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NO. 45 • Spring 2016


Find the





Fuel Efficient. Environmentally Sensible. You’ll Love More Miles Per Dollar! Downtown La Crosse, WI at 4th and Cameron Streets

www.hondamotorwerks.com Phone: 877-4-A-HYBRID

SPRING 2016 contents

22 what we’re loving right now


March - april - may calendars


seed starting 101


driftless region nature centers


inspire(d) manifesto


postville pride


paper project: kaleidocycles


sum of your business: happy joe whitty


driftless day trip: decorah


probit: jim schaffer



...and more!



A lovely field of DANDELIONS somewhere in Southern Minnesota a couple of years ago! Because, seriously folks, you can find beauty in all things...Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols

iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2016


A bright and beautiful extravaganza!

Spiritual Ensemble

Friday, March 11 • 7:30 p.m.

Lightwire Theatre

Spellbinding blacklight adventure


Center Stage 2015 16

Sponsored by Decorah Bank and Trust Co.


Presented in partnership with Classical Minnesota Public Radio

Thursday, april 7 • 7:30 p.m.

American Spiritual Ensemble Acclaimed voices sing African American spirituals

Come with friends, your siblings, your kids—the people who give you joy— to share an experience worth remembering!

Tickets for these performances are available at the Luther College Ticket Office • tickets.luther.edu • (563) 387-1357

A heartfelt ovation to all of our performance and media sponsors for investing in the arts for our community! 2015–16 Center Stage Sponsors

Media Supporters

The Decorah Newspapers


Decorah Newspapers

From the Editor


very year, we all get a little wiser. We learn to put more of what we like into our lives, and take out more of what we don’t. Our top priorities have a hot date with clarity. The same has been true for Inspire(d) Magazine. We are officially approaching year nine, which is awfully close to year 10, which DOESN’T SEEM POSSIBLE! But here it is: Possible. I’m excited about this approaching milestone and determined to hone in on our mission over the next year and a half so we can cross that threshold with I know ya’ll really just want to see Roxie, so pride. We’ve mapped out a manifesto, of sorts, here are two pics of us looking awfully spring-y. on page 34, as well as an actual map! This is our community, friends. Let’s bring it together and keep making it awesome. The pride in the Postville community is a story that helps kick off that goal. I want to better connect the Driftless communities together, and what better way than starting a conversation? We’re contacting mayors and city managers around the region and asking them, “What are your town’s best attributes? Biggest challenges? How can we work together shine light on the good and help with the hard stuff?” Postville’s community is centered around the school, and the students there have come together in an amazing way to embrace diversity and celebrate it as what makes them great. This story was especially important to me because I am a graduate of Postville (’99). I wanted to tell their story right, and I sure hope the folks of Postville think I have. You can check it out on page 36. So often, when we put the spring issue out, spring doesn’t really come for another two months (maybe this year will be the exception!)! That’s why we decided this issue ought to be about looking forward. Sara Friedl-Putnam put together a great primer on Driftless Region nature centers, and what sorts of classes, events, and other fun you can get on your calendar as you look forward to warmer months (pg 22). Kristine Jepsen got together with Katie and Mike at Decorah’s River Root Farm to help you make THIS the year you find success with your seedling starts (pg 14). There are so many great tips, and I can’t imagine a better way to look forward to spring than planning a garden. We also thought it was about time we wrote a fairly comprehensive Driftless Day Trip for our beloved hometown, Decorah. Now, we know we’re preaching to the choir for a lot of you, but we hope you’ll be reminded of some of your favorite things to do around here, and share the Day Trip with your out-of-town friends. And out-oftowners? You should get here for a visit, don’t you think? Make sure you let us know at facebook.com/iloveinspired. We were lucky to have a lovely intern over Luther College J-Term, Kristin Anderson, who put together this issue’s paper project – kaleidocycles. They are so cool! Check them out on page 47, and make all three options available online at iloveinspired.com. Ooh! And Benji got to interview Happy Joe Whitty (yes, THAT Happy Joe!) for our spring Sum of Your Business. What a guy! I loved this story (pg 48), and, of course, Whitty is full of wisdom and wonderful stories. Finally, we had a fun woman from the Westby, Wisconsin, area contact us about a probituary interview she wanted to do for this issue: Jim Schaffer. I’m so glad she did! He sounds like such a fun guy, and makes amazing guitars to boot (pg 66). We hope you enjoy dreaming of warmer days – spring is on its way! Looking (so, so, so) forward,

What’s it mean?

Inspire(d) Inspire(d) – pronounced in-spy-erd... you know: inspired – stands for both inspire and 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 / writer & advertising sales (& husband, support team, dinner-maker)

We couldn’t do it without: Kristine Kopperud Jepsen / contributor Sara Friedl-Putnam / contributor Kristin Anderson / Inspire(d) Intern Charlie Coffey / Photo contributor Inspire(d) Magazine is published quarterly by Inspire(d) Media, LLC, 412 Oak Street, Decorah, Iowa, 52101. This issue is dated Spring 2016, issue 45 volume 9, Copyright 2016 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 $25/year. Email aryn@iloveinspired.com for a membership or visit iloveinspired.com for more info. Write inspire(d) Want to make a comment about something you read in the magazine? Email aryn@iloveinspired.com. Interested in advertising? Contact Benji at benji@iloveinspired.com or call 563-379-6315. Visit our website: iloveinspired.com

facebook.com/iloveinspired Aryn Henning Nichols 05

Whatever your financial goals ... We’ll help you reach them.

Thrivent Financial offers a full range of products and services to help you achieve financial security, including: • Life insurance • Annuities • Mutual funds • Retirement options • Health insurance We’ll create a financial strategy that reflects your goals and values.

Thrivent Financial was named one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” by Ethisphere Institute from 2012-2014.

Jeff Olinger, FIC Financial Consultant Karen Trewin, FIC Financial Associate Decorah Area Team 218 E. Water St., Suite 1 Decorah, IA 52101 Office: 563-382-1809 Toll-free: 844-349-7388

Insurance products issued or offered by Thrivent Financial, the marketing name for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Appleton, WI. Not all products are available in all states. Securities and investment advisory services are offered through Thrivent Investment Management Inc., 625 Fourth Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55415, a FINRA and SIPC member and a wholly owned subsidiary of Thrivent. Thrivent Financial representatives are registered representatives of Thrivent Investment Management Inc. They are also licensed insurance agents/producers of Thrivent. For additional important information, visit Thrivent.com/disclosures.

Appleton, Wisconsin • Minneapolis, Minnesota • Thrivent.com • 800-847-4836

20328 R3-14

What We’re


right now


CSA Decorah When we asked Roxie what momma’s favorite food was, her answer was “lettuce.” Momma would actually say it’s a tie between lettuce (aka salads of any sort) and pizza. But suffice it to say we like our fresh veggies around here. Luckily, here in the Driftless Region, we are surrounded by an amazing crop of real-deal farmers. Vegetables. Meats. Flowers. The array at local farmer’s markets in mid-season is astonishing. We also love going the community supported agriculture (CSA) route because it’s often a great deal (more goods for the money, woot!) and we get to explore different options of products that we might not normally choose. So we were excited to find out there is a new coalition of Decorah-area CSA-sellers working together under the umbrella CSA Decorah.

You can check out www.csadecorah.com to see profiles of each of the farms that are working together on this project, as well as details on their CSA offerings. Offerings vary from weekly subscriptions of assorted in-season vegetables and products, to market shares (you put money on your “account”, then just bring your bag to the market and write down your purchase amount – it will get subtracted until you’re out of funds), flower subscriptions, and more. Supporting your local farmer not only tastes amazing, it closes an incredible financial loop to support local ag. Whoohooo for that! Visit csadecorah.com or facebook.com/csadecorah to learn more.

Mid West Music Fest: Where music and community meet We love Winona’s annual community-centered music festival, Mid West Music Fest. In six short years, the fest has quickly grown to be a fun gathering of fantastic proportions for regional music lovers. What started as an idea of Winona’s Sam Brown in 2010 now brings over 100 acts to multiple venues throughout downtown Winona. True to its community mission, MWMF is all-inclusive: it’s an allages, multiple-venue, multiple-genre, multiple-day affair. In fact,

MWMF is even jumping out of Winona this year with a 1-day fest in La Crosse to start the fun, Saturday, April 16. The main festivities in Winona run April 28-30, 2016. The fun kicks off Thursday night with a special show at the historic Masonic Theatre in Winona featuring Jeremy Messersmith and Romantica. The great line-up continues through the weekend with regional favorites such as People Brother’s Band, Apollo Cobra, Charlie Parr, and lots, lots more. MWMF organizers are also super excited to announce that Midwest independent music moguls Daytrotter will be recording sessions all weekend for future web session releases. Cool! MWMF has become an incredible showcase for bands from the upper Midwest and beyond – as well as a showcase of downtown Winona, which just like the mighty Mississippi, keeps right on flowin’. Don’t miss all the music – advance tickets (or greatly appreciated donations for the non-profit festival) at www. midwestmusicfest.org

Long over-due for... a mother-daughter weekend? ....shopping day with your pals? ... a night on the town away from the kids?

Then Women’s Weekend Out is your answer. women’s weekend out | decorah, iowa

Entertainment all over town Friday & Saturday nights & Sunday afternoon In-store promotions, demonstrations & parties Door prizes & giveaways Style Show Brunch

friday,saturday & sunday april 1-3, 2016

facebook.com/WWODecorah visitdecorah.com

Fantastic SHOPPING deals —stores are open late! iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2016


drop-ins welcome!

Molly Lesmeister, instructor

What We’re


right now

beginning, continuing, & gentle yoga 110 Washingon Street. Decorah, Iowa

decorahyogaroom.com . 319.270.4592


Come explore! Walk through our Display Gardens Visit our Historic Apple Orchard Shop for Heirloom Seeds, Plants, Books, Gifts, Tools, and more Hike our scenic trails Lillian Goldman Visitors Center

Open daily 10-5 March-Oct • Thurs-Sun 10-5 Nov-Dec

d Catalog 2015 Seeble now availa

3074 North Winn Road, Decorah, IA

563-382-5990 • seedsavers.org

Syttende Mai Gosh!

EVERYTHING FROM JEANS TO SUITS! Extended hours! 130 W. Water St. Decorah, Iowa 563.382.5761

M, T, W, F 9-6 Thursday 9-8 Saturday 9-5 Sunday 12-4



Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com

The 17th of May. Seems like a good day for a celebration. Amiright?!? But in all seriousness: Syttende Mai, or the 17th of May, is a holiday lovingly embraced by much of the Scandinavian population in our Driftless Region. It marks the Norwegian Constitution Day and the historic signing of the Grunnloven in 1814, which granted Norway independence from Sweden. It also offers up an annual excuse to enjoy spring while celebrating all things Scandinavian. (But who needs an excuse?!) Vesterheim in Decorah puts on a large, family-friendly event on the actual 17th of May, with activities, food, and fun for all ages. Details at vesterheim.org. The City of Spring Grove, Minnesota (pictured above, photo courtesy Spring Grove Syttende Mai), throws an even larger shindig – always on a weekend near to the 17th. This year’s festivities run May 20-22, and feature Giants of the Earth Academy, Norwegian craft and food demos, the grand parade, a quilt show, a car show, and tons of food and entertainment throughout town throughout the whole weekend. Check out details at www.sgsyttendemai.com. Luckily, Westby, Wisconsin’s Syttende Mai celebration is the weekend BEFORE Syttende Mai: May13-15. It highlights bike tours, a 5k run/walk and half marathon, and, of course, Norwegian history, food, and fun. Find more info at www.westbysyttendemai.com. So what are you waiting for? Brush off the bunad and get ready for some scandihoovian fun!

Women’s Weekend Out in Decorah

Relax. P lay. Stay.

• Decorah Eagles • Limestone Bluffs • Nordic Fest • Organic Farms • Water Falls • Cabins • Trout Streams • • World’s Smallest Church • Meteor Crater • World’s Best Beer • White Park Cattle • Bily Clocks • Driftless Region •

Sometimes you just want to get out with the gals (sorry, guys). Happily, sometimes the world just wants you to get out with the gals too! Women’s Weekend Out in Decorah is sure to be a fun girl-power weekend April 1-3, 2016. The fun covers everything from the highly anticipated and super popular Iowa Queens Drag Show to an Elvis impersonator. Plus, there’s lots of shopping specials and in-store parties throughout Decorah the whole weekend, and a Saturday Style Show Brunch at the Hotel Winneshiek featuring 13 local businesses. We love a good party, and this one is shaping up to be just that. While you’re here, check out our Driftless Day Trip featuring Decorah on page 56 of this issue – you just might have to come back to take in all the good stuff ‘round here. For information about Women’s Weekend Out, go to visitdecorah.com or facebook.com/WWODecorah.

winneshiek county

Wanna Race? We love getting a good race on our calendars to get us motivated to lace up those running shoes, head outdoors, and get a bit of exercise in the Driftless! Feeling the same way? Sign up for one of these road races or events on tap throughout the region this spring! March 12: Shamrock Shuffle 5K Run/Walk, Prairie du Chien, WI March 19: Brew and Stew 5K Run, Cresco, Iowa March 19: Motor Motor 5K Trail Run/Walk, Elkader, Iowa April 9: Firehouse 5K Run/Walk, Onalaska, Wisconsin April 17: Sole Burner Hula Hustle 5K Run/Walk & Kids Run, Onalaska May 1: Unleash the She 5K & 10K Run, Kids Run, & Coed Walk, Rochester, MN May 7: Granddad Half Marathon 13.1M Run & Three Rivers 5K Run/Walk, La Crosse, WI May 7: Rockin’ Robin Run, 20K, Half-Marathon, & 10K Runs; 5K Run/ Walk; & Kids Run, Rochester May 20: Stay Out of the Sun Run 5K & 10K, Rochester, MN May 21: Root River Triathlon, Houston, MN May 28: Barre 5K Shuffle Run/Walk, Barre Milles, WI May 29: Scheels Med City Marathon & Half Marathon, Rochester June 4: Driftless Discovery Trail Run 10K, 5K, 1M Trail Run, Decorah June 4: Rhubarb Run 5K, 1 M Run, Lanesboro, MN


Plan your visit www.visitdecorah.com

iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2016


Looking for more details about events on the calendars? Check out these great spring activities! In chronological order, each event’s number coincides with its number on the calendar!

1. March 1-31: Decorah Bicycles Annual Spring Sale! 15% off of all non-sale items & special orders all month long! Stock up now so you can ride in style all summer. 101 College Drive. decorahbicycles.com 2. March 4-6: Oneota Film Festival! 3 days of free films & events for the whole family hosted by Luther College. Schedule, information: www.oneotafilmfestival.org 3. March 4: Evergreen brings the jams to the Root Note in downtown La Crosse. Great taps, coffee, and crepes – 115 4th Street South. www.facebook.com/theRootNote

25W/ $25B

4. March 5: “Start with a Seed” free workshop and farm tour at Seed Savers Exchange: Learn basics of at-home seed starting from 11am-12pm, Farm Tour at 12:15pm. seedsavers.org

5. March 6: Minneapolis songwriter Brianne Lane plays the Hotel Winneshiek Lobby, 6:00pm, Full bar & menu available in a great atmosphere! 104 E. Water St, Downtown Decorah - hotelwinn.com 6. March 11: Deadline to apply for ArtHaus’ Emerging Artist Exhibition! Open to artists ages 18-25 living within 150 miles of Decorah. $20 to enter, details atwww.arthausdecorah.org. 7. March 11-13: Popular Twin Cities Yoga Teacher, Jes Rosenberg, partners with Reefuel for a weekend filled with workshops for alllevels! Register today at www.reefuel.biz 8. March 11-13: Children’s Dance Theatre presents “The Mermaid” at Rochester’s Mayo Civic Center. Charming sets and creative costumes in this full-scale production. sbestgen@gmail.com 9. March 17: KISS ME I’M IRIE - Enjoy Irish & Jamaican food + music at the Trempealeau Hotel! Also $10 Adv. tickets to reggae fest (happening May 14). Ya Mon! www.trempealeauhotel.com 10. March 18: Art+Love=Date Night at ArtHaus. Dabble in watercolor painting with your love from 7-9pm. $50 per couple with all materials and snacks provided. Register at arthausdecorah.org

14. April 1-3: Enjoy an amazing Women’s Weekend Out in downtown Decorah! In store demos & parties, door prizes & giveaways, Style Show Brunch, entertainment nightly! www.visitdecorah.com or facebook.com/WWODecorah 15. April 1: Celebrate Women’s Weekend Out at Modish 6pm until 8pm with a Bohemian themed party! Includes beverages and gift with purchase! www.modishdecorah.com 16. April 2: Apple Grafting/Apple School at Seed Savers Exchange: learn to graft & care for apple trees April 2 or 9. Sign up @ SeedSavers.org/apple-grafting-school. www.seedsavers.org 17. April 3: Elvis Lives! Joseph Hall, Elvis Tribute Artist plays the Steyer Opera House, Hotel Winneshiek, 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. Full bar available, 104 E. Water St, Downtown Decorah - www.hotelwinn.com 18. April 7-10: “The Pillowman” will be presented at the New Minowa Players theatre, 906 S Mill St., Decorah, at 7pm on April 7-9 and 2pm on April 9-10. Mature audiences only - strong language, violence and adult themes. 563-382-5174 19. April 10: Hippen Plays Hippen @ The Porter House Museum! Original piano music by Ben Hippen. Porter House Museum, 401 W. Broadway, Decorah, 4pm www.porterhousemuseum.org 20. April 10: Des Moines folk-rocker Ryne Doughty plays the Hotel Winneshiek Lobby, 6:00pm, Full bar & menu available in a great atmosphere! 104 E. Water St, Downtown Decorah - hotelwinn.com 21. April 15: Absolute Hoot performs a Decorah Fast Fiber fundraising party! Steyer Opera House, Hotel Winneshiek – tickets at door. Visit decorahfastfiber.com or facebook.com/decorahfastfiber 22. April 16: Mid West Music Fest – special La Crosse festival day – 3 days of music & fun in Winona April 28-30. midwestmusicfest.org 23. April 17: Jake Illika plays the Hotel Winneshiek Lobby, 6:00pm, Full bar & menu available in a great atmosphere! 104 E. Water St, Downtown Decorah - www.hotelwinn.com 24. April 17: Empty Bowls 2016! Hotel Winneshiek, 11am - 2pm. Come enjoy soup in a unique bowl you keep. All proceeds to fight local hunger. www.neipjc.org 25. April 22: Celebrate Earth Day with the Oneota Co-op. Join us for food, music, and kid’s activities from 5-7 pm outside the Co-op on Water Street. Rain location planned! www.oneotacoop.com

11. March 18: Come get down with the Charles Walker Band at the Root Note in downtown La Crosse. Great taps, coffee, and crepes – 115 4th Street South. www.facebook.com/theRootNote

26. April 22: ArtHaus Earth Day Poetry Slam sponsored by Dragonfly Books, 8pm at the Elks Lodge. Expect a green-theme twist collaborating with Green Iowa AmeriCorps. $5/$3 students. www. arthuasdecorah.org

12. March 20: Sarah Johnson plays the Hotel Winneshiek Lobby, 6:00pm, Full bar & menu available in a great atmosphere! 104 E. Water St, Downtown Decorah - www.hotelwinn.com

27. April 22: Kendra Swanson and Sandler get the folk out at the Root Note in downtown La Crosse. Great taps, coffee, and crepes – 115 4th Street South. www.facebook.com/theRootNote

13. March 21: Decorah Fast Fiber Wine & Apps Fundraiser! Rubaiyat, 5-8pm. Live & Silent Auction to benefit a portion of preliminary feasibility study. www.decorahfastfiber.com

28. April 23: ‘Now is the Time’ uses film, dance, and live music to explore the human experience of the four seasons. 7:30pm St. Mane Theatre, Lanesboro. www.lanesboroarts.org


Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com

fun stuff to do




2 “Digging Into the Gardens”, Porter House Lecture, 7:30pm

3 Lindsay Lee





The League of Youth opens April 8, Commonweal Theatre, Lanesboro

“From Underwear to Everywhere: Norwegian Sweaters” Closes April 24, Vesterheim, Decorah


April 1-3: Women’s Weekend Out Decorah!


APRIL 1: • Emerging Artists Exhibition Opening, ArtHaus, Decorah 6-8pm • The Ultrasounds & General B & the Wiz, Haymarket



1 15 Modish WWO Party, Decorah, 6-8pm



Winneshiek Wildberry Winery Chili cook-off

Seed Saver’s Apple Grafting School









“River Life: Recent Works by David Eberhardt” through April 24, MN Marine Art Museum, Winona



Sarah Johnson Decorah & Mike Fast Fiber Munson, Hotel Fundraiser, Winn Lobby Rubaiyat, 5-8pm



The Lone Bellow, Englert, IA City, 8pm


That 1 Guy, CSPS, Cedar Rapids



‘Scotland Road’ plays March 17 through April 3, Commonweal, Lanesboro


10 18 19 17 9 Brew & Art+Love = Stew 5K Run Trempealeau Date Night, / 15K Ride, Hotel ‘Kiss Me Cresco I’m Irie” Irish ArtHaus, 7-9pm / Jamaican 11 Andy Cohen, Party! St. Mane, Charles Lanesboro, Walker Band, Hero Jr., 7:30pm the Root Note Haymarket

30 Mike McAbee, Hideaway, Chaseburg, WI, 7-10pm


March 31: Dennis Schlict “Naturalist found, naturalist lost: Lulu Berry”, Porter House Lecture, 7:30pm

March 23-26: Warehouse 25th Anv. Party, La Crosse


March 18: Night “Out” at the Museum, La Crosse Children’s Museum

MARCH 13: • Winn. Co. 4H Omelet Breakfast, Winn. Co. Fairgrounds, 8am-12:30pm • Waukon St. Patrick’s Day Parade • The Infamous Stringdusters, Englert, IA City, 7pm

Daylight Savings: Spring Forward!


Brianne Lane, Hotel Winn Lobby




Olivia Millerschin, Warehouse, La Crosse



APRIL 30: • ‘Inspired to Ride’ Film, St. Mane, Lanesboro • Red Hot Decorah Fire Dpt Bucket of Color in Your Face 5K Run! Winn. Co. Fairgrounds, 11am

April 23-24: Iowa Wine Trail Spring Fling Weekend


APRIL 29: • The Dang Ol’ Tri’Ole, Haymarket • Loudon Wainwright III, CSPS, Cedar Rapids


20 APRIL 22 : Keb Mo, • Charles Walker Band, Haymarket Englert, • Joe Crookston, Chatfield IA City Center for the Arts 24 • Night “Out” at the Museum, La Crosse Children’s Museum Decorah Empty April 29-30 & May 5-7: The Bowls, Steyer Opera House, 11am-2pm Illusion, Luther Dance & Theatre


Illika/Ward Duo, Hotel Winn Lobby



30 30 29 Decorah April 28-30: ArtHaus Mid West Annual Art Gala Time Trials Mountain Music Fest, & Fundraiser, Bike Race, Winona! Hotel Winn, Noon 7pm April 30: Hobo Nephews of Uncle 31 Frank, Trempealeau Hotel, 1-3pm


21 Celebrate 22 28 23 Earth Day @ Mike Now is the 25 The Oneota McAbee, Time, St. Co-op, 5-7pm Sportsman’s Mane Theatre, ArtHaus Bar, Lanesboro, Rossville, 26 Earth day 7:30pm Poetry Slam 7-10pm Kendra Swanson & 27 Sandler, the Root Note

4 5 Seed Saver’s “Start w/ a Seed” Workshop



The Old Fashioneds, Haymarket

3 Evergreen, the Root Note


17 8 9 3 5 4 6 American 7 Spiritual Toddle Time, Illika/ Elvis Lives April 7-10 – NMP present Ensemble, Decorah Ward Duo, w/ Joseph 18 “The Pillowman” Luther Center Public Library, Haymarket Hall, Steyer Stage Series, Opera House, 10:30am every CFL, 7:30pm April 7: Monday! Decorah Mike McAbee, April 8-16: Elkader Opera April 5-10: Mission Creek Caroline Smith, Horseshoe, House Players present Kim Richey, CSPS, Festival, Iowa City, Cavalier Theatre, Calmar, 9pm “Harvey” Cedar Rapids www.missionfreak.com La Crosse 22 16 21 19 15 12 14 13 10 11 Kickapoo Mid West Hippen plays Decorah Hippen, Porter April 10: Hot Valley Reserve Fast Fiber Music Fest Day “From Walk” APRIL 22-24: Fundraiser w/ in La Crosse! House, 4pm Buttered Rum –sunset every • Bluff Country Studio Art Tour Absolute Hoot, w/ The Last 20 “Storywood” Tuesday, KVR, • Friends of Camp Tahigwa Hotel Winn Revel, Ed’s, Tim Blanski Ryne Doughty, La Farge, WI “Women of the Wild” Winona art opening, Hotel Winn April 15-16: Villa Louis “Behind the Scenes”, Prairie Du Chien Lanesboro Arts Lobby, 6pm

March 5-6: Maple Syrup Festival, Hartman Reserve, Cedar Falls

March 4-6: Oneota Film Festival, Decorah

Seema Kapur’s “Rivers & Bridges” runs through April 3, CSPS, Cedar Rapids



APRIL 2: • Glaze-a-thon for Empty Bowls, ArtHaus & Clay Studio, 4-7pm • Fools 5K, George Wyth State Park, Waterloo • Jillian Rae, St. Mane Theatre, Lanesboro, 7:30pm

6 11 12 10 8 7 9 Dr. Paul Liu Doug Otto & Deadline to Toddle Time, March 10-12: Luther Visual & Performing Arts “The Invitation “Winneshiek apply: ArtHaus the Getaways, Decorah Co. Geology”, Haymarket Game”, Jewel Theatre Emerging Public Library, Porter House, Artists! 10:30am March 19: March 11-13: Jes Rosenberg 7:30pm every Carrie Rodriguez 7 Lightwire Dan Newton, Yoga Workshops @ Reefuel! Monday! & Luke Jacobs, Theatre, Luther Chatfield Center March 11-13: Children’s Dance Theatre CSPS, Cedar Center Stage for the Arts 8 “The Mermaid”, Rochester Mayo Civic Center Rapids


March 1-31: 1 Decorah Bicycles Annual Spring Sale


March MARCH 5: • Glaze-a-thon for Empty Bowls, ArtHaus & Clay Studio, 10am-1pm • Helping Services Mentoring Bowl-a-thon, Oneota Lanes, Decorah • A Night at the Cabaret, Elkader Opera House, 7pm

fun stuff to do



Memorial Day





Syttende Mai! Celebrate at Vesterheim!


Kickapoo Valley Reserve “From Walk” – sunset every Tuesday, KVR, La Farge, WI




4 5




Friends of Camp Tahigwa Camp Cleanup Day!


Them Coulee Boys, Haymarket

Fattenin’ Frogs, Trempealeau Hotel



May 28-30: McGregor Spring Arts & Crafts Festival


June 4: Trempealeau Hotel JAMBALAYA JAMBOREE!


June 24: ‘The Way of Tea’ with Master Zhongxian Wu, Acupuncture Center Decorah June 25-26: Qigong Workshop with Master Zhongxian 41 Wu, (Register today!), Acupuncture Center Decorah



Trempealeau Hotel Reggae Fest! 2-11pm


Seed Saver’s Heritage Plant Sale



May 20-22: Spring Grove Syttende Mai Celebration

Aryn’s Birthday!

Circle of Heat, Haymarket


May 14: Tommy Emmanuel, Englert, IA City, 8pm


June 4: Driftless Discovery 1 mile/5k/10k Trail Run! 38 Van Peenan Park, Decorah


26 Benji’s birthday!

May 28: “Dances From Nature” Carla Gallina Exhibition opening, Lanesboro Arts, 6pm


May 21: Kickapoo Valley Reserve “Tromp & Chomp” Trail Run, KVR, La Farge, WI


GPS & Geocaching for Fun, Lake Meyer, 5:30pm


Cinco de Mayo

Mike McAbee, Horseshoe, Calmar, 9pm-1am


MAY 7: • Mother & Daughter “Breakfast in a Victorian Kitchen”, Villa Louis, PDC • Molly Maher & Erik Koskinen, St. Mane Theatre, Lanesboro, 7:30pm • Willy Porter, Pump House, La Crosse

May 20-21: Villa Louis “Behind the Scenes”, Prairie Du Chien



Chris Pureka, CSPS, Cedar Rapids

COMING UP: June 1: Registration Opens for Kickapoo Valley Reserve “Dam Challenge” Race June 4: Rhubarb Festival, Lanesboro

Joe & Vicki Price, Courtyard & Cellar Season kick-off, 8pm


The Jayhawks, Englert, IA City, 7pm



Home Free, Englert, IA City, 8pm


Decorah Bicycles - DHPT Fundraiser drawing May 1-31


Toddle Time, Decorah Public Library, 10:30am every Monday!



May 16-22: Vesterheim 4th Grade Pioneer Immersion Program Exhibition


Happy Mother’s Day!

Daniel Kase, Hotel Winn Lobby


Jake Illika, Hotel Winn Lobby

31 Pine Travelers, Trempealeau Hotel, 1-3pm 32




fun stuff to do

25W/ $25B












Inspire(d) World’s Greatest Party


Date (not included in word count): Worlds Greatest Party! 7-10 pm. Inspire(d) invites you to the greatest party ever! We’ll have amazing amounts of fun! See you there! www.website.com



Questions? Email benji@iloveinspired.com

(Direct link: iloveinspired.com/25-words-25-bucks/)

See - we told you about our amazing fictional party in less than 25 words! On the visual calendar (like the one at left), your event will be listed along with a number that corresponds. People can just scan on over to the following pages to get the details!


Simple! We get an email with all your details exactly as you’d like to see them in the listing, and then we add it to the calendar!

It works like this: 1. Go to iloveinspired.com and click on the 25W/$25B sidebar box 2. Enter your information in our online form 3. Click through to PayPal to complete the transaction

We know it’s a tough racket to put on live music, activities, and special events, so we want to give you a 1 Thus we’ve implemented a simple, expandable list of events for the pages following our regular calendars. Those who are planning “fun stuff to do” get a guaranteed spot on the calendar and in that event listing by purchasing “25 Words/$25 Bucks.”

Calendar time is always an exciting time at Inspire(d) Headquarters. “Just how much can we fit on there this month?!?” In recent years, what we had chosen for these lovely pages had been entirely editorial and subjective. We figured, hey, you like our magazine, so you’ll probably like the fun stuff to do that we pick out from around our region. But we’re running out of space and want you, our lovely readers, friends, and fellow event planners, to be able to tell us a little more about your fun.

25 Words/$25 Bucks


Looking for more details about events on the calendars? Check out these great spring activities! In chronological order, each event’s number coincides with its number on the calendar!

29. April 29: ArtHaus Annual Art Gala & Fundraiser. Ensure your community arts center thrives! Hotel Winneshiek, 7pm. Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 at the door. www.arthausdecorah.org.

30. April 30: Iowa’s longest running Mtn. Bike Race: Decorah Time Trials! Noon. No pre-reg necessary. Register day of at entry to Dunning’s Spring park on Ice Cave Road. bikedecorah.blogspot.com 31. April 30 – May 1: Trempealeau Hotel presents MWMF Ticketless Venue Music Matinees: Sat- 1-3 Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank, Sun 1-3 Pine Travelers, Plus Saturday Night Surprise show 9pm! www.trempealeauhotel.com 32. May 1: Illika & Ward duo play the Hotel Winneshiek Lobby, 6:00pm, Full bar & menu available in a great atmosphere! 104 E. Water St, Downtown Decorah - www.hotelwinn.com




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What’s so good about The Good Foot? The shoes! The staff! The service!

And it’s fun here to boot! (Get it?)

33. May 1-31: Decorah Bicycles presents a Decorah Human Powered Trails fundraiser! Stop in to be entered into a prize drawing for 3 great prizes! All proceeds go to local trail maintenance and DHPT! 34. May 7: Heritage Plant Sale, Seed Savers Exchange: Discover rare family heirlooms & historic commercial varieties of flowers, vegetables, and fruit trees + garden tools & more. seedsavers.org


35. May 8: Daniel Kase plays the Hotel Winneshiek Lobby, 6:00pm, Full bar & menu available in a great atmosphere! 104 E. Water St, Downtown Decorah - www.hotelwinn.com 36. May 14: Trempealeau Hotel REGGAE FEST! Caribbean food, music, vibe, and crafts. 2pm -11pm. Let TUGG, DJ Trichrome (and others) transport you to an irie place. www.trempealeauhotel.com 37. May 28: Trempealeau Hotel Presents - FATTENIN’ FROGS! Gritty, soulful, and always danceable, think Davina and the Vagabonds meets Howlin’ Wolf. Come on out, sing, dance, and clap along! www. trempealeauhotel.com

bar menu available + DON’T MISS OUR WINE SHOP!


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COMING UP IN JUNE: 38. June 4: Hit the trails with the Driftless Discovery Trail Run, Van Peenan Park, Decorah. Little Drifters 1 mile 9am start, 5k, 10k on single track trails. Advance registration www.ddtr.us or active.com

39. June 4: Trempealeau Hotel JAMBALAYA JAMBOREE! Swamp Kings, Copper Box, and Dwayne Dopsie bring the southern end of the Mississippi to the North. Cajun food, BAM! www.trempealeauhotel.com 40. June 24: Register Now for ‘The Way of Tea’ with Master Zhongxian Wu 7:00-8:30 p.m. $20. Acupuncture Center Decorah 309 W. Broadway, Decorah - info@acupuncturecenterdecorah.com 563 382-9309 41. June 25-26: Qigong Workshop with Master Zhongxian Wu – Register now! 10am-5pm both days, Yoga Room Decorah 110 Washington St. $250.00 Early/$295.00 Regular info@ acupuncturecenterdecorah.com 563 382-9309

217 West Water Street . Decorah, Iowa




Open Monday-Saturday

iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2016



Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com

GET YOUR PLANTS GROWING LIKE A PRO By Kristine Jepsen • Photos courtesy River Root Farm

It begins mid-winter, when the seed catalogs start landing in your mailbox. Any gardener knows all that green abundance is as riveting as, well, porn on those cold nights of frost. But for all their seeming perfection, the strength of those lovely fruits or flowers was determined months ago through the successful germination and early care of the young plants, says professional grower Katie Prochaska. Katie – alongside her husband, Mike Bollinger – starts thousands of microgreens and vegetable and flower varieties every year at River Root Farm in Decorah. “There are about six things you really have to address,” says Katie. “Soil, type of container, light and warmth, watering, and, well, human error – or, just paying attention.” Katie, a Luther College grad who first dug into gardening as a sustainable farming volunteer in the Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa, has had plenty of opportunity to dial in those basics. She and Mike put in time with the Seed Savers Exchange garden crew, managed the one-acre sustenance garden at the Good Life Center, founded by Helen and Scott Nearing in rural Maine, and later the four-acre market garden of Four Season Farm, the Maine showplace of organic innovators Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch. Before moving to Decorah to start their own farm, which features moveable greenhouses pioneered by Coleman and engineered by a sister business, Four Season Tools, Katie and Mike managed gardens and programming for the Chicago Botanic Garden. “Don’t think I was born with green thumbs, though,” Katie jokes. “In our first garden – in the yard of the house we rented on Broadway Street in Decorah in 2004 – we planted our broccoli in deep shade and failed to realize you have to separate onion starts from the clump they come in to get actual onions. And, we dug up a telephone line just tilling up our little plot. Our only success that year was one – ONE – Mexican Midget tomato plant.”

Turn the page and follow along for the keys on how to master the six keys to seedling success.



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“Don’t think I was born with green thumbs, though,” Katie jokes. “In our first garden – in the yard of the house we rented on Broadway Street in Decorah in 2004 – we planted our broccoli in deep shade and failed to realize you have to separate onion starts from the clump they come in to get actual onions. And, we dug up a telephone line just tilling up our little plot. Our only success that year was one – ONE – Mexican Midget tomato plant.”

— May 7 9am-5pm


Including a limited supply of rare special edition plants from our seed bank

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POTATOES Eight varieties CLIMBING PLANTS Four varieties Lillian Goldman Visitors Center Open daily 10-5 [March-Oct] • Thurs-Sun 10-5 [Nov-Dec]

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Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com

By nature, seeds contain everything they need to sprout, so they don’t require nutrientdense, bulky soil for germination. Choosing a potting medium that’s light and fluffy makes it easy for roots to find traction and sprouts to push up into the light of day. “Sterile” mixes are best to prevent mold or disease, Katie says. “A lot of times, people might use soil from outside, or compost from their garden, but these are too dense – literally overkill.” Once emerged, plan to “pot up,” or transplant, seedlings into a combination of sterile potting soil and homemade or purchased compost, or a purchased soil with fertilizer mixed in. The goal is to give your starts easily accessible nutrients – baby food – for 4-6 weeks, prior to planting in the garden, Mike says.




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TYPE OF CONTAINER “Use any old container – just make sure it has holes in the bottom for drainage,” Katie says. Plants won’t need more than 3-4 inches in height or width before they’re planted outdoors, so keep containers small. Individual yogurt cups work well, in addition to biodegradable peat or coconut containers that can be planted directly in the ground. When setting up your seed starting area, it’s a good idea to put all containers in a shallow tray because you’ll want to bottom-water them once the seedlings send out roots,” Katie suggests. (More on that later.) In planting the actual seeds, use the size of seed as a rule of thumb, she says. “I often see people ‘burying’ seed, when most need to be only as deep as they are long – hardly covered with dirt, in most cases.” Another key tip: moisten soil before planting. “It should be uniformly damp but not soggy or dripping,” Katie says, “more like a rag that’s been wrung out.”

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“Warmth and light are the biggies, and they go hand-in-hand,” Katie says, nodding solemnly to make her point. For most seeds, germination doesn’t require any light at all, but gentle heat is necessary to keep things at a constant 70 to 80 degrees until the seedlings emerge. “You can put them on top of the refrigerator, above a radiator, on top of your dryer. Or, you can buy an electric heat mat designed for starts.” The trick, she says, is to keep the soil uniformly moist and warm until seeds “pop,” which is why many seed-starting kits include a plastic dome that fits on top. You can create this ‘greenhouse effect’ yourself by covering containers in plastic cling wrap, Katie says. “We sow [seeds] in trays on freestanding shelving, then cover the whole thing in a clear mattress bag.” Just be sure to keep the soil surface moist using a hand pump mist sprayer, or even a hand-held bottle with squeeze sprayer, Mike adds. When the tiny seedlings poke through the soil surface – this is pivotal – you MUST move them into bright, full spectrum light before they’re 1/2” tall, often within just hours of emerging. If covered in plastic, seedlings will suffocate as they use up the oxygen sealed into their ‘greenhouse,’ and they will stretch and get spindly or ‘leggy,’ searching for daylight. The result is irreparably weak plants, Katie says. “If you have a really sunny south-facing window, that can work, but honestly, the best thing is to put plants under standard shop lights,” with one cool white fluorescent bulb and the other giving warmer/orange light,” she explains. “You want the plant to be within 3-4 inches of the light source as it grows, which means setting up your growing area so the light can be moved up as the plants get taller.” This phase of growth requires less heat – most plants don’t need more than 60-70 degrees. It’s important to honor nature’s cycle of light and dark, too, Katie says. “Give them 16-18 hours of light to mimic the length of day in warmer climates, where these seed varieties are native. Then, turn it off. The plants need ‘nighttime’ even though they’re not outdoors yet.”

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Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com

Continued on page 20

Visit Vesterheim!

Sign up today!

Learn hand-craft

Open all year in scenic Decorah, Iowa.

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Vesterheim’s Folk Art School in 2016!

View Three great exhibitions From Underwear to Everywhere: Norwegian Sweaters

Offering over 60 classes in traditional folk arts.

Learning the Language of the Kubbestol

Through April 24, 2016

with Steve Speltz & Rebecca Hanna April 29-May 1, 2016 Everything you need to know to make your own kubbestol—from rough log to finished chair!

Wood Carved Figures, Nordic Roots Curated by carver Harley Refsal Through April 17, 2016

Shop for Nordic-inspired Gifts Museum Store

From Tradition to Protest: Lila Nelson’s Weaving Life Through Nov. 13, 2016

Jewelry Fragrances Original artworks Norwegian sweaters Books and more!

Check vesterheim.org for museum info, a class schedule, and online shopping. 520 W. Water St., Decorah, Iowa • vesterheim.org • 563-382-9681


The National Norwegian-American Museum & Heritage Center

Patchwork Green Farm Erik Sessions and Sara Peterson (563)387-0837 patchworkgreen.com

Find us at the Decorah Farmers' Market from June-October. 2016 Traditional and Market CSA Shares now available.

Jo Iverson | 563-382-4445


WATERING Bottom-watering, or letting soil take up water through holes in the bottom of containers, is recommended once the seedlings pop up, Katie explains. This cuts down on soil splash, or the splattering of potentially fungus-bearing soil onto the stem and leaves when watered from above. In addition, bottom-watering does not shift the fragile plants around at the soil surface.


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Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com

“A lot of your success comes in just paying attention – starting with reading the seed packet,” Katie says with a laugh. “The information might vary from company to company, but it’s there for a reason, and each vegetable or flower is unique in its own way.” To plan your garden’s productivity, look at the number of days to maturity. Is it given from seeding or from transplant? And keep in mind that some species really do best with direct seeding outdoors, as suggested, including beets, beans, cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins. Another important directive? Thinning. “Don’t be afraid to thin,” Katie says. “I understand the temptation: people see that they’ve grown this little green thing, and they don’t want to kill it, but plants need space to grow. Always plant more than you need so you’ll have your target number of the strongest plants after thinning.” And then there’s the importance of good lighting, again. “Check on your germinating seeds a couple times a day,” she repeats. “Stuff will pop up and be an inch tall in the blink of an eye.” Then, when seedlings are under bright lights, make sure plants don’t burn by growing tall enough to touch the bulbs. Within just a few short weeks, your greenlings will be ready to join the profusion of plant life known as the growing season in the Midwest. “Moral of the story? Keep at it,” Katie says. “We learn something new from the garden every year.”

After whole decades of tangled tomatoes and limp lettuces, Kristine Jepsen has finally thinned her gardening proclivity to the handful of things her family will readily eat fresh from the garden. She is otherwise happy to pay local professionals for their expertise. Read more of her misadventures at kristinejepsen.com.

Learn more about River Root Farm at riverrootfarm.com


Offering over 40,000 plants!

Iowa's #1


Garden Center Just 30 miles south of Decorah

Decorah K&K Gardens

108 E. Wilbur St, Hawkeye, Iowa • 563.427.5373 • Open daily May - October

Choose Your Adventure DrifTless Nature Centers by Sara Friedl-Putnam


Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com


Not feeling too spring-y just yet? Dream of the warmer WEATHER coming, then grab your calendars and plan ahead for classes and fun at SOME OF area’s coolest nature centers!




April 14-16

April 8-9


50th Showcase


Oct 1-2 July & 6-8 11-16

Sept 28-29

Continued on next page

OHP present HARVEY

Pinocchio July 2 June 18


id you know there’s a place near Elkader, Iowa, where you can peer into the steely blue eyes of a live wolf? Were you aware that Lanesboro, Minnesota, is home to one of the best high-ropes courses in the region? Had you heard that tiny Houston, Minnesota, boasts the only center in all of North America devoted to owls? Few places can rival the Driftless Region when it comes to offering exciting, fun, and educational nature-based experiences. And (lucky you!) there’s a wealth of nature centers and parks throughout the area chomping at the bit to help you tap in to your inner explorer. So grab a cup of piping-hot tea or coffee, snuggle up in your comfiest chair, and learn a bit more about what some of the finest nature centers and parks in the region have in store for you in the (warmer) months ahead.



WIlly Wonka the musical

For additional events & ticket information visit ElkaderOperaHouse.com 207 N. Main, Elkader, IA



Pictured: Lake Meyer near Calmar, Iowa - photo by Lauren Kraus All other story photos courtesy Driftless Region nature centers


Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center

“Eagle Bluff rocks!!” proclaims one enthusiastic Tripadvisor reviewer. “Faaantastic!!” gushes another. “Great fun!!” exclaims a third. Make the time to visit the sprawling 80-acre Eagle Bluff campus –

located near Lanesboro in the beautiful bluff country along the Root River – and it quickly becomes clear why superlatives accentuated by multiple exclamation points seem to be the norm when describing this unique environmental learning center. “The natural beauty really is unmatched,” says Stephanie Davidson, public programs coordinator. “It’s the perfect place to explore and learn about the outdoors – whether you’re two or 92, you’ll find something of interest here.” That includes the center’s popular high ropes course, open on Tuesdays and Saturdays from June through August. (Reservations required, cost $25 per person.) A breathtaking view of southeast Minnesota – not to mention a healthy boost in self-confidence – awaits those brave enough to hitch on a harness and negotiate cables, logs, and planks 30 feet above ground. PHOTOS BY BRITTANY TODD

Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center

28097 Goodview Drive Lanesboro, Minnesota www.eagle-bluff.org 507-467-2437 Hours (for visitor center): Monday­-Friday, 8 am-4:30 pm, with weekends varying by season Admission: Free for grounds; most programs and the ropes course have a fee

Dance & Theatre







Ticket information & full 2015-16 Luther Dance & Theatre season details at www.luther.edu/theatre 24

Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com



April 2 am Hotel Winneshiek Sponsored in part by Inspire(d) Media, Hacker, Nelson & Co., P.C. & KDEC

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Those who prefer to keep their feet planted firmly on the ground will find a geocaching course –cell phone or GPS required! – and nine miles of hiking trails that stretch from river’s bottom through tallgrass prairie to bluff’s top. “You might see deer, chipmunks, rabbits, and perhaps a river otter, but it’s the birds that we’re really known for,” says Davidson. “This area has bald eagles, hawks, turkey vultures, feeder songbirds, and forest and prairie birds – it’s worth the trip just to go birding.” The center also offers a broad array of public programming throughout the year, with the spring and summer boasting a particularly rich schedule. Its “Becoming an Outdoor Family” weekends help family members reconnect in the great outdoors while learning about topics ranging from archery and fishing to geocaching and target shooting. Its “Dinner on the Bluff” series features engaging presentations on hot-topic issues and (of course!) a tasty gourmet meal. And its Skills School provides opportunities for individuals over 16 to learn new skills for more sustainable living. Ever wanted to bake bread, Amish-style? Interested in taking great wilderness photos? Curious about Saami bracelet-making? More than 60 classes covering those topics and more are on tap this spring and summer courtesy of Eagle Bluff’s Skills School. Of course, youth summer camps have been a staple at Eagle Bluff since its founding, and that remains true to this day. “This year’s summer camps explore canoeing, biking, rock climbing, even raptor handling,” says Davidson. “You name it, and it’s probably on our schedule.” What not to miss: Tap a tree, collect maple syrup, and enjoy a tasty treat of silver-dollar pancakes at the Eagle Bluff Maple Syrup Fest, March 19, 10:00 a.m.– 2:00 p.m.; cost, $10 per person.


Houston Nature Center

Quiche Cups Fruit Kabobs Roasted Potatoes Coffee & Water

215 West Plum Street Houston, Minnesota www.houstonnaturecenter.com 507-896-4668 Hours: Vary by season; check website for current hours Admission: Free, but donations always welcome

Bloody Marys & Mimosas available for extra charge

The realistic taxidermy displays – have you ever looked a fox or an otter in the eye? – are impressive. The timber rattlesnake exhibit is fierce. But the real star of the Houston Nature Center is its natural playground, opened in 2013. “Kids just love it,” says Connie Verse, center manager. “Actually, so do adults.” Take a look at photos of the center’s latest addition and it’s easy to see why. No swings or jungle gyms dot the decidedly untraditional play scape. Instead, pedestal pipes create Continued on next page

Get tickets at J. Tupy’s & participating stores listed at:

visitdecorah.com Online tickets $25 via

iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2016


“Our mission is to educate people – children in particular – regarding nature and its benefits and to help people experience the outdoors,” says Verse. “Between our natural playground, our camping facilities, and our programming, everyone is bound to find something of interest here.” What not to miss: A guided walking tour to the Houston sign on the bluff will take place at the center during the Houston Hoedown, July 29–31.

International Owl Center

126 East Cedar Street Houston, Minnesota www.internationalowlcenter.org 507-896-6957


opportunities for music. A sand pit (with hidden fossils!) invites digging. Stone tunnels and caves promote old-fashioned games of hide-and-seek. A wooden wall facilitates climbing. Straw bales invite stacking. And a slide provides plain, old-fashioned fun. “The oldest person who has gone down our slide was over 80, and the youngest was riding in a parent’s arm,” says Verse. “The playground is just one of the ways we help people of all ages unplug from technology and get out and experience nature.” Built in 2001, the center sits on 18 scenic, peaceful acres at Trailhead Park and functions as the eastern trailhead of the 60-mile Root River Trail System. In addition to its natural play scape, the park offers a native prairie and primitive walk-in camping facilities – nine tent-only sites, available on a first-come, first-serve basis – along with shower and restroom facilities that Verse proudly describes as “the best along the entire Root River Trail.” For almost 15 years, the center was also synonymous with Alice, the great horned owl that now “works” at the International Owl Center in downtown Houston. (See accompanying story.) And while the owl-based programming that was once a Houston Nature Center staple is now offered a stone’s throw away at the International Owl Center, there are plenty of other programs planned for the spring and summer sure to interest nature enthusiasts of all ages. In June the center will begin offering its popular children’s summer programs – which include hands-on educational activities, play time, and (of course!) snacks – two Wednesdays a month. Family–friendly programs are offered every Saturday through the year and focus on a single topic each month. Wetlands will be spotlighted in May, pollination in June, biking and bike safety in July, and arts and nature in August.

Hours (year-round): Friday through Monday, 10 am to 4 pm; educational programs with an owl flight at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily; owl enrichment (fun activities for owls) at 3:30 p.m. Admission: Adults: $5; children 4–17, $3; members and children under 3, free Can’t make it to the center anytime soon? Check out the 24/7 live owl cam on its website.

There was a whole lot of hooting going on at the International Owl Center on one recent Saturday INTERNATIONAL morning. The sounds, OWL CENTER however, aren’t emanating from Ruby, the imposing great horned owl perched on the forearm of educator Sue Fletcher, or any of the other education owls currently at “work” at the center. Instead, two young boys and their mothers were attempting – with varying degrees of success – to imitate the distinctive “hoo, hoo-oo, hoo, hoo” call of the great horned species. Continued on page 28

Stay & play! Biking . Shopping . Theatre . Art . Food . Fun! 507-467-2696 • lanesboro.com 26

Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com


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406 W. Water St. • Decorah, Iowa


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“I love owls!” proclaims one of the boys during a lull in the action. The other quickly agrees. “That’s the reaction we always strive to get from our visitors,” says Karla Bloem, executive director. “Our goal is educate and inspire people – and invite them to make changes in their lives that will benefit the owl community.” In addition to its educational programs – which are customized according to the makeup of each audience – the center boasts more than a dozen highly realistic owl mounts representing owls engaging in different behaviors as well as an array of handson exhibits to give visitors a better idea of how owl wings, feet, and tails look and feel. (Touching the live birds is not allowed.) Those who want more of an outdoor adventure can take a self-guided tour of 10 pieces of owl art scattered throughout downtown Houston. “If you want people to care, you have to show them that there’s so much more to owls than they ever realized,” says Bloem. “We want visitors to leave our centers having learned that owls are real creatures with real personalities.” The seed for establishing an owl center was planted in 1998, when Bloem acquired an injured great horned owl, Alice – currently on maternity leave – to use in educational programs at the nearby Houston Nature Center. To celebrate Alice’s “hatch day,” she created the celebratory International Festival of Owls in 2001. The success of that three-day festival – which last year drew nearly 2,000 people from as far away as Norway, South Africa, and Nepal – sparked interest in establishing a center devoted exclusively to owls. “This is the only facility in North America dedicated to teaching people about owls,” says Bloem. “It really is a must-see.” What not to miss: The 2016 International Festival of Owls, March 4-6, features activities for owl enthusiasts of all ages, including live-owl programs, an owl-themed pancake breakfast, an owl photography contest, nest-box building, and a kids hooting contest.

Lake Meyer Park and Campground

2546 Lake Meyer Road Fort Atkinson, Iowa www.winneshiekwild.com 563-534-7145 Hours: Daily, 6 am – 10:30 pm (year-round) Admission: Park, free, though some programming may have materials fees. Campground (open from April through October, depending on weather): $15 a night for an electricity-equipped site and $10 a night for a site without electricity; no reservations taken. Nature center currently closed for renovation. Binoculars…check! Hiking boots…check! Pocket field guides...check! Wristwatch…yep, better strap that on too! So brilliant are the wildflowers, so captivating the birds during spring at Lake Meyer that odds are good you’ll forget “little” details like, say, what time it is should you venture to this 160-acre gem of a park, located off Highway 24 between Calmar and Fort Atkinson, Iowa. “Years of restoration work have transformed Lake Meyer into a wonderful place for viewing spring wildflowers – come April and May, you’ll see the whole spectrum of native ephemerals,” says Lilly Jensen, Winneshiek County Conservation Board (WCCB) education and outreach coordinator. “It’s also a birdwatching hotspot, especially for small songbirds like warblers.” More than three miles of scenic trails winding through a variety of habitats and terrain await park visitors. Prairie, wetlands, and woodlands – you’ll find all three native Iowa habitats here, as well as the turtles, snakes, deer, turkey, and other critters that call them home. You’ll also find a 38-acre lake teeming with northern


Continued on next page

Don’t miss

Trout Days May 20-22, 2016!

gethookedonpreston.com . 507-765-2100

60+ Miles of Paved Bike Trails! iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2016




pike, bluegill, black crappie, largemouth bass, and channel catfish. A handicap-accessible dock and 60-foot fishing jetty offer easy access to the lake for fishing (or just viewing!), and fishing by boat (electric motors only!) is also allowed. Lake Meyer, in fact, offers the only public option to fish by boat in all of Winneshiek County. And while non-motorized boats are not allowed for fishing, canoeing and kayaking are permitted – though you’ll have to bring your own vessel as rentals are not available. Those looking to unplug for longer than a day can take advantage of some of the most scenic and relaxing camping in all the Driftless Region. The campground boasts 27 electric and eight primitive (nonelectric) sites – all are first-come, first-served – as well as restroom facilities with showers and flush toilets. Picnic shelters, a ball diamond, and a playground and natural play scape round out Lake Meyer’s amenities. Rent for a few hours or up to a month! Plus, rental costs (for 1 year) can be used toward the purchase of any new bike!

The park also plays host to a variety of outdoors-based public programs offered by WCCB throughout the year. On tap for March are hands-on workshops on building Leopold benches, bluebird houses, and even rain barrels as well as a waterfowl viewing excursion. April will bring an Earth Day geocache hunt, May a workshop on making bird feeders from recycled tires, and June a canoeing and kayaking adventure. (For specific dates and other information, visit the WCCB website or Facebook page.) “Lake Meyer is a very unique, very family-friendly spot offering a variety of activities and native ecosystems,” says Jensen. “It really is the perfect place to get away from it all and enjoy the outdoors.” What not to miss: A two-part workshop on leaf casting August 6 and August 11. Start with large leaves and concrete and end with a stepping stone or bird bath!


It doesn’t matter where you ride – we’ve got a bike for you to try! + Spring Sale March 1st to 31st! Check it out!

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Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com


decorahbicycles.com • 101 College Dr. Decorah, Iowa • 563-382-8209

Myrick Park Center

789 Myrick Park Drive La Crosse, Wisconsin www.cityoflacrosse.org 608- 789-7533 Hours (for center): Monday–Thursday, 9 am to 6 pm and Friday from 9 am to 2 pm Admission: Free For more information on WisCorps programming: Contact Steph Hanna at steph.hanna@wiscorps.org. So quiet is Myrick Park on a recent January afternoon that it would be easy to assume there’s little to do in this gem of a park, the oldest in La Crosse. That assumption would be wrong. The park’s sprawling expanse boasts trails for hiking, biking, and running; wetlands for exploring; and a natural play scape for, well, playing. And thanks to the efforts of WisCorps – a nonprofit headquartered in the park that engages youth and young adults in conservation projects on public lands – there are also many exciting educational programs in store for this spring and summer. Kids ages three to eight will have the opportunity to make bug catchers, play butterfly tag, and (yikes!) catch frogs at the summer day camps offered at Myrick Park from mid-June through midAugust. And they won’t be the only ones having fun in the great outdoors. WisCorps also offers special programs just for adults at Myrick Park on the first Wednesday of each month. “Our evening programs are free and give grown-ups the opportunity to broaden their knowledge of nature, especially that of the Driftless Region,” says Steph Hanna, WisCorps education manager. “They also help remind people of the many benefits of unplugging and spending time in the outdoors.” Of course parks and celebrations go hand in hand, and Myrick Park will host two big celebratory events this spring. An Earth Fair scheduled for Sunday, April 24, offers a fun run, a farmers’ market, live music, and a range of kids activities, while the International Migratory Bird Day Celebration on Saturday, May 7, kicks off bright and early with a sunrise bird hike and bird-banding activities. What not to miss: Show the Earth a little love! Bring a friend to the Earth Day marsh cleanup, MYRICK PARK Saturday, April 23, CENTER from 9 am to 2 pm at Myrick Park. Lunch provided.


upcoming events... MARCH

18–20 UNI-Dome Antiques & Collectibles Show 19–20 Funky Junk-a-loo


3 The Lettermen 26 The Illusionists 29 Emily West


5 Girls’ Night Out 14 symphonyCYCLE


17–18 College Hill Arts Festival 23–26 Sturgis Falls Celebration & Cedar Basin Jazz Festival Contact us for a full calendar of events & getaway ideas!

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Continued on next page iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2016


OSborne visitor / nature center Antiques h Home Decor h Floral

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E VE N T S for 2 0 1 6

Funky Junk-A-Loo Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center Waterloo, Iowa Sat – Sun, March 19th – 20th h Garden Day at Calico Saturday, May 7th h Back Roads Vintage Market Dysart, Iowa Saturday, June 4th h Calico’s 30th Annual Flea Market Saturday, August 13th

1022 Alabar Ave • Waterloo, IA 50701 • M – SAT 10-5:30 319-234-1266 • Follow us on Facebook

Chickfest 2016 Saturday, April 2nd Fu n starts at 9a m a nd goes u ntil 4pm

Make a trip to Charles City for a fun day of shopping, eating, pampering and a whole lot of fun! Look for prizes, gift cards or free stuff in our new and improved swag bags. Line starts at the Chamber Office limited to the first 150!

V i s it C h a r l e s C it y C h a m b e r. c o m for participating locations and complete details!


Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com

Osborne Visitor/Nature Center

29862 Osborne Road Elkader, Iowa www.claytoncountyconservation.org 563-245-1516 Hours (April to October): Monday–Saturday, 8 am–4 pm; Sunday, 12 pm–4 pm Admission: Free, but donations always welcome A fascinating game of sorts is taking place between the wolf and coyote housed at the Osborne Nature Center on a recent winter afternoon. Seemingly oblivious to a group of vociferous human visitors, the two animals lock eyes through a sturdy chain link fence before suddenly taking off to chase one another along the length of their respective snow-blanketed pens. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, they run until, nearly 15 minutes later, the wolf finally calls it quits. The energetic (and entertaining!) canines are just two of the animals visitors will find at the nature center, a favorite of adults and kids alike. Its native wildlife exhibit, which is nestled amid five acres of pine forest and dates back to the early 1970s, also boasts two red foxes, a black bear (good luck spotting it!), wild turkeys, a bobcat, deer, owls, and a raccoon. “All of the animals have been injured or raised in captivity and would not survive in the wild,” says Joyce Schoulte, a longtime member of the center’s staff. “They are by far the biggest draw of the center.” Even if live animals aren’t your thing, there’s plenty more to experience at the center, located on 300 acres of land about five miles outside of Elkader. An arboretum includes almost 50 different trees, many native to Iowa and each with a description containing interesting facts about the species. (Did you know white pine trees can live up to 400 years?) There’s also a natural play scape, a butterfly garden, a simple pioneer village (site of the popular Heritage Days celebration each October), and three outdoor trails, each with a specific theme (nature, conifer, and exercise). The exercise trail – more than a mile in length – has 20 exercise stations for those who prefer to burn

their calories in the great outdoors. The center itself – opened in 1988 as a joint nature center and Iowa welcome center – contains myriad hands-on exhibits; mounted animal displays; and a collection of live snakes, turtles, and amphibians. It’s the centerpiece of an extensive park system operated by Clayton County Conservation that also includes Bloody Run Park (Marquette), Joy Springs Park (Strawberry Point), Motor Mill Park and Frieden Park (Elkader), Buck Creek Park (Garnavillo), and Frenchtown Park (Guttenberg). Programs will be held throughout the parks over the course of the spring and summer, including a bluebird house building clinic March 5 at Osborne Nature Center, the Motor Motor 5K run March 19 at Motor Mill Park, an Earth Day saunter April 22 at Buck Creek Park, and a Mercury transit program May 9 at Osborne.

“Our mission is to give people a place to learn about the environment and to immerse themselves in the outdoors,” says Schoulte when asked what shapes the center’s programming. “It’s also our hope that they also have a lot of fun no matter what they choose to explore here.” What not to miss: The Mystery Mingle, Munch, Mob program meets March 17, April 21, May 19, June 16, and July 21 at Osborne Nature Center. Participants will tour the “mystery” community of the month during an outing that includes an educational program, lunch, and shopping opportunities. Sara Friedl-Putnam is eagerly anticipating the advent of spring so she can explore the Driftless Region’s many natural playgrounds with her two-yearold granddaughter and treat herself to a Skills School class or two (Amish breadmaking, anyone?) at Eagle Bluff.

Also worth the trip! 509 Hwy 18 Marquette, Iowa www.driftlessareawetlandcentre.com 563-873-3537 Hours: Tuesday­–Saturday, 11 am to 4 pm (beginning March 16) Admission: Free

Feeling the urge to “unplug” and learn more about the nature of the Driftless Region? Then be sure to visit the Driftless Area Wetlands Centre, opened in August 2013 to connect people to the natural world and empower them to positively impact their local environments.

Hartman Reserve Nature Center

657 Reserve Drive Cedar Falls, Iowa www.hartmanreserve.org • 319-277-2187 Hours: Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday 1 pm to 5 pm Admission: Free This 340-acre wooded isle located in the heart of Black Hawk County boasts hiking trails through forest, wetland, and prairie, as well as activities for visitors of all ages. Upcoming events include the Maple Syrup Festival March 5–6 – enjoy all-youcan-eat pancakes topped with real maple syrup (tickets required!) – and the Outdoor Adventure Fest on April 2.

JUNE 25 & 26, 2016

Driftless Area Wetlands Centre



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Qigong Workshop


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AT THE YOGA ROOM, DECORAH, IOWA In a special visit to Decorah, Master Wu will teach movement, breath, & mindfulness through Ba Gua Xin Jing Qigong. Learn the fundamental standing posture & eight gentle movements to increase physical strength, nourish joints, & balance the mind. Qigong (Chinese yoga) is a profound system that promotes mental & physical health & increases longevity.

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Plus: Join us for ChaDao (Tea Ceremony)


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For thousands of years, sages have used the tea ceremony as a gateway to understand the Dao. Please join us for an evening of internal cultivation through art of tea.

For more information, contact info@acupuncturecenterdecorah.com or 563-382-9309 iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2016




MANIFESTO Inspire(d) Media started officially in October of 2007, but the idea was planted in my head long before that. I wanted to create a publication that made it easy for people to find inspiration – and not just pie-in-the-sky inspiration; I wanted it to be relatable. We’ve grown and learned and changed throughout our eightgoing-on-nine years running this magazine, but a few things have remained the same: People are good. Community is important. Change is possible. The theme of this Spring Inspire(d) is “looking forward”. I like to think of that phrase as filled with optimism and hope and determination. So remember that every time you read my editors letters and see that I’ve signed it thusly. Looking forward from there, this very moment, I’m making it a goal for community to be an even bigger mission for Inspire(d). Specifically the Driftless Community. I want us all to get to know each other a little better. I want us to help each other a little better. And I want us all to have fun together! So here’s what’s happening: We’re going on some info-finding missions. We’re asking mayors and city managers in communities around the Driftless Region what makes their towns special and what are the biggest challenges. And then we’re all going to learn more, see how we can further enjoy the area, and how we can help with some of the issues right in our backyards. This spring Inspire(d) kicks it off with Postville. It’s a big one. I grew up on a gravel road between Decorah and Postville – I went to school in Postville, and I had a happy time growing up there – cheerleading, marching band, theatre, chorus, student council – I was involved in nearly everything. When I was in high school, diversity wasn’t something I thought a lot about. It was just starting to happen in Postville, though, with a handful of Russian and Ukrainian students filtering through the halls and a decent number of Mexican and Guatemalans starting to call Postville home. Jewish people were building their sukkahs in the fall and I had friends who worked at the local Jewish deli (now defunct). It was all very novel, to be honest. Now, Postville Schools clock in at 52 percent minorities. But the special thing about this place is that the diversity isn’t driving a wedge between the students; it’s making them closer. Postville Community School’s best attribute? Diversity. And you can bet I love that. Turn the page to read more about what’s happening in this neighbor community these days, and what makes the students and faculty of Postville Schools pretty darn amazing.


Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com



















This little graphic right here is a rough estimate of the Inspire(d) readership area. Have you been to all the places here? Do you know anything about the people who live here? I’ll tell you something: We are a kind lot of Midwesterners. I am so happy and lucky to call the Driftless home. Thanks for reading, friends. Looking forward, Aryn



e in the

TLESS Region


So what exactly are we trying to do here? Here are a few things that go through our minds as we put each Inspire(d) together – we want to inspire our readers in a variety of ways. Readers, heretofore, will be referred to as “you”. (ha!) We want you to put down the phone and pick up some paper. We want you to make things with that paper. We want to you make things. Period. We want you to go analog some days. We want you to adventure around our region we call home. We want you to do something great.


We want you to do something good. Every day. We want you to cook more. We want you to support local businesses.


We want you to play with your kids more.


We want YOU to play more. We want you to take in the beauty and life in nature surrounding us every. minute.



We want you to believe in yourself. We want you to believe in other people.




We want you to know that there is beauty in everything. Every. Thing. Even those dandelions. Even in the colors that come together in that pile of trash. Even in that 800th cloudy, cold winter day.


We want you to talk to people. Really talk.


We want you to be kind. We want you to feel like a unicorn.


We want you to be inspired!





20 Design by


Inspire(d) Magazine Driftless Region

iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2016


The Pride of Postville By Aryn Henning Nichols


Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com

U-Pick, fresh local strawberries! Opening June of 2016

Kids are kids. “They’re just kids. It doesn’t matter where they come from, if they speak the language or not, you still see them out in the hallway, you know, screwing around, being normal goofy kids,” says Postville Middle and High School Principal Brendan Knudtson. But, unlike most other schools in the rural Midwest, skin colors span the spectrum at Postville Schools. Some students are dressed in traditional Muslim hijabs, others speak Spanish across the school parking lot, and still others maintain the blond-haired and blue-eyed look. Diversity isn’t a word traditionally associated with small towns in Northeast Iowa, but in the Postville community and Schools, it’s the word of the day, every day. And it’s their pride and joy. “Postville is a solid rural community,” writes Mayor Leigh Rekow when asked about the town’s biggest attributes. “We accept change and adapt throughout our history. We have ordinary citizens who make outstanding efforts to grow and promote Postville. We have three large industries, one that has been here over 100 years, and our school remains independent and grows due to readily accepting diversity.”

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Diversity Celebration! In 2013, the Postville Schools ESL team spearheaded a celebration of the diversity amongst the students, highlighting the motto “Together We Are Better”. A bi-annual festivity, students and their families come together in the high school gymnasium and public areas to teach attendees about their county’s customs through dances, demonstrations, foods, and fun. More than 1,000 people came to 2014’s celebration. This year’s Diversity Celebration is scheduled for March 16, 2016. Check www.postville.k12.ia.us for details. The celebration is free and open to the public, so head on over to check it out! All Diversity Celebration photos courtesy Postville Schools

iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2016


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Postville, a town of roughly 2,300 people, has been written about a lot, mainly because of one of those large industries – Agriprocessors (now Agri Star), a Kosher meat packing plant. Founded in 1987, Agriprocessors, over time, brought about 100 ultra orthodox Jewish families to the community. It also brought many immigrants seeking a decent life in the States, and, ultimately, it brought the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the “largest raid of a workplace in U.S. history up to that date” – May 12, 2008. Nearly 400 immigrant workers were arrested for false identity papers, and more than 300 workers were convicted on document fraud charges. The majority served a five-month prison sentence before being deported.


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Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com

Current 5th/6th grade technology teacher Lindsay Salinas wasn’t in Postville during the raid – she was teaching ESL kids, but in Arizona. Salinas followed the news closely, though, because Postville is her hometown, where she graduated from high school in 2001, and eventually where she would return to teach in 2009. “When I first got back to Postville, I noticed how some kids would get jumpy or nervous out on the playground whenever a helicopter happened to fly over,” she says. “When word gets out that ICE is around the area there are some families that take off to visit relatives for awhile (which means the kids are pulled out of school). It really has a big impact on how things go at school for the kids that are still here too. The kids know when parents are nervous or scared about something and it’s obvious to us here at school when there is something like that going on because they start acting differently.” Salinas and her husband, Hector – also a Postville graduate, and now a local police officer – live on a portion of the family farm where Salinas was raised. Their two kids romp around in the same fields where she herself played as a kid. But the diversity kids are exposed to throughout childhood in Postville has clearly evolved greatly. “We didn’t really have many immigrant students in our classes until I was in Middle School in the mid-to-late 90s,” Salinas says. “It was a really cool thing for us (a bunch of small town kids) to have someone come from so far away, sometimes from very big cities, to our little town.” These days, if there aren’t a good number of immigrants in a classroom, it’s unusual. At any given time, there are roughly 2530 different countries represented throughout the school. In the past five years, Postville Schools have gone from 21 to 52 percent minority. “We’re a majority minority school,” says Elementary School

Above, Lindsay Salinas, far left, with her 6th grade homeroom. Below, Principal Chad Wahls with a group of students. (Photos courtesy Salinas/Wahls)

Principal Chad Wahls with a smile. “If there’s a week that goes by that we don’t get a new student, we’re surprised.” Because of the transient nature of factory work, which makes up a large percentage of the jobs in Postville, many students come and go. “It’s hard to get used to when students leave, because a lot of the time it’s very quickly,” Salinas says. “If we know more than a couple of days ahead of time, it’s nice because we get to say goodbye, but a lot of times we

don’t get that much warning. And sometimes it’s as much warning as the kids have, too.” But that doesn’t make the students’ impact on their teachers and administrators any less. The two principals have obvious pride over their students. They point out a large poster of elementary students’ school pictures smiling out, and they, well… gush. “Look at this girl – she’s so darn great; the teachers fight over who gets to have her in class,” Wahls says, pointing to an adorable student with a crooked smile and colorful hijab. Just like kids are kids, administrators are administrators Continued on next page

iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2016


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(the good ones, anyway), and teachers are teachers. They love their work – why else would they take on such a tough career? “Our kids are phenomenal,” Knudtson says. “I mean, you learn as much from them – their hardships, the stories, and the challenges. And it’s very important to take that into consideration – where these kids came from and where they want to go. We’ve got the group of Somalis… and technically they’re refugees, we’ve got the legal immigrants, and we’ve got the illegal immigrants. And we can’t ask that. We just say, ‘Hey, come to school.’” “We built infrastructure because we’ve had to,” Knudtson says. “You know, my first day here, I met Ali Aden, Ali was the first Somalian in the high school. No English. And I’m like, okay, what do you guys do when you get students with no English? And they said, ‘Just throw them in the classroom.’ And I was like – you guys have had this for years – how do we not have a pathway for those kids? After a few weeks, I realized we had about 10 of those non-Englishspeaking kids. That was the first year we basically blew up our schedule and created these newcomer-type course lines.”


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Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com

Newcomer courses make the transition into the school system easier for both the non-English speaking students and the teachers and administrators as well. The students do two newcomer courses right away: life language (bathroom, lunch cards, lockers, etc), and one of four levels of ESL courses – A-D based on their level. “We’ve had 16-17 year olds who haven’t been in school since 5th or 6th grade,” Knutson says. “So we created foundation courses – science, math, social studies, and English – to try to get those backskills so they can get on track. They might not get all through English 12 courses, but they can get close.” Before the newcomer classes were in place, they’d lose students after a few weeks because they’d be sitting in class not understanding a word. Knudtson hired extra ESL teachers and a newcomer teacher to make things go smoother for everyone involved. And the system seems to be working. “Seven of those 10 newcomers graduated last year. We took them from not a lick of English to a high school graduate. With most of them reaching, on average, junior level classes. In four years, and that was through the work of the teachers,” Knudtson says. “It’s tough. The teachers are exhausted on Friday afternoon. But they’ll never stop caring. They’ll never stop coming to me and Mr. Wahls and saying, ‘Can we do this for these kids?’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t know if we can or I can, but you know, we’ve got to figure out how to get this in our system.’ And that’s part of the pride in our school and the pride in our kids.”

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People you can trust. Quality you can depend on.

Luul Abdullahi, above, getting ready to begin one of her college level courses. (Photo by Aryn H. Nichols) Opposite page, Principal Knudtson with a group of Postville students. (Photo courtesy Brendan Knudtson)

“Now we get calls from other districts saying, ‘We’ve got a student who doesn’t speak English. What do you do with them?’” Knudtson says. In addition to having more help from teachers and administration, often other students who speak the needed language will step up to assist or translate. And even if they don’t speak the language, Postville kids have adopted a welcoming attitude toward the constant flow of new students. “It’s so great to see how our kids interact with each other,” Salinas says. “There are times when I am just in awe of the fact that our Postville kids could be teaching lessons in tolerance and acceptance to a lot of adults I know. They don’t care what color you are or where you are from, or even if you speak the same language...if someone wants to play 4-Square together at recess or help someone to complete an assignment, that is all that matters. Kids are kids, they all enjoy the same things, but what’s great about our Postville kids is that they all have such different experiences and backgrounds – we all learn so much from each other.” Luul Abdullahi, for instance, moved to Postville on American Independence Day. July 4, 2013, she and her family came from a huge city in the desert to the humidity of a Midwest summer. She was a Somalian refugee based out of Saudi Arabia, where students were separated by gender – boys with boys, girls with girls. “That was the first huge cultural difference,” she says with a laugh. “We were used to talking about boys, not having them there right in front of us!” She’s gotten used to it, she says, and doesn’t seem to have much time to talk about boys anyway. Principal Knudtson was instructed to tell Luul to cut back on her college credit courses, lest she be considered a full-time college student. She’ll head to Northeast Iowa Community College in the fall to study nursing. She’s happy to have moved to Postville, gotten to experience snow (a big deal for many of the students coming from desert or tropical climates), and to be a part of the diversity of the community. “It feels like home,” she says with a shy smile. “Everybody is their own person,” she continues. “They say America is like this melting pot, but I like to say it’s a salad bowl. We’re all unique, but we learn about each other’s customs and work together. There are certain things we agree upon and certain ones we don’t, but when you think about it, we’re not that different.”

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iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2016


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Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com

Melvin Munoz already has a list of teachers & mentors who have inspired him - & we imagine it will continue to grow! (Photo by Aryn H. Nichols)

Postville senior Melvin Munoz made his way with his family to Northeast Iowa 10 years ago, when he was just eight years old and in second grade. They had moved around a lot in El Salvador – from rural country living to the slums of city life – and, ultimately, to Postville for work. “I’m grateful I experienced pretty much all types of cities in El Salvador,” Melvin says with a wise nod. “I came from a big city, so coming here to this little town – it was a big change. When I first came to Postville, my dad and a teacher were showing me around the school, and I was a little shy, but I got to my class and there were two Hispanic kids who said right away, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll play soccer with you at recess.’ It was a great introduction for me to Postville.” The charismatic student is quick to list off the teachers and mentors who have inspired him – the fact that he already has a list makes Melvin seem pretty unique, but really, he’s like any other kid. He works a part time job at a local gas station and hangs out with friends, watching movies and NFL football games on the weekends. He plans to go to college in the fall – DMACC (Des Moines Area Community College) – and hopes to some day have a job that doesn’t tie him down to one place too much. Melvin makes sure to look out for the younger kids in his family – he’s the oldest of four – as well as the kids coming in to school at Postville. “Down to the center, we really do care about one another,” he says. “It’s kind of great to see this diversity because when I came here to Postville, I was instantly comfortable. That’s what I’d like to see with the younger kids, you know.” “I don’t believe I don’t have friends here. People I’ve never met, they’re like, ‘How you doing, Melvin?’ They know me, and that’s amazing to me!” he says. “The reason the town knows me is because I am involved. I’d say Postville’s downfall is that I don’t see the community encouraging the students who aren’t as involved.”

Postville Schools’ bi-annual Diversity Celebration covers a wide range of nationalities, foods, and customs, and draws a big crowd from throughout the region. This year’s event is scheduled for March 16, 2016. (Photos courtesy Postville Schools) Check www.postville.k12.ia.us for details.

Melvin seems to have hit upon a theme that arose amongst folks in Postville: If they were to pick a downfall of the community, it would probably be a bit of a lack in volunteerism and general community involvement – from finding local volunteer firefighters to students to try out for wrestling or sign up for speech. Ludvin Sarazua, a 2014 graduate of Postville and current Postville Schools paraprofessional, would like to start a mentoring program to encourage kids to be more involved in extracurricular activities. Sarazua’s job entails working one-on-one with certain students to help them learn a little faster. He’s a go-getter and hopes to be able to continue college one day soon. He went to Upper Iowa University for one year, but costs were prohibitive, so he was forced to take a break – a fairly regular occurrence for students coming out of Postville Schools. Many simply can’t afford to go, and, of course, for those students who may be undocumented, they don’t qualify for any additional funding at all. Continued on next page

iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2016


Get away to the big screen. IOWA FILM FESTIVALS Discover unforgettable movies. From the Siouxland to Snake Alley, Iowa ďŹ lm festivals stay with you long after the credits have rolled. Engage in lively discussions with the directors and meet the ďŹ lmmakers of tomorrow. Start planning your getaway and view our statewide listing of festivals at produceiowa.com.


Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com



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“There are times when I am just in awe of the fact that our Postville kids could be teaching lessons in tolerance and acceptance to a lot of adults I know.” – LINDSAY SALINAS

5th / 6th grade Postville technology teacher

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Although many buildings have gotten an upgrade, there’s a new YMCA, new fine arts building, and lots of great new students, Postville Pride remains true at this school. (Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols)

It was 2005, when Sarazua was in third grade, that he moved to Postville from Guatemala. He learned how to read by the end of that year, and clearly recalls his first day. “Everyone was so accepting,” he says. “I always thought racism was a big thing that just existed, but really, it’s taught.” This is a concept that many grown-ups can find uncomfortable to admit. “When I’m with people (adults) from around Northeast Iowa who find out I am a teacher at Postville, inevitably the first question I get is something like, ‘Oh, and how is teaching in Postville with all that diversity?’ From the look I sometimes get, I feel like they are expecting me to say how hard it is and how much I wish I would be teaching in another nearby town instead… like they feel sorry for me maybe...,” Salinas says. “But my answer is that it’s great, it is a challenge every day, it is so rewarding – even when it’s hard – and I appreciate how much I learn from my kids everyday. I don’t want it to seem like I don’t want people to ask questions and talk about what Postville is like; I do for sure. But I don’t want people to enter into the conversation already thinking of us in a negative way. We’re a pretty amazing place.”

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An elementary-level math class taught by one of Aryn’s former teachers, Laurel Ohloff (photo by Aryn Henning Nichols).

Postville pride has always been one of those phrases uttered throughout the history of Postville Schools – it’s one of the mottos, and it couldn’t be more deserving. The acceptance and love of their diversity truly is amazing. “I’ve spent time teaching in other countries, in other states, and in other cities and Postville is so similar to everywhere else I have been...just a small town version instead of a big city,” Salinas continues. “I feel like students from Postville can leave here being prepared to go anywhere they can dream of going.”


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Aryn Henning Nichols graduated from Postville High School in 1999. (Check out that throwback Thursday action over there at left!) She wishes there had been as much diversity then as there is now (also that awesome fine arts building). She’s so proud of what the Postville students and faculty are up to these days.

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Designed by Inspire(d) Kristin Anderson is a senior at intern Kristin Anderson Luther College studying Art,

English, and Africana Studies. Hailing from Storm Lake, Iowa, Kristin has developed a softspot for the hills of the Driftless Region, especially the view from the top of Pulpit Rock. Some of her hobbies include painting, hiking, gardening, trying new foods, popping bubble wrap, and twirling the perfect forkful of spaghetti. Kristin also has a passion for community arts and good design and would like to thank Inspire(d) for teaching her about print media and the value of positive news!

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“Happy” Joe Whitty By Benji Nichols • Photos courtesy Happy Joe’s unless noted


you grew up anywhere near a Happy Joe’s Pizza restaurant, chances are you either hosted or attended at least one of their epic birthday parties, with the honking of Bombay horns, the singing, the fire engine siren, and a birthday ice cream sundae presented in full glory with a candle (and cherry alongside the wafer cookie) perfectly placed on top. The elaborate performance may not have caused tears of joy to the younger birthday boy or girl every time, but the festive atmosphere definitely lent itself to a happy experience. And the formula (to this day) is not an accident. It – happiness – was one of the key selling points to the “crazy idea” that Joe Whitty took from nothing to the now multigenerational, franchised restaurant that invented the taco pizza (something we’re pretty big fans of at Inspire(d) HQ!). Continued on next page

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Taco pizza photo by Aryn Henning Nichols A brighter smile in only 20 minutes



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ust west of Minot, North Dakota, in the sprawling Midwestern plains, Lawrence Joe Whitty was born the middle of five children. The family lived on a farm just outside of Des Lacs, milking cows, farming, and living in a typical farmhouse – void of modern plumbing and heated entirely by a wood stove. From a young age, Joe and his siblings learned the meaning of hard work, dedication, hospitality, and determination. And at eight years of age, Joe fell into a coma due to spinal meningitis and wasn’t given long to live. Nothing short of miracles and stubborn dedication led to his recovery – and appreciation of the life he was given. It’s a telling tale of Joe’s ability to overcome life’s challenges. The ups and downs of entrepreneurship are enough to give most people rough days, even years – add to that losing not one, but two wives to cancer, and you’ll begin to see the depths of Joe’s tenacity. This ability to survive – and thrive – is likely one of the reasons Joe has made giving back to the community, and especially handicapped and special needs children, a big part of the business. A love for connecting with every customer who walked in the door (or drove up!) started early for Joe – age 18 – when he bought and operated his first restaurant in Minot, North Dakota: The Keg DriveIn. He also learned how to make work – the place where you spend most of your waking hours – as fun as possible. The Keg didn’t last forever, but it did give Joe an even bigger love for being your own boss and making people happy. As his young family grew, Joe worked as a baker, which eventually led to a series of jobs in Davenport, Iowa (one baking for nuns!), and finally to managing two Shakey’s pizza parlors. Joe saw the fast rise that pizza was making – and the idea of a pizza – and – ice cream store was hatched. Today, at age 78, Joe continues to oversee Happy Joe’s business – with over 50 franchises and stores in seven states – while enjoying a little more time for retirement projects. His passion and sense of family continue on in the business with son Larry as the president of Happy Joe’s, and daughter Kristel serving as marketing director. Yet Joe Whitty can still be found often in one of the many Happy Joe’s restaurants – from Davenport to Gilbert, Arizona – greeting friends and talking to guests, and he’s still a driving force in the Happy Joe’s Kids Foundation which focuses on outreach to children with special needs. The Basics: Name: Lawrence Joe Whitty aka “Happy” Joe Age: 78 Business: Happy Joes Pizza & Ice Cream Years in Business: 43 (The first Happy Joe’s opened in November of 1972 in the East Village of Davenport, Iowa) Tell us about the “leap” moment. When/how did you decide to jump in and become your own boss?

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In 1956 when I was 18, I bought the Keg Drive-in in Minot. I also met my wife Sandie there. The Keg only lasted a couple years, and then I went on to be a commercial baker – we eventually had

the opportunity to move to Davenport, where I also baked for Mercy Hospital and the Catholic Nuns – that’s where I really got my pizza crust down – the nuns loved my pizza. When I managed a Shakey’s pizza parlor in Davenport, families were always coming in for pizza and then going down the street for ice cream afterwards. That’s where my idea for a pizza and ice cream place came from – I knew what I wanted to do. I had wanted to be in business for myself for forever – I saw people doing it, and I was working for people who were doing it. They were driving nice cars and living in nice houses, and here I was working away for them. I decided to do it for myself.

“Everyone has a dream. Not everyone is lucky enough to see theirs come true. Give credit to success where it is due, and always remember that with success comes responsibility. Whenever you have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life for the better, take it! Because, ultimately, the biggest difference, you’ll discover, will be in your own life.” – Happy Joe Whitty from “Not Your Average Joe” What’s the best thing about being your own boss? When you walk over and open up the door with that key – it’s your place. You go out and clear the driveway – it’s yours. You spend your whole life getting to that point. And of course the customers – good ones and “bad” ones. I’ve always taken time to talk to my customers, and it’s fun to hear how much people love the pizza and parties, etc. But I take as much or more time to hear the complaints – those are how you learn. If somebody isn’t happy or things aren’t right – I’ll stand on my head and whistle “Dixie,” – free ice cream cones, whatever it takes to make it right. Those often become our best customers, happy customers, because you make it right. How about the worst? The hardest part for me was maybe working too close with friends at times. Having to hold friends to business or franchise agreements or ending up in court. That can hurt, but you find your way through it, and you have to protect your original business interest and everyone else that has invested in it. Was there ever a hurdle where you just thought, “I can’t do this?” How did you overcome it? I had six banks turn me down for a loan to open my own place before I was able to convince someone. My friends thought I was crazy with the pizza and ice cream idea. It wasn’t until I showed up at Jim Schrader’s office at the Davenport Bank & Trust with my brass horn and yelled this huge birthday announcement for him, honking the horn, getting everyone to sing and laugh – I had no idea when his birthday was, but it got attention. The president came over and said “Good God, get this guy a loan so he’ll get out of here!” But it worked… I still had no idea if the idea would work, but we had the loan!

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When we got ready to open the first Happy Joe’s, I invited a local Catholic Priest, Father Hoenig, to come bless the store. It was also at this time that I told the Big Guy upstairs that I’d take him as my partner – and I did. And I agreed that regardless whether things worked or not, I’d make sure we gave back to the community, and to those in need. When my first wife, Sandie, passed away all of a sudden from cancer – she was always right beside me in the business and such – I started pulling an empty chair up in my meetings. I’d get looks and asked who that was for, and I’d say it was for the Big Guy. Another one of the first hurdles was coming up with a name we could trademark. I have a good lawyer friend, Bob Van Vooren, who helped us – we looked at all sorts of names with Joe in them, but were having a tough time. My then 11-year-old daughter (Julie) came down the stairs one morning and said, “If you’re going to have pizza and ice cream, and fun birthday parties, and all these happy things – why not call it Happy Joe’s?” That was it. When the store took off, people noticed and loved the concept – I had people asking in the first year if they could franchise – I didn’t even know if I could spell franchise. But, after a nice couple had come in several times and asked me about the possibility, I told them I didn’t have the money or the agreements set up. They wrote me a check for $500 that night and said they wanted to be the first to franchise. I went out and collected every franchise agreement I could get my hands on – had a typist help me combine all the parts I liked and took it to my lawyer, who said, “Joe, this looks pretty good!”

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We ran with it from there, and had franchises going in the next couple years. I had a lot of good help through it – always good help. Any mentors/role models you look to/have looked to? When I built out the first store I had so much help from friends and other businesses. People extended bills, personal friends helped put the store together and paint and such, along with my friend and lawyer Bob Van Vooren. I was so thankful for all their help, so I put their names up on the windows as free advertisements – I just wanted to give them thanks. Bob came in after I’d done that and nervously said, “Joe! You have to take my name off there – it isn’t even legal for me to advertise.” (as a lawyer). So I took the “Van” off of “Van Vooren” and figured he could get away with it. I couldn’t have done it without all of those people – and several of my friends – life long friends – came from running the business.

Special thanks to the Decorah Happy Joe’s Madrigal family for all their help with this story. Who’s ready for the smorgasbord?! (Photo by Benji Nichols)

What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you started? I’ve often said if I had any more education I wouldn’t have ever opened the store – not enough start up money, the location, our crazy pizzas with sauerkraut and things, and having ice cream too.

Nobody was doing that, but I said, hey I want to do this. Originally I only wanted one store – a place to support my family. But, a little more education sure would have been helpful at times. Maybe if I had gotten to go to college I would have been able to do a few more things myself. I had to hire good people to fill the slots where I couldn’t do it.

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How do you manage your life/ work balance? My family was always involved in the business. I used to tell my kids “Hey, I don’t have any money, but I do have hours, how many do you want?” The members of my family were part owners in everything we did through that – they waited tables, washed dishes, you name it. After I lost my first wife, Sandie – well, it was hire a babysitter or have them at the store! I figured it was better to have them at the store. My kids were getting checks from me as young teenagers. They also came along with me all over the country in our RV as we opened new franchises and did celebrations. We also had a lot of fun along the way – and now some of them run the company! What keeps you inspired? Any quotes that keep you going? Back when I was a Shakey’s manager, you know, checking on tables, talking to people, we still had the piano and banjo players back then. I had a gal come to the door one evening and look in. She asked if we would mind if her son could come in and listen for a bit – but that her son got a little loud when he was excited – he had

special needs. Well, I had plenty of regular customers who got loud when they were excited, so what’d I care!? I of course told her to come in and enjoy – I treated them great, and her son really enjoyed himself. I wondered to myself how many other kids out there were at home – not able, or whose parents were hesitant to just take them out? As soon as I had my own place going I knew I wanted to close the shop at least one day a year, just to invite children with special needs for a party – and treat them like royalty. And we did that our first year – it was great, and became a regular part of our business. As soon as you do something good like that, people take notice – we

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had newspaper write-ups, which I sometimes even got questioned on. You know, if everyone did things like this it wouldn’t be so noteworthy – there’s a lesson there. We love it. We just had 1400 children participate in our Happy Joe’s parties at the i-Wireless Center from all over. I see some of these children year to year and they are so great – some kid came up to me this year, and I’m in my straw hat, smiling – and he says ‘Look! He’s still livin’!” another told me “I’ve got a complaint Happy Joe – you need to make the parties last longer!” We also found that workers with special needs or disabilities could often find valuable places on our teams. Many are capable, and willing, and often help attitudes that bring a team together in the store. This just started because I wanted to make sure we showed a little care to these people – those kids belong to all of us you know, not just their parents. That’s what its all about.

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Joe Whitty is also the author of “Not Your Average Joe”, a personal memoir of his life and the story of Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream. You can find out more about Happy Joe’s and the Happy Joe’s Kids Foundation at www.happyjoes.com or www.happyjoeskids.org.

Benji Nichols celebrated countless birthdays as a kid at Happy Joe’s in Decorah, and to this day enjoys a taco pizza like nobody’s business. He’s inspired by Joe Whitty’s life story, business spirit, and ability to overcome.


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Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com

Photo by Charlie Coffey – a Decorah area photographer focusing on NE Iowa landscapes, cityscapes, and wild life such as the Decorah eagles. He began his second career at age 66 and loves it!



By Inspire(d) staff


veryone knows we love Decorah. Some say it’s the beauty of the bluffs that draws people in. Others speculate there’s some sort of vortex created by the meteoric rock embedded way under those bluffs. Or it could simply be the amazing downtown, variety of entrepreneurs, and all the great people here that brings the place to life. Whatever it is, it’s magic. And we think it’s about time we shared some of our favorite things that make Decorah such a magical community. Despite a fair amount of traveling and extended periods of time living in other states and countries, we at Inspire(d) HQ (Benji, Aryn, and Roxie) have called the Decorah area home for the majority of our lives. And in the 10 years that Benji and Aryn have been together, it’s possible that Decorah has changed almost as much as it did those 25 years previous! It keeps getting better. It would be nearly impossible to sum up all of the good things in one, succinct article, so we’re just gonna go ahead and map out one perfect weekend in Decorah. Feel free to explore more on your own! visitdecorah.com

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Decorah is nestled in a crook of the Upper Iowa River, right along two rifts of craggy limestone bluffs. This sets quite the lovely backdrop for our charming Midwest town. Decorah is well known for a lot of things. Vesterheim Museum, Nordic Fest, Luther College, StoryPeople, a kick-ass food co-op, great paved and mountain biking trails, the eagles (of course!), and a thriving downtown with great restaurants, shops, and entertainment – to name just a few. So get out your calendars (just keep them out, this issue’s all about planning ahead) and get a trip to Decorah in the books. We can’t wait to see you! Friday It’s Friday afternoon. You’ll probably want to leave work early so you can get to Decorah in time for dinner. Make a reservation at La Rana for tonight then spend a few minutes – or, you know, like an hour – checking out some of the great stores on Water Street. Tip: the Visitors Center is right on Water Street (507 W. Water St – near Vesterheim and ArtHaus!) for those looking for more local info or ideas. If you still have a few minutes before dinner, grab a quick happy hour drink at Rubaiyat or the Tap Room in the Hotel Winneshiek. Renovation on this historic hotel and the attached Steyer Opera House was completed in 2000. The beautiful property really is an anchor for Downtown Decorah. Their motto is “the welcome is real” and, true to their word, they host tons of fun events throughout the year. We love their Live in the Lobby music series. Check facebook.com/ hotelwinn for up-to-date details. Dinner time! Finally. Aryn might be a little partial to La Rana, a sweet bistro on the corner of Washington and Main Streets, because it’s where she worked for two years after returning to the area in 2005. But more than that, the food is amazing, and the ambiance pure loveliness. Go ahead and order one of coowner Mark’s cocktails mixed up with house-made juice (best. mojitos. ever.) and pretty much anything on the menu. We love the rotating specials and you can’t beat a table full of starters like seasonal bruschetta or local shrimp.



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Post dinner, check out some in-town entertainment. There’s often great live music kiddy-corner to La Rana at the Haymarket (grab a handful of pulltabs while you’re at it!). Not feeling the music scene? Cozy in for a great brew at the Courtyard and Cellar…think of it as pre-game for tomorrow’s brewery extravaganza (ha!). More on that later. Saturday: Ah, morning in Decorah. There are several great spots to get your caffeine fix in town, but we think you should start at Impact Coffee on Washington Street (right next to La Rana). If you came to town to check out the craft beer, let this be your precursor to that, but with craft coffee instead. The nitro cold-brews are Aryn’s favorites, and Benji loves the house-made chai. Looking for breakfast? Lots of great options for that too. T-Bock’s fare is local and tasty, plus if you’re watching a game, this is the place to be (their burgers are amazing too – the Southwest is our go-to), or if you’re looking for a coffeehouse to get a little work done (or a little social media checkin), Magpie is the perfect choice – they’ve got yummy breakfast (Aryn loves the “B” wrap) and our favorite Kickapoo Coffee from Viroqua, Wisconsin, brewed up and ready to roll. Next up, you really ought to get out for a ride. At Inspire(d) HQ, we’re pretty into mountain biking and love to spread the fun around the community (world!). If you don’t have a bike, head over to Decorah Bicycles to get fitted for a rental – they’ve got tons of options, and it’s only $25 for four hours (or $100 for the whole weekend if you’re really loving it)! There are more than 20 miles of amazing single-track biking and hiking trails woven throughout the



bluffs of Decorah – beginners might want to start on River Trail or some of the trails up around Palisades Park. Ask Josie or Travis at the bike shop for a map and suggestions – they’ll hook you up. And if this is your first time, maybe ask about scheduling a led-ride with Josie. If you’re thinking a fun – but still pretty challenging – paved ride is more your speed, it’s time for a loop around the Trout Run Trail – it’s 11 miles of lovely Northeast Iowa vistas. No matter the direction you take on Trout Run Trail, you’ll pass by the Decorah Fish Hatchery, and the famous Decorah eagles too. Take a quick break to feed the trout, marvel at the waterfall at Sievers Spring, and snap a selfie with those magnificent birds before you continue on. Speaking of waterfalls, Dunning’s Spring is one of the best around (in our opinion). It’s always several degrees cooler back there, which makes it a perfect stop in the hot summer months, but we love to check it out pretty much any time of year. Make sure to climb the steps to enjoy the view from above too. Dunning’s also happens to be a great picnic spot, and is just off the single-track trails if you’re taking that route today. Day Trip continued on page 63

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Traveling to Decorah: SPOTLIGHTS! Hokah, Minnesota

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Heading from La Crosse down Highway 44, the river at your left, bluffs to the right, the scenic zen takes over (keep your eyes on the road, driver!). Need a quick break? Stop in Hokah to check out a cool waterfall – right before the big curve up into town, turn left into the fire station parking lot. Hop out and walk on foot to Como Falls Park – it’s got that lovely waterfall plus a few spots to have a picnic or a quick run around. www.hokah.info/recreation/comoPark

Spring Grove, Minnesota

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Bestsellers plus special interest: gardening, Scandinavian, cooking, poetry, children’s books & more…even e-books!

Lanesboro Minnesota

From Rochester, you can pop over to Lanesboro for a little Brigadoon-style fun. Take in a show at Commonweal Theatre, awesome art at Lanesboro Art Center, or unhitch your bike for a ride on the Root River Trail. It’s a fun place to spend an afternoon or even a day! www.lanesboro.com

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Harmony & Preston, MN

On the way back, you can schedule time to check out southern Minnesota – Harmony (lunch at Stella’s or a little exploring at Niagara Cave) or Preston (Forestville State Park is cool, and the area’s a trout fishing hotspot!). Maybe you’ll even want to pop over to Four Daughters Winery. It’s a little out of your way, but it’s a fun stop and the food is great. www.exploreharmony.com • gethookedonpreston.com

Elkader, Iowa

Coming from the south? Make your way up the river through Guttenberg or stop over in Elkader. Elkader’s got an awesome white water play area right downtown on the river! Other highlights we love? Schera’s for amazing Algerian food (their shwarmas and falafel are favorites of ours) and there’s a great new park on the east side of town that’s perfect for some kiddo energybusting. Check out our Elkader Day Trip at iloveinspired.com for more ideas! www.elkader-iowa.com

6:30 am to 9 pm daily Open to 11 pm Fri & Sat

GREAT SEASONAL MENUS Organic Coffee Drinks Delicious Homemade Foods Wonderful Local Wine & Beer List

LIVE MUSIC REGULARLY! If you’re an old RAGBRAI pro looking for even more mileage today, perhaps you’d be up for a little out-and-back to Bluffton. The hills are real, and the beverages are cold at Randy’s Bluffton Store – it’s the only place in Bluffton, so you’ll find it! And if biking just isn’t your thing (okay, okay), another great option for a morning expedition is Seed Saver’s Exchange Heritage Farm just north of Decorah. The Lillian Goldman Visitor’s Center is the perfect place to start your visit. From there you can easily stroll the display gardens, or roam for a great hike on trails across the ridges of the farm – or even up to the heritage apple orchard. Special events during the summer include the annual Seed Saver’s workshop and campout weekend, as well as a benefit concert night that features Mason Jennings this year. Morning adventures complete, it’s time for rewards: beer! If you’re in to beer at all, you’ve surely heard about Toppling Goliath. Select TG brews have made big splashes, winning top-ratings in several circles, and we love their big-hop creations too. Aryn is a hoppy beer fanatic, and Benji is a good-beer-of-any-kind fanatic, so we’re really happy that TG is roosted here in our hometown. The new kid on the block, Pulpit Rock (hey, a rhyme!), has no trouble meeting the good beer bar that’s set in our community. Pulpit Rock’s beers are super tasty and their tap room (and, in warmer weather, the large patio area) are fun- and people-filled pretty much all the time. So. You should probably plan to visit both places. And you should probably plan to walk. It

Pulpit Rock, above, has tasty brews and a fun tap room and patio.

400 WEST WATER STREET DECORAH, IOWA 563-382-5690 javajohnscoffeehouse.com

Annual Art Gala & Fundraiser

April 29 • Hotel Winneshiek • Decorah

Details online @ arthausdecorah.or g iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2016



So much more than a


is also worth noting that both of these tap rooms allow you to bring your own food in (and don’t serve food), so plan ahead accordingly. No matter where you’ve been exploring, it’s bound to be time for a little food in your belly. Grab a quick lunch at Oneota Co-op (delicious local salad bar, panini, and to-go fare) or Koreana (sushi and other Asian dishes). Or you could have the one and only Mabe’s pizza or our favorite “Taco Joe” from Happy Joe’s delivered to one of the breweries (if you go that route)! Finish your meal off with one of our favorite afternoon treats: a cake bite, procured at Beyond the Bar Bakery on Water Street, or the chocolate cake at Java John’s

decorahareachamber.com YOU’LL LOVE US


118 Washington St.






www.impactcoffee.com 563.419.3141 Single origin pour overs. Nitro Cold Brew. Bulk Coffee. Join us for Sunday Brunch in the Woods! Wood-fired pizza & International Cuisine!



2149 Twin Springs Rd, Decorah, Iowa • 563.382.4723 4-9 pm Wed – Fri | 11-9 pm Sat | 10-8 pm Sun


Beautiful Decorah Bed & Bath


www.dollysplace304.com 64

Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com

Decided not to drink this weekend? There’s fun for you too! For Aryn’s perfect alcohol-free afternoon, she would go to a yoga class at the Yoga Studio or Yoga Room downtown and then get a massage at Day Spring Spa or The Massage Room. Oooh! Or a session at the Acupuncture Center! Or a pedicure at one of the great salons in town. Benji would enjoy a little hike or a spin class at Reefuel, or maybe a canoe down the Upper Iowa River – you go ahead and decide what you’d like best. For dinner tonight, make a reservation at Restauration. Chef Tom Skold puts together a really tasty, ever-changing menu, and it’s fun to dine in that lovely Hotel Winneshiek. Or, if things are looking too busy at the Hotel, McCaffery’s Dolce Vita is a fun option. It’s right past Twin Springs Park (which would be a beautiful place for a quick hike before dinner). We love the thin crust pizza cooked to perfection in a wood-fired oven. Owner Jim McCaffrey writes a column for Inspire(d) pretty regularly, and he’s a hoot to chat with, so tell him we say hello! To cap off the evening, take a stroll through downtown…maybe with some ice cream at Sugar Bowl or Whippy Dip! Tip: Phelps or Palisades Parks both offer good sunset-viewing. Sunday It’s your last morning in town. Coffee time? How about Java John’s? While you’re there, make sure to get one of Roxie’s favorites: a cinnamon roll! We love their cappuccino muffin tops too.

If you’re hoping for something a little stronger, we recommend Bloody Marys at the Haymarket or the Bloody Mary bar at Rubaiyat. In fact, if you’re heading to Rubaiyat, you may as well go ahead and grab a booth or a table at the bar – the brunch menu is great. Or if you’re looking for downhome, no-frills breakfast, you can’t go wrong at the Family Table. The pancakes are truly platesized, and the service is quick and friendly.

Get it on your calendar: Oneota Film Festival (March) Women’s Weekend Out (April) Decorah Time Trials Mountain Bike Race (April) Winneshiek Farmers Market (Wed, 3-6 pm / Sat, 8-11 am, May-Oct) Lawn Chair Night (@ Winneshiek Courthouse, Thurs, 7 pm, June-Aug) Nordic Fest (July) Loop-de-loop 5K & Half Marathon (September) Northeast Iowa Studio Tour (October) Winneshiek Music Festival (January)

Looking for a way to entertain the kiddos? If we knew you were bringing your littles along, we probably would have outlined a totally different trip! Better add Vesterheim – think giant boat inside, Norwegian artifacts, and fun displays that you can walk around in – to the list. The Porter House Museum is stocked with cool rocks and a massive bug collection. And ArtHaus and the Clay Studio are perfect for creative kids looking to express themselves (check calendars for classes or open studio hours). Are you visiting us in the fall? Pinter’s Pumpkin Patch is so much fun every year – Roxie loves it!

So hey! It’s been fun to have you in town. We hope you’ll come again! If you do, let us know at facebook.com/iloveinspired. Already a townie? We hope you get out and support local businesses in this amazing community of yours – we are so lucky to live here! XOXO

Northeast Iowa’s premier wedding destination venue! Spend your special day in an elegant yet casual setting overlooking the Oneota Valley and the Upper Iowa River. Enjoy the Amish-built post and beam barn and restored one room school house – along with spacious outdoor patios and beautiful gardens.

Decorah, Iowa . denovobarn.com . 563-419-8902


Jim Schaffer • Interviewed by friend Gayle Nielsen

Jim Schaffer was born July 14, 1934 on the family farm in Iowa, on what was one of the hottest days of that century. Some people are just so interesting that you NEED to let others know. Jim Schaffer is one of those people. We first met Jim and his wife, Judy, when they became our neighbors, moving into the house across the road from us from when their son, Ed and his wife Vickie moved to the next house down the road. It was so nice being included in the family gatherings and getting to know everyone. One of the things that people notice about Jim is that he never stops learning. Even after retiring from iron working, he continued making iron yard and garden sculptures and even an iron spiral staircase at the house. It looked like a pirate lookout. He taught himself to paint and to make guitars. He just keeps getting better and better and learning new things. Jim is one of the most real and kind folks out there. It was a sad day for us when Jim and Judy moved away, and even sadder when Judy passed last year, but it’s nice to stay connected through family and through music. (Gayle and Jim are pictured below, left) What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you? I think I heard it from real estate folks… “get a lot while you’re young”. How about the worst? My advice to myself. I made a lot of bad decisions, but never anything with my family. I learned from my mistakes. I always did what I thought was “proper”. My family never heard foul language around the house even though I used it maybe 50 times a day around my fellow iron workers. I’m a product of the 1940s and I just don’t think cussing is proper (unless it’s in front of the cat). What did you want to be when you grew up? An iron worker. Always an iron worker. I also liked carpentry. What do/did you do? I was initiated into the iron workers union in 1962, at 21 years old. That was young. We worked as high as 1100 feet in the air, and there was no safety gear in those days. We iron workers were “the elite” then. I thought I could whip Ali (Muhammad Ali). I retired in 1996. Now I paint, especially portraits and play and build guitars. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you? Gin, vermouth, and olives. Try to describe yourself in one sentence. I have the ability to laugh at myself. If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? Macaroni and cheese. Of course, it’s not the healthiest thing, but macaroni and cheese.

Do you know someone you’d love to interview for this page? Let us know! aryn@iloveinspired.com

Name one thing you could not live without. Music. I started making guitars because I wanted a 7-string guitar for myself, so I started with a classical guitar and lumber from the lumberyard to make it. Then made the next one, out of rosewood, for my son Jimmy, and now I’m making guitars for disabled veterans and custom guitars for other musicians. I’m booked for the next year with orders. Tell us about your wedding day or your favorite memory. My favorite memory is my wedding day. I married Judy, in a church, in 1955. I never really dated anyone else. That pastor didn’t want to marry us because we were too young; she was 17 and I was 21. Well, I spent 61 years with her and we never even had a violent argument (they’re pictured here at right). I remember my dad giving us a toaster as a wedding present. Back then, we didn’t have big, expensive weddings and the gifts were something we could use. Every guitar I make now has a hand painting of a bluebird, from Judy’s china pattern, in her memory. Everyone who gets one of my guitars get a painting of a bluebird on it somewhere.

Enjoy a life of freedom, financial security and convenience! You’ll be glad you did! 66

Spring 2016 / iloveinspired.com

Decorah’s Active 55+ Community 1102 Nordic Drive, Decorah IA 563-382-6521 www.vennehjem.org

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901 Montgomery, Decorah



Milkhouse Candles & Gifts is now

Don’t worry! We still accept Milkhouse Candles & Gifts Coupons, Bag Tags, Gift Certificates & Addict Cards, &, of course, we’ll continue to carry your favorite candles, gifts, & so much more!

200 W Water St Decorah, Iowa 563.382.5742

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Inspire(d) Spring 2016  

Postville Pride • Seed Starting 101 • Sum of Your Business: Happy Joe Whitty! • Driftless Day Trip: Decorah • Driftless Nature Centers • Mak...

Inspire(d) Spring 2016  

Postville Pride • Seed Starting 101 • Sum of Your Business: Happy Joe Whitty! • Driftless Day Trip: Decorah • Driftless Nature Centers • Mak...