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NO. 61 SPRING 2020


leap! TAKE the

Lead courageously Skills for life

From day one, classes at Luther encourage students to think flexibly and creatively and build the collaborative skills, social conscience, and critical thinking skills that set Luther students apart in work and life. Here, you will build the relationships and experiences necessary to lead in ways that matter to you.

Alumni who care

You’ll find Luther alumni in more than 100 countries around the world and in every type of work imaginable. They share the same spirit that you’ll experience on campus, and they’re eager to share their reach and professional contacts with you.

Learn more at luther.edu

YOGA. COMMUNITY. SUN. 3 amazing days of sun salutations, meditation, workshops, asanas, & more.

JUNE 19-21, 2020


Ring in the 2020 Summer Solstice Weekend at the Driftless Yoga Festival! Explore the beauty of the region through yoga-inspired workshops & events, showcasing talented yoga teachers & great Driftless spaces.

Register at DriftlessYogaFestival.com by April 30th to get your 2020 Sangha Bag!

2020 EVENTS AT HERITAGE FARM May 2 September 12 Heirloom Plant Sale Tomato Tasting Discover beloved and rare Sample delicious tomatoes, varieties for your garden. attend workshops, and savor the last days of summer. August 1 Seed Savers Exchange October 10 Benefit Concert* Harvest Festival An outdoor concert Celebrate the bounty of featuring local and regional the harvest with a soup musicians to benefit Seed cook-off, hayrides, and kids Savers Exchange’s work activities. to conserve and share December 5 heirloom, open-pollinated Winter on the Farm seeds. Join us for cookies, August 14, 15, 16 hot chocolate, holiday Seed School* shopping, and a horseLearn how to grow and drawn sleigh ride through save seeds and engage the valley. your community in seed stewardship. *registration required Celebrate our connection to food, community, seeds, and gardens with a potluck, seed swap, tours, speakers, workshops, and a barn dance. Learn more, register for the conference, and purchase meals/campsites online.

More information and to register: seedsavers.org/events Visitors Center: Open March-October Details and hours: seedsavers.org/visit


Seed Savers Exchange 3074 North Winn Road | Decorah, Iowa 563.382.5990

Radishes, Hare & Tortoise Farm Zumbro Falls, MN 25 miles to Rochester Ridgeland Harvest Viroqua, WI 38 miles to La Crosse

your partner in

local food.

Downtown La Crosse, WI and Rochester, MN www.pfc.coop 7 days, 7 am–10 pm Open to the public • Free parking!

Emerging Artists’ Exhibition April 3- May 16, 2020

Pa i n t Yo u r O w n C e r a m i c s Yo u t h C l a s s e s 1-5 Mon-Sat


Sign up for classes at arthausdecorah.org

Adult Classes P r i va t e B i r t h d ay Pa r t i e s

Makers Market

Support local artists by purchasing their work! Mon-Sat 1-5

107 W. Broadway, Decorah, Iowa . 563.382.5440 . arthausdecorah.org

This ad paid for in part by the Iowa Tourism Office

1930s Soda Fountain • Ice Cream, Chocolates, Nostalgic Candies, 14 Flavors of Fudge – All homemade, in-house daily

Small batch Fresh Fudge

You won’t find anything like this without a time machine.

207 Pearl St. Downtown La Crosse, WI • www.pearlicecream.com • 608-782-6655


SPRING 2020 contents



what we’re loving right now


Winding roads: Lauren & Michael


mind the gap (year)


paper project: pop up flower cards


songs of spring - driftless birds


sum of your business: elliott jewelers


spring fever - get out there!


infographic: take the leap


road warrior: annie titus


geocaching in the driftless


technically speaking: zach burke


walking space


Probit: martha hanson


...and more! ON THE COVER:


The beautiful oriole illustration on the cover is by Decorah-area artist Lauren Bonney. See more of her bird illustrations (and learn about spring birds in the Driftless), starting on page 34. 05

It’s easier than ever to open an account online or order your debit card. It’s secure, easy, and takes less than 5 minutes!

Online shopping now at


Photograph by Randy Haugen

Three shows remaining this season!


All shows start at 7:30 p.m.

Series 2019–20


March 7

Annabel Soutar’s

SEEDS March 14

Shadow-illusion dance troupe featured on America’s Got Talent

The true story about a Canadian farmer vs. Monsanto

“Great journalism and even better theatre.” —The Montreal Gazette

The Brubeck Brothers Quartet April 17

Celebrate the centennial of jazz giant Dave Brubeck with his sons and their Grammy-nominated quartet

2019–20 Center Stage Series Major Sponsors

Subscriptions to the 2020–21 season become available April 1!

tickets.luther.edu • (563) 387-1357 Luther College • Center for Faith and Life 700 College Drive • Decorah, Iowa

From the Editor


hat do you want to be when you grow up? Some form of this question revisits us on a semi-regular basis here at Inspire(d) HQ (also, who even WANTS to grow up?!?). When I was a kid, living in the country near Frankville, Iowa, I thought maybe I’d be a teacher, or a nurse like my mom. My dad was a pilot, so there was a time in middle school that I considered becoming a major airline pilot. In college, I knew I loved to read and write, but wasn’t sure how that would translate to a “real job” post graduation. So, back to teacher – I was even accepted to the College of Education at University of Iowa. There was a brief foray into selling Mary Kay cosmetics and dreaming of pink Cadillacs (very brief), and then I spent a short time in the Air Force ROTC program, coming back to that pilot idea. It wasn’t until my junior year that I came to journalism. But even with a journalism degree, entering the world seemed impossible. I considered graduate programs, but my advisor said, “Unless you’re planning to teach, there’s not much point in going further in debt to learn what you can learn in the real world.” Whew, am I ever grateful for that advice. So, after claiming my degree in English and journalism in 2003, I took a bit of a “gap year.” I still worked – I taught oral English to middle-schoolers in China from 2004-2005 – but it wasn’t exactly a career. The things I learned on that gap, though, have led me through this life. They changed me, and expanded my opinions of the world, just as the Gap Years did for the Decorah area folks featured in Kristine Jepsen’s story on page 24. Back in the states, I figured I better get a real job… finally. But no one wanted to hire me, much to my surprise (ha!). I did have a back-up plan: This magazine in your hands. Really, it was the plan A, but it seemed too crazy to just make it up! In Maggie Sonnek’s story, Lauren Barry of Dancing Gnome Farm and Michael Anderson of Broken Paddle find that “just making it up” is the best way to a life filled with passion. I would have to agree. All of this is to say: There are a lot of ways to do life. To grow up (or not) as you grow older. Sometimes you just have to Take the Leap! Throughout this issue, you’ll read stories of people who have done just that. Annie Titus decided to head to undergrad at UW Eau Claire in her late 50s (pg 47). Zach Burke knew in high school that he wanted to pursue the John Deere TECH program at Northeast Iowa Community College (pg 56). This issue’s Sum of Your Business interview features three generations working side-byside at Elliott Jewelers in Waukon. Everyone’s path is different. For Andrew Boddicker, it was a literal path – a pilgrimage in Spain inspired his new business, Walking Space, featuring carefully curated, longdistance walks in the Driftless Region. Written by Inspire(d) newcomer Erin Dorbin, this story highlights the great benefits of a simple walk (pg 60). Speaking of new writers, we’ve got two others to introduce! Mary Hyland shares her love of geocaching in the region with our readers, and Craig Thompson helps us train our ears for the sounds of spring – birds! You can’t miss the accompanying illustrations by Decorah artist Lauren Bonney – the amazing oriole on the cover is just one of five that go along with the story. It gets me excited about spring and warm weather and flowers (make paper ones for a card in this issue’s paper project) and all the lovely spring things! It’s my favorite season! We hope you enjoy it as well! Looking forward,

What’s it mean?

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

Who are we? Co-founders:

Aryn Henning Nichols / editor & designer Benji Nichols / advertising sales & logistics

We couldn’t do it without: Kristine Jepsen / contributor Sara Friedl-Putnam / contributor Sara Walters / contributor Maggie Sonnek / contributor Erin Dorbin / contributor Mary Hyland / contributor Craig Thompson / contributor Lauren Bonney / bird illustrations Inspire(d) Magazine is published quarterly by Inspire(d) Media, LLC, 412 Oak Street, Decorah, Iowa, 52101. This issue is dated Spring 2020, issue 61 volume 13, Copyright 2020 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

Aryn Henning Nichols

facebook.com/iloveinspired iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2020



HATCHERY gear & apparel from 406 W WATER ST DECORAH, IOWA 563.382.4103 DECORAHHATCHERY.COM

SPRING ADVENTURE ESSENTIALS Iowa's #1 Destination Garden Center Offering over 40,000 plants! www.kkgardens.com

50 mins north of Waterloo 30 mins south of Decorah Decorah

K&K Gardens


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

What We’re


right now

they might find inside within the stock of donated and collected art supplies, from paper materials to inks to gels and beyond! The public has access 24/7 – ‘cause you never know when you need to craft. Also, if you’ve got any extra (good, usable) craft supplies just taking up space on your shelves or in YOUR closets, you can donate them at the Free Little Craft Closet! www.arthausdecorah.org Stop by and grab some craft materials today!

Mid West Music Fest

A little list of what we think is awesome in the Drifltess Region this SPRING... ArtHaus Free Little Craft Closet

Continued on next page


ArtHaus in Decorah is settling nicely into their “new” digs on the corner of Washington and Broadway in Decorah. Housed in the building of the former Hostess Wonder Bread store, the new space has allowed the organization to utilize an open floor plan, and expand class, gallery, and event opportunities. And… have you noticed that colorful green ArtHaus Director Shannon Dallenbach Durbin door to the left of (left) and Rowan, AmeriCorps member for the ArtHaus main Green Iowa (right), officially opening the Little entrance? It’s a Free Free Craft Closet early November 2019. Little Craft Closet! The official ribbon cutting for this adorable Decorah addition was in November 2019, and since then, folks have been peeking in to see what fun and creativity

Three cheers for Mid West Music Fest (MWMF), celebrating the 11th anniversary of hosting this music festival in Winona, Minnesota! On May 1 and 2, more than 60 musical acts will be performing across the historic downtown, representing a wide variety of established and up-andcoming bands of the upper Midwest and beyond. Full weekend tickets are on sale now at midwestmusicfest.org. The 2020 festival will highlight a special MWMF edition of Live at the Levee on May 2. This free outdoor event will include many family friendly activities, two stages of entertainment (including a kids stage!), and opportunities to engage in both music and fun. The festival is highlighting its mental health initiatives, offering daily sessions of morning mindfulness, qigong, yoga, and will host conversations with some artists on mental health prior to their sets. We love that! Outdoor activities will be offered to ticket holders including the first ever MWMF Kickball Game, a bike ride with Pedal for the People, and a chance to climb Sugarloaf with WSU Outdoor Education and Recreation Center. Prairie Island Campground, just north of Winona on the backwaters of the Mississippi River, is also offering special ticket packages for fest-goers. Support the festival, find tickets and book special packages at: midwestmusicfest.org

Dance & Theatre



MARCH 13 7:30 PM MARCH 14–1:30 PM



APRIL 17 – 9:30 PM APRIL 18 – 1:30 & 7:30 PM APRIL 19 – 1:30 PM


MAY 7, 8 & 9 – 7:30 PM

Mark your calendars for these spring shows! Details online at luther.edu/visual-performing-arts/ iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2020


What We’re


right now

A little list of what we think is awesome in the Drifltess Region this SPRING...

Luther Catering food. first & foremost SPRING TIME PEACE BRUNCH! Spring Dates: 3/1 - 3/8 - 3/15 4/19 - 4/26 - 5/3 - 5/10 For more info, visit: luther.edu/dining/catering/peace/ 700 College Drive, Decorah, Iowa 52101 563.387.1463 - catering@luther.edu


800-932-7028 • 563-568-3661

Est. 1961 People you can Trust. Quality you can depend on.

Mainspring – Caledonia, Minnesota When was the last time you drove through downtown Caledonia, Minnesota? No, not just BY Caledonia on the highway, but through the charming heart of Caledonia’s downtown? From mainstays like Elsie’s Bar & Grill, to the Wired Rooster Coffee House, the Farmhouse Eatery, and the newly refurbished Caledonia Bakery – the community of Caledonia continues to see unique establishments thrive. At the heart of the community, a creative group of residents are also staking claim – this time to a former Presbyterian church building at 404 E Main St. The new organization housed there? Mainspring, a creative community organization that “celebrates and cultivates local culture in Houston County, Minnesota.” Established as a non-profit in 2019, the Mainspring community space offers performances, events, and classes for all ages in Houston County and beyond. Keep an eye out at mainspringmn. org (and Facebook) as the spring schedule comes together with community offerings – it takes a village, folks!

Decorah Bank & Trust - Carbon Neutral

31 West Main Street Waukon, Iowa Mon: 9am - 7pm. Tues - Fri: 9am - 5pm. Sat: 9am - 3pm 10

3 goldsmiths 2 graduate gemologists 1 watchmaker 3 diamond setters

Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com

Over a decade ago, Decorah Bank and Trust took a hard look at their priorities not only in Northeast Iowa, but as a business in today’s world. Serving their customer base and providing outstanding local banking was of course at the top of the list, but an important core value also arose in the bank’s commitment to environmental sustainability. In fact, the bank set a goal to be carbon neutral in 10 years, and met that goal in late 2019! We sure love that! Carbon neutrality means a zero net release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and is achieved by calculating the carbon

footprint of the business and reducing it to zero. This includes staff commuting, business travel, building energy consumption, and waste. The bank accomplished this task by managing energy efficiency in their buildings, including tight new construction, 100% LED lighting, optimized HVAC systems, installation of 133kW of Solar PV systems, and support of the Winneshiek Energy District’s Oneota Tags program. The bank has also helped finance over $10 million dollars in solar and wind energy loan projects across NE Iowa and SE Minnesota, and continues to work to reduce their footprint. Yay! Find out more at www.decorahbank.com

Fly Fishing Film Tour comes to Volga City For several years the Fly Fishing Film Tour (FT3) has been traveling across the country – from Helena to Sun Valley, Ashville to Arlington. This tour has a track record of showing incredible films from across the world that inspire and promote fly fishing. For the past two years, a group of dedicated Iowans have managed to get the FT3 to make a stop at Big Grove Brewing in Iowa City. With a major hat tip to the folks at Driftless on the Fly, the FT3 will be making an additional stop this year at the historic Volga City Opera House in Volga, Iowa. We have our sneaking suspicions this might have something to do with proximity to Yellow River Forest (ha!) as these are the same amazing folks that have been helping make the Driftless Flyathlon possible for the past few years. The event at the Volga City Opera House is ticketed, and includes a fun dinner with the film festival, and plenty of delicious craft beers on tap. The FT3 will visit Big Grove Brewery on Sunday, March 29, and will make a return trip to Iowa on Saturday, April 18 for the Volga City Opera House event (Doors 6 pm, show at 7 pm). Advance tickets are highly suggested for either showing (Big Grove has sold out in advance both past years). General event details for the tour can be found at www.flyfilmtour.com, and specific ticket links for Volga City at: tikly.co/events/4300 Get out and get hooked! Continued on next page






Event Space Rentals!

“The brewery tour was impressive, the food was delicious and the taproom A big shout out of thanks to the knowledgeable and friendly staff at Toppling Goliath who provided excellent service!” –Kerri Harvey, Black Hills Energy

• Holiday Parties • Corporate Events • Networking Events • Workshops • Reunions • Rehearsal Dinners • Brewery Bus Tours • Grad Parties • Client Appreciation Events

To inquire, email events@tgbrews.com | 1600 Prosperity Rd., Decorah, IA

8 Taps | Dedicated Staff | AV Equipment | Catering | Lounge Areas iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2020


drop-ins welcome!

What We’re

Loving Instructors – Molly Gallagher • Lydia Andersen • Hallie Evans

beginning, continuing, & gentle yoga

right now

A little list of what we think is awesome in the Drifltess Region this SPRING...

110 Washington Street. Decorah, Iowa


FOR EVERY BODY. Gabi Masek, Dipl.OM, L.Ac

www.wildcraftedacupuncture.com / 563-382-4312



Midwest Mountain Bike Group

fearlesswomenofdirt.com Chapters in IA, MN, & WI. Open to all, experienced & new!

Monona Historical Museum Here’s a fun bit of Northeast Iowa history for you: the World’s largest collection of hand carved wooden chains may very well be found at the Marting Woodcarving Room in the Monona (IA) Historical Museum. With over 385 different types of hand carved chains, some 20+ feet in length, the collection is impressive. Visitors can learn about Elmer Marting, Sr. and Gustav Pufahl, local early wood carvers, whose carvings are on display at the museum. The Museum also hosts a woodcarvers group, which meets from 1-4 pm each Tuesday. The museum is open weekdays from 1-4 pm, and other times by appointment. Call the Monona Historical Museum with any questions you may have regarding the wood carving group and their weekly activities. 563-539-8083 or mhm@neitel.net. www. mononamuseum.org

JOIN A RIDE! pulpitrockbrewing.com

Spring Out with Children’s Museum of La Crosse

HANDCRAFTED IN DECORAH, IOWA Open 7 Days A Week • 207 College Dr, Decorah • 563-380-3610


Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com

The Children’s Museum of La Crosse is offering up a great mix of opportunities for young and old as spring unfolds. Besides all of the regular fun to be had at the Museum, including the three-story Cleary-Kumm Luckey Climber (for kids!), there are some fantastic events on the horizon. The Fairytale Ball will transform the Museum into a fairy tale scene with princesses, princes, a Fairy Hair Boutique, karaoke, snacks, and visits to magical locations like Shrek’s Swamp,

Jack’s Bean Stalk, Hansel & Gretel’s house, and more! The ball takes place Friday, March 27 from 5:30-7:30 pm and advance registration is required. On Friday, April 17, the Museum becomes a perfect place for adults to explore and have fun as “Adult Recess” kicks off. Let your “inner child” explore while you enjoy a beverage from Pearl Street Brewery or Purple Feet Wines and more. Live music, games, and museum fun galore – age 21 and up only! Tickets are $10/person in advance, $12 day of and include the first beverage. Inclusion night offers up a special evening for children with disabilities and their adult caregivers. Friday, April 24 will host this great chance for children to experience the museum without the extra stimulation of busy open hours. The event will run from 5:307:30 with a maximum of 100 participants. Pre-registration and payment guarantees your spot, but walk-ins will be welcomed as space allows. You can find out more about the Children’s Museum of La Crosse, including regular hours, additional class and event listings, and more at www.funmuseum.org or by calling 608-784-2652

National Volunteer Week! National Volunteer Week is April 19-25, 2020, and we want you to get out and give back! No matter where you live, volunteering can be fun, fulfilling, and best of all – helpful. And chances are, no matter your interests, there is a group that would welcome your help. From schools and churches, to senior centers, youth sports, community arts centers – you name it! Don’t know where to look or start? As everyone’s friend Fred Rogers used to say, “Just look for the helpers!” But where do you even begin? Your local Chamber of Commerce is always a great place to start, or most public libraries have resources to help you connect as well. In Northeast Iowa, a new name accompanies an old organization: Northeast Iowa Volunteer Coordinators (formerly known as Oneota Valley Volunteer Coordinators.) This group can help you connect to opportunities galore in our area. Check out their new Facebook page: www. facebook.com/NEIAVolunteer/ Folks behind the group plan for this Facebook page to be a central location that will work as a spot to post volunteer needs, and place to help people connect to that need. Watch the page for volunteer opportunities, volunteer fairs, and more great ways to connect with your community! Now get out there and be a “helper”!


val at March 29 & April 5: Maple Festi ia Greens’ Sugar Bush, rural Castal t, Decorah

April 3-5: Women’s Weekend Ou

house Tour May 1-3: Northeast Iowa Green t Opens for Season

May 2: Decorah Farmers Marke

rheim, Decorah

May 17: Syttende Mai at Veste

June 19-21: Driftless Yoga Festi


Planning a visit to Decorah this spring?

Discover more at VisitDecorah.com Request a visitors guide today! 563-382-3990

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 6: A cozy Lingonberry evening with the OK Factor and JAERV in downtown Decorah. Tickets $15 advance @Eventbrite / $20 door. Lingonberry, 218 W. Water St. 7:30 pm - facebook.com/ thelingonberry 2. March 7: Catapult: Luther’s Center Stage Series presents “Catapult,” the astonishing shadow-illusion dance troupe seen on America’s Got Talent, 7:30 pm. Sponsored by Winneshiek Medical Center. tickets.luther.edu 3. March 9: If random facts are your thing, then Toppling Goliath Taproom Trivia is your gig! Every Monday night 6-7:30 pm, Decorah. Prizes to winning team! www.tgbrews.com

8. March 21: Winneshiek Solar Fair! Join your neighbors to learn how solar energy can work for you. Meet contractors, understand tax credits, ask questions. 9am-12pm at Winneshiek County Fairgrounds, www.energydistrict.org/solarfair 9. March 29: Chalk Couture with Jess at Heaven Boutique Winery, Fayette! Enjoy a fun afternoon (2pm) with friends, Easter-themed Chalk Couture, and Iowa Wine! $40pp inc. supplies and a glass of Iowa wine. 2pm - Details: 563-362-2240 or www.heavenwinery.com 10. March 31: “Let’s get ready to BINGO” every Tuesday night from 6-7:30pm at Toppling Goliath. Plus, wheel of fortune and mysterywrapped prizes!  www.tgbrews.com 11. April 3-4: Market 52 & Friends Vintage Market! Indoors Winneshiek Fairgrounds. Shop 2 buildings of vintage, antiques, new home decor, jewelry, clothin, etc! Free Admission, Lunch Available! 10-6 Fri. 9-4 Sat. www.shopmarket52.com

25W/ $25B

4. March 14: World’s Largest Chemistry Experiment at Decorah Public Library! See the lesson that put the Grout Museum District in the Record Books. Free and open to the public. Preregistration required. www.decorah.lib.ia.us/event-directory

5. March 14: Kinderfolk on Stage! Support Kinderhaus - Decorah’s outdoor, Waldorf-inspired preschool - at the Courtyard & Cellar. Apps, cash bar, local talent, and featured guest Lissie! Free-will offering, 7 pm, kinderhausdecorah.com 6. March 14: Seeds: Luther’s Center Stage Series presents this suspenseful play based on the real-life legal battle between a Canadian farmer and Monsanto, asking the question “Who owns life?” 7:30 pm. tickets.luther.edu 7. March 20: Apple Grafting Workshop, Seed Savers Exchange. Choose your 1/2 day workshop March 20, 21, or April 3rd Learn more & register: seedsavers.org/events NE Iowa’s ONLY Indoor Cycling & Heated Yoga Studio + premier apparel, athleisure wear & indoor cycling shoes

12. April 4: Women’s Weekend Out Style Show Brunch at Hotel Winneshiek, 8:30 am. See the latest styles from Decorah’s greatest shops! Enjoy Torte Lorraine, salad & fruit, & fresh baked goods by 301 EATERY. 13. April 4: Apple Grafting & Orchard School, Seed Savers Exchange. A full-day event of apple grafting and orchard care. Learn more & register: seedsavers.org/events

14. April 5: Empty Bowls – Decorah food pantry fundraiser at Hotel Winneshiek from 11am-1pm. Simple meal of soup/bread. $20 bowl/meal or $10 BYOBowl & meal. www.facebook.com/ emptybowlsdecorah 15. April 15: Grab a friend and join us for our fun Spring-themed wineglass painting class at Heaven Boutique Winery, Fayette. 6-8pm. $25pp includes all supplies and a glass of Iowa Wine. Details: 563-362-2240 or www.heavenwinery.com 16: April 17: The Brubeck Brothers Quartet: On tour to commemorate the centenary of jazz great Dave Brubeck, The Brubeck Brothers Quartet plays with uncompromising dedication to the spontaneous spirit of jazz. 7:30pm. tickets.luther.edu Events continued on next page

20th Annual BLUFF COUNTRY STUDIO ART TOUR of southeastern Minnesota

www.reefuel.biz Get started today! 2 weeks of unlimited classes for $30 14

Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com

Friday • Saturday • Sunday

April 24–26, 2020 10 am–5 pm

Tour the countryside, shop for unique art, and visit area artists at work in their studios!


This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. Additional support provided by the River Arts Alliance.


fun stuff to do

Hope Over Hate: Judy Shephard, CFL, Luther, 7pm




“Memories of Titanic” opens March 3, MN Marine Art Museum



5 Hope Over





1 2 7 6 OK Factor Luther Center Hate: Pedro w/ JAERV, Stage Series: Lopez Vega, CFL, Lingonberry, Catapult, CFL Luther, 7pm Decorah Merry March 7: Frosty Buns Joseph Hall’s Weathers, Race Series Sticky Stride Elvis Rock N’ Trempealeau & Maple Fest! River Hills Remember, Cresco Hotel, 7pm School, Cedar Falls, Iowa Opera House








28 27 Ladies 26 Killer Beau Children’s Night Out, & Tim Eddy, Country, Timmerman, Museum of downtown Trempealeau Chatfield Toppling La Crosse Rochester, MN Hotel, 2pm Center for Goliath, 6-9pm Fairytale Ball! the Arts MARCH 20: Pre Reg! Welcome to • Joe & Vicki Price, Root River Saloon, Lanesboro, 7:30pm March 27-29: Four Night Vale, • Trout Steak Revival, Mineral Point Opera House, 7:30pm Weddings and an Elvis, Englert, IA City • Driftless Jazz Ensemble, Impact, Decorah, 7 pm Elkader Opera House MARCH 21: 30 10 31 9 29 • Helping Services Mentoring Bowl-A-thon, Arrowhead, Waukon Taproom Bingo • ArtHaus Truths Be Told, Courtyard & Cellar, Decorah, 7:30pm Chalk Art at Toppling Couture, • A Midsummer Nights Dream, Chatfield Center for the Arts Goliath – Every • Ring of Kerry, Westby PAC Heaven Tuesday Boutique • Rochester Thaw Music Fest, Castle Community, Rochester MARCH 29: Winery, Fayette, IA • Maple Festival at Green’s Sugar Bush, rural Castalia, 10-2 • Stacy Hanson & Tim Eddy, Trempealeau Hotel, 2pm • Fly Fishing Film Tour, Big Grove Brewing, Iowa City, 2pm

22 Stacy Hanson


Spring 8 5 14 13 12 3 10 9 11 Talib Kweli, FORWARD! John Goodin & ‘Kinderfolk Taproom March 14: Cavalier, La Crosse on Stage’, Daylight Erik Sessions, Trivia, Toppling Vesterheim Savings begins! Goliath, Every Toppling Goliath, March 14: Courtyard & Museum Monday 6-8:30pm Cellar Second MARCH 8: 4 “World’s Largest 6 • Brian B. & The Mississippi Valley Dutchmen, We Banjo 3, Saturday, Free Chemistry Luther Center Concordia Ballroom, La Crosse 1pm Admission! Mineral Point • Spring Forward Day at La Crosse Children’s Experiment”, Stage Series: Opera House, Museum, 12pm-4pm Decorah Library Seeds, CFL 7:30pm 7 20 18 19 8 21 17 15 16 Calan, Barnetimen March 17: Kiss Me I’m March 20-21: Winneshiek Legion Arts, kids hour, Irie w/ DJ Trichrome, Apple Grafting Solar Fair, Winn. Cedar Rapids Trempealeau Hotel Vesterheim, Workshop, Co. Fairgounds 10am Seed Savers MARCH 13: MARCH 14: Motor Motor • “All in the Timing” Jewel Decorah “Rocks” • Root River Vibes Blue House Humbird, Theatre, Luther Concert w/ Eric Carranza, Seasaw, Luke 5K Trail Run, Painting Party, • We Banjo 3, Temple Lanesboro, 7pm Callen, Cavalier, Motor Mill, 5:30-8:30, Rural Elkader La Crosse Theatre, Viroqua • Yukon, Haymarket, Decorah ArtHaus

‘Proof’ runs Thurs-Sun through March 15, La Crosse Community Theatre, Weber Center

‘N Lace, Concordia Ballroom, La Crosse, 1pm

1 Leather


March MARCH 6: • Gallery Crawl & Silent Auction, Art in the Park Fundraiser, Elkader, 4-8 pm • Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Temple Theatre, Viroqua • Friday Bingo Night! Impact, Decorah (3/6, 3/13, 3/27)







April 8







APRIL 4: • “Heartbeats: Oil Paintings by Kathie Wheeler” Art Opening, Lanesboro Arts • Annual Chili Cook Off, Winn. Wildberry Winery • Lansing (IA) Luau, Pub Crawl • Charles City Chickfest • Josh Quirin Band, Haymarket, Decorah • Bellas and Friends, Water St. Music, T-Bocks



15 Wineglass painting, Heaven Boutique Winery, Fayette


The Jayhawks, Englert, IA City


April 10-11: La Crosse Children’s Museum Easter EGGStravaganza! Pre-reg only.



Matt Woods, Haymarket, Decorah 21 30 April 25: Olmsted April 30: APRIL 24: “Carve In Medical The Black • Children’s Museum of La 4” Carving Market Crosse Inclusion Night! 5:30pm Center Plastic Show, Surgery Spring Trust, Temple • HEATBOX, Chatfield CFA Bekkum Event, Theatre, • Paula Poundstone, Public Library, Rochester, Viroqua Englert, IA City Westby, 5:30pm • She Is Decorah, T-Bock’s, 9-3 10am-4pm



20 25 Jester Puppets Jedi Training, Decorah Public Library – Pre Reg!

Kerry Patrick Clark, Chatfield CFA

18 Fly Fishing Film Tour, Volga Opera House, 7pm

17 * Luther Center Stage Series: The Brubeck Brothers Q4, CFL, 7:30pm



Vesterheim Joe & Vicki Price, Root Museum Second Saturday, Note, La Crosse, 8pm Decorah, Free Admission! MN Marine Art Museum Second Saturday, Winona, $1 admission!

April 17: Carnival After Dark, Upper Iowa, Fayette, 5-10pm April 17-18 : “Mermaid” Luther Theatre Dance, CFA Jewel Theatre 18 24 23 21 20 17 22 Barnetimen APRIL 24-26: Mother Me, April 17: Oneota Coop kids hour, • Bluff Country Mary Prescott, Children’s Earth Day Vesterheim, Studio Art Tour, St. Mane, Museum of Celebration, 10am Lanesboro SE Minnesota La Crosse: 5-7pm • Between the Decorah “Rocks” Adult 19 Stoddard Bluffs Beer, Painting Party, Recess! Greg Brown, Walleye Wine, & Cheese Lingonberry, 5:30-8:30, 6-8pm Tournament! Fest! La Crosse ArtHaus Decorah


OVCO presents Michael Carmina Franti and Burana, Spearhead Decorah HS, w/ Satsang, 3pm Englert, IA City Lexi Weege, Trempealeau Hotel, 2pm


Gary’s Ridgeland Dutchmen, Concordia Ballroom, La Crosse, 1pm


Kite Month – DIY Kites every Sunday 1-3pm, La Crosse Children’s Museum

APRIL 18: • Church of Cash, Mineral Point Opera House, 7:30pm • Night of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Songs, Westby PAC

LaBarge Duo, “Tattoo: Toppling Identity Goliath, 6-9pm Through Ink” through April 26, APRIL 11: Maple Festival • Mike Munson, High Court Pub, at Green’s Sugar Vesterheim, Lanesboro, 8pm Decorah Bush, rural • Digisaurus, Trempealeau Hotel Castalia 10-2


Empty Bowls Decorah, Hotel Winneshiek


1 2 ArtHaus 3 12 WWO 4 April 2-4: Four OPENS APRIL 4: April 3-5: April 1-4: Style Show Weddings and • “Heartbeats: Oil Emerging Women’s Brunch, Hotel an Elvis, Elkader Mission Creek Paintings by Kathie Artist Exhibit Weekend Out Winneshiek Fest, IA City Opera House Wheeler” Lanesboro Opens, 7pm Decorah! 13 • “I Ought To Be in APRIL 3: Pictures,” Apple Grafting April 3-4: Market 52 & • Doolin’, Chatfield Center for the Arts 11 & Orchard Commonweal Friends Indoor Market, School, Theatre, Lanesboro Arts • La Crosse First Friday! 5-7:30pm Winn. Co. Fairgrounds • Driftless Jazz Ensemble, Impact, 7 pm Seed Savers


fun stuff to do



May 30-31: Winding Roads Art Tour, VIroqua


Ryan Herman & Karl Hartwich of the Rhythm Playboys, Concordia, La Crosse


Malek’s Fishermen Band, Concordia Ballroom, La Crosse, 1pm

Syttende Mai Celebration, Vesterheim






Jason Anick Trio, Legion Arts, Cedar Rapids, 7pm May 9: Decorah Pride



24 9 Into the Wild, Out with the Mustard at Heritage Valley

Decorah Farmers Market Opens!

23 2 Annual Plant Sale, Seed Savers, 9am-5pm


Vesterheim May 7-9: Luther College Dance Performance: 2020 Dance CFA Museum Second Saturday, Free Jewel Theatre, 7:30pm Admission! 25 15 13 14 “Born 16 Ultra Mega May 15: Yesterday” LaBarge Duo, Nadia, w/ the Mega Luther Opens at the Toppling Spring Art Commonweal Goliath, 6-9pm Bakken Trio Open House, & Adriana Theatre, 6-9pm Zabala, Lanesboro Mike Munson, May 16-17: Forager Brewery, St. Mane, Storyhill, Syttende Mai, Lanesboro Rochester, 7pm Chatfield CFA Westby WI


NE Iowa Greenhouse Tour

1 May 1-3:


May 2: ArtHaus Gala “Kentuky Derby, Decorah Elk’s Lodge


22 Happy 20 21 23 May 15: Driftless Jazz Ensemble, Joe & Vicki birthday, Decorah Impact, Decorah, 7 pm Aryn! Price, “Rocks” MAY 30-31: Saxon Hall, Painting Party, • Winding Roads Art Tour, Brownsville, 5:30-8:30, Vernon Co. WI and beyond! MN ArtHaus • Catherine Glynn - Audacious Raw Theater, St. Mane, Lanesboro, 7:30pm Iowa 29 25 Happy 26 30 27 28 Watercolor birthday, “Mark Herman: Landmarks” Mid-West Society Show Benji! opens May 29, MN Marine (Bicycle) opening, Art Museum Frame COMING UP: ArtHaus, Builders June 2: Carpenters Once More, Cresco Opera House Decorah, 7pm Gathering, June 4-6: Bonfire Music & Arts Festival, Yuba, WI Miss Myra & the MGV, West June 5: Ryne Doughty, Lingonberry, Decorah 7:30pm Moonshiners, Salem, WI June 6: Trempealeau Hotel Reggae Fest Chatfield CFA June 6: Joe & Vicki Price, Courtyard & Cellar, Decorah




22 May 1-2: Mid West Music Fest, Winona!

MAY 9: • Big Barn Vintage Market, rural Postville • Tromp & Chomp Trail Run, Kickapoo Valley Reserve, La Farge WI



Happy Mother’s Day!


Chad & The Polka Rhythms, Concordia Ballroom, La Crosse, 1pm

The 3 Dangerously Fun Show, Chatfield CFA


MAY 2: • Moors & McCumber, Chatfield Center for the Arts • Larry Busch Big Band, Mineral Point Opera House, 7:30pm


May 1: Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum outdoor Heritage Park opens for the season


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/events)

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

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.”

We know it’s a tough racket to put on live music, activities, and special events, so we want to give you a chance to get the word out without breaking the bank.

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! 17. April 22: Join the Oneota Co-op for their Earth Day Celebration from 5-7 pm in Water Street Park. Including live music, local food, and local friends! www.oneotacoop.com 18. April 24: “Mother Me”, Artist-in-residence Mary Prescott’s interdisciplinary performance explores the complex relationships, psychology and sociology surrounding motherhood through movement, music, and storytelling. St. Mane Theatre, Lanesboro. Free. lanesboroarts.org 19. April 24: Greg Brown – a benefit concert for the Lingonberry in downtown Decorah. Tickets $30 advance @Eventbrite. Lingonberry, 218 W. Water St. 7:30pm facebook.com/thelingonberry




20. April 25: Jester Puppets Jedi Training Program at Decorah Public Library! Using balloon light sabers, kids learn strategies used by Jedi. Highly interactive. Pre-registration required. Free and open to the public. www.decorah.lib.ia.us/event-directory 21. April 30: Olmsted Medical Center Plastic Surgery Spring Event. Informational and fun-filled event, held at OMC Hospital, Rochester, MN 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM. Limited seating, RSVP required: 507.529.6740

22. May 1-2: MidWest Music Fest – Winona! Full line up available - over 60 bands, Midwest and beyond. Special ‘Live at the Levee’ family event May 2. Details / Tickets: www.midwestmusicfest.org 23. May 2: Annual Plant Sale, Seed Savers Exchange: Rare family heirlooms & historic commercial varieties of flowers, vegetables, fruit trees. SSE Heritage Farm, North Winn. Road, Decorah. 9am5pm www.seedsavers.org 24. May 9: Into the Wild, Out with the Mustard! Grab your hiking boots and head to Heritage Valley, a 1,200-acre nature area between Decorah and Waukon, to help native habitats thrive. More info at inhf.org/events







4-8 PM








25. May 15: Ultra Mega Mega – Spring studio open house for the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Luther College. 6-9pm in the Center for the Arts (CFA). www.luther.edu/visual-performing-arts/

Looking to submit an event for our calendars? Check out our new submission form at iloveinspired.com/events!


101 West Water St. Decorah, IA. 563.419.3141 @impactcoffee iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2020



Lauren Barry



Lauren Barry owns Dancing Gnome Farm in Wabasha, Minnesota 18

Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com

Sometimes you just have to make it up. It was this realization that set business owners and life partners Lauren Barry and Michael Anderson on their paths in life, and, ultimately, to each other. That path – much like the dusty, gravel road that leads to their home and farm in Southeast Minnesota – has been winding, a bit ambiguous, and often, rather scenic.

leap! tAke the

Michael Anderson brokenpaddleguiding.com

Michael Barry owns Broken Paddle. He and Lauren live their best lives, making it up at they go.

All photos courtesy Lauren Barry & Michael Anderson

iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2020



0 2 0 2 MF -2

1 1 TH A






AN EVENING OF ACOUSTIC MUSIC & IMPROV Feat A String Section + A Cast of Comedy Friends

presented by the englert theatre

april 1-4







WITH Megan Stielstra





WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE with special guest Eliza Rickman friDAY, MARCH 27

dweezil zappa

hot rats live! + other hot stuff 1969 tour




thursday, april 16

the jayhawks with the mastersons friDAY, april 24

paula poundstone


Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com






Lauren Barry When Lauren, founder of Dancing Gnome Farm, was in college studying ecology and environmental studies, she spent the summers of 2008 and 2009 in Oregon, researching how climate change was impacting the surrounding land. Part of a four-woman team, she sampled how plots of land had changed over the past 50 years. It was there that she met Andrea King, a woman who would change her life. Andrea, who was in her 50s at the time, had recently learned how to construct her own cob house. Building with cob, a mixture of clay, sand, and straw, requires no fancy or expensive equipment and uses local materials. “I remember lying awake one night in this hand-built cob house, and I thought, I could just make it up,” says Lauren, now 32. “I could choose to live a life focused on meaning and purpose and curiosity.” Lauren says working side-by-side with confident, empowering women opened her eyes to the opportunities and experiences available to her – as long as she was daring enough to step off the straight and narrow road. “I wasn’t always sure where I would end up,” says Lauren. “But I kept taking experiences and jumping into opportunities to travel and work in different places. I feel like all along, a gravitational force has pulled me into this lifestyle.” After college, Lauren was at a crossroads: either go back to school to study sustainable agriculture or pursue her passion – farming. She opted for the latter, and, with the help of encouraging mentors, dug right in with farm internships, training sessions, and hands-in-thedirt experience. Now, she’s living in an 800-square-foot barn apartment in Southeast Minnesota’s bluffs, just steps away from the vegetable plots of Dancing Gnome Farm – her farm. Those plots are located at Bluff Valley Farm, owned by Catherine and David Schmidt, Wabasha residents and conservation activists. They have spent the past six years restoring the farm and investing in the long-term sustainability of the land. In 2019, Lauren and Michael – and their four-year-old

Dancing Gnome Farm vegetables

dog, Holly – were proud to join in this land restoration mission. They moved Dancing Gnome Farm from plots previously located in Stockholm, Wisconsin, where Michael and Lauren first met five years before.


3 1 ST A N N U A L

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Thinking solar? Lauren & Michael’s dog, Holly

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Michael Anderson When Michael graduated from college with a degree in education in 2007, he traded the traditional classroom role for a seasonal job in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Northern Minnesota. Working at an outfitter and living in a remote cabin with just three other people, he prepared visitors for portages and hikes. “Once you get a taste that there’s a path beyond traditional expectations, you really want to learn what else is out there,” the 35-year-old says. So, he moved to Guatemala, participating in a program offered to recent college graduates, where he lived in a community with monks in a Catholic monastery. Besides following the monks’ daily schedule of meals and prayers, he was encouraged to make a lasting impact in some way. “I created a plastic bottle and trash reusing program. Those reused bottles enabled me and a team of local contractors to build a library for an orphanage,” Michael says. The library was constructed from thousands of Ecobricks – reusable building blocks created by packing plastic bottles with bags and other clean, light garbage. “I’ve always tried to find work that would help me build and hone my skills. I

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specifically liked constructing things with my own two hands.” These experiences led Michael to AmeriCorps, a network of national service programs that help improve lives and foster civic engagement, where he partnered with the Department of Natural Resources in Northern Minnesota to work with wildlife and reduce the spread of invasive species. That’s when opportunity came knocking in the form of a 120-yearold Victorian house. A friend, Richie, reached out about buying (with the support of an investor) an old bed and breakfast in downtown Wabasha. Michael jumped in with both feet. Richie and Michael lived in the house while returning it to its former glory: a fivebedroom, historic charmer nestled along the Mississippi River. Once Turning Waters Bed and Breakfast reopened, Michael and Richie began offering kayak excursions through the remote canopies and hidden channels of the Mississippi. Soon, the excursions became so popular that the duo decided to sell the bed and breakfast and chase their next dream. Broken Paddle Guiding Company was born. Michael, Richie, and three other friends own the guiding company, but it’s Michael who oversees most of the decisions and operations. “Broken Paddle has become a way for all of us to be a part of something beyond a traditional life, especially for those who live in the city,” Michael explains. He’s the only one of the five who lives in Southeast Minnesota – the others return seasonally for tours. It was soon after Michael began guiding tours full-time that he visited the pizza farm at A to Z Produce and Bakery in Stockholm. Lauren was renting land from A to Z farmers and owners and – as luck would have it – working at their pizza farm on the side. On their first date, Michael took Lauren out on the Mississippi River, offering her home-brewed beer and wild-foraged ramps that he’d pickled himself. That was five years ago. The rest, as they say, is history.

Lauren + Michael


Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com

Moving Dancing Gnome Farm to its current location near Wabasha was key. It’s closer to Broken Paddle Guiding, which makes life easier for Michael – now Lauren’s partner in life and on the farm. “After a full day at Broken Paddle, he’ll come home to the farm and jump into the projects I haven’t gotten to,” Lauren says. “When we met, our businesses were both in infancy. Because of that, we’ve been able to cheer each other on and grow into each other’s work.” That means they’ve supported each other during the ups and downs. While they’re both quick to say how much they love this non-traditional life, they’re also honest about the hard times.

“During the summer, we’re both working long hours outside in the heat,” Lauren says. “We’ll be washing tomatoes into the night with our headlamps on. And honestly, sometimes a nineto-five job in an air-conditioned office with health insurance and a retirement match sounds pretty good.” But they both get a taste of that “might-have-been” life in off-season jobs during the winter. Lauren works in the finance office at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, and Michael works as a substitute teacher in Southeast Minnesota. This work helps them both value – and enhance – the lives they’ve created for themselves. “The variety helps us appreciate our farming and exploring passions,” Michael says. Lauren, who continues working at the National Eagle Center one day a week during the summer, adds, “The airconditioned office is a welcome change for me. As is using a different part of my brain.” While pursing those jobs full-time might offer a steadier paycheck and a certain peace-of-mind, each spring, Lauren and Michael recommit to their passions and businesses. Lauren buys seed for her organic vegetables, spreads the word about her CSA, and makes plans for her weekly trips to market in Minneapolis. Meanwhile, Michael prepares for the 700-800 people he and his team will guide through the channels of the Mississippi. And when the sun sets, tomatoes are washed, and kayaks are safely put away, Lauren and Michael will return to their barn apartment, nestled in the bluffs down a hidden gravel road – a daily reminder of their choice to take a winding path in life, and, to some days… just make it up.

Broken Paddle’s Flooded Forest Tour, their most popular offering, paddles in some of the most remote channels the Mississippi has to offer.

Maggie Sonnek and her husband Eric are lucky enough to call Wabasha home. Though they don’t live down a hidden gravel road cut through the bluffs, she and her family are just steps away from the Mississippi River, where her three kids and golden retriever Max like to play. And some days, they just make it up as they go.

restaurant • 24 taps • three bars • gift shop • brewery tours iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2020


Jewelry Making Classes



The National Norwegian-American Museum & Heritage Center

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Find a full schedule and register online at vesterheim.org

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& 25



What’s a GAP Year? (Hint: Giant Amazing Possibilities!)



hat are your plans after graduation?” We’ve all asked this of a high schooler at some point. What we (often) mean is: “Where are you going to college?” But what happens if your heart doesn’t thrill to the thought of lecture halls, dorm rooms, and unlimited soft-serve ice cream? Or if you’re not ready to invest in the cost? Or the move away from home? What happens when you have the feeling you haven’t seen – or done – enough in the world to recognize your truest career calling? Enter the “gap year,” a year (or more…or less!) of independent living, travel, service work, or nontraditional schooling that can help folks get their bearings on the future and, ultimately, personal fulfillment. A number of people in Decorah have gone this route, and the movement has been growing internationally, with programming options as diverse as learning Native American herbalism in the Pacific Northwest to rock climbing in the Andes (see sidebar). But “gappers” better be ready to explain it when people ask. Over Maggie Schwarz and over. And over, again. “The reflex response when you tell someone you’re taking a gap year after high school is, ‘Ohhhhhhhhh,’” says Decorah native and Decorah High graduate Maggie Schwarz. As she says this, she demonstrates a sideways, distancing look of bewilderment that accompanies the phrase “gap year,” followed by some awkward silence.  “Then imagine,” she continues, “when someone tries to recover the conversation by asking, ‘Oh! Where are you going?!’ and I say, ‘I’m not going anywhere. This place – the Driftless – and its natural history are super important to me. I’m staying here.’” *Crickets

Continued on next page

leap! tAke the

iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2020


“Gap years” aren’t really that unheard of, according to the Center for Interim Programs of Princeton, New Jersey, which has been advising gappers since 1980. The issue is that popular culture generally assumes “success” requires an academic degree. When 2017 Decorah High grad Indigo Fish went head-to-head with her mother, Tanya O’Connor, about not enrolling in college, the perceived implications snowballed. “All I could think was, ‘No way. College is going to suck. It’s going to be just like high school, and I’m not going to learn anything,” says Indigo, who has both attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and floundered in traditional classrooms if the instruction wasn’t hands-on.

“I was fear-driven for different reasons,” Tanya explains, “afraid that if she didn’t take advantage of college enrollment and the scholarships available to first-year traditional students, she might miss out and college would become unaffordable. I was afraid that she would not have the opportunity to experience educators who would make her a fine critical thinker.” The turning point, Tanya says, came in the fall of Indigo’s senior year, when her grades plummeted and her sunny demeanor vanished. “I finally realized she was internalizing all the expectations, all of the teachers, every adult asking, ‘Where are you going to college?’ “She just shut down, and that’s when I really started to listen, and listen to her, instead of my idea of her.”  Indi, as she’s known to friends and family, agreed to a “gap” year as a compromise. “I was ready to become a street performer,” combining her interests in acting, dance, and theater production, she explains with a laugh. “I just needed to deal with college and all that later.”  In her gap year, she got a full-time job at Dragonfly Books. She enrolled in ballet lessons, participated in community theater, and sought assistance from a life coach and vocational rehabilitation. She audited a theater class at Luther College, and traveled to Denmark with her best friend, Anna.  Most important, she says, she started cooking for herself (sometimes) and assumed responsibility for other hallmarks of independence, like laundry. When she enrolled as a theater major at Luther College in 2018, these accountability skills gave her confidence. “Time management is huge in college, and I’m

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Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com

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We are your full-service landscape solution. DESIGN • INSTALL • CULTIVATE Indigo Fish, pictured at left and on this page, had a variety of experiences during her Gap Year. She got a job at Dragonfly Books and participated in their Pride Parade float; traveled to Denmark with her best friend and rode skateboards everywhere; read a lot of books; and went canoeing and found magical things like a baby turtle. Photos courtesy Indigo Fish.

, support wildlife,, grow food horrendous at it,” she says with a laugh. “Taking a gap year helped me get used to making my own schedule.” For Thomas Hendrickson, a 2019 Decorah High School graduate, it was his parents, Julie Strom and Karl Hendrickson, who suggested a gap year. “I was ready to go straight into college, but senior year of high school was really rough. I was passing some classes and failing others,” he says. Continued on next page

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Thomas Hendrickson and his family at his Decorah High School graduation

Thomas Hendrickson took a Gap Year at the suggestion of his parents, and found he would earn how he wanted to learn. Photo by Kristine Jepsen

“Kids think they have to keep up with their peers and go the same speed. I thought a gap year meant that I was losing my edge, or it was the beginning of the end, which is ridiculous,” he says, adding that he had always worked grades ahead in math. “It got to the point where you were feeling you weren’t smart,” offers Julie, sitting next to Thomas. “That wasn’t ever the case. We just didn’t want to saddle you with college debt when your timing and preparation for it could be way better.” Thomas, who also has ADHD and Asberger’s Syndrome, has been housesitting on his own in Decorah and learning to cook at home, when his family will let him. He was accepted to top colleges for engineering but decided instead to pursue a folk school in Norway in 2020-21. “Without a gap year, I may not have learned that I had to

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Illustrations by Thomas Hendrickson, continued on next page

learn how to study – and pursue work that isn’t about getting the grade, as the end product. Folk schools like this one don’t have assignments or tests. You get out of it what you put into it.” Gap years aren’t just for high school graduates, either. “As a girl in the 80s, it was always clear to me that I had to pursue engineering or medicine if I wanted to be ‘successful,’” says Rachel Sandhorst of Decorah. “But when I was waitlisted for med school – and ultimately wasn’t accepted – I had no Plan B. It threw me into a tailspin. Sure, I had many friends who retook their MCATs and reapplied to get in, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. That rejection was really hard, but it was necessary to go through it.”

Planning an event this year?

Rachel Sandhorst

With time suddenly stretching before her, Rachel applied to AmeriCorps, a US-based service program only in its second year of existence at the time. “Even finding out about it was miracle,” Rachel says with a chuckle, “because ‘back then’ there was no Internet to research. I had to get on mailing lists – MAILING LISTS! – to learn about alternatives.” Her first National Civilian Conservation Corps (NCCC) placement was in South Carolina, where her service work, time for reflection, and people she met (along with the rigors of reporting for physical training every morning, in uniform, at 6 am) turned her on to education. One gap year

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Thomas illustrates the influence of a “typical” schooling experience for some people, smoothing out the edges ‘til you get to a square. Illustrations by Thomas Hendrickson

became three, while she applied to graduate school in Colorado. “Instead of helping kids with their physical growth, I learned I wanted to help them with their cognitive and emotional growth,” she says. “And I needed a gap year to understand that about myself.” Andrea Miller, a native of Austria, now resident of Decorah, adds that gap years can be natural transitions between career interests. Trained as a preschool teacher in Austria, she’s now considering a gap year with both her elementary-age daughters. “I feel like I’ve been taking gap years over and over again, learning about myself and what I can offer. Then my 9-yearold came to me with the idea, and I thought, ‘Wait a minute... are you old enough? What’s the age limit on gap years?’”

Ultimately, she concluded, there isn’t one. There’s also no time limit. Taking a gap “six months,” Maggie Schwarz traveled the U.S., worked locally to pay her rent and bills, established a healthy sleep/wake schedule, and cooked for herself. She and her partner, Dalton Brown (also a Decorah grad), bought a VW van they named Cosmo, and began rehabilitating it for long-term travel. Now enrolled as a studio art major at Luther, Maggie considers her self-care routines her greatest assets for success in college, and the friendships she formed in Decorah – mostly with other professionals a decade or more older – remain important. “It’s sometimes hard to be the one ‘different’ person – in your class, in your family – but it’s empowering, too,” Maggie says. “You encourage people to think differently.”


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Purl Up & Knit for a Spell Maggie and her partner are rehabbing a vintage VW for longterm travel. Below are pressed flower artworks by Maggie from 2019. Photos courtesy Maggie Schwarz.

She and Dalton are mid-project with the van, swapping out its motor for a more reliable Subaru model. “We’re working on the wiring right now,” she reports. “My dad [Luther arts professor Lane Schwarz] has been super helpful,” – and inspiring, she says. “I grew up hearing stories of how he packed a van full of friends and drove to Alaska a few times in college.” After earning a degree, Maggie wants to create an arts program offering highcaliber studio training and building intentional community, like South Bear School for pottery and other studio arts, founded in the 1970s by her grandparents, Dean and Gerry Schwarz. “But I’m not naive about how far a bachelor’s degree in art will get me,” she says. “That dream will require collaboration, but I think we need that kind of space more than ever.” Continued on next page

Yarn, Knitting & Fiber Art Supplies, Classes, & More! Mon– Wed : 10 am – 5 pm Fri -Sat: 10 am – 5 pm Thurs: 10 am – 8 pm Sun: 12 – 4 pm

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Great Gifts Readings & Signings

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building communities



Four generations of Bruenings

Indigo started working for a friend’s DJ business as a lighting technician and got to work weddings – just one of the many interesting things she got to try out during her Gap Year. Photo courtesy Indigo Fish

Most of all, she says, she’s grateful for the opportunity to take ownership of her own interests and learning. “Dreaming and debt don’t go well together,” she concludes. “‘Finding yourself’ is really, really hindered by debt,” she says, especially the college kind. Her advice? Save up a little cushion – to pay the deposit for a gap-year travel program, say, or to pay your living expenses while you learn new work skills, explore apprenticeships, or find mentors. But then, be brave. If you get the chance to gap? Maggie is quick with her reply: “Do it.” Kristine Jepsen is a grant/writer, editor, and business coach for her local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Her (unwitting) gap year after an undergrad degree in English and journalism included riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail and training sled dogs for a backcountry outfitter in Flathead National Forest in Montana. She’s been bridging unexpected careers and opportunities ever since.

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Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com

Start here! More links and programs listed at iloveinspired.com! Center for Interim Programs (interimprograms.com) Gap Year Association (gapyearassociation.org) Schools and Service Opportunities: AmeriCorps (nationalservice.gov) Classroom Alive! (classroomalive.com) EdVenture (edventurefrome.org) Global Citizen Year (globalcitizenyear.org) Thoreau College (thoreaucollege.org) Wilderness Awareness School (wildernessawareness.org)


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step-by-step instructions at

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Songs of Spring: LATE FEB / EARLY MARCH

Red-winged Blackbird




allelujah! We survived another bout with Old Man Winter. Days are growing longer, snow piles smaller, and Driftless skies are once again filling with bird song. Ever wondered just who is blasting their pipes in the yard each day? Take a minute to linger outside this season and tune in to the sounds of spring. You may have already noticed our little red friend, the male Northern Cardinal, tuning-up every morning. Step outside as a rising sun lifts the nocturnal curtain and you’ll hear a slow “cheer, cheer, cheer” coming from a silhouette atop your neighbor’s tree. A singing cardinal is considered the first harbinger of warmer days, often sounding off on mild, late-January mornings. He’s not singing


Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com

for the heck of it. Birdsong, while beautiful, is also functional. Males lay vocal claim to territories. Throughout spring and early summer, they engage in high-octane exchanges with competing neighbors. “Don’t even think about setting foot in my yard!” they proclaim to competitors. There’s also a softer side to birds’ spring serenades. Their crooning is intended to attract mates. In the case of the male cardinal, a combination of golden pipes and cherry red plumage is designed to make any female cardinal weak-kneed. The cardinal’s song is the first in a string of avian Top 40s that hit the charts as spring unfurls. During late February and early March, Red-winged Blackbirds and Song Sparrows take center stage after

A Sylvan Symphony

New Inspire(d) writer, Craig Thompson, a conservationist and bird aficionado based out of Onalaska, Wisconsin, gets us ready to take in the sounds of spring as birds make their voices known once again in the Driftless.


early april


spending the winter in southern states. Wetland denizens, male Redwings stake out a patch of cattails and utter their trademark “ee-olay” throughout the day, simultaneously flashing scarlet shoulders. Those with the sweetest song may end up having young with several females. That’s a hefty responsibility! Song Sparrows, on the other hand, are decidedly monogamous. Clad in soft browns and grays with thick chocolate streaks on a white breast, this widespread but secretive bird is most often seen singing from a sapling or shrub along a forest edge or in an overgrown field. Their rich song begins with three clear notes and descends into a

jumble of trills and buzzes guaranteed to make a heart happy. In early April, the dawn chorus is amplified by newly arrived species setting up shop. Robins, those pugnacious thrushes incessantly scanning our yards for worms, win the “early bird” award. They sound off by 4 am, well before the sun remembers to rise. Even Pavarotti would appreciate a chorus of robins singing “cheerily – cheer – cheer- cheerily” during their bleary-eyed recital. Continued on next page

Sylvan - one that frequents groves or woods iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2020


By the end of April, the House Wren, a tiny ochre powerhouse, begins each day with bubbly vocalizations that have been described as upbeat gibberish. A tireless singer with song that seems bigger than the bird itself, males readily appropriate backyard birdhouses with nests constructed entirely of small sticks. Watching a determined House Wren trying to “push” sticks through the birdhouse hole conjures images of the Three Stooges.


House Wren

Lauren Bonney lives and works outside of Decorah, Iowa on a small acreage nestled in a valley with a winding creek and organic farms. She creates art for others and for herself out of many materials and loves to play with her kids, garden with her partner, and read books on her own. She has an amazing community of friends and supporters in the Driftless area. You can follow her on Instagram at laurenbonneyart.


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Angie Herrmann

David Finholt

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Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com

The feathered chorus crescendos in May as scores of species return from tropical climes to raise families. Baltimore Orioles, bright orange and trimmed with black, fill the leafy canopy with rich, fluty whistles. Watch for them at neighborhood bird feeders offering grape jelly. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, fresh in from the rainforests of Costa Rica, will happily frequent your sunflower feeder. Decked out in formal black and white with a spiffy red ascot, the male’s signature rollicking whistle is reminiscent of a robin, but mellower, without pauses between notes. By May, our Driftless landscape will have transitioned from barren to lush, from silent to song-filled. Next time you open a window or venture out, cock an ear skyward. You’ll be amazed at the variety of delightful ditties offered by nature’s streaming service.

throughout MAY

Baltimore Orioles Craig Thompson began working for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources when gas was 86 cents a gallon. His career focus has been migratory bird conservation. He lives in the bluffs on Wisconsin’s west coast with his wife, Mary, two mischievous dogs and a yard full of cool birds.

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Living Room




Special Orders Welcome iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2020






lliott Jewelers in Waukon, Iowa, has been creating jewelry – and memories – for people in Northeast Iowa (and beyond) for nearly six decades. In April 1961, Richard “Dick” Elliott – with a used showcase from Ensler’s Luggage in Cedar Rapids – set up a watch repair shop in a room rented for $10 a month above B & B Clothing in downtown Waukon. The tiny room had no heat, and he had only one watch in stock, but Dick worked tirelessly. During his off-hours, he would often hand-write postcards to send to customers, adding a personal touch to his burgeoning business. As the business outgrew that space, Dick convinced the owners of Carter & Herman Drug to rent out their old soda fountain counter space and the window space next to it for $75 per month. From this street level location, Elliott Jewelers began to boom. Dick quickly outgrew this location as well, and began to look for a third and final home for his shop. In 1967, Dick moved out and into his own store, where Elliott Jewelers still resides: 31 West Main Street. The shop was sparsely furnished with nothing but two old radiators along the western wall. He purchased handmade cases one at a time, as he could afford them. The time Dick spent at his shop was far from a regular eight-hour workday – he would often work diligently on jobs until one or two in the morning. From this hard work and dedication, the business continued to grow. Today, three generations of Elliotts work side-by-side. In 1989, Dick’s son, John, came on board, bringing with him a degree from the Gemological Institute of America in California. John and his wife, Shelly, bought the business in 2002, though Dick continues to work at Elliott’s Jewelry nearly as much as he did when he was the owner. Most recently, Dick’s granddaughter (and John and Shelly’s daughter), Maranda Elliott, joined the team. Maranda graduated from the Gemological Institute of America in 2017, completing the graduate Gemology and Jeweler courses, and has been working in Waukon ever since. 38

Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com



April 4 am Hotel Winneshiek

Generation 1: Name: Richard “Dick” Elliott Age: 82 Years in Business: 59 years Generation 2: Name: John Elliott Age: 52 Years in (the) business: 31 years Generation 3: Name: Maranda Elliott Age: 21 Years in (the) Business: 8 years (3 full-time) Business: Elliott Jewelers 31 West Main St, Waukon, Iowa elliottjewelers.com 1. Tell us about the “leap” moment. When/ how did you decide to jump in and become your own boss? Dick: It was after working in Cedar Rapids for a jeweler – I thought, “If I can do this for

them, why not for myself?” After that, I went to Bradley University watchmaker school in Peoria, Illinois. 2. What’s the best thing about being your own boss? Dick: Calling the shots!

Style Show Brunch

All Elliott’s, jewelry work is done in-house. Along with the three goldsmiths, two graduate gemologists, one watchmaker, and three diamond setters, there is a great team of folks who make things tick (pun intended) at the shop. Some have even been on staff since high school! “I feel so blessed to have the great help that we do,” Shelly says. Countless folks have made their way through Elliott’s doors to pick out engagement rings, the perfect birthday present, or to get a keepsake fixed or remounted. And over the years, the Elliott’s have continued to live up to their business motto: People you can trust. Quality you can depend on.

Advance tickets only Sponsored in part by Inspire(d) Media, Decorah Bank & Trust, Hacker, Nelson & Co., P.C., Bank of the West

Three generations of Elliotts work at Elliott Jewelers in Waukon, Iowa – Richard “Dick” Elliott, his son, John, and John’s daughter, Maranda. All photos courtesy Elliott Jewelers

women’s weekend out


John: You get a great sense of pride and accomplishment when your business decisions work out for the best. Unfortunately, you have to live with and work through the decisions that didn’t work out the way you expected them too. 3. How about the worst? Dick: Being tied down with many hours of work. John: There’s no such thing as walking out the door at 5 pm. On average, I will work until 10 pm, five to six nights per week. In November and December, it can be 11 pm or midnight, six to seven nights a week. I really don’t dread working all the hours; it’s just what you do if you want to succeed. I believe you get out what you put in. 4. Was there ever a hurdle where you just thought, “I can’t do this?” How did you overcome it? John: In the late 90s, I told my Dad that I just couldn’t do everything he asked. I was doing all the diamond and engagement ring buying, all the diamond setting, a good portion of all the Continued on the next page

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iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2020


grandchildren. We are not like city stores and malls, where they take your money and don’t care about you – our customers, we care about and are friends with for many years.  John: I love what I do! I love buying high quality diamonds and engagement rings, and seeing people come to us for one of the most important purchases of their life is very rewarding. Everything I do each day, every decision I make, is very important, because I have a great team around me – counting on me, and the success of our family business. I don’t want to let my family and our great staff down. It really inspires me to have the success for everyone around me.

The staff - and family - at Elliott Jewelers in Waukon. Photo courtesy Elliott Jewelers

goldsmithing, selling every diamond remount customer, selling every bridal customer, and implementing a new merchandise management system on the computer. In November and December, I was working about 110 to 120 hours per week and felt absolutely maxed out. So, in 2000 we hired Pat Hart, as an additional goldsmith. Pat is fantastic and took a tremendous load off of me. 5. Any mentors/role models you look to/have looked to? John: My father, my mother and my wife. 6. How do you manage your life/work balance? John: Work seems to rule most of the time. With my wife and one daughter working in the business with me, our work time is sort of family time, too. And I see my parents far more at work than away from work. 7. What keeps you inspired? Dick: I like to help and be around people – after 58 years, I know people from Cedar Rapids, Decorah, Cresco, Caledonia, Prairie du Chien, La Crosse, Guttenberg, and all areas in between. Customers I sold engagement rings to… now we will sell to their children and

Maranda: My grandparents and my mom and dad. My grandpa will be 83 this March and he still comes in every day to work. My grandma will also come in and work a few days each week. I think seeing how hard they work inspires me to work hard and try my best. It is also very rewarding when I work on a customer’s piece of jewelry and seeing how happy they are when they come in to pick it up. It’s a great feeling when people come in with jewelry that has been passed down in their family and you are able to restore it and make it look like brand new! Maranda Elliott is the third generation of Elliotts to work in the business. We asked her a few specific questions to learn about her path. 1. Did you always know you wanted to go into the family business? What helped you make the choice to jump in and do it? When I was in grade school I use to like sorting and picking up rocks to bring home to my parents and family. And in elementary school I would come into the store after school and pick up small rocks,


shopping | entertainment | style show, & more



Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com

staples and random things off the floor and we work well together. I – pretending I was mining for gems. like to say that my grandma and Occasionally I would get lucky and find grandpa are my entertainment at small gemstones and pieces of gold that work. We are constantly joking would drop from the setting benches! around and having fun with each So I guess you could say that I have other. I think everyone at our been interested in rocks from a young store gets along so well that it age – but after years of working in feels like we are one big family, the store my interest has evolved into and it makes every day here really gemstones more than playground rocks! fun. I had thought about working in the store when I was in middle school 3. Do you think you’ll ever take and one day my dad came home from over as boss of Elliott Jewelers school and said “If you aren’t going one day? out for sports, you are coming in to I would like to take over the work with us tomorrow.” So that was business someday. I try to keep how I got started working here the myself multifaceted in all the summer before I started ninth grade. I pieces of the business. I enjoy had started out doing sales in the store working on the repair jobs that Tools of the trade at Elliott Jewelers. Photo courtesy Elliott Jewlers and just learning a lot about gems and come in, but also do a majority jewelry. of the bookwork for the store The longer I worked here and saw my on QuickBooks. From the daily Dad and Pat Hart working with different diamonds and colored receipts to the quarterly taxes; I really enjoy the numbers side of stones and repairing jewelry at the bench it really sparked my things! We just recently attended a jewelry buying show in Houston, interest in the business the most! Texas. There I was, right alongside my parents buying jewelry for the store. Each day is a little different here and I think that is something 2. What is it like working alongside your family? that keeps me interested, and I am still learning new things every I think it’s one of my favorite parts. Most people tell me “I day. I hope to continue learning new things and working with my don’t know how you could work with your family all day every family and our amazing staff for many more years to come! day – I’d go nuts!” But we all are able to get along really great

Empty Nest Winery

Like us for details!

Serving Wine, Fresh Sangria, 10 Craft Beers on Tap & House Ciders

Outside & Inside seating! Great Venue for your next event!

Spring Hours: Sat. 10-5 & Sun 1-5 Hot Food Buffet May through October – Friday nights 5-8 pm & Saturdays 11-2 pm. Menu at emptynestwinery.com or Facebook

Upcoming Events

March 1: Waukon Wedding Showcase at Waukon Reception Center 1-3pm March 1: Release Dew Kissed Impostor wine March 21: Dinner & Wine Around the World Tickets online at eventbrite.com April 4: Murder Mystery Dinner Theater Tickets online at eventbrite.com April 4: Release Pink Splendor & Candlelight Ice wine April 18: Secrets of the Wine Cellar Limited bottles of wine May 1: First Friday Night Open Party! – with El Caminos playing May 22-25: Memorial Weekend! Open extended hours – check Facebook May 24: Memorial Sunday! – Live Music on the patio

emptynestwinery.com • 563-568-2758

1253 Apple Rd. Waukon, Iowa iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2020


Got a little spring fever? Get out of the house and into the Driftless this spring! Here’s some inspiration, in case you need a nudge:


Spring Studio Art Tour Adventures! Bluff Country + Winding Roads

Maple syrup

Get sappy with some syrup fun in the Driftless! Spring in the Midwest brings many magical things, and right towards the top of that list is maple syrup season! This spring is bustling with some great opportunities to get out there and enjoy the woods and fresh (or barrel aged!) maple syrup. Head on out for farm tours, Maple Cocktail Hour (at B&E’s – awesome!), pony rides, and more! Could it get any sweeter?! • March 7-8 : Maple Syrup Festival 2020, Hartman Reserve Nature Center, Cedar Falls, 7 am - 1 pm • March 21: B&E’s Barrel Aged Syrup, Maple Open House, rural Cashton, WI, 1-5pm • March 21: Great River Maple Fest, Garnavillo, Iowa 8 am – 4 pm • March 31 and April 7: Green’s Sugar Bush Syrup Festival, rural Castalia, Iowa, 10 am – 2 pm

We sure are fans of a good adventure in our region – a gravel road less traveled, an out of the way destination, or a hike across less-traveled paths. We are also so inspired by the incredible numbers of artists that call our region “home”. What better way to experience all of these regional gems than by exploring them in tandem? Springtime holds a couple of great chances to do just this! The Bluff Country Artists Studio Tour rambles across the backroads of Southeast Minnesota and Northeast Iowa while traveling from artist to artist. This year’s tour runs April 24-26 from 10am to 5pm daily, and Artwork by Julia Crozier of Blue Heron Studio in Winona, features more Minnesota - part of the Bluff Country Artists Studio Tour than 25 artists and galleries. Visiting our amazing regional artists working in their “natural environments” is one of the best ways to get a glimpse of their working process, and such a unique opportunity. Best of all, its free! www.bluffcountrystudioarttour.org Winding Roads Studio Tour takes place May 30-31 from 10 am to 5 pm daily. The tour’s headquarters are at the VIVA Gallery in Viroqua, but the tour continues across the hills and coulees of the Driftless, with 40 artists of diverse mediums, representing a wide variety of age groups and backgrounds. Find more at windingroadsart.com and instagram @windingroadsart


Photography by Brittany Todd

563-382-3657 . 108 Fifth Avenue, Decorah, Iowa . westsidedentaldecorah.com 42

Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com

Fever! As we’ve mentioned in past issues of Inspire(d), its smart to have a print / paper map or directions of where you are going, as there are some rural stops that may not allow your phone to guide you. Also, while credit cards are often accepted, cash is always appreciated for purchases at studios along the stop – and you may find some real treasures along the way!

women’s weekend out

Mark your calendars for


March 6 at 7:30 pm: Joseph Hall’s Elvis Rock ‘N’ Remember March 14 at 5 pm & March 15 at 12 & 5 pm: Murder Mystery Dinner “Murder at the Banquet” June 2 at 7 pm: Carpenters Once More

Showing movies nightly at 7 pm and a Sunday matinee at 2 pm

Rent the Opera House for large events or Champlin Hall for reunions, showers & more.

Women’s Weekend Out Decorah! What better way than to snap out of winter than by gathering a group of women for the annual weekend of fun known as Women’s Weekend Out (WWO) in Decorah?! WWO hits town Saturday and Sunday, April 3-5. There will be entertainment, in-store promotions, demonstrations, vintage and vendor sales, parties, door prizes and giveaways, a Style Show Brunch, shopping deals and extended hours, plus swag bags to the first 250 participants to register at www.decorahareachamber.com (hurry, the swag bags are going fast)! This is a chance to truly take in all that Decorah offers – so plan ahead to make a weekend of it. Keep up with all of the fun at the WWO Facebook page www.facebook.com/WWODecorah or Instagram @wwodecorah, or by checking in with the Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce www.decorahareachamber.com or (563) 382-3990.

Visit crescotheatreoperahouse.com or call 563-547-1066 for details


Gala & Art Dash May 2, 2020 Elk’s Lodge Decorah, 7 pm

Earth Day at the oneota Co-op Earth Day, started by Earth Day Network back in 1970, is on April 22 each year, and it’s the perfect time to take stock of what we’re doing to help our planet. Remember to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Pick up trash in your neighborhood. Buy local – you know the drill. Do things that will help, not hurt, the earth. Looking to celebrate Earth Day here at Decorah? Head to the Oneota Co-op on April 22 for their Earth Day Celebration from 5-7 pm in Water Street Park. There will be live music by Switchback, burgers, brats, hot dogs, & other local food, and lots of earth love! www.oneotacoop.com

Kentucky Derby Party! Auction


Art Dash

Fun luck-of-the-draw pick of high value, local artwork $15 in advance/$20 door Purchase tickets at arthausdecorah.org iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2020


R.M. Granet & Company Nort h Io wa’s In t ern ational Gi f t & Antique Store

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She Is, Decorah

personal, affordable style

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Syttende Mai

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Join Rural Kind Co for “She Is, Decorah” – an inspiring women’s conference held April 24th from 9 am to 3 pm at T-Bock’s Upstairs in downtown Decorah, Iowa. Rural Kind Co is an Emmetsburg, Iowa-based, female-owned company that is striving to rewrite the rural story, highlighting the amazing women who live, work, and invest in their communities. The She Is 2020 tour focuses on redefining success, killing fear, and kinda keeping it together along the way. The conference will hold opportunities for personal and professional growth and peer learning, plus incredible food and conversation. Inspire(d)’s own Aryn Henning Nichols be with a great group of peers on the panel “{Kinda} Keeping it Together at Every Age.” (Ed. Note from Aryn: As a 38-year-old, editor-in-chief at Inspire(d) Magazine, I can tell you that I really am only kinda keeping it together, even after 13 years!) So grab your friends and join us for a weekend dedicated to redefining success, killing fear and (kinda) keeping together along the way. www.ruralkindco.com/events/decorah-she-is

Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com

You can’t have a spring in the Driftless without Syttende Mai! Spring Grove, Minnesota throws their Syttende Mai festival from May 15-17, including the Blast Off Banquet, “Running With My Gnomies” Saturday morning at 8 am, Grand Parade at noon on Saturday, and Musikk Fest w/ Tracy Byrd and Kimberly Dunn Saturday night. And don’t miss the meatball dinner on Sunday 11 am to 2 pm! All the details and schedules are available at sgsyttendemai.com. Westby, Wisconsin kicks off the dandy-of-all Driftless Scandahoovian parties May 18-19. Don’t miss the old-time music, Syttende Mai displays, Troll Hunt, community events, rosemaling, the Big Parade on Sunday at 1:30, and food and treats galore! It’s all the best of a small-town Midwest Norwegian heritage celebration! All the info: westbysyttendemai.com

Make a list of pros and cons – writing it all out can help you jump in!

Big changes can be hard – but exciting too! Remember to keep a

positive perspective.

Mistakes happen. Accept them and move on.

Make a finance plan Don't take a leap into a pile of debt. Plan it out, save up, and take baby steps if that’s all that’s possible.

el ap! TAKE the

Surround yourself with a supportive team

Is it time to change things up in your life? Let’s get started!

What’s most important to you in life? At the end of your life, what do you want to look back and remember? Are you doing / caring for / living that thing? If not, take the leap!

Youiloveinspired.com can do it! 45

Annie Titus



or some, the path from high school to the workforce can seem relatively straight. Stop at point A to get a college education, maybe take a short detour at point B for a year to explore interests or travel, and ultimately, end up at point C with a career for a good part of your working life. There are, however, many who prefer the road less traveled – the one with substantially more detours and exits.  Annie Titus, a 60-year-old University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire under-grad, has definitely logged those road warrior hours, both literally and figuratively, navigating her way through life. Annie grew up in the era of Animal House, when college was thought of more as an extended adolescence than a serious endeavor. “Nothing in my world countered this idea, so for me, college was never an option,” she says of life post-high school. So, Annie looked for what was next. Always driven to explore, she generally followed the notion that one should “take the most difficult path available – it’s much less crowded, and the view is so much better.”

leap! tAke the

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104 W Water St, Decorah • 563-382-4430 www.silverbirchdecorah.com 48

Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com

This mindset led her to manage a theatre group, try her hand at door-to-door insurance sales, operate a convenience store, found and pastor a church, and work with computer technology – selling, printing and scanning her way into the 1990s. Annie then saw an opportunity in her community of Roland, Iowa. She was elected mayor on a write-in ballot, serving for three terms. When her stint as mayor ended, her interest shifted to home improvement, digging into a restoration project and then, ultimately, landing a job at a big box store in the paint department. By then, Annie had clearly followed her curiosity over all sorts of terrain. But a few obstacles had also popped up – she was now paying child support on a low hourly wage, and barely getting by. That’s when Annie, forever the trailblazer, hit the road as a longhaul trucker. Enticed by the salary, she secured a coveted position as a driver for Walmart’s Private Fleet. Annie enjoyed the perks and planned to stay the course with this career, taking the life lessons as they came. “Driving taught me awareness of conditions surrounding me, awareness of traffic, awareness of intentions,” she says. “I also learned to hone my instinct during these years, as intuiting how drivers would act or respond.” But just as she was settling in, an untimely accident left her with severe spine and shoulder injuries. During the 18-month recovery that followed, Annie became restless. “My hunger for learning grew exponentially – I was devouring, on average, one non-fiction book per day, across a myriad of domains and disciplines,” she says. It was time for that familiar question: What’s next? She felt confident in her capacity to learn – was it time for college now? Could she could handle the pace of higher education, and would she even like a job that was, unlike many of her pre-injury roles, less physical? Annie, never one to shy from a challenge, decided to go for it. “I love to think, conceptually, creatively, rhetorically, strategically,” she says. “And akin to thinking, writing is a natural product and result.” What better place for Annie – a lover of intellectuals and the underserved – than a college campus?  And so, she started over once again, this time as a non-traditional student at UW-Eau Claire, settling on an English: Rhetorics of Science, Technology, and Culture major. Year one is difficult, whether you’re a traditional or non-traditional student. “That first semester required a lot of math and writing. I thought I could breeze right through my education – and was so wrong,” she says. She leaned into her street smarts and the wisdom of her 20-year-old peers. “I listened and learned from anyone who was willing to help me. I felt diminished, insecure, and somewhat embarrassed to find myself nearly through the productive period of my life, only to find that I needed to start over,” she says, describing





the experience as an “ego-slayer.” It was a humbling time, and now, nearing graduation, she can see the growth she found as well. “I have embedded myself in campus life,” she says, taking on leadership roles within English Ambassadors, Campus Pride, and student government. Ask around at UW-Eau Claire and there’s a good chance you’ll find someone who knows and loves Annie. “Annie truly made a lasting impression – sharing her unique story, her curiosity about the world, her love of learning, and her desire to impact people’s lives,” says Heather Pearson, Annie’s former admissions counselor. “Rarely did a day go by when I didn’t see Annie on campus, animatedly talking to somebody.” Annie is quick to reference her unique “brand of contentiousness,” but finds it it fits well within college life. “Within academia, I have found a kindredness for confliction and contrariness, and have felt quite at home as a result,” she says. “To have views contrary to others, I find, is a way that can help me to see a broader perspective, to isolate complications, and to innovate solutions across the posturing and friendly fire of absolutes that separate people.” Her willingness to fight for change, discuss the possibilities, and to be fully invested in her studies is not lost on those around her, like Heather. “Many students take education for granted; Annie embraces and cherishes every opportunity that’s presented.”  As for the road ahead, she has applied to the Student Affairs Administration program at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. She’s hoping to continue her leadership in higher education. “I’ve had enough jobs over the years, and though many of them have provided important services for others, I really want to focus on giving meaning to an institution,” she says. “When it’s all said and done, the only thing we have at the end of a productive life is the meaning we have created, and the meaning we have endowed in others.” The way she sees it, this wild path she’s taken has provided clarity. “I have failed enough at life at this point to have narrowed down the choices,” Annie says. “I am still not sure what I want to do when I grow up, but I have a better idea at this point.” Sara Walters is a freelance writer from La Crescent, MN. Her path to higher education consisted of transferring colleges and changing majors three times before graduating with a B.S. in English from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.



319-287-9106 winneshiekccf.org Confirmed in compliance with National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations.

morning glory

retreat spaces | contemplative pursuits

Decorah, Iowa

(563) 419-2357

retreat house 336 Washington Street

downtown space 113 Winnebago Street

Land Stewardship Aligned With Nature

Improve your land with native plants that will attract wildlife, including birds, bees, & butterflies. Ecologist Melinda Knutson helps you decide what/where to plant, what invasive species should be removed, & gives advice about erosion control, pond management, & prairie restoration.

trilliumlax.com| 608.615.8692 | trilliumlax@gmail.com iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2020


There are many, many geocaches hidden all over the world! We searched geocaching.com and saw dozens in Decorah alone, and nearly 10 around Lake Meyer Park and Campground near Calmar, Iowa, which is pictured here. Photo by Lauren Kraus


Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com

Geocaching in the driftless! BY MARY HYLAND


o you love the thrill of the hunt? Summon your inner explorer and find some treasures in the wild (or not so wild) outdoors through geocaching! It’s like playing hideand-seek in the woods… with Tupperware! Chances are you’ve heard of geocaching, but maybe you’ve never tried it… or perhaps thought it was something “just for kids.” It’s true – kids do love it – but we’re here to let you know it’s an activity perfect for young and old. So just what is geocaching? Basically, it is a real, live outdoor treasure hunt. Participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) or mobile device (or other navigational techniques) to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world. Here in the Driftless, you get to explore some of the prettiest – and sometimes most remote – public areas around! It’s free, you can do it year-round, and all you need is your navigational device(s) and a pencil. The first-ever geocache was placed on May 3, 2000 in Beavercreek, Oregon. Now, according to Wikipedia, there are over 3 million geocaches and 7 million active geocachers worldwide. In North America alone, there are over 1.3 million geocaches waiting to be found. Each geocache has a name and code, and fun fact: The oldest geocache in Iowa is hidden in Northeast Iowa at Backbone State Park. The Maltese Goldfinch – geo code GC162 – was placed on May 13, 2001.

The actual geocaches are containers – often the aforementioned Tupperware – of various sizes (the tip of your pinky finger-sized nano or up to five gallon buckets) that contain a logbook at minimum, or all kinds of fun, inexpensive swag and trade things, like marbles, coins, erasers, matchbox cars, bracelets, and official geocache items. Each geocache has an owner who maintains the cache and its contents.

So how do you get started?

Go to www.geocaching.com and sign up – a basic membership is free. You could also choose to support the geocaching community and get some extra perks by purchasing a premium membership for $30 per year. The website walks you through the (simple) process and directs you to helpful links. Next, you’ll get your smartphone with the Geocaching App ready to roll, or purchase a GPS device – you can spend anywhere from $60 to $600. In this writer’s opinion, a good middle-of-the-road GPS is the Garmin 64s. Then you’re ready to plug in coordinates and head out on a geocache treasure hunt! Look up your location by zip code on geocaching.com to see how many geocaches there are in your town alone. Once you find the geocache – usually hidden on public land such as State and County Continued on next page





Rent-to-own! Try an E-Bike for a day, week, or month, and apply the fees toward the purchase of a new bike within 30 days of rental.

M, W, Th, F: 10-6 . Sat: 9-5 . Sun: 12-4 . Closed Tues.


101 College Dr. Decorah, Iowa . 563-382-8209 iloveinspired.com \ Spring 2020


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Parks but also in cities and towns – you sign the logbook. You can drive from cache to cache, or bike, or walk, or even paddle a canoe or kayak as some areas have a geocache series hidden along a river or waterway. Geocaching appeals to all sorts of people from all walks of life – it can be a solitary outing or a social activity. There are even Meet & Greet Events across the state, where you can trade swag items, have a meal, and find a series of special event geocaches around the event location. Geocachers tend to be environmentally responsible as well. Cache In Trash Out (CITO) is an environmental initiative supported by the geocaching community, and several CITO Events are held each year. Since 2002, CITO has helped preserve the natural beauty of cache-friendly spaces. In that time, more than 363,000 people have volunteered at 18,000 CITO events. If you are unable to attend a CITO event, just practice Cache In Trash Out every day, and on every geocaching adventure! Pick up trash you see on the trail, and clean up the area around each geocache. These small acts make a huge difference.

Finally, learn the lingo!

Relax as you take time for YOU & use your creativity for your next quilting & sewing retreat!

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Here are some common geocaching terms: Geocacher: A person or family who participates in geocaching. Geocaching: A real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache hidden at that location.



Geocache containers might be as big as the one above, or even tinier than the one at left! Photos courtesy Creative Commons. Views from the locations where you find geocaches will often be as scenic as this one, near Marquette, Iowa. Photo by Mary Hyland.

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


Geocache: A hidden container that includes a logbook for geocachers to sign. GC Code: A unique identifier associated with every geocache listing. The GC Code starts with the letters “GC” and is followed by other alphanumeric characters, such as GCK25B. Trackable: A tag (Travel Bug) with a unique code – purchased at geocaching.com – that can be attached to an item – think matchbox car, Christmas ornament, small toys, etc. The trackable is then moved from cache to cache and its progress can be followed on geocaching.com. BYOP: “Bring Your Own Pen/Pencil” DNF: “Did Not Find” – did not find a cache. FTF: “First to Find” – the first to find a new cache. (It’s kind of a big deal). TOTT: “Tools of the Trade – any tool that might be used to search for /retrieve /find /log a geocache, i.e. tweezers or flashlight. Collectable: A status assigned to any trackable item that people can keep in their possession, and do not have to physically move to another geocache. Muggle: A non-geocacher. Based on “Muggle” from the Harry Potter series. Muggled: When a cache has been “muggled”, it usually means it was dismantled or removed by an unsuspecting non-player.

Common Types of Geocaches:

Traditional: Container & logbook and swag if the container is large enough. Multi: A series of caches each with coordinates that lead to the next cache. The final container contains the logbook. Mystery or Puzzle: Must solve a puzzle to find the cache. Continued on next page


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Challenge: Must complete a reasonably attainable geo related task in order to log the find. Such as finding a cache in every county in a state or finding a cache every calendar day for a month or a year…or even a decade?

Basic Geocaching Etiquette:

Make sure to follow geocaching etiquette, which applies equally in real life and online. Always respect others and their property. Leave a cache location ready for the next geocacher so that they will have a great experience too. And remember, it’s never too late to do the right thing. • Abide by all laws, ordinances, and regulations. • Heed the signs that read “No Trespassing”. • Replace the cache container as you found it unless it is obviously exposed. • If you take something, leave something (equal or better value). • Avoid creating a public disturbance. • Pick up trash as you cache. • Notify the cache owner if the container is in need of attention (email, Needs Maintenance log, etc.). • Be kind to the environment. • As a cache owner, maintain your caches. • Move trackables according to their goal or mission. • Provide the best possible coordinates for your cache hides. • Don’t post tracking numbers, or pictures of tracking numbers online without the owner’s consent. • Beware of Muggles and protect the integrity of the container’s hiding spot. • Keep trading items family-friendly and safe for all ages.

• Don’t sign the log over someone else’s name. • Promptly log that you picked up a trackable from a cache so that others know it’s no longer there. • This list is in no way all-inclusive but should act as a good starting point. See more at www.geocacherscompass. com/how-to-geocache/geocaching-etiquette-courtesies As an anonymous geocacher once said, “I use billiondollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods…what’s your hobby?” Mary Hyland purchased her home on the Volga River in Wadena, Iowa, in 2013 and enjoys gardening and spending time in her cabin along the river in the backyard. Other interests – besides Geocaching – include paddling Northeast Iowa Rivers, fishing, camping, canning, and puttering about. She also enjoys photography and reading Inspire(d).

Learn more

www.geocaching.com www.iowageocachers.org www.geocacherscompass.com

Find Your Place



Stay for a nighttime. Turn it into a lifetime. Clayton County offers a variety of Inns, Cabins, B&Bs, Campgrounds & RV Parks, and Hotels & Motels.

Monona, Clayton County, Iowa is your dream getaway in the heart of the Driftless Area region. Like no other region in the world, northeast Iowa’s Paleozoic Plateau is a pristine paradise that escaped the flattening effect of glaciation during the last ice age. Its steep forested ridges, deeply-carved river valleys, natural wildlife habitats and flyways, underground caves, springfed waterfalls, and cold-water trout streams will supply you with endless relaxing and exhilarating experiences.


Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com


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2 amazing spaces. Small or large events. Delicious in-house catering.

Iowa State Parks Celebrates 100 Years + Backbone State Park Centennial Celebration!

Open 11am-12am daily. Kitchen open 11am-10pm.

Thursday, May 28:

Evening Dedication Ceremony Local and state dignitaries will help re-dedicate Backbone State Park in a special event that will include food and music.

Friday, May 29:

Saturday, May 30:

5K Run, Programs and Concert A morning 5K organized by the Friends of Backbone State Park, along with a full schedule of naturalist programs, outdoor recreation and art demonstrations, museum tours, food and beverage vendors, and more throughout the day, followed by an evening concert. See event details at iowadnr.gov/ backbonecentennial

b uy great


Programs and Concert Naturalist programs, outdoor recreation and art demonstrations – think fly fishing and rock climbing demonstrations, art and history exhibits, and kidfriendly programs both Friday and Saturday – plus museum tours, food and beverage vendors, and more throughout the day, followed by an evening concert.




oy, are we grateful for state parks! Getting out in nature is one of the best ways to relax and find beauty in the world. In Iowa, the state park systems are turning 100 years old in 2020. Wahoo, happy birthday! Iowa parks 2020 centennial goals are to: Celebrate the importance of state parks to Iowa’s history, culture, and quality of life; Connect Iowans to natural resources in a personal and passionate way; and Inspire a high level of appreciation and stewardship of the Iowa state park system for the future. These are goals we here at Inspire(d) can fully get behind, and we hope you will too! There will be special events, promotions, historical and cultural connections and much more held throughout the year to commemorate the centennial. For more information visit www.iowadnr.gov/ parks2020. The very first Iowa state park was Backbone State Park, located right here in Northeast Iowa and dedicated in 1920. There will be a threeday festival May 28 - 30, 2020 at Backbone State Park to celebrate its birthday! All events are open to the public (and maybe check out Iowa’s first geocache while you’re there!). 

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ome of Zach Burke’s favorite childhood memories will always be learning the nuts and bolts of John Deere tractor repair from his late father, Jay. “When I was little, my dad ran a repair shop next door to our house in Fort Atkinson,” he recalls. “He was constantly working on a tractor or combine, and he was always asking me to help him out on the weekends, as far back as my grade school days.”   In 2012, Zach graduated from Turkey Valley High School in Jackson Junction, Iowa. While many of his classmates wrestled with their plans for the future, Zach knew exactly where he was headed – the two-year John Deere TECH program at Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) in Calmar, where his dad had taught for more than 20 years.  “It was the only thing I wanted to do,” he says of joining the 30-some other students who were learning to service John Deere machinery that year.  Begun in 1989, the John Deere TECH program is supported by the John Deere Company – the largest agriculture machinery company in the world.  Continued on next page

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restoration & weatherization

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Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com

“It’s a year-round program that provides students with hands-on experience on every type of John Deere machinery, including diesel engines, transmissions, small engines, combines, and lawn and garden machines,” says Zach. “We had classroom instruction in the morning and then lab time in the afternoon. Some of my classmates weren’t that interested in John Deere machines per se, but they realized that this program is a great place to start because the material it covers applies to many other types of machinery.” Still, the overarching goal of the program, says Duane Bouska, a faculty member, is to “provide training that qualifies students for technician jobs in many areas, but most specifically at a John Deere dealer.” The John Deere TECH program is just one of the options offered at NICC and community colleges across the country, though. “NICC has more than 55 career and technical programs that lead to high-demand occupations,” says Wendy Mihm-Herold, NICC’s Vice President for Business and Community Solutions. “On average, out of 10 open positions, seven require a two-year degree or less, while two require a bachelor’s degree and one a master’s degree. It is critical for community colleges to have career pathways that lead to high-demand occupations so our local economy can continue to thrive.”     To that end, Iowa’s governor has established ‘Future Ready Iowa,’ a focus plan to increase trades and STEM skills for Iowans. The goal is for 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce between ages 25-64 to have education and training beyond high school (such as that offered through the John Deere TECH program) by 2025. When Zach earned his associate’s degree from NICC in 2014, he joined the staff of P & K Midwest John Deere dealership in Sumner, Iowa, the company that had sponsored him for the program at NICC. In December 2018, his commute to work doubled to just over an hour when, “on a whim,” he applied for and was hired to conduct dynamometer tests – assessing the reliability and durability of diesel engines – at the John Deere plant in Waterloo, Iowa. “We simulate real-world load and torque on developmental or experimental engines,” says Zach, who logs hours from 3 to 11 pm Monday through Friday as a second-shift worker in Department 30. “It is really cool because we get to see and work on new John Deere machinery before anyone else does.” Completing the NICC John Deere TECH program and going on to work at a large facility like John Deere in Waterloo, opens up a lot of job possibilities long-term, Zach says. But it’s when he pulls open the sliding doors of the family’s barn, where a few impressively large John Deere vehicles are stored, that Zach lights up and seems most proud of the path he has pursued since graduating from high school. “These tractors were my dad’s pride and joy,” he says, noting his father died from complications of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2011. “And because of my education and current work experience, I now have the knowledge to keep them running.” John Deere tractors are an indelible part of the Driftless landscape, and while Sara Friedl-Putnam enjoyed learning more about their design and maintenance, she still longs to drive one (just once!). 

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

Welcome to HARMONY, MINNESOTA July 3 –5: Harmony’s 125th Anniversary Celebration & Fourth of July Celebration • Grand Parade • All-School Reunion • Street Dance • Jim Busta & Molly B in the Park • Car Show • Kids Games and so much fun for the whole family! @beebalm_harmony



Open to the public daily

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estelleseatery.com Catering now available!

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Banquet facilities available for meetings or special events

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

Amish Tours of Harmony Experience a lifestyle...


Chef/Owner Matt Brown 121 Main Avenue N 507.886.1234

Niagara Cave & Mini Golf Nationally recognized as one of the Top Ten Caves in the United States

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

On our 1-hour guided tour…

Mini Bus Tours . Car Tours . Group Bus Tours . Spring thru Fall Call 507-886-2303 or 800-752-6474 . www.amish-tours.com

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

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

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For a FREE Visitor Guide, call 1-800-288-7153 or visit us on the web at www.exploreharmony.com


Space Slow down. Recalibrate. Discover something new. ALL PHOTOS COURTESY WALKING SPACE


Spring 2020 / iloveinspired.com

After your massage... take a breath.







alking is a simple exercise. You just put one foot in front of the other, right? But this simple rollicking, back and forth movement offers rewards for both body and mind. Walking can bolster spirits, decrease worry, and, when you do it outside, connect you with nature. So it was perhaps no coincidence that, after a painful break-up with his romantic partner, Andrew Boddicker – a native of Walker, Iowa, no less – gravitated toward a walk. A really long one, in fact: The pilgrimage of El Camino de Santiago. El Camino de Santiago follows an ancient network of pathways along a former Roman trade route. It ends at the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great, in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. Christians heavily traveled this spiritual path in the Middle Ages, and in the 12th century, pilgrims began arriving from abroad to travel the route, guided by locals. It has gained in popularity once again, the resurgence starting in the 1990s. A few hundred thousand international pilgrims complete the reportedly transformative journey each year. Andrew joined those ranks in 2015. Over the course of 28 days and 500 miles, Andrew walked. He walked slowly and methodically, and, in this act of intensive walking, he found healing. “It gave me the space, time, and pace to live more rooted in the moment,” he says. “It also changed how I approach problems in life.” It gave him an idea for a new path in life, too. One evening, while asleep along El Camino de Santiago, he dreamed that he’d started up a series of similarly healing walks in his native Iowa. When he woke up the next morning, Andrew knew he had to make that dream a reality. He worked for some time in London, saving for this goal, until 2018 when he moved back to his family’s farm, and established his new organization: Walking Space. 

Continued on next page


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321 W Water St. Decorah, IA • 563-387-0191 • www.vikingstatebank.com



The Walking Space Bunk Bus is a vital part of the experience. Folks can just walk and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Driftless Region. All photos courtesy Walking Space

Walking Space currently offers five long-distance walks throughout Iowa and Minnesota’s Driftless region. Ranging from one-hour “Mindfulness Walks” to a six-day / five-night “Signature Walk,” each walk is designed by Andrew to foster personal growth, healing, and inspired action. Everything from meals to overnight accommodations are thoughtfully curated by Walking Space (see sidebar for details).  “I’m trying to create a stress-free experience,” Andrew says. He understands that one of the biggest obstacles to embarking on a long-distance walking journey is the planning itself. “I’m not catering to the people that would do it on their own – the people who are going to do the Appalachian Trail. I’m looking after those people who have no idea what they are doing, but they know that something like this is needed in their life. You don’t have to carry a pack, you don’t have to worry about food, you don’t have to worry about where you’re staying. You just have to walk and reap the benefits of that experience.” After a day of transformational walking, walkers can relax aboard Walking Space’s custom Bunk Bus, a vintage Blue Bird school bus transformed into a comfortable, modern mini-RV. “I built that bus over six months – and it was really hard,” he laughs. “But I was really determined. It’s pretty essential to the experience.” It has been carefully designed and outfitted to provide reliable accommodations during the program’s overnights, including electricity, a full-sized refrigerator, personal storage, a fan, books, eight comfortable beds, and even an onboard ukulele. The Bunk Bus allows the group to overnight at community campgrounds along the planned walking route. “It provides continuity for the week. All of your things stay on the bus, you have

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your own little bunk,” Andrew says. Or, if you Before his Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, don’t want to sleep in an RV with a group, private Andrew purposefully avoided doing much tents are available for an extra fee - and they’re research. He bought a guidebook, but didn’t already pitched when you arrive at the campsite! read it – he didn’t want any preconceived The Driftless Region felt like the perfect place ideas about what might happen. for Andrew to build this new business. “I flew into Spain and I walked,” he says. “It’s absolutely gorgeous and has a variety of “I didn’t know anything. And I loved it. It’s landscapes,” he says. “And the region is full of much more interesting to me if I can discover people who love where they live, and who are it on my own.” eager to share what they love with those who And even though Andrew has now walked visit.” these Driftless paths many times as a guide But finding trails with suitable amenities for Walking Space, he still encounters Andrew Boddicker proved difficult. Originally, Andrew was going to surprises. “I’m never done discovering a name Walking Space “Iowa Way,” in reference place. It’s mostly the people I’m meeting, to his remarkable personal experiences on El but I will discover something new every Camino de Santiago, which is translated to time,” he says. “The Way of St. James.” He imagined the Signature Walk starting in On the first-ever Walking Space Signature Walk, the group that Dubuque and ending in Decorah. But Andrew couldn’t locate any arrived in downtown Lanesboro, Minnesota was very curious about trails in Iowa that had bathrooms and showers available at regularly the historic Spud Boy Diner dining car nestled between the town’s spaced intervals for long-walkers. charming main street buildings. The diner had closed for the day, That’s when he landed on Minnesota’s Root River State Trail, yet that didn’t dampen diner owner Gordon “Gordy” Tindall’s smallbeginning just across the Iowa border in Harmony, Minnesota and town hospitality.  ending in Houston, Minnesota. The 60-mile repurposed Chicago, “We were looking in through the windows” Andrew says, “And Milwaukee, and St Paul rail line hosts amenities every 10 to 15 miles. Gordy says, ‘Come on in!’” Andrew says with a laugh. “Oh my gosh! I “I’ve not found any other trails in the country that have that. So, yay love that man; he’s so much fun.” for the Root River Trail,” he says enthusiastically. “It’s perfect!”   Gordy gave the group a tour of the diner car, answered questions, Walking, rather than driving or biking, provides visitors a more and took everyone down the street to see the pool hall he’s building. intimate method to observe and interact with the people and places “I’m from a small town,” Andrew says. “I want to try to engage that distinguish a community, something Andrew believes has the these communities in different ways and help people see that power to change perceptions of small-town America. they’re not dying communities; they are full of life.”

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Registrations are coming in from as near as Decorah and as far off as California. “People are looking for these experiences,” Andrew says. One recent solo registrant was initially unsure about her ability to complete the Walk she’d just signed on for. “She was really nervous about coming. It turned out it was going to be just her and another woman – a good friend of mine – on the walk,” Andrew says, “They got on thick as thieves. They are now the best of friends. It’s that magic that can happen when you just go for something: it’s the environment, it’s the people – it’s all there!” For folks similarly unsure of their ability to complete a long walk, there’s an optional Walking Space training guide for the months leading up to the scheduled walk. Beyond that, Andrew suggests you jump – or walk – on in. “Trust the process,” he says. “Trust the universe.”

Thinking of taking a walk with Walking Space? Check out the current offerings: Signature Walk: 6 days, 5 nights traveling 60 miles from Harmony to Houston, Minn. utilizing the Root River State Trail in Southeast Minnesota Yoga & Walking: 3 days, 2 nights of guided yoga instruction and tranquil walking along the Root River Trail in southeastern Minnesota Life Transformation Walk: Follows the path of the Signature Walk, including daily exercises led by life transformation coach, Becky Prater Pace Setter Walk: 3 days, 2 nights of guided walking utilizing the Root River State Trail Mindfulness Walks: These 1-hour guided walks are scheduled at various locations throughout the Iowa and Minnesota Driftless region Find more information and register at WalkingSpace.org.

Erin is a native of rural southwest Michigan who fell head over heels for Houston County, Minnesota in the gorgeous Driftless region. Here, she’s pioneered a new youth media and local history program, Stories: YES, in partnership with the Smithsonian. Erin also lovingly curates the Crystal Creek Citizen-Artist Residency program.

You never know who might play some music on a Walking Space walk!





3012 Middle Sattre Rd, Decorah, IA . lunavalleyfarm.com

Open by appointment Tues-Sat: 563.379.7583 - 930 Division St. Cresco, IA

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Martha Hanson

Interviewed by Nori Hadley (Activity Director at Arlin Falck Assisted Living) and Rachel Weis (Granddaughter of Martha)

Martha (Berry) Hanson, 78, was born in Washington, Pennsylvania, but has made Winneshiek County her home since 1976, when she and her husband, Donald, took over his family’s farm in Canoe Township with their four children. The Hansons moved to Arlin Falck Assisted Living in 2016.   Martha is a dynamo. She plays cards and word games, visits friends both old and new, quilts, exercises, runs errands, delivers flowers on behalf of her daughter and son-in-law (owners of Ladybug Landscapes and Decorah Floral), attends her grandchildren’s events, and serves as needed at their church, Canoe Ridge Lutheran. Martha’s enthusiasm for life is evident to each person lucky enough to know her. She jumps at the chance to learn new things, and she’s inquisitive, honest, curious, optimistic, and funny. She can make Norwegian treats like lefse and rommegrot (despite having no Scandinavian heritage), and her genuine love and acceptance of people shines through her every action.    Keeping up with Martha is a full-time job in itself, which is why I asked her granddaughter Rachel, age 10, to assist me with her Grandma’s Probituary. The interview was filled with laughter, a few tears, and some surprises for Rachel. “I didn’t know that story,” was her repeated comment, and Martha told a lot of stories! Perhaps our conversation can best be summarized by the following exchange: Rachel, to Martha: “Try to describe yourself in one sentence.  One sentence, Grandma.” Martha:  “Boy, tough question.”  (pause) Me, to Rachel: “How about just a word? Do you have a word to describe your Grandma?” Rachel: “Talkative!”   What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you? I was too young to really think it was advice, but when I was about 10 years old, I stayed overnight with my Great Aunt Elizabeth. She was my Grandfather’s twin sister, and she was very religious. Aunt Elizabeth said grace before every meal, and had a little stool by her bed for kneeling to say her prayers. I had never been around anybody that religious and that proper, but I took it all in. I realize now that she was a good role model, and someone for me to look up to.   How about the worst? When we were getting prepared to live here (at Arlin Falck Assisted Living), more than one person told us “Don’t move to Decorah! Don’t move into a ‘home.’ It’s too soon!” But I was ready! I wanted to be here, and it’s a good thing we did. What did you want to be when you grew up? A nurse. What do/did you do? In high school, I got some information from “Humboldt Airline Institute” in Minneapolis about a class to work in the airline industry. Not as a stewardess, but groundwork – reservations and things like that. So, 10 days after my graduation, two other girls from school and I flew to Minneapolis, because Humboldt sent us plane tickets. I was not one bit afraid of going. Looking at the city from the air, I thought it was a resort town because of all the lakes! It was so pretty and clean and green. They picked us up in a limo, and drove us through beautiful streets. I lived with a family – the Applebaums – in St. Louis Park, and went into downtown Minneapolis for school. Sundays I had off, and I could go to Lake Calhoun, and McDonald’s had just come into town. And who ever heard of buying a bag of hamburgers and French fries for a quarter a piece? Anyway, I finished the program, and I was 18 years old. And then I found out that the airlines didn’t hire anyone under age 21! Other girls had interviews and got jobs all over: San Francisco, Chicago, Washington DC. I finally found a job working in a warehouse handling tickets, and it was so hot in there. No air conditioning or shade trees or anything. Then, Northwest Airlines had a strike, and they sent me a free one-way ticket home to Pennsylvania. But I missed Minneapolis, so I took a bus all the way back to town by myself. I got a job at the new airport working at the AVIS rental counter, and then I met Donald. Donald & Martha Hanson

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you? I’d like my tablet...but I wouldn’t have WiFi. And then I’d just be frustrated that my tablet wouldn’t work! I’d want a book to read, and I’d hope that the book would maybe have some crossword puzzles in it. I think I could do just fine with some dried fruit and water. Water is good enough for me. Describe Yourself in One Sentence:  I am happy. I really look for a better side of life. I think we waste too much time when we are indulging our own misery. Tell us about your wedding day: We got married August 21, 1961, at 7:30 pm at the Presbyterian Church in Washington, Pennsylvania. Donald’s family and a girlfriend of mine came all the way from Iowa, and stayed with my parents. My cousin suggested we go into Pittsburgh to get my hair done, and my Mother was angry I left! She thought she needed help with 10 extra people at the house! Well, my Mother-in-law – you wouldn’t have to worry about her, and my friend was a country girl. You would just say, “We’re gonna do something,” and they were already done doing it! My Mother didn’t really have to worry about anything. My parents were members of The Grange, so our reception was at The Grange Hall. It seemed like everyone they knew was there. It was packed! And since we had an evening wedding, it was very late by the time we were married, went through the receiving line, ate supper, and opened gifts. Just feeding that number of people – it was unreal!

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WEEKEND OUT! Join us at Sparrow’s April 3-5 for Women’s Weekend Out! FREE gifts, Tammy Rice's Trunk Show, Door Prizes, Eclectic New Decor and Gifts - Plus Drinks & Treats!

200 W Water St Decorah, Iowa 563.382.5742

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Friday evening, April 3rd

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