro areas (San Francisco, New York City, Boston, San Jose and Los Angeles) accounted for nearly 80 percent of all venture capital investment nationwide. While innovation has concentrated in major urban hubs, rural economies have lacked the entrepreneurship to spark economic growth. But, with remote work on the rise – this trend has grown by 173 percent since 2005, according to the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI), a national non-profit that aims to foster sustainable economic success in rural America – more families are swapping crowds and congestion for chickens and country roads.

Families like the Olsons. Two hundred miles straight north of Wabasha, Jon and Hallie and their three kids spend time playing in their rugged, homemade treehouse and feeding their cluster of chickens. In 2019, Jon, an engineer, began working remotely. That allowed the Olsons to trade in their Minneapolis bungalow for a custom-built home in northern Minnesota that sits on five acres of wooded beauty. “We feel so lucky to be where we are. The kids can spend hours outside,” 38-year-old Hallie says. “And, with COVID-19, we don’t feel as restricted in what we can and can’t do.” Mark Rembert, Head of the Rural Innovation Network at the CORI, says while it could be months before we know the pandemic’s impact on urban and rural areas, COVID-19 is fundamentally changing the appeal, necessity, and feasibility of living in a big city. “We don’t know yet if an increase in remote work will result in people leaving big cities,” Mark says. “But, surveys have shown that many people who live in metro areas would actually prefer to live in rural spaces. Remote working could create opportunities for more people to make that move.” Obviously, it’s much easier to bring a job with you – like Jon did – than to hang out a shingle. But entrepreneur and business leader Scott says now is the time for innovators to open up shop small towns. “This is an opportunity for rural America to shine. We need to ask what we’re doing to make our small towns

Preston Get Hooked.

Embrace Your True North Plan your visit today – | 507.765.2100 16

Holiday+Winter 2020-21 /

attractive,” says Lien, who, during his career has held leadership roles at Best Buy, Bank of America, and Intuit. “In Minnesota, we can’t change the weather, so instead, we celebrate it. Let’s soar with our strengths and try to turn the downfalls into positive attributes.” Taking risks and forging ahead with entrepreneurship and innovation, especially in rural areas, is key to creating dynamic, progressive small towns. “There is a fantastic labor force in rural areas,” Scott says, noting that even though GrandPad was founded in California, he specifically engages employees from Midwest towns. “Lots of the employees we’ve hired have been out of the workforce for a while and aren’t necessarily looking for a job; think empty nesters and stay-at-homeparents. They’ve made the assumption that fulfilling, well-paying jobs are only available in large cities. And, because they don’t want to commit to a long commute or relocate, they assume their choices are limited.” That’s where GrandPad really shines. Employees are hired – by referrals from current team members only – to work a flexible schedule from home. Member experience agent Lori Lechtenberg, who lives outside of Decorah says, “I can be in my home chatting with people across the globe. It’s the best of both worlds.” “We’re creating long-term, durable, high-paying jobs,” Scott explains. “And, most importantly, these positions are familyoriented.” Indeed, family is the main reason why Anna Arens applied to GrandPad after receiving a referral. Anna worked in healthcare at Mayo Clinic for 12 years when her husband, a Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army, learned he’d be deployed overseas to Syria for one year. With three young kids at home, Anna knew her current schedule wouldn’t adhere well to her husband’s absence. “I needed to find a job that offered flexible hours without a commute,” Anna says, noting that the options are limited in a small town. Since accepting her role as member experience agent at GrandPad three years ago, she’s been encouraged to put her family first. Continued on next page

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GrandPad Member Experience Agent Anna Arens works from her home office / Photo courtesy Anna Arens \ Holiday+Winter 2020-21



FOR EVERY BODY. Gabi Masek, Dipl.OM, L.Ac / 563-382-4312

“Scott expresses to us that when we’re able to take care of our homes and families first, we do our jobs better. Because of that mentality, I’m able to be more present in my life.” Anne Meurer, also an agent at GrandPad, accepted her job just before the global pandemic surged across the country in the spring of 2020. “I was able to be home with our kids and help them with online learning,” she recalls. “I would sit at my desk and they’d sit on the floor next to me.” After working in government administration for several years, Anne craved a job that better aligned with her life. More than just a steady paycheck and paid holidays, she wanted meaning and mission from her employer. “I wanted something more rewarding. When I learned about GrandPad, I was all-in,” says Anne. “I was born into a family of five living generations and was fortunate enough to grow close to my Great Grandma Jean. I truly learned the importance of our elders and grandparents.”


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Holiday+Winter 2020-21 /

GrandPad Member Experience Agent Anne Meuer works from her home office / Photo courtesy of Anne Meuer

Member experience agents like Lori, Anna, and Anne develop deep and substantial relationships with GrandPad users. Like, calling seniors on their birthdays type of exchange. “Our clients rely on us when they need help with a specific app on the tablet or when they’re lonely,” Anne says. “And, there’s always someone there…always a friendly voice on the other line.” Throughout the global pandemic, several home health agencies and healthcare companies have turned to GrandPad to facilitate video visits. The company began offering expanded capabilities, like GrandPad Daily Connect. This remote care solution delivers data – like blood pressure and heart rate – to remote caregivers who can detect abnormalities and coordinate further care. Meanwhile, GrandPad users – and their families – continue to express their gratitude to agents for this tool that not only keeps them connected during COVID, but staves off loneliness too.

One family member notes, “Mom could no longer use her computer with passwords. The GrandPad allows her to stay in touch with her contacts. It has been a lifesaver for our family!” We asked Scott how other entrepreneurs and innovators can take hold of this pivotal moment for small towns. “Keep investing in your communities,” he encourages. “Read the local paper. Talk to your neighbors. Be kind.” Investing in his own community, Scott leased a space, bought some paint and fresh carpet, and hung a bright, shiny GrandPad sign in the window. Used for demos, videos, training sessions, and as an optional shared workspace for employees, this is Scott’s way of shining a light on rural America. In the small town of Wabasha, in the Midwest, in the U.S., GrandPad is open for business.

Maggie, her husband Eric and their three kids love living in their small town of Wabasha. When she’s not writing, Maggie is packing lunches, helping kids with homework, or (after bedtime) binge-watching shows on Netflix.

From our family to yours, wishing you a

Merry Christmas!

GrandPad Daily Connect, a remote care solution, delivers data to remote caregivers / Photo courtesy GrandPad

Empty Nest Winery November-December: Sat 10-5. Sun 1-5. Closed January 1 through February 11 After Feb 11: Sat 10-5. Sun 1-5.

Upcoming Events

November 7: Limited Edition Release – Night Temptation, Seduction, Berrylicious, Private Reserve Wines November 25: Sip & Shop Event 5-8 pm December 26 & 27: Last weekend open Great Venue for your next event!

Like us for details!

February 12-14: 10th Annual

Blind Wine Tasting!

Save the date for this super fun event! Watch Facebook for details • 563-568-2758

1253 Apple Rd. Waukon, Iowa



best of Winter!

oming from a Norwegian town like Decorah, Iowa – we’re home to many people with Norwegian heritage, and Vesterheim, a national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center – we’re reminded often of the wonderful ways those Scandinavian relatives embrace winter. It’s truly inspiring to think that winter can be something to look forward to – not just get through. So consider this your annual reminder to live winter like a Norwegian, where there are parts of the

Outside. Feeling extra motivated? Great! Heart-pumping exercise is helpful for enjoying winter (and life) as well. Rent or borrow some outdoor snow-fun gear and try something new like snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or ice skating.

country that experience “polar nights” – winter days where the sun doesn’t make it over the horizon. The farther north you go above the Arctic Circle, the more polar nights there are. Tromsø, a town 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle, has 60 polar nights in a row. So, you know…we don’t have it so bad. Over the years, these Northern Norwegians have learned a thing or two (or 20) about fending off wintertime blues.

Here’s a fun Norwegian word for you: friluftsliv (free-loofts-liv) – literally meaning free air life. On a concept-level, it means understanding the joy and health you can find by spending times outdoors, no matter the weather. It can mean long walks with friends, bundling up for a winter picnic, taking the dog for a walk…anything that gets you outside, enjoying nature. So… make sure to get outdoors every day – even just for a short walk. We all need that fresh air! Breathe it in and think about how great it feels. And repeat.

Play in the snow! Sledding, snow angels, snowball fights, snow forts, snowboarding, snowmen…make a fire in your fire pit and invite friends over for a distanced, outdoor hang-out.

Sign up for a virtual race – lots have gone online these days, which can be a bonus, because there’s more flexibility! Plus, there is still some camaraderie because you’re all doing it – even if you’re all in different places.

Friluftsliv (free-loofts-liv)

free air life

Okay, but is it icy? Fifty degrees below with windchill? Fine…just pop out for at least a bit of fresh air, then get your exercise indoors. Try doing an online yoga video or learn all the moves to your favorite dance video.

Train your brain to think of winter as something we are fortunate to experience, and winter will start to feel more fun – you’ve got this! 20

Holiday+Winter 2020-21 /

Inside. Remember the other Norwegian word we’ve talked about in past Inspire(d)s? Koselig (koosuh-lee)! Koselig is more than being cozy – it’s a mentality and a way of life. You’re encouraged to look at obstacles – like an impending long, dark winter – as a challenge full of opportunities to grow and adapt. It’s about getting outside, living the friluftsliv way, and also making things feel warm and comfortable inside. There are many ways to get koselig, and it’s easier than you might think.



Make some bright spots

– literally, with lights! Turn on cozy lamps, put up a string of fairy lights, light some candles, and get that fireplace rolling (if you’ve got one).

Grab your favorite mug and fill it with hot cider, coffee, cocoa, or tea – it doesn’t matter what you choose, but it’s more koselig if it’s steaming hot.


morning glory

retreat spaces | contemplative pursuits

Snuggle up under a blanket (the bigger and comfier, the better) and pull on some warm, fuzzy socks or slippers. Then cozy up with a favorite movie.

Bake bread, cinnamon rolls, cookies, cake… anything, really…warm oven + the smell of fresh baked goods + eating fresh baked goods = koselig.

Decorah, Iowa

(563) 419-2357

retreat house 336 Washington Street

downtown space 113 Winnebago Street



Wash your sheets and clean your house – a tidy and clean space can make you feel cozier – and happier – than ever!

Play a board or card game – something without electronics to give your brain a break from the screens.

Sustainable Beautiful Efficient David J. Wadsworth • 563.419.0390 • \ Holiday+Winter 2020-21


Decorah for the holidays Hol iday parade & Fireworks

Shop early. shop local.

Holiday Pa - 6:00 pm downtown Decorah works Holiday Lights Fire - 6:30 pm downtown Decorah

November 19th - 22nd

mber 3rd Thursday, Decera de

Pre-Holiday Open House

countdown to christmas

November 27th - December 25th For every $25 spent at a participating merchant, shoppers will earn an entry into weekly drawings.

photos with santa

Saturday, December 5th 10 am to 3 pm

Water Street Park - downto wn Decorah

e s u o h n e p o y a id l o H -decorahd - 6th December 3rca l businesses for

ith lo Make sure to check w d events! special promotions an

Pulpit Rock Campground ***Drive through only.*** Open nightly 5-9 pm beginning November 25th

Shop local gift cards one-stop-shop Decorah business gift cards

Be a

superhero. Shop local!

A community is defined as a unified body of individuals. You can build community in a neighborhood, city, region, state, nation... world, at any level. It doesn’t have to be big to have a big impact. Building community is one of the most important things we can do on this planet. Connecting with others helps us connect with our humanity, and realize we’re all in this together. As we start in on year 14 with Inspire(d), we decided to feature Community Builders year-round! Thanks, Community Builders, for inspiring us! Kari and Pete Espinosa (and dogs) / Photo courtesy Espinosa



Pete Espinosa Decorah, Iowa BY SARA FRIEDL-PUTNAM


t’s 1964, and Pete Espinosa is five. He’s riding in the car, a little boy accompanying his mom and older brother Paul on the 80-mile drive from Mason City to Decorah, Iowa, to drop Paul off at Luther College. The trip, as Pete recalls, was bittersweet – as the trio hauled bins of possessions into Olson Hall, first there was laughter, and then there were tears. “When you are five, nothing is more important to you than your mom, and I can remember my mom being so sad on the way home because Paul was her

first child to leave for college,” he says. “That is impactful when you are that young.” That visit would be the first of many. Pete returned to Decorah again and again through the years to visit Paul and then older sisters Pam and Ann at Luther. “Decorah was ingrained in me early,” he says with a smile. In 1977 it was Pete’s own turn to enroll at Luther, where he majored in speech communications and political science and, as a senior, met his future wife, Kari Tollefson, then a Luther freshman. “When I graduated, I took a job with IBM in the Quad Cities, but came back to Decorah a lot over the next three years to visit Kari,”

If you’d like to nominate a Community Builder from your neck of the woods, let us know! Email


he says. “I spent a lot of time in Decorah for someone who did not live there.” Pete steadily climbed through the ranks at IBM over the next 18 years, eventually serving as executive assistant to the company’s chairman and CEO. In 1999 he left IBM and went on French toast from Justin’s to hold senior executive / Photo by Sara Friedlleadership positions at Putnam a handful of software companies before landing at Mortgage Cadence, where he currently serves as CEO. As jobs took him literally all over the country – “I have lived in New York, Boston, Kansas City, the Quad Cities, Omaha, the Twin Cities,” he says – Decorah remained a constant, as he and Kari returned for Luther Homecoming and other events throughout the years even as they raised their three children, Josh, Justin, and Rachel. There was just something about this scenic small town. In 2013, after spending a fun and memorable long weekend with Kari’s siblings and family in Decorah, the couple was inspired to put down roots in town, and join the community on a more tangible level. They bought a lot and built a house on Iowa Avenue. “We chose Decorah, and because of that we very much want Decorah to 24

Holiday-Winter 2020-21 /

be successful,” says Pete. “We are not just rooting for it but want to do something positive.” That has been their mantra time and again over the last six years. In 2014 the couple purchased and renovated Bottle Tree laundromat on College Drive, an investment that, while not necessarily very profitable, served the Decorah population in an important way. Then in 2015, Pete, teaming up with a few family members and friends, opened Pulpit Rock Brewing Company. The brewery was one of the reasons – Toppling Goliath Brewing Company being the other – that Decorah is on the map for craftbeer connoisseurs worldwide. “I am not even a beer drinker, and there was no financial plan Pete and some of his family that made any sense when we (and dog) outside Pulpit opened,” he says. “But we want Rock Brewing in Decorah / to do good things for Decorah, Photo courtesy Espinosa and we thought this would be a good thing for Decorah.” And it has been. As it turned out, says Pete, head brewers Bob Slack and Justin Teff, make great beer: “I was blown away. We started winning awards, and we were getting more and more requests to rent out our taproom, next door to the laundromat.” Those requests inspired another change. When he received an offer to buy the laundromat, he accepted it, contingent that the laundromat would stay on the West Side of Decorah to serve that population. The move left the former laundromat space available to remodel into an event venue, which has been popular from the start. In 2019, the Espinosas created another anchor for the community. Pete and Kari had long had their eyes on 211 College Drive, a spacious (11,000 square feet) building next door to Pulpit Rock that housed a furniture business. When that business closed, Pete and Kari bought the building to, once again, do something good for Decorah. “We wanted to build an establishment unlike anything else in town,” says Pete, “It was important that we didn’t put anyone out of business.” The Landing Market opened in July 2020. Modeled after the Lynhall in Minneapolis, it offers a range of food and drink options,

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Pete & Kari Espinosa / Photo courtesy Espinosa

from fresh-brewed coffee sourced from Impact (also in town) and other items from distinctive wines to grab-and go sandwiches (made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients) as well as what Pete calls “the best French toast around.” The French toast is a featured menu item at Justin’s, an eatery in the Landing Market named after Pete’s son, who has cognitive disabilities. Providing meaningful work opportunities for adults engaged in the Spectrum Network (which serves adults with cognitive disabilities) has been an integral part of the mission of establishing the food hall. “There aren’t a lot of employment options for Spectrum clients in Decorah right now,” says Pete. “But here they can help make yummy, reasonably priced food in a cool setting. That is a home run.” The Espinosas are also supporters of the arts. Pete and Kari purchased the former Wonder Bread store on Broadway Street in Decorah to ensure ArtHaus, a space for visual and performing arts, had a home in which to grow and thrive in the Decorah community. “My wife and I believe that the more people you can help in a community, the better everything else turns out. That is the essence of the laundromat, the brewery, the Market Landing, and ArtHaus,” says Pete. “And it all goes back to the fact that we chose to be here so we want to do what we can to make this a special, unique place.” In 2016, Pete was honored with the Luther College Distinguished Service Award. And in 2017, he joined the Luther College Board of Regents. “I said, sign me up, when asked,” says Pete. “I felt like I could help.” Delivering Pete’s Distinguished Service Award, Eric Runestad, then Luther vice president of finance, summed up his essence thusly: “Pete is the kind of person that makes you think ‘I could do more.’” That he is. Sara Friedl-Putnam has tried the French toast at Justin’s in the Landing Market and can attest to the fact that it is the most delicious French toast in town, if not the region.

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Feb. 6, 2021


Get outside and enjoy the winter at this non-competitive ski/walk event for children ages 3-13.

Decorah Prairie, Ohio Street Start time: 10:00 a.m. Registration: 9:40 a.m. For Information: Darlene Fossum-Martin, 563-419-4958 Weather cancellations: Check local radio. Sponsored by Jon and Mary Hart in memory of Kjell Berntsen, and Sons of Norway Lodges in Decorah, Lanesboro, & Spring Grove. \ Holiday+Winter 2020-21




Photo courtesy Adrian Lipscombe

Adrian Lipscombe La Crosse, Wisconsin



arming in the Midwest is a deep-rooted tradition. Grounded in a history of agriculture, cultivating the foods that end up on our tables has long been the legacy of the region, particularly in the Driftless. But for the black community, the same isn’t true. This striking reality presented itself loud-and-clear to Adrian Lipscombe, owner of Uptown Cafe in La Crosse, Wisconsin, earlier this year, and it eventually led her to launch a black farming initiative, 40 Acres and a Mule. But as passionate as she’s been about supporting the black farmer, it’s surprising to learn that she became involved in the cause almost serendipitously. After the events surrounding George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis the summer of 2020, Adrian received a check in the mail. Confused, she thought maybe she had forgotten to collect from a catering job. But then came the requests for Venmo payments. Adrian, a black woman and small business owner, couldn’t figure out what it was for, so she finally asked. Turns out, people just wanted to support her during this moment of racial inequality and unrest. Adrian went to bed puzzled. Should she take the money? What would she do with it? A good night’s rest was all the inspiration she needed. Adrian woke and immediately knew, “I’m going to buy black land and I’m going to concentrate on black farmers,” she says, thinking back to 26

Holiday+Winter 2020-21 /

that pivotal moment. As an entrepreneur and former city planner, Adrian immediately kicked it into high gear, reaching out to contacts on the East Coast – this epiphany happened early in the morning and she needed resources that were awake. “I was asking them, does this exist? And I learned that this is a real need. So I launched 40 Acres and a Mule within 24 hours,” she says. 40 Acres and a Mule strives to provide resources and connections for black farmers. The name comes from a term derived from Union General William T. Sherman in his 1865 Special Field Order No. 15. This reparations movement promised to pay restitution to African Americans for their enslavement. This seemed fitting to Adrian as she began digging into the history of black farming. Reaching out to different organizations, she started to see that her community was a perfect example of where black farming could thrive, but hasn’t. “Wisconsin is a homogeneous farming community. But where is the black farmer today?” she found herself asking. The fact that she asks these questions, launches initiatives within 24 hours, and is the first person people think of when they have extra money to support a business, is why Adrian is the epitome of a community builder. With roots in the South, she’s not a La Crosse native, but the city has welcomed her, and her leadership, with open arms. “La Crosse is such a great community. It’s the smallest city I’ve ever lived in,” she says. “People here are really sincere in wanting

mentorship. She also acknowledges that to help make it a better place, a diverse place, an historically, black farming has been tumultuous equitable place.” Though she was surprised by and violent. She wants to help control and the monetary outreach this summer, she wasn’t shape this narrative going forward – to give it surprised that her community wanted to help. some positivity, to point black communities “They come out when there is a need – they get in the right direction, to make lifelong behind that and they support that. It’s difficult to connections between black business and do in a large city with a large population,” she says, farmers. Adrian sees the Driftless as a great joking that she wishes she could keep her beloved case study for change. She’s currently working community the well-kept secret it is. “They all care to understand community needs, working and they’re all so genuine. It’s magical.” directly with both black and white farmers What better place for Adrian to kick off 40 Acres to learn more about their work and the and a Mule than a place “surrounded by organic economics of farming. farmers and great people”? Her short-term goal is to Though her cause has garnered a serve as a conduit between wide following, media attention, black farmers and available and donations from across the resources. She knows country, it’s the day-to-day in La there are trustworthy Crosse that Adrian credits with organizations and systems providing the support to press that can help them, but the on, and to continue to be a black connection isn’t there. “It’s business owner in America. “Our difficult for black farmers to restaurant’s relationship to the find the aid that they need. community has gotten stronger. Learn more: It’s really huge that that is Especially during a time like this. missing,” she explains. And For people to come by and check Uptown Café: ultimately, her long-term on us. Just to wave at us in the goal is to produce more window to make sure we’re okay. black farmers in America. To help provide that Here in La Crosse you have those opportunities education and open up that pathway to “give to take deeper breaths, to understand what is black people the chance to be farmers if they happening in your community and the world around want to,” Adrian says. you,” she says. SUPPORT SMALL As a chef, Adrian knows full-well the When she’s not out researching, speaking with BUSINESS THIS importance of supporting farmers of all farmers, meeting with the media, raising awareness, ethnicities, so restaurants like hers can and just generally spearheading the project, continue to bring quality dishes to the tables Adrian still has responsibilities at her restaurant. of patrons. “Understanding agriculture and Like many small businesses during the pandemic, understanding how food is produced is there has been so much pivoting that “my hips important to my job and my restaurant. I’m hurt” she laughs. Uptown Cafe has added outdoor getting the chance to understand from the dining and has made space to accommodate more ground to the plate. Being involved in that bakery items. “We have to adapt,” she says. “It’s an process, to me that’s so joyful to know where unprecedented time, we are able to chart the way. my food comes from,” she says. “It’s like There’s going to be some mistakes but we’re going putting my hands in the soil.” to find the good, too.” Adrian continues to build this community That’s how she’s approaching 40 Acres and Mule, with the support of donors far and wide. too. She admits, “What I thought was a gap is really 40 Acres and a Mule’s GoFundMe page has like a canyon.” Black farming, black foodways, already raised over $131,000 as of printing. agricultural disparities, lack of education, lack of And locally, in the Driftless, people continue profitability, and lack of black mentorship in the to do what they do best – provide support. industry are just the tip of the iceberg and Adrian “Farmers are mentoring me, both black and knows it. Though she wishes she could do it all, white. To have the opportunity to talk to them “we’re focusing on what we can realistically do,” she about where their food goes is an honor. It’s a says, adding, “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, rare opportunity.” we want the wheel to go faster.” There are lots of avenues Adrian sees for GIFT CARDS increasing the speed of the wheel. At first, she AVAILABLE! thought it needed to be specifically just land for Sara Walters is a freelance black farmers. But land is expensive, and though writer and mom living in she still has her sights set on this, she has pivoted 211 W. WATER ST. | DECORAH La Crescent, Minnesota. again (sore, sore hips) to address other issues for MONDAY - SATURDAY 9-5 She is the daughter and black farmers. She’s learned that many are over the P. 563-382-8940 granddaughter of lifelong age of 55 and have no one to whom they can pass farmers. down their legacy. Others are young and interested, but have no place to turn to for education and \ Holiday+Winter 2020-21 27

Holiday Season



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Q&A with Dr. Michael Osterholm Inspire(d)’s Aryn Henning Nichols got 15 minutes on the phone with the nationally renowned - and Northeast Iowa native - Dr. Micahel Osterholm, to ask him about COVID-19, physical - not social – distancing, and how he keeps in touch with his family.



erhaps you’ve seen his name in the news: Dr. Michael Osterholm. The nationally renowned epidemiologist has been quoted or published in media outlets across the nation – from New York Times to Oprah – in regards to COVID-19 and other epidemics and disease-related news. He’s one of the many scientists who have been busy studying, researching, reporting facts, and trying to help the world deal with this outbreak. And he happens to be from Northeast Iowa. Dr. Osterholm is a Waukon native. He graduated from Waukon High School in 1971, and got a degree in biology – and a second in political science – from Luther College in Decorah in 1975. He then went on to earn two master’s degrees from the University of Minnesota and, finally, a doctorate in environmental health in 1980. After working at the Minnesota Department of Health as a graduate student, then as Minnesota’s state epidemiologist for 15 years, he eventually founded the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota in 2001, which he continues to lead. But how does one follow that path from Northeast Iowa? Epidemiology isn’t a profession you see on a regular basis around here. According to Dr. Osterholm, epidemiology is basically “medical detective work,” and it’s something that has intrigued him ever since junior high (you’ll hear more about that below). Despite his fame in the field, and now, in the nation, he’s maintained his Midwestern accent and mannerisms – he even thanked me for my time, when he was clearly the one with a tighter schedule. He only had 15 minutes to spare for this interview before Zooming in on at least three more talks that day. Read on to see all the topics we crammed in to that quarter of an hour – Dr. Osterholm’s background, Zoom sessions, thoughts on COVID-19, and how he likes to keep in touch, even through a pandemic.

Q&A with Dr. Michael Osterholm: Why did you decide to get into epidemiology? What happened was I had a close relationship with the woman married to the owner of the Waukon Newspaper, Laverne Hull. She was a real renaissance of a woman. She worked at the newspaper – really, she was part owner too – was multi-lingual – spoke French and English – had a masters in journalism, and subscribed to the New Yorker. She was someone who had a major influence on my life. She would give me these New Yorkers when she was done reading. There was a series of articles in there called the “Annals of Medicine” by Berton Roueché. And Berton Roueché was someone

Dr. Michael Osterholm / Photo courtesy Stuart Isett

who was a constant storyteller. He would take these outbreak investigations and write them up as kind of “who done it” stories. I loved reading these, even when I was in seventh and eighth grade. Whenever she would get done with a copy, I would quick run and get it. So I even knew back in junior high that I wanted to be a medical detective. So that’s what I pursued. Has it been as exciting as you thought it would be in seventh and eighth grade? I had no idea – it was one of those things. It’s like me asking you what your life’s going to be like when you’re 60. It’s just one turn after another. The thing that was most remarkable is that Berton Roueché actually wrote up an outbreak investigation that I led in Southwestern Minnesota back in the 1980s. A thing called thyrotoxicosis, and it was his very last story he wrote before he died. I was able to tell him how he influenced my life, and say “thank you” for all he did for me. Continued on next page \ Holiday-Winter 2020-21


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And now we have COVID-19, a type of virus you predicted would happen in our lifetime in your 2017 book, Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs. Realistically, how long do you think we’ve got to go before we can be together again, COVID-19 carefree? We just don’t know yet – clearly it’s going to be challenging in the coming months because we don’t really understand yet how well vaccines will work, we don’t know when people will actually get a vaccine, and how durable the immunity is, meaning will it last for a certain period of time. We just don’t know yet. What are some things we can all do in order to get there faster? So, it’s all about distancing, which is a very hard thing to get across to people. You know, it’s basically sharing the air with someone, someone who could be putting the virus out into that air. When you’re indoors, it’s very difficult to distance. Outdoors is easier, but it’s still a challenge. And masking? Masking is something everyone should do. I think anything we can do right now to minimize the risk of transmission, we should consider. We still don’t know how well it works; it’s likely just a thing that’s another layer, in effect. Distancing is still by far the most important thing you can do, but also just being aware of being in crowds – in the sense that it’s not just how far away you are from someone, but if I go and spend three hours indoors and I’m more than six feet away from someone, that doesn’t mean that I’ll be safe there. We have many outbreaks right now – bars and restaurants, funerals, weddings, family reunions, school-based activities that are indoors. All of these have led to big outbreaks, right here in the Midwest. Do you think any number is safe? Less than 25? Less than 10? There’s nothing magical about 10. It’s more about who your bubble’s with. For example, my partner and I are very bubbled together. So, you know, we can do whatever we want. People who


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are living together in one building - they can get together pretty routinely if they don’t have outside contact. You’ve said numerous times you prefer to say physical distancing instead of social distancing – because we still must remain social through COVID-19. We love that. What are your favorite physical distancing activities that still allow you to be social? I don’t think there’s been a time in my adult life when social closeness has been more important. So I make sure I see my kids on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and be with them outdoors. I’ll give them each a 30-second hug, then back away at that point, and maintain at least a 10-foot distance outdoors. I go out for walks with my partner frequently in a park near where I live, and feel very comfortable holding her hand as we walk around the park and just staying, you know, at least 10 feet away from everybody outside and I don’t have any concerns at all. Along those lines, how do you keep in touch with your relatives who are far away? Do you Zoom with them? I Zoom with them a lot. And for work, too. I work with more than 30 people with our center, and we have our routine Zoom calls. I will often spend eight to 10 hours a day on Zoom. Whoa, that’s got to be exhausting. Yeah, it is. I mean, I’m giving a talk here in just a few minutes, and this will be my third talk of the day. And I’ve got three more to go yet before I’m done.

haven’t left Minneapolis since March, which is a big change for me. I’m usually a 200,000-mile-a-year flier, but I haven’t been on a plane since March. Do you miss it? Ah, you know… I don’t. I miss the contact with all my friends and family that I once had, but I think travel is something you realize – once you’re not doing it – what it feels like to get off the gerbil wheel. The theme of this issue of Inspire(d) is “Look for the Bright Spots”. Have you found some bright spots to these past months? Any you could share? You know, I do a weekly podcast, The Osterholm Update: COVID-19. And with that, we have many thousands of people who download it and listen to it each week. The response we’ve gotten from this podcast… the feedback has been nothing short of remarkable. And it’s been a really positive thing to see all the acts of kindness that people do and follow up on. So I have to say that has probably been one of the really special things. There have been so many people that have done so many kind things. I think that we must not forget that despite what’s going on with this virus right now, there’s a tremendous amount of good in the world.

Yeah, you are highly sought after, I imagine. Well, I can’t say that (laughs). Everything is virtual for me now. I

Find the Osterholm Update: COVID-19 podcast at podcasts-webinars or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play or on YouTube.


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Louis At this view on June 17, 1673, Pere Marquette and th of the Joliet entered the Mississippi River from the mou discover Wisconsin River. They were the first white men to Soil. the Upper Mississippi River and set foot on Iowa


Park • Effigy Mounds National Monument e Stat k Pea s Pike • ting Ska Ice • ing Fish • Mississippi River • Ice ss Country Skiing • Snow Shoeing • Winery Cro • ng Biki Tire Fat • ng Hiki • est For e • Yellow River Stat tre eums & Walks • Driftless Area Wetland Cen Mus oric Hist • els Hot ins, Cab s, B&B – Brewer y • Lodging ants • Antiques • Art Gallery • Music taur Res • g ppin Sho • ino Cas • ater The ie • Mov

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Photo by Scott Boylen

Photo by Scott Boylen



Look for the


eeling sad? Overwhelmed? Anxious? You are normal, and you are not alone. Sometimes, just knowing this is a bright spot on it’s own. There are a lot of us who have been struggling lately – and who wouldn’t? It’s winter – a time when lack of light / Seasonal Affective Disorder can make us, well, sad – there’s still an anxiety-inducing pandemic, and 2020 is slowly (or is it quickly?) coming to a halt. So: It’s time to talk about mental health, friends. Honestly, yesterday was time. And tomorrow. We here at Inspire(d) believe it’s something we should be talking about on a regular basis. Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the world, affecting 284 million people (Our World in Data, 2018), but really, every single person has stuff they could talk through, preferably with a licensed professional. There are a lot of things in your day-to-day life you can do as well, though, to help find positives to your day, and create a healthier space in your brain. It starts with supporting yourself – and others – with kindness, patience, and empathy. We’re hoping we can end 2020 on a positive note, and to hold on to hope and optimism for 2021. Throughout this section of the magazine, you’ll find tips and strategies for looking for the bright spots in your life – because there are some there, we promise!

Bright Spots

READ on Free Online Happiness Course Did you know there’s a free Happiness course offered online though Yale University?! Go to and search for “The Science of Well-Being” to sign up. In this course you will engage in a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits. As preparation for these tasks, Professor Laurie Santos reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do,

and the research that can help us change. You will ultimately be prepared to successfully incorporate a specific wellness activity into your life. Skills you will gain: gratitude, happiness, meditation, savoring. It’s gotten nearly 23,000 five star ratings since it was first offered in 2018. The course is split up into 10 weekly lessons, ranging from 15 minutes to just over an hour. Check it out at!

Here’s a tip: Helping others often helps you! Bonus: Kindness Week is February 15- February 21, 2021. Try doing some Random Acts of Kindness that week (or anytime) and see how you feel. Ideas: • tip more than 20% next time you order something from an establishment • write a thank you note to someone important in your life • write a nice chalk message

on the sidewalk in front of your neighbors “Don’t expect kindness – teach it!” Check out Distance Learning MiniLessons available at www. to help learning coaches, parents, or guardians teach kids to “Make Kindness the Norm.” There are some pretty neat lesson plans mapped out!




Let’s get outside for winter fun!



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r e d mb n s e fri me ed d a ily ne ke o t am at as n e af th ng t s g i e Li n • rag thi t be F u me ou L o h o t E c S En o s wi R D ng • U • oi O d

p p u

ro t

• Be your own biggest cheerleader • Ask for help • Remember to take care of yourself

284 million

Bright Spots

The number of people in the world suffering from anxiety, the most common mental illness in the world.

43.6 million

Dance Exercise Eat foods that make you feel good Get enough sleep


Especially on a sunny day, & literally look for the bright spots! On cloudy days, just look for beauty around you.


Cut yourself some slack

(Our World in Data, 2018)

Estimated number of U.S. adults ages 18 or older suffer from a mental illness in any given year

Look for the

! O TO

Feeling sad? Overwhelmed? Anxious? You are normal, and you are not alone.






! l a c o l SUPPORT

Pledge to buy at least 50% of your holiday gifts from a local business this year

• Call or text a friend • Mail a card or letter • Host a distanced, outdoor hang out!


Create the

= GOOD VIBES for giver & receiver! Bonus: kindness week is in February!

When you go to sleep at night, think of one thing that went well that day.

When you wake up in the morning, think of one thing you’re looking forward to.

Y ou

! t i o d n a c

Try a day where you only say or share positive things



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Focus on Mental Health

& Boost your Mood 36

Holiday+Winter 2020-21 /


Local Mental Health Counselor Olivia Lynn Schnur shares tips and strategies for staying positive this winter


S winter sets in, we typically retreat indoors and share space with a small group of family or friends. However, with 2020’s COVID-19, it almost feels like we’ve had a year of winter. Yes – we tried gardening, walking with friends and relying on video calls to meet our social needs – but these coping methods, done over and over, can get old. Winter also brings shorter days and less sunlight, which may lead to mental health conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a condition brought on by the change in seasons – and lack of light – that disrupts the body’s natural cycle. While some days – especially in winter – it can feel like there is little hope in sight, there are proven methods for shifting our mood that can help us end the year on a positive note.

Happiness Hormones There are four major happiness hormones – serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins – and behaviors associated with each one. Let’s break it down:


Serotonin is related to sleep, digestion, hunger and memory. A disruption in this is commonly linked with mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Five Areas of Focus

Most everyone knows we need to exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep to stay healthy. But do we really understand why these things are so vitally important? Local therapists and medical practitioners have come together here to answer that question, plus share five areas of focus for mood-boosters we can do at home. But remember: Not every mood-boosting strategy is for everyone. Try choosing a few tips to practice each week. See what works best for you. Even one change can make a huge difference in your happiness overall.


When it comes to connection, think quality over quantity. Taking time to express gratitude, share feelings, and listen empathetically are all important factors in releasing oxytocin. While physical touch is most often associated with oxytocin (see sidebar), it is not necessarily the only way to tap into this hormone. Barbara Fay, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in Decorah, Iowa, believes community involvement promotes meaningful connections. She advocates for mentoring, volunteering, and engaging in random acts of kindness. Barbara currently counsels children and adults online. With the holidays approaching, we may have to adjust plans as social gatherings and travel are limited. Focus on spending time with a few family members or friends and creating new rituals like playing board games, sharing gratitude or reflecting upon special memories. We can also connect without physical contact by creating personalized greeting cards, sharing holiday recipes, or exchanging family photos. If you are solo, take time to connect with yourself – a good book, a warm drink, and cozy pajamas might just become your favorite holiday tradition!


Regular exercise gets you a three-in-one increase in hormones: dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Add in exercising with a friend, and you’re increasing oxytocin as well. Does that friend happen to be a pet? Totally works too! Spending time with animals releases oxytocin, and Des Moines-based mental health counselor Blair Birkett says it can decrease cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, as well. For those without full-time pets, she says, “Consider fostering, sign up for a dog walking service, offer to watch someone else’s pets, or volunteer at your local animal shelter.” Additional bonus: If you’re outdoors doing these things, you’ll get an extra serotonin boost. Sunlight exposure assists with vitamin D production as well, which mitigates Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Dopamine Dopamine is associated with memory and focus. It is naturally released when we engage in rewarding activities, and a disturbance in this is associated with depression and schizophrenia. Oxytocin

Oxytocin leads to feelings of connection in both parent-child and relationships amongst friends. It is often called the “cuddle hormone.” An even better term might be the connection hormone.

Endorphins Endorphins are feel-good hormones in response to pain, exercise, or rewarding activities. Endorphins are what people are referring to when they experience the “runner’s high.” \ Holiday+Winter 2020-21


New to exercise and not sure where to start? Don’t let that stop you! Gentle exercise may be just as beneficial as high-impact. Try starting with a walk around your block. When time is limited, quick stretches are another great way to get active, counteract poor posture, and eliminate stress. If you do have some time, take it a step further with yoga – it’s an accessible low-impact exercise with online options for all levels and abilities. Once you get started, it gets easier – dopamine levels rise during exercise, which naturally increase motivation for consistent practice. Looking for more ideas? Try dancing! Taking time to play music and move for the entirety of a song can be a great mood booster, plus music itself releases dopamine in the brain. Shaking, skipping, stretching, or even drumming along to a song are all effective ways to add movement and music into a busy day.


Play can include hobbies, creativity, and moments of joy. NAMI, The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a HelpLine: 800-950-6264. Please, call if you need help. The HelpLine is open Monday through Friday, 9 am– 5 pm, or by Laughter is a natural dopamine email at If you are in an emergency call 911 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and endorphin booster, and may The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours at 800-273-8255. help decrease the impacts of depression and anxiety. Cassie Sawyer, Art Therapist from Root to Crown Healing & Wellness in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Heal encourages people to heal through art. “When you make art A great method for healing the nervous system is deep belly for healing, it’s not about the ‘product’ that you’re making, it’s breathing, which reduces cortisol in the body. To begin, place one about the creative process,” she says. She invites anyone stuck in hand on the chest and the other on the belly. Notice where the perfectionism to, “make the most unappealing piece you can make – breath moves. Attempt to fill the belly like a balloon, expanding even ugly art heals!” it with every inhale and deflating with every exhale. If this is


When the body is under stress, it takes greater energy to operate efficiently. Unfortunately, these days of uncertainty can lead to hyper-vigilance, muscle tension, and excessive worry… and make relaxation pretty difficult. To assist in unwinding, keep a consistent sleep schedule and aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Adequate sleep helps to regulate hormone levels. Nesrin Abu Ata, M.D of Mind Alchemy, a private practice in Sioux City, Iowa, adds, “Limit electronics, especially before bed to let your body rest and restore.” Cindy Enyart, LMHC of Enyart Counseling Services in Waterloo, Iowa, shares this reminder, “Participating in self-care activities can be difficult when you are feeling down and depressed.” She suggests opting for short, self-care activities like five minutes of meditation, a quick walk, or a healthy snack. “You do not have to do anything elaborate or time consuming in order to take steps towards healing.” 38

Holiday+Winter 2020-21 /

inaccessible from a seated position, try it lying on your back. Another technique for increasing oxytocin is loving-kindness meditation. Simply find a relaxed position and focus on sending love and kindness to someone. Imagine this deepening with each breath. Bonus: Dopamine levels may also rise with a consistent meditation practice. Self-help books can be great tools for recovering from stress and trauma as well. These books can highlight patterns of behavior that might otherwise remain unconscious. As an additional strategy, try journaling to help process feelings and thoughts that arise. It takes time to repair the nervous system after stress. When an extra source of support is needed, there is no shame in seeking outside help in the form of a therapist, medical doctor, or psychiatrist. In conjunction with appropriate resources, these selfcare strategies will help to foster resilience, recover from stress, and improve mood.

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YOUTH MENTORING This year has presented us with many challenges, but also tremendous opportunities for growth. In the midst of change, though, growth may be hard to recognize. While many of us are anxious to leave 2020 behind, let us do so on a positive note. Together we will enter the New Year armed with strategies for boosting happiness and the capability to overcome anything life throws our way. Olivia Schnur is a Clinical Mental Health Counselor and Registered Yoga Teacher. She currently works as a counselor at Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa. Her specialty areas include trauma, anxiety, stress and performance-based issues.

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Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter Levine

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The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose by Oprah Winfrey

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook by Martha Davis, Ph.D., Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, MSW & Matthew McKay, Ph.D.



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Keep it positive Weekly Guided Journal What is one good thing that happened last week?

Can you remember a time you were proud of something you did? Write it down here.


Holiday-Winter 2020-21 /

Fill this out at the start of each week to help keep a positive perspective in your life! You can print a pdf at

What is one thing you’re looking forward to this week?

What’s something you’d like to leave behind from last week?

What’s one goal you’d like to work toward this week?

Journal Design by Inspire(d) Media • Illustration: Shutterstock

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MORE THAN A SUMMER DESTINATION! HERE ARE A FEW FUN WINTER IDEAS TO GET YOU STARTED: • Fountain hosts the county’s history center and a brewery destination. • Preston has catch and release winter trout fishing that is close to town, so you can enjoy the brewery and places to eat afterwards. • Harmony is known for its movie theater, shopping that includes a large antique mall, a distillery, and destination dining.



luff Country beauty extends north across the Iowa-Minnesota border, where less than an hour from Decorah you will find the Root River Trail Towns. These small communities, connected by a 60-mile, paved Root River and Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail System, are big on year-round outdoor recreation. Abundant state forests, wildlife and aquatic management areas, state parks, and several city bluff parks offer both rustic or designated trail hiking, birding, or snowshoeing. Snowmobile across blufftops and down scenic valleys adjacent partially frozen streams and rivers. Also when snow accumulations allow, several sections of the Root River Trail are groomed for cross country skiing. Attractions abound in, around, and between the Root River Trail Towns, although getting from one to the other is an attraction in itself when you’re in the Driftless Area. There are many opportunities for good food from hometown eateries or stay for a while at locally owned, modern motels or resorts, lavish to farmstead B&Bs, or historic inns. Whether you’re looking for new outdoor adventure or a quiet winter getaway, stop along the Root River Trail Towns to shop small and support homegrown businesses

Learn more:

• Lanesboro, recognized for B&Bs and the arts, offers a bluff country get-away that can be enjoyed any season. • Whalan hosts a candlelight cross country ski every February and has a cozy resort with wide-ranging activities for year-round fun, including its tubing hill for winter guests. • Rushford-Peterson Valley’s renowned lefse producer with a Scandinavian gift store has been a long-standing destination, but also shop nearby family farm-stores for cheese curds, meats, and locally grown products. • Houston’s owl center and nature center are fun for all ages and try the local coffeehouse or bar and grill for tasty family-friendly fare.



reads for cold nights!

inter is the perfect time to cozy in and catch up on your reading list. Wondering what to read next? Consider supporting both local writers (see below) and local bookstores as you shop for holiday gifts… or just because! Can’t swing new books? Check out (books at!) your local library. And while you’re checking out libraries – see the Decorah Public Library’s checklist on the opposite page for a little extra reading inspiration (and hello free beverage from Impact Coffee in Decorah!). Happy reading, friends!

The World At 10mph: A Masterful Prenup Leads to a 3-Year 33,523-Mile Bicycle Adventure by Jackie & Ward Budweg. When Decorah’s Ward and Jacky Budweg decided to get married, Jacky put together a prenuptial agreement on a bar napkin – and included a unique stipulation. For better or worse, Ward agreed to a three-year bike trip around the world. As the two embarked on a journey spanning 1,106 days and six continents, they had unforgettable moments, such as almost being blown off a mountain, getting chased by baboons, getting kicked out of hotels by Chinese police, dancing to accordion music at a Lithuanian farmhouse, and playing cricket in Slovenia. Through it all, they captivate, inspire, and provide invaluable information on how to take the planet by bike, proving that stepping outside of your comfort zone is not only possible – but sometimes the best decision you could ever make. Flower House and Feral Sun, Poetry of Peter Engen from the brand new Ramshackle Press As we like to say around Inspire(d) HQ, “Print is not dead!” – and indeed, local print is far from dead. Conceived and begun during the 2020 pandemic, Ramshackle Press seeks to find local texts to publish and distribute across our region. Co-founded by Parker Forsell (Ocooch Mountain Music / Mid West Music Fest) and Eddy Nix (Driftless Books), the first publication, a collection of poems by La Crosse poet Pete Engen, was published in October of 2020. Growing Up Decorah by Peter Ylvisaker Peter Ylvisaker was born in Seguin, Texas in 1962. He moved to Decorah, Iowa, with his family at a young age. He left in 1984, but still calls it home. He writes of his time growing up in small town Iowa 50+ years ago – of both privilege and innocence, and a strong belief that Decorah is the best place… because maybe, he thinks, just maybe, it is. Present day, Peter still throws the occasional snowball, enjoys cannonballs off the high dive, and scrambles the trails above Ice Cave whenever possible.

Fiddling with Fate: Chloe Ellefson Mystery #10 by Kathleen Ernst The 10th book in the Chloe Ellefson series, Fiddling With Fate, Kathleen Ernst creates a twisting mystery based both in Wisconsin and Norway. After her mother’s unexpected death, museum curator Chloe Ellefson discovers hidden antiques that hint at family secrets. Determined to find answers, Chloe accepts a consultant job in Norway. She’s thrilled to explore Hardanger fiddle and dance traditions – and her heritage. But folklore warns against “the devil’s instrument” and old evils may yet linger among the fjords and mountains. As Chloe fine-tunes her search for the truth, a killer’s obsession to stop her builds to a deadly crescendo. What’s in the Rømmegrøt?! by Carol Hagen Illustrated by Kari Vick What’s in the Rømmegrøt?! is a sweet, readaloud illustrated book for children ages 3-9. Even Grandma makes mistakes learns young Ella as she excitedly joins her Grandmother in preparing a traditional family recipe. When things go awry, young Ella saves the day – and the rømmegrøt! The Midwest Native Plant Primer: 225 Plants for an Earth Friendly Garden by Alan Branhagen Do you want a garden that makes a real difference? Choose plants native to our Midwest region. Native plant expert Alan Branhagen makes adding these superstar plants easier than ever before, with proven advice that every Midwest home gardener can follow. The Unplugged Family Activity Book by Rachel Jepson Wolf Get ready for kid-approved ideas that celebrate the great outdoors year round! Whether you’re building forts or making fresh cider, there’s something for every kid and every season. The Unplugged Family Activity Book invites you and your loved ones to connect, create, and celebrate all year long with 60+ projects, crafts, and recipes.


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Angie Herrmann

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Holiday+Winter 2020-21 /

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John with his dad, Dick Peterson (and a whole bunch of turkeys) / Photo courtesy Ferndale Market


Holiday+Winter 2020-21 /




JOHN peterson of


cozy, warm home, filled with the smells of a slow cooked meal can make the magic of a holiday (or any cold day!)

come to life. At the center of many of those meals is often the classic roast turkey. With the hustle and bustle of life, it can seem daunting to take on the loving preparation and time a festive meal may require. But one might argue that there’s never been a better time than right now to revel in the kitchen – it can really bring you back to the present. Turkeys are not all the same though, so before you run out to grab the cheapest grocery-chain bird you can find, consider not just the investment of time you are making, but the investment in quality local food as well. That is exactly what is at the heart of the third generation, familyrun Ferndale Market. They call it “turkey without shortcuts,” which is an accurate description of how this iconic Minnesota producer raises their table-treasured turkeys. It all started with Dale, and his wife Fern (get it? Fern-Dale!), Peterson in the late 1930s. The sight of a flock of turkeys, with the run of the range, can be a funny scene to those unfamiliar – with a curious flock staring you down from under a giant oak tree – but Ferndale has always believed in allowing their birds outdoor access through the temperate growing months, and they believe you can taste the difference. And while market preferences and trends have certainly changed, Ferndale continues growing their free-range, raised without antibiotics, delicious turkeys the same way. 2020 and the pandemic have thrown wrenches into every agriculture and food-related business, prompting new ways of selling and delivering product. We have seen losses of larger restaurant and retail partners, while some local and regional food markets have boomed. As winter settles in and the holidays come and go, consider supporting as many local and regional growers and food producers

as you can, and enjoying their products as you make your home cozy and delicious-smelling. Ferndale turkeys, and other tasty products like smoked turkey breast and snack sticks, can be found in our region at the Oneota Food Co-op in Decorah, People’s Food Co-op in La Crosse and Rochester, Bluff Country Co-op in Winona, the Viroqua Food Co-op, Free Range Exchange in Hokah, Parkway Market in Lanesboro, New Pioneer Co-op in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, and on the farm in Cannon Falls at Ferndale Market (along with an amazing variety of regional products!). Find more locations across the Midwest and beyond at The Basics: Name: John Peterson Age: 40 Business: Ferndale Market – Cannon Falls, Minnesota Years in Business: Our farm was started in 1939, and we opened Ferndale Market in 2008. 1. Tell us about the “leap” moment. When/how did you decide to jump in and become your own boss? Our story might be a little less “leap” and a little more “journey.” I grew up on my family’s turkey farm, and I always enjoyed working outside and with our turkeys. As a kid collecting turkey eggs and moving ranges, I just didn’t have any idea I would turn it into my career! I studied Business and Communication in college, and in the years after graduating, I worked in admission for my alma mater, Augustana University. It was in these early adult years that my wife, Erica, and I became more engaged with our food system, and realized we had a unique opportunity to return to my family’s farm and begin direct-marketing our turkeys. Prior to that point, my family had sold our turkeys more conventionally to a processor, despite the fact that we continued to grow our turkeys outdoors. \ Holiday+Winter 2020-21


We returned to my family’s farm in 2008, and launched Ferndale Market, named for my grandparents – Fern & Dale – who founded our farm in 1939. We remodeled our former hatchery into an on-farm local foods market, began developing new turkey products, and connected with restaurants and retailers to carry our turkey. Thankfully, consumers, chefs, and butchers have seen the difference in our Ferndale Market turkey, so we’re still here today!


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2. What’s the best thing about being your own boss? Without a doubt, I most value the diversity in my work. I can start my day in a flock of turkeys, spend time at our warehouse packing our truck for delivery, talk about a new local product for our on-farm market, and visit with a restaurant chef by day’s end. I love the diversity and connections to both people and our turkeys it allows. As we’ve grown, we’ve also been able to add partner farms, who follow IOWA our same practices and protocols to grow turkeys with us. Connecting with these fellow farmers regularly adds to the diversity of my work too. We have a couple who happen to be in the Driftless region, so I really enjoy getting out to those farms too!



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“We’re proud to be the dinosaurs, holding onto the practices we’ve used for 80 years. For us, the equation is simple: having turkeys outdoors makes for a good life for our birds, it’s good for our land, and it makes a good tasting turkey. It’s a winwin-win, and that makes me proud to carry these practices forward.” – John Peterson

Holiday+Winter 2020-21 /

3. How about the worst? In our type of farming, the most challenging days are typically related to weather or the health of our flocks. With turkeys outdoors, weather impacts everything we do, particularly during the heat of summer or when weather is changing quickly. As a part of our Raised Without Antibiotics program, we work proactively to keep our flocks happy and healthy, so when weather or a health challenge disrupts our best laid plans, it’s always a tough day. 4. Was there ever a hurdle where you just thought, “I can’t do this?” How did you overcome it? You know, we’ve had plenty of challenges, but I’ve never considered giving up. We believe really strongly in the ways we’re doing things differently on our farm and at Ferndale Market, as well as the different path we are trying to carve in the food and ag space. In a world where the typical distance between farm and plate is long and complicated, we’re passionate about having a closer tie to our food system. I’m also buoyed by the interactions with our customers, both in our on-farm market and the chefs and butchers we sell to. Most farmers don’t get to know their consumers or have this routine validation for their work, so that’s a big wind in our sails. Continued on next page

(Left to right) Jane and Dick Peterson, and Erica and John Peterson with their son, Finn / Photo courtesy Ferndale Market

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When John and his wife, Erica, returned to the family farm in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, in 2008, they remodeled their former hatchery into Ferndale Market, an on-farm local foods market / Photo courtesy Ferndale Market

5. Any mentors/role models you look to/have looked to? I feel fortunate that others helped to blaze a trail for local foods by the time we launched in 2008, and I consider many of those folks to be mentors and friends. They created the models for farms like ours to learn from. In terms of turkey-specific inspiration, I continue to learn a lot of “turkey smarts” from my dad, and view both my dad and grandpa as role models. They maintained our independence and continued growing free-range turkeys long after much of the industry had shifted directions. We’re here today because they had the vision to keep us on this path. 6. What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you started? I don’t think I can limit it to just one thing! Ignorance is bliss when

grocery bulk produce deli cheese meat bakery wine/beer supplements body care

7. How do you manage your life/work balance? Well, it remains a work in progress. There’s a blessing and a curse to living and working on the same farm, so I try to savor the benefits it provides, since it’s easy for work and home to meld together. I am, however, incredibly fortunate that we have a great and loyal team on our farm and in the market, and that’s a tremendous support to a healthy work life balance.

Cooperatively owned. Specializing in organic & locally grown. ONEOTA COMMUNITY

everyone can shop 48

starting a business, and I’m thankful I was a bit naive to all the things I’d need to know someday. I never took an ag or poultry science class in college, never studied product development, operations, or meat science. I’ve been fortunate to learn a lot along the way, and I know my education is far from complete!

Holiday+Winter 2020-21 /

312 West Water Street • Decorah Co-op 563.382.4666 • kitchen Call or check online for current store hours classroom everyone welcome no membership required

FOOD COOPErative decorah, iowa

8. What keeps you inspired? Any quotes that keep you going? This may sound a little corny, but I’m sincerely motivated by the notion that local and sustainable foods can positively shape the world in a meaningful way. This is true both on our farm, and the many other local farmers and food makers we partner with in our on-farm market. When so much of our food and ag economy has been consolidated by global companies, I believe we are doing something inherently different in the way we grow our turkeys, support our rural communities, care for our land and employees, and provide good clean food. It’s obviously not a new model, but it’s not the standard in agriculture today. The idea that we can make a difference while preserving our way of farming, is incredibly motivating to me. I must still be full of idealism, but that belief keeps me inspired to keep going each day.

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formerly The Master’s Touch

holidays at home

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ne of the bonuses about Winter is that there are a bunch of fun holidays to celebrate. From Thanksgiving to Christmas to Hanukkah to Lunar New Year to Valentine’s – or Galentine’s – Day and more. Often, this season means getting together with friends and family or hosting big parties at your house. This year might look a little different, though. But that’s okay! In fact, we encourage celebrating as many holidays as possible through this winter season – think of it like lots of mini-holidays. We all need more reasons to find and create joy. So how can you make it special without all the extra crew? Throw a string of twinkly lights across your dining room or kitchen, get out candles, and folk napkins. Plan an “official menu” and write it in fancy writing on a chalkboard or big piece of paper. Set up a cheese board or appetizers and play board games while the main course is in the oven, or have your family make a holiday-themed craft together. And go ahead and go big: roast a whole bird – leftovers are great (you can even freeze some for future soup or sandwiches)! Still want to see your extended family’s faces? Set up a Zoom party! Create an account and send the Zoom party invite to your group – it’s probably best to keep it to less than 10 people for ease of conversation. Get a computer or device set up on your table so everyone can see and join in. You can even email your menu and recipes in advance, and have others make or buy the same thing, so you’re all enjoying the same food! Happy holidays, friends. We hope you find joy and peace through this season.


building communities




Four generations of Bruenings

89 years in business!


Serving communities in Iowa, Minnesota, & Missouri

900 Montgomery St, Decorah, IA 563-382-2933 . \ Holiday+Winter 2020-21



Michelle Stielen aka "Estro Jen"


When roller skating pro Michelle Stielen founded Moxi Skates in Long Beach, California in 2008, she wanted to create a new style of roller skates – colorful, fun, and American-made, to boot.

Got Mo xi

Marin Wendoll aka "Legs"

She looked to Riedell Skating Co. in Red Wing, Minnesota, to get it done. Ten years later, during a pandemic and a huge surge in skating popularity, doing so was another story.

Members of the Moxi Skate Team in Long Beach, California. Moxi’s Lolly skates and Jack boots are made in the Driftless at Riedell Skate Co. in Red Wing, Minnesota / Photo courtesy Moxi Skate Team

Read on! 51

Riedell's Got Moxi BY ERIN DORBIN



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inding joy through 2020 has been different for everyone. For some, it’s mastering the art of bread baking, or a phone call with a friend. For others – an increasing amount of others – it’s lacing up and rolling in a brand new pair of roller skates. “Everyone in a pair of skates, with a smile to start their day,” says Michelle Stielen. This was what she imagined in 2008 when she first founded Moxi, a lifestyle roller skating brand based in Long Beach, California… whose skates are made right here in the Driftless at Riedell Skate Co. in Red Wing, Minnesota. Moxi’s effervescent, colorful designs stand out from the monochromatic skates of old, and in 2020, they have become one of the most desirable commodities on the market. Michelle says it’s been a transformational year for the company. During the nationwide stay-at-home orders in April 2020, social media worked its algorithmic magic to lure popular culture back into a pair of roller skates. The public was awestruck by the viral videos of fearless outdoor skaters in candy-colored gear effortlessly cruising city streets, or dropping in at the skate park to show off their acrobatic skills. While the rinks were closed, skaters of all abilities filmed videos at home and in the streets that inspired viewers to creatively make use of the everyday skate spaces we have: kitchens, garages, sidewalks, cul de sacs, living rooms, etc. The most popular of these videos and images were posted by the Moxi Skate Team. Their organizer, Michelle, is part gymnast and part stuntwoman on wheels. She even recently worked as a stunt double for Margot Robbie in the Hollywood blockbuster, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. These skaters were inspiring even the most uncoordinated to lace up and get moving! That’s all, of course, if you could find an available pair of Moxi Skates. As of right now, Moxis are sold out from retailers across the nation. This is a big win for family-owned Riedell Skate Co. It’s also a big challenge during a pandemic. It’s October 2020, National Roller Skating Month (dedicated in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan). At the Riedell headquarters, Bob is beaming. He wants to know who saw the piece on roller skating that morning on Good Morning America. By this point in the year, roller skating is everywhere, and the nationwide skate shortage is covered in Vogue, Vice, New York Times, Huffington Post, and more.

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Continued on next page

Michelle Stielen (above) is part gymnast and part stuntwoman on wheels. Opposite page: The Riedell-crafted Lolly skates (top photo) are “our bread and butter, our number-one seller,” says Michelle. They fit so well, she says it’s “as if our feet naturally sprouted wheels.” These retail for $350-$400. Can’t afford to invest in your skating future at that price point? Moxi can get you rolling from $99-150 with their imported vegan Beach Bunny, Panthers, Jungle, and new Rainbow Riders skates (pictured, bottom photo) / Photos courtesy Moxi Skate Team \ Holiday+Winter 2020-21



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Moxi Skates – these are Riedell-made Lollys – come in a rainbow of colors / Photo courtesy Moxi Skates Team

Why the shortage? As the Moxi Skate Team was heating up social media with inspiring posts from Long Beach, manufacturing in Red Wing was brought to a sudden, toe-stop halt. Riedell was deemed “nonessential” manufacturing in Governor Walz’s executive shutdown order. “We’ve been working really hard for the past 10 years to make roller skates the shoes of the future,” says Moxi Skate Team member and brand employee Marin Wendoll, a.k.a. “Legs.” “That’s why we were like, ‘Oh my gosh! Look at all of these orders! This is so exciting!’” But, the Riedell Shoe Factory would remain closed for a total of six weeks during the shutdown as the online orders simultaneously flooded into the company. “Who would have ever guessed COVID would have been an accelerant to outdoor roller skating?!” asks Riedell’s president and CEO, Bob Riegelman. “I certainly didn’t.” Bob wrote an impassioned, if not desperate, letter to the head of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

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(DEED) to allow Riedell to resume manufacturing due to the tenfold surge in Moxi Skate orders. His local representative, Barb Haley, of District 21A, and state senator, Mike Goggin, invited Bob to testify during the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Committee hearing in late April 2020 to advocate for the reopening of manufacturing across the state before Governor Walz. Riedell had already been closed for four weeks at the time of the Senate hearing. “What’s disheartening for me,” Bob said in his statement, “is that we’ve been deemed nonessential, yet we service the fitness, health and wellness, and recreation market. More and more people, believe it or not, are buying roller skates. People are using them for transportation. And it’s becoming very, very, very difficult to continue [production]. We’re losing customers right and left.” Riedell quickly developed a COVID plan, purchased PPE for staff, and by early May Minnesota’s governor determined they were able to resume production. Riedell’s 120 workers were back on the factory floor assembling and shipping Moxi Skates.

Moxi & Riedell Partnership:

In 2020, Riedell Skates celebrated its 75th anniversary. Founded by Paul Riedell in 1945, today the four brothers – Scott, Dan, Paul, and Bob Riegelman – are the third generation devotedly leading the company as a team, producing the highest quality roller and ice skates in the nation. “We’re pretty ordinary people and we’re pretty loyal,” says Bob. “Our grandparents started the business here, and one of our greatest assets is our employee base.” Impressively, the average length of service at Riedell is 28 years, and a number of its workers even celebrated their 44th year in 2020. (Happy 44th to Cindy, Barb, Roger, Brenda, and all!) Roughly a decade ago, Riedell was looking for a roller skate sales representative on the West Coast. Michelle Stielen was one of the applicants for the job. “I’d never found somebody with so much passion for roller skating in my life,” recalls Bob. While she wasn’t hired for that position, they stayed in contact. Michelle branched out on her own to promote outdoor roller skating and open up her own skate shop in Venice, California. One day the shop’s regular UPS driver paid Michelle an extra special compliment that helped shape her brand. “You’ve got a lot of moxie!” he told her. The word “moxie” represents bravery, strength, and fortitude. These were the characteristics she believed define her

Riedell entrance / Photo by Erin Dorbin

roller skating brand. From that point forward, the shop and brand were known as Moxi (they dropped the “e” for the name). Known in the skate community as “Estro Jen” from her roller derby days, Michelle noticed an absence of colorful skates on the market. So, she decided to transform the market. Michelle

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reached back out to Riedell. “American-made is fascinating to me,” she says. “Almost 100 percent of U.S. shoes are made in another country. I found it incredible that there was one factory still around making footwear that glided on wheels. I really, really, really wanted to do whatever I could to work with them to create an American-made roller skate boot.”


A W O I , R E D A K EL

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Members of the Moxi Skate team in their gear at the skate park / Photo courtesy Moxi Skate Team

Each skate boot receives a quick blast of heat and pressure in the bottoming process to secure the soles. From there, the heel is added and the skate bottoms are given their final shape / Photo by Erin Dorbin


Holiday+Winter 2020-21 /

RenÊe individually cleans each skate boot with a fine-grit sandpaper before they’re sent to a final quality control station / Photo by Erin Dorbin

Moxi and Riedell partnered on a series of skates based on Michelle’s designs. Bob describes the Moxi skates as “more of a lifestyle skate” compared to the other ice and roller skate brands they manufacture. While it’s a little confusing to the consumer who’s behind which part of the process, he offers clarification: Riedell owns and produces the Moxi Skates. The larger Moxi brand, www. website, and accessories are owned and managed by Michelle and her team in California – they can be thought of as the brand identity and retail business. Moxi Skates come in a variety of colors and styles that can be custom ordered with choices in colors of boot, wheels, linings, laces, frames, toe stops, and more. Those orders are then busily filled at Riedell. Staff have since committed to 62-hour workweeks in an attempt to catch up on the backlog of orders. The company hired 15 additional employees, and are still looking for more to get their eager customers rolling on their Moxi Skates.




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Arline sews the two halves of the skate uppers together in the fitting process / Photo by Erin Dorbin

For years, the production timeline for a pair of Lolly skates or Jack boots (the two Moxi lines made in Red Wing) was 4-7 weeks. In October of 2019, they managed to get to a point where Riedell could produce and ship them in 5-7 days, and keep them in stock. They proudly maintained this speedy production schedule until the March 2020 COVID shutdown. Soon, estimated delivery times were delayed for weeks and sometimes months. And a few months later, production times were completely out the window as the companies where Riedell source their raw materials were struggling to meet the increased demand, too. Those suppliers were operating at 50 percent or less capacity. “Everything was interrupted,” Vice President Scott Riegelman says. “We’d love to add a 2nd shift here,” Scott admits, “but it’s hard to find workers, locally. Unemployment is low in Red Wing.” The rate is currently around 5 percent. Pre-pandemic, it held at 3.1 percent, slightly below the 3.7 percent national average. At a loss for enough full-time workers, Riedell partnered with a high-end footwear production plant in Arkansas to produce roughly 50 percent of the open orders for the USA-made Moxi Skates. Neither Moxi nor Riedell had enough customer service staff to respond to thousands of customer inquiries, either. Harsh criticisms from increasingly frustrated customers began to flood social media. Suddenly, this small skate team and lifestyle brand was pushed to function as a much larger and experienced corporation, all within a few months’ time…during a pandemic. It was the double-edged sword of Moxi’s sudden rising success. Continued on next page



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4 1: ”It all starts with the leather from an animal.” Ben inspects the leather ahead of the initial cutting process. Sixty pairs of Lolly skates can be made from 2 three-ply yards of material. 2 & 3: Moxi roller skates go


Holiday+Winter 2020-21 /

“We were used to making 300 skates a week and now we’re trying to pump out 3,000 a week,” Legs says. “It’s wonderful that Moxi has grown, and roller skating in general, but at the same time it’s uncomfortable to grow so fast in such a short amount of time. You’re learning things really, really quickly.” Moxi went from a staff of four to a staff of 25, including a board of directors, a shipping department, customer service and social media teams, and a Chief Operating Officer. In 2020, they also opened up a warehouse in California to help with stocking and shipping. Was it possible that Moxi’s vibrant lifestyle brand was made too desirable for the masses? It had become almost painful for some customers to be without their skate orders as they scrolled and scrolled images of smiling, spinning, jumping, and jamming Moxi Skate Team members during quarantine. Customers had had enough of social isolation and wanted in on the fun! “On social media, it looks like a big corporate brand. Moxi has great marketing because we’re actually living that skating lifestyle. It’s easy for us to do. People expected us to have everything in place as a large-scale business,” says Legs. “With COVID and the orders, we had to hire so many people so quickly, and train them all so quickly, which causes errors because you don’t have time to train people properly. You’re throwing new staff to the lions!” she jokes, but turns serious again. “We ARE improving and trying to make things better for the customers.” At Riedell, Bob agrees. “We’re doing everything possible to take care of our customers,” he says. “Our customers have been very, very gracious.”





through 85 stations before completion. 4 & 5: A foot form called a “last” is used to mold and shape the uppers into skate boots. Tom, who has 41 years with Riedell, shows off a Lolly skate boot he’s just finished up in the

lasting department. 6: Kate inspects each skate boot individually at her quality control station. Then, they’re placed with their accessories in the colorful retro-inspired Moxi Skates box / Photos by Erin Dorbin

Handcrafting even one pair of Moxi Skates at the Riedell factory is no easy feat, though. From start to finish, it requires processes at 85 individual stations. Raw material is first cut from high-quality leather and sent to fitting where the upper is sewn and begins to take shape. “This is where we put the soul in!” veteran employee Barb Peterson – one of the workers who celebrated 44 years with the company– jokes as she moves swiftly and gracefully through boot sole production. The next stop is Riedell’s proprietary lasting process that gives

the boot its proper, consistent width, size, and shape – this takes an entire day. Then, the boot is sent to bottoming where the sole and skate bottoms are nailed and cemented. From there, it’s off to finishing, where the boots are polished, cleaned, and thoroughly inspected. Next, is attaching the plates and wheels, before packaging. Finally, they are off to shipping. Everyone – from staff in shipping with three years’ service to supervisors in their 44th year – confirms they’ve “never seen anything like this” level of interest in their products.


Photography by Brittany Todd

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Photos courtesy Moxi Skate Team

Physical movement as social movement

Moxi, as a lifestyle brand, is also trying to successfully navigate the social and political climate of 2020, with the goal of promoting roller skating as a truly inclusive activity. For three centuries, roller skating’s popularity has ebbed and flowed, punctuated by various “craze” periods throughout its history. The pastime originated in London in 1735 and in the late 19th century, the first public rink opened in the city. At the same time, roller skating in the U.S. picked up speed, and in 1866, the first public roller rink opened inside the elegant Atlantic House hotel in Newport, Rhode Island. Americans tend to collectively remember the height of roller skating being between the 1930s and early 1960s, and throughout the roller disco era of the 1970s. Less frequently recalled is that roller skating was an important part of the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Roller skating (as most social and public activities) was racialized and American rinks were strictly segregated. Black skaters were only allowed access to the rinks on specific nights, if at all. Outside the rinks, they experienced intimidating and violent policing. Black skaters started organizing for equal access to the roller rinks, hosting large protests and sit-ins. Roller rink skating was a way for Black Americans to lose themselves in the joy of skating. They expressed their creativity through the wheels on their feet, developing fluid dance-skating styles like the jam skating that is currently trending.


Holiday+Winter 2020-21 /

Roller skating has been a tool of social action in 2020 as well. Black skaters took to the streets on their skates as participants in the Black Lives Matter movement, and we started seeing the message “Black Skaters Matter,” too. The statement is a reminder to the public about the influential black skaters that were initially overlooked when white skaters began heavily trending on social media. As part of Moxi’s commitment to inclusivity, they’ve hosted virtual forums on diversity – or lack thereof – in representations of roller skating in popular culture. They hope they can connect with Black, Indigenous, and Skaters of Color in the skate community, and promote and advocate for body positivity as well. Their social media platform is for skaters of all types and sizes, as a place to both improve and show off skating skills. “We are tall, short, thick, and skinny,” says Michelle. “But most important of all, we’re strong”

Erin is a former rink rat who never missed a Friday night skate. She learned how to backwards skate and couples skate (!) at the Long Lake Roller Rink in Vicksburg, MI. (RIP “The Rink” 19522018) Erin bought her first pair of Moxis in March 2020 and turned her garage into her own private roller rink. Here, and on her motorcycle, she found joy. Erin also coordinates the Crystal Creek Citizen-Artist Residency in Houston, Minnesota:

HAVE YOU CAUGHT THE SKATING BUG, BUT IT’S WINTER IN THE DRIFTLESS? Don’t worry. The Moxi Skate Team reminds us, “Skating’s not a season, it’s a lifestyle.” Hit Moxi’s youtube channel ( moxiskates) for beginner to advanced lessons from a diverse group of instructors. You’ll become inspired to transform any open floor space in your home into your own personal roller rink. (Kids, make sure to ask your parents first!) As for warmer months in the Driftless, if you can’t find an open rink in your neighborhood, make sure you have some outdoor wheels and try parking lots, your driveway, skate parks, basketball courts, and our scenic Driftless trail systems.

“On skates you see things in your city you’ve never seen before.” - Michelle



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Choice + Comfort:

Reimagining end-of-life care amid COVID-19

Note: Challenging content ahead. Please join in this important conversation! BY KRISTINE JEPSEN


n this time in history when it may not be safe to gather and give hugs – or even casseroles, our time-treasured, Midwestern rite – it’s hard to know how to be there for the ones who need us most. Precautions during COVID-19 have been especially challenging for professions that require closeness by nature: healthcare, food and drink, and even how we style our hair or make music together. With the very young, the immunocompromised, and the elderly at highest risk, and with the pandemic’s death toll as real and as daily as bread, we’ve internalized some hard fears. Who can I lean on if I get sick? Or, what could I do if a loved one were dying? Fortunately, a new sector of services had been growing, even before COVID, to help fill the gaps in our awareness – and discussion of – death and dying: endof-life-planning and doula care. These caregivers evolved from the work of birth doulas, professional advocates who assist Sheena Dix of Full Sirkel Solutions expectant parents during labor to help things go smoothly for mother, baby, and all involved. On the other extreme of this spectrum, an end-of-life doula provides both practical and emotional support for all involved as they work through death processes and grief. “Death is often viewed as a failure, rather than as an expected stage of life,” writes anthropologist and Brandeis University professor Anita Hannig at But as with birth, it’s good to have a plan for death – even if things don’t always go accordingly. “We’ve worked so hard in the past 100 years to prolong our lives medically. That’s how people have been pointed: go to the doctor, figure it out, do everything you can,” says Sheena Dix, founder of Full Sirkel Solutions in Decorah. “We started to forget about death as a natural process.” Through years of social work with Decorah nursing home and assisted living residents, Sheena sensed that planning was key to

relieving anxiety about death and dying. So that’s what she does: Full Sirkel gathers all of an individual’s personal, financial, legal, social, spiritual, and emotional documents and directives into a comprehensive “binder” (literally, a BIG binder). The process takes weeks to months, giving clients and their families time to process considerations that catch them off-guard (such as, how they want their body laid to rest after they pass). “It’s hard work, but it’s worth it to know you’ve discussed everything you might want and had time to explore your choices, and that your family and friends know what you want. That makes them sure they’re taking care of you to the end.” Emphasis on institution-based medical care in the dying process has made it increasingly hard to envision a “different path through it,” Sheena explains, but many alternatives have always been options. “I ask people to visualize, down to the light, the sounds, the tastes, what you would want if your world got very small – just you, in your bed or chair – and what would matter to you. I ask people to consider, less than a century ago, family or close loved ones were a part of everything, and there’s good reason for it to be that way again,” she says. “It’s OK – it’s possible! – to think more about death in our homes, together as families, a decline we can tend to and support with the person’s wishes.” This element of choice is critical at the end of life, when abilities and faculties fade. Not only is choosing care uncomfortable (which Nori Hadley of Arlin Falck Assisted Living treatments to continue, which to stop; which pain management to expect and how), the act of dying itself isn’t easy. “It’s the bookend to birth, which, if you have means to recall, doesn’t often go as planned,” says Nori Hadley with candor. The activities director at Arlin Falck Assisted Living in Decorah, Nori has also studied to become an end-of-life doula. \ Holiday+Winter 2020-21


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“There’s more to dying than medicine, and it’s the emotional and spiritual support that our systems can’t always cover – at least in terms of a continuous presence,” she explains. In many ways, a doula is also an ‘activities coordinator’ – keeping track of care providers and well-wishers who move to and from the bedside. Doulas also provide nonmedical physical care (as simple as holding a person’s hand or guiding a meditation) and are stewards of legacy projects, creative work that creates a meaningful legacy for the dying. Projects may include letter-writing to settle old grievances, multimedia recordings of family lore, or the giving of cherished mementos to friends and family. As a guide and coordinator, a doula may be the person present to calm rattled loved ones when new signs and symptoms appear through the stages of “active dying,” the medical designation for the last days to hours of life. This trajectory is irreversible – it’s the space in which no treatment can prevent a person’s passing, and the body ceases functioning naturally. Doulas are trained to keep vigil over active dying, often when our modern inclinations to “fix” the problem are hard to tamp down. “I think that was the hardest part,” says Todd Green, who with his daughter, Rebecka, and many friends and family, mourned the death of his wife, Tabita, in July 2020. “Tabita entered hospice care at home resolved, ‘ready to go,’” he says, “but the 10 days we anticipated stretched into three weeks, then four.” As time advanced and active dying took its course, it became hard to shut out doubt about how “best” to die, he says, an uncertainty we must each negotiate. It’s delicate, but doulas may one day (soon!) be widely available to help normalize the struggle to meet this unknown and offer more reassurance, along with a person’s physicians, hospice nurses, and spiritual caregivers. Certification programs train new doulas and offer mentorship as they begin practical service. That’s how Teela Hammell, who is newly (re)relocated to the Driftless (she’s originally from Lansing), arrived in the doula field. Teela Hammell, end-of-life doula She pursued her certification from The University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine after living for four years in Ecuador, where traditional care of the dying and deceased is often more visible and communal –literally. “I was struck by how, in many rural communities, the pall-bearers would actually carry the coffin from the home to the cemetery. You could feel the weight of it, the realness of what was happening,” she says. “The grieving was very loud – and it scared me the first time I heard it, because I wasn’t in touch with grief. I realized this is something we’re really missing – to grieve together, to touch the body, to hold that physical presence longer, and to have meaningful ways to let a person go. It started to change what I thought was possible.” Teela is also a writer, embodiment teacher, and a student of Somatic Experiencing (a body-oriented approach to healing trauma, staying centered and regulating the nervous system). During the dying process, when memory and linear ways of thinking start

to blur, she sees an opportunity to do things differently. “I’m interested in becoming a translator, almost, in those moments when a person drifts in and out of consciousness. I’d like to help change the narrative from people ‘losing their mind’ to their tuning in to a different aspect of consciousness, and making space for that.” In the end, “the end” is deeply personal, rich with biology, celebration, and dimensions of loss – all of it human. “Talking about death is ultimately talking about life – about who and what matters to us, and how we can live well even when we are dying,” wrote Dr. Sunita Puri for The New York Times in March 2020. A palliative medicine specialist, she’s the author of That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour. “Confronting our fears about death – having a conversation about it in frank terms – can be alternately terrifying and tender. Yet knowing how to honor our loved ones’ wishes when they can’t speak for themselves is one of the bravest and most loving things we can do.”

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Kristine Jepsen writes and edits from her farm in rural Allamakee County. She’s also a business counselor for Winneshiek Development and SBDC Iowa (a free resource!) and is a believer in her local energy district ( In 2020, she trained with INELDA to become an end-oflife doula, aiming to help families create beloved legacy projects through storytelling, recording, photography, and more. Eventually you’ll find her services at

MON-FRI 9-6 • SAT 9-3 Looking to learn more?

Here are some great books to get you started. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life by Katy Butler Intimate Death: How the Dying Teach Us How to Live by Marie de Hennezel Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs and Communications of the Dying by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them): A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying by Sallie Tisdale The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? A Memoir by Roz Chast

ONLINE | International End of Life Doula Association (Stay tuned for rekindled local discussion of resources!) “Dear Family” Life Review Letter (an interactive template--try it!) | The Conversation Project


Full Sirkel Solutions – Find them on Facebook | Death Cafe discussion groups (Coming soon to Northeast Iowa!) Teela Hamell ( and husband James Fleischmann (

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Ruth Woldum Interviewed by granddaughter Britney Bakken

uth Woldum was born to Clara and George Kerr in March of 1926. She grew up in Frankville township with two younger brothers, Robert and Richard. Ruth attended McKay country school and went to church in Frankville. Her family moved to Decorah in January of 1941, where Camcar now resides. Ruth met Ray Woldum in 1947, after he came back from the service. They married in 1950 and raised two children, Randy and Rhonda. Ray died in 1983 to Lou Gehrig’s disease. Ruth has three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, but is loved and called Grandma Ruth by many. She’s been a member of both the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority and the Legion Auxiliary since 1957. Before Covid-19, Ruth was very active in her church and in the community. She played bridge multiple times per week, visited residents at each of the nursing homes in Decorah weekly, and volunteered for several organizations. Ruth often included her grandchildren in these activities. We joined her for nursing home visits and spent many years selling poppies for the auxiliary with her, where the proceeds assist disabled and hospitalized veterans. She taught me the importance of community and caring for others. Throughout her 94 years, Ruth says she has most enjoyed dancing, golfing, playing cards, following local sports and spending time with friends and family. She brings much humor and laughter to our family gatherings with her stories and wit. What did you want to be when you grew up? A nurse, but I didn’t get to do that.

Above: A Woldum family Christmas photo. Below: From left - Ray, Ruth, Randy, and Rhonda

What do/did you do? I grew up on a farm. I milked cows and did field work. I drove horses before we got the tractor in 1939. We didn’t have plumbing or electricity and the roads were all mud or crushed rock. We planned to move to town to get care for my mother, who had cancer, but she passed away two months before we moved. I was 14 and helped my dad run the house. My dad insisted I not forgo anything to do housework, so I was still in the band. My dad knew how to cook and I trained my brothers to iron the clothes. They were able to make money ironing clothes for buddies while in the service, so it’s good I taught them. Richard said I was like his mother; he was five when Mother died and lived with Ray and I after Father died when he was 14. I worked at the telephone company while I was in high school and I did that for 15 years. I worked for the census in 1970. This made me realize I enjoyed going door-to-door and conversing with people, so I started selling Fullerbrush and have for 50 years. I also ran the Shoe Horn from 1985 to 2000.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you? A deck of cards and people to play bridge with me. Try to describe yourself in one sentence. I’m fun-loving and I hope people think I’m friendly. (“You’re pretty tough, too,” I told her.) I just did what I had to do. If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? Potatoes in every which way. Name one thing you could not live without. Friends & church (laughter), I should say church first. Church & friends.

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Tell us about…Your wedding day. We got married June 2nd, 1950 at 7 pm at the Congregational Church with a reception at my family’s home. We had coffee, cake, and ice cream. The weather turned cold that evening, so the reception ended early. Ray and I spent a week on a lake in Minnesota, north of Brainerd. Grandma, I know you were involved with getting the Varme Pølse booth started. Can you tell me about it? I was on the original committee that went around and organized the Varme Pølse booth for the first Nordic Fest in 1967. We found the recipe in a Norwegian book and took it to the meat processor, who made the sausages for us. We put in some long hours, washing roasters until midnight or later many years. I’m not on the committee anymore, but I still go down to the church and roll varme pølse for the booth every year.

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