Inspire(d) Spring 2022

Page 1



NO. 68 SPRING 2022



open daily | located at 1600 PROSPERITY Road, decorah, IA | 563.387.6700


everyone FOOD Welcome COOPErative decorah, iowa

312 West Water Street, Decorah • 563.382.4666 • • Open 9:00 am - 7:00 pm daily


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


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


local vendors

bottle shop

211 College Drive, Decorah, Iowa

Home Mortgage Financing

You make the memories. We make them possible. Whether you plan to buy, build, improve, or refinance, we can help you with your home ownership dreams.

Contact a Home Mortgage Lender today at 563.382.0091 Mike Huinker (NMLS# 762869) Laura Schmauss (NMLS# 762872) Becky Mitchell (NMLS# 1751576)


Lillian Goldman Visitors Center Gift & Garden Store, Gardens, Trails & More Visitors Center open March-October 11am to 5pm | 7 days a week 3074 N Winn Rd, Decorah, IA 52101 563.382.6104 ·







Community Builders 23
























...and more! ON THE COVER:


Minnesota-based artist Amy Rice created the piece, called “Root Down” with Enamel, Acrylic, Ink, and Cut Paper. Her work often features reuse of items like old maps, love letters, and stamps, and that felt like a nice fit with the theme “Restart” for this issue. Amy has a show this spring at Lanesboro Arts, sponsored by Inspire(d). Read more about Amy and her art on page 16.




you’ll find it here.

It’s like a quarterback that throws you cash.

2.75 %

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on balances up to $20,000 if qualifications are met

on all balances even if qualifications aren’t met



Free Kasasa Cash® checking makes it easy to earn a higher rate. To earn your rewards, just do the following transactions & activities in your Kasasa Cash® account during each Monthly Qualification Cycle: • At least 1 ACH credit or ACH payment transaction

• At least 12 debit card purchases • Be enrolled in and agree to receive e-Statements Qualification Information:Account transactions and activities may take one or more days to post and settle to the account and all must do so during the Monthly Qualification Cycle in order to qualify for the account’s rewards. The following activities do not count toward earning account rewards: ATM-processed transactions, transfers between accounts, checks and cash withdrawals made at any of our locations.“Monthly Qualification Cycle” means a period beginning one (1) banking day prior to the first day of the current statement cycle through one (1) banking day prior to the last business day of the current statement cycle.See our website or call (563)538-4401 for specific Monthly Qualification Cycle dates.Reward Information:When your Kasasa Cash account qualifications are met during a Monthly Qualification Cycle, daily balances up to and including $20,000.00 in your Kasasa Cash account earn an interest rate of 2.7159% resulting in an APY of 2.75% and daily balances over $20,000.00 earn an interest rate of 0.1998% on the portion of the daily balance over $20,000.00, resulting in a range from 0.63% to 2.75% APY depending on the account’s daily balance.You will receive reimbursements up to an aggregate total of $25.00 for nationwide ATM withdrawal fees incurred within your Kasasa Cash account during that Monthly Qualification Cycle. We reimburse ATM withdrawal fees based on estimates when the withdrawal information we receive does not identify the ATM withdrawal fee. If you have not received an appropriate reimbursement, we will adjust the reimbursement amount if we receive the transaction receipt within sixty (60) calendar days of the withdrawal transaction. NOTE: ATM fee reimbursements only apply to Kasasa Cash or Kasasa Cash Back transactions via ATM; Kasasa Saver ATM transaction fees are not reimbursed nor refunded.When your Kasasa Cash qualifications are not met, the interest rate earned on the account’s entire daily balance will be 0.0500% resulting in an APY of 0.05% and ATM withdrawal fees are not refunded.Interest will be credited to your Kasasa Cash account on the last day of the current statement cycle. Nationwide ATM withdrawal fee reimbursements will be credited to your account on the last day of the current statement cycle.APY = Annual Percentage Yield.APYs accurate as of 11/30/2020.APY calculations are based on an assumed balance of $120,000.00 in your Kasasa Cash account and an assumed statement cycle of thirty-one (31) days.Rates, rewards, and bonuses, if any, are variable and may change after account is opened; rates may change without notice to you. No minimum balance is required to earn or receive the account’s rewards. Rewards less than a penny cannot be distributed. Fees may reduce earnings.Additional Information:Account approval, conditions, qualifications, limits, timeframes, enrollments, log-ons and other requirements apply.$50 minimum deposit is required to open the account.Enrollment in electronic services (e.g. online banking, e-statements) and log-ons may be required to meet some of the account’s qualifications. Limit of one account per Social Security Number.There are no recurring monthly maintenance charges or fees to open or close this account.Advertised information and rewards are based on all account qualifications being met during each cycle period.Contact one of our bank service representatives for additional information, account details, restrictions, reward calculations, processing limitations, cycle dates and enrollment instructions. Member FDIC. Kasasa and Kasasa Cash are trademarks of Kasasa, Ltd., registered in the U.S.A.

What’s it mean?

From the Editor


he first thing we do when something’s not working – a computer, a coffee grinder, a phone – is do a restart. We power it off. Sometimes we even unplug it, and then we power it back up again, hopefully with its functions restored and ready to restart. Sidenote: Pretty much every day I get a prompt from my computer: Updates available. Restart > now; later; remind me tomorrow? Every time, I click “remind me tomorrow.” Ha! We are all works in progress! And that’s more than okay. Our mental health writer, Olivia Lynn Schnur, gives us a background on why restarting – a goal, a day, your life – is a worthwhile endeavor (pg 36). She writes: “Each time we restart, our why becomes louder and our why not loses its voice.” Minnesota-based artist Amy Rice (featured on the cover) made a conscious decision to restart her creative direction more than a decade ago, painting her future, rather than her present or past. Much of her work switched to featuring the flower farm of her future – which is now a reality! Inspire(d) is sponsoring Amy’s upcoming show at Lanesboro Arts, “A Few Steps Ahead: Finding Hope in a Seed Started.” Her work often features reuse of items like old maps, love letters, and stamps – a good way to restart the life of these items, and a perfect fit for this issue (pg 16). This Restart theme is also a nod to Earth Day. I can’t let an opportunity to love the Earth slip on by; it needs all the love it can get! Kristine Kopperud met up with two women who are both working to spread that message: Ayla Boylen of Cedar Rapids, and Leslie Smith Sand of Decorah. They have found a way to advocate for climate action on a community level, building their communities up as they go (pg 56). We have other great Community Builders in this issue as well – read about Decorah’s own Friends of Decorah Public Library; Renée Bergstrom of Lanesboro, Minnesota; and Bree Breckel and Eric Weninger of Cashton, Wisconsin, and how each group, person, or partnership has worked to make their hometowns a better place to live. Speaking of “re-” words, reuse is the name of the game in our piece about four awesome, women-run secondhand stores in the Drifltess (pg 50). Plus, our Sum of your Business features Jamie Gavle and Rendered Unique, home to great rehabbed and vintage furniture, handmade jewelry, Midwest-inspired apparel, and more (pg 42). Dreaming of restarting my garden is one of the things that gets me through the end of winter. You too? Check out inspiration on page 48. Love plants that don’t require weeding? Conservationist writer Craig Thompson gives us a tour of nature’s spring ephemerals (pg 60). Don’t know that word? I didn’t either. It means: “lasting a very short time.” Which is often the case with the entirety of spring, so let’s soak it up! Spring can be a time where our dreams from the start of the year have fallen to the wayside. But just as the world is restarting its life outside your doors, peeking out of the earth toward the sunshine, so can you. Press restart today.

Looking forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols

What is the driftless?

P.S. Flipping these pages might feel a little different this issue – the paper market has been really volatile, and we’ve had to choose different paper the last two issues. Don’t worry, though, it just means we’re getting even better at problem solving (I mean, it’s already part of our mission anyway). Thanks for your continued support!

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

Who are we? CO-FOUNDERS:

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

WE COULDN’T DO IT WITHOUT: Kristine Kopperud / contributor Sara Friedl-Putnam / contributor Sara Walters / contributor Olivia Lynn Schnur / contributor Craig Thompson / contributor Tallitha Reese / contributor Steve Harris / contributor Mary Thompson / illustrator Inspire(d) Magazine is published quarterly by Inspire(d) Media, LLC, 412 Oak Street, Decorah, Iowa, 52101. This issue is dated Spring 2022, issue 68 volume 15, Copyright 2022 by Inspire(d) Magazine.

Support Inspire(d)

Although Inspire(d) is free on stands, you can have it sent to your door (or extended family!) for only $28/year. Email for a membership or visit for more info. Want to make a comment about something you read in the magazine? Email

Interested in advertising? Contact Benji at or call 563-379-6315. Visit our website:

It’s a region in the Midwest – Northeast Iowa, Southeast Minnesota, Southwest Wisconsin, and a wee bit of Northwest Illinois – that was skipped by the glaciers in the last ice age, leaving the area “lacking glacial drift” – i.e. Driftless. The gist of that is we get to enjoy bluffs, valleys, coulees, and other fun geographical features that don’t typically occur in other parts of our states (the Mississippi River contributes nicely to this list as well). It’s a lovely place to live and visit, and we’re happy you’re here! 07

Perfect for a Day Trip or Weekend Getaway!

Explore Harmony, Minnesota 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.


65 Main Ave North - Harmony, MN Consign with us! Learn more at


• Carts available • Banquet & meeting space to rent • Beautiful 9-hole golf course & clubhouse

Catering now available!



Chef/Owner Matt Brown 121 Main Avenue N 507.886.1234

Amish Tours of Harmony Experience a lifestyle... Enjoy an exciting tour of Harmony’s Amish community with one of our knowledgeable guides!

Golf Club

535 4th St. NE, Harmony MN


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

On our 1-hour guided tour…

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

FARM CHARM • Handmade home frangrances & soy candles

• Hand-crafted custom tumblers • Home decor & more 35 1st St NW, Harmony, MN •

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

Also enjoy…

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

Check website for hours & availability 507- 886 - 6606 29842 County Road 30 -

Harmony, MN 55939

Stop by our visitor center: 15 2nd St NW, Harmony • 1-800-288-7153 •

What We’re


right now



Postville, Iowa, has long embraced the tagline of “Hometown to the World”, and the NE Iowa Community is continuing its mission through “Community Heart & Soul,” a proven method of community inclusion and development. Based on three powerful principles – involve everyone, focus on what matters most, and play the long game – Community Heart & Soul begins with a four-phase process, created by the Orton Family Foundation in Shelburne, Vermont, and utilized in cities in over 20 states. The program brings residents together to identify and honor the unique character of their town, providing opportunities for people all around the community to step forward and share what they love about Postville and what they see for its future.

Currently, Postville is in Phase 1, which involves forming community teams to build awareness, interest, and commitment. A core team has completed Phase 1 training and they’re looking for other community members to get involved in the process and consider taking part in sub teams. Continued on next page


Decorah will be represented in a big way this spring at the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Iowa program. Aryn Henning Nichols, of Inspire(d) Media, and Lisa Lantz, of The Getup, have been chosen from a select pool of entrepreneurs across the state for Cohort 7 of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Iowa. These two women each have a vision for their business that they’re excited to explore and refine through this intensive 12-week growth-focused program. Designed by Babson College, the nation’s top-ranked entrepreneurship school, the 10,000 Small Businesses curriculum focuses on practical business skills that can immediately be applied by small business owners, including negotiation, marketing, and employee management. Participants develop an actionable growth plan for their business with the help of advisors and a network of like-minded entrepreneurs. Des Moines Area Community College and Iowa’s entire community college system partners with Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses to offer Iowans access to the program, providing scholars with greater access to education, capital, and business support services. To date, more than 10,000 business owners have graduated from the program across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Inspire(d) Media, founded in 2007, publishes Inspire(d) Magazine each quarter, featuring positive news about the great people, places, and things in the Driftless Region of NE Iowa, SE Minnesota, and SW Wisconsin (you know, what you’re reading right now!). Inspire(d)’s mission is to connect communities, build regional pride, and inspire readers through its “experiment in positive news.” The Getup, founded in 2018, offers high-quality and affordable secondhand clothing and gear for the entire family – newborn to adult. Customers can shop at their brick and mortar in downtown Decorah, or from anywhere through their online store The Getup’s mission fosters community and sustainability through local outreach and by emphasizing a circular economy rather than a one-way track to the landfill. Keep your eyes open for updates from both of these awesome female Iowa entrepreneurs! • thegetupdecorah. com •

Dance & Theatre



APRIL 8 – 7:30 PM APRIL 9 –2:30 PM & 7:30 PM



APRIL 22 & 23 – 7:30 PM APRIL 28, 29, & 30 – 7:30 PM


MAY 5, MAY 6, & MAY 7 – 7:30 PM MAY 8 – 2:30 PM

Mark your calendars for Luther Dance & Theatre shows! More info online at \ Spring 2022


A LITTLE LIST OF WHAT WE THINK IS AWESOME IN THE DRIFTLESS REGION THIS SPRING... “In Postville we look forward to finding the shared love for this awesome town, so that we can work together to create a shared vision for our future,” says 6th grade teacher and community developer Felecia DeJong. “Anyone who wants to follow our journey is welcome to follow us on social media. If you live, work, or play in Postville, this journey is for you and we want your voice to be part of this process. Anyone is welcome to reach out with questions or to get involved.” For most communities, the four phases take about two years, but completion of the Community Heart & Soul model is really just the beginning. It launches a new way of doing business that nurtures a more vibrant community far into the future. Find out more and follow along at: or by emailing:


Women’s Weekend Out Decorah is back for 2022! Mark your calendars for April 1-3, and plan to enjoy beautiful downtown Decorah all weekend long. Celebrating its 20th year of festivities, WWO is excited to host this super fun

women’s weekend out


spring event, with promotions, a style show, special shopping opportunities, and more! Make sure to register for Women’s Weekend Out at –swag bags available to the first 250 registrants! And don’t miss out on tickets (advance sales only!) for the WWO Style Show Brunch, Saturday, April 2, 9 am at the Hotel Winneshiek. The Style Show features 10 local businesses, and includes a delicious brunch catered by 301 Eatery. Find our more, register, or purchase style show tickets by visiting or 563382-3990.


Born out of a dream to create an event that highlights the regions beauty, alongside the roots of yoga, Driftless Yoga Festival came to life in 2019. DYF’s vision is to create a high-caliber, crosscultural event that impacts a range of communities–from Decorah businesses and residents, to day trippers and globetrotters. The festival brings a collective of instructors, authors, disruptors, and social justice activists to the stage, with a commitment to the roots of the practice and making yoga more equitable and inclusive. “This year’s festival is making up for lost time,” says Laree Schouweiler (she/her), Driftless Yoga Festival’s founder & organizer. “After a 2020 cancellation, a 2021 hybrid festival, I am humbled at the high-quality of presenters that will be IN Decorah this summer.” Including Tristan Katz (they/them) who was named one Yoga Journal’s 2021 Gamechangers; TedX Speaker & author Dr. Sundar Balasubramanian (he/him); and well-loved local yoga teacher, Dr. Libby Abbas (she/her). The calendar of events includes immersions, workshops, and classes with topics ranging from diversity, equity,

Friday, April 1 • 7:30 p.m.

Brubeck Bros. Quartet

Goitse (gwi-cha)

Saturday, Mar. 12 • 7:30 p.m.

Call (563) 387-1357 or visit to see the full season.

Bestsellers Mysteries Puzzles Poetry Childrens Books Scandinavian And more!

and inclusion in yoga/wellness spaces to SomaYoga, Accessible Yoga, Mindfulness hikes, Ayurvedic practices, and so much more. Driftless Yoga Festival understands that financial barriers prevent people from accessing yoga and wellness spaces. To walk in alignment with their equitable mission, the event offers tiered pricing for weekend passes to the festival. “By providing tieredpricing, it is creating a high-quality event that is accessible to attendees from a variety of economic backgrounds,” Laree says. “To me, that’s what yoga is all about: ensuring the practice is available to all.” Find out more and register: www.driftlessyogafestival


A winding Wisconsin road trip is one of Team Inspire(d)’s favorite activities. With local foods and watering holes dotted across both urban and rural (and sometimes really rural) places, the state is rich with experiences to be had. Many of our readers may be familiar with the WI Public Television show “Wisconsin Foodie” – particularly since Viroqua rock star Luke Zahm (coowner with his equally rock star wife, Ruthie, of Driftless Café…) took over the hosting duties a couple seasons ago. If you aren’t familiar with the show, the time has come to familiarize yourself, as it wraps local foods, great destinations, and general wanderlust into each episode – close to home! Not only does Luke bring his fun and engaging personality to the show, but the production elements and scenes are positively spectacular. The most recent season (14) launched in January of 2022 on WPTV, but you can watch full episodes, plus bonus content, interviews, and more on the WIFoodie YouTube channel. Recent hits from the season include an inside visit to Emmi Roth Cheese, a local placebased (outdoor!) dinner at Anaway Place, making pizza on the farm with Whitefeather Organics, and so much more. Find all the information, listings, and details at

Get your book buzz!

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Open daily! 563-382-4275 • 112 West Water St. Decorah


As of January 2022, the Decorah Public Library no longer collects fines on any materials, and they deleted all fines from library users’ accounts. (Huzzah!) Why go fine free? Well, lots of reasons, according to our friends at DPL.

Continued on next page \ Spring 2022



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Spring 2022 /

DPL exists to provide equal access to materials, and fines get in the way of that by creating a financial or social barrier for some users. Fines also disproportionately affect the finances of lowerincome library users because they only punish people who can’t easily repay them. There is also little evidence that fines make people return things on time. Fine free libraries report fewer overdue materials and a decrease in the number of days materials are overdue. Plus, fine revenue was only .3 percent of the library’s annual budget. As for patrons who enjoyed paying fines as a way of supporting the library? Great news! That can still be done – as a free will donation! Toss a few bucks in the donation fund when you return things late, and that money will go to add new things to the collection, pay for fun and interesting programs, and more. Credit card donations can also be made to the Friends of Decorah Public Library via paypal, with a link right at the front page of: www. You (obviously) still need to return your materials, though. Anything that is 28 days overdue is considered lost and library users will be billed for the replacement fee of those materials and will be blocked from future checkouts until materials are either returned or paid for. Feel free to reach out to DPL staff if you have any questions.


Spring Grove’s Giants of the Earth Heritage Center – a nonprofit historical society that promotes multigenerational exploration, growth, and collaboration – is offering a fun programming series this year: Passport to other Cultures. Each month, the Heritage Center features a pop-up exhibit that educates visitors on the culture of another country, with an opening event the first or second Thursday of that month at 6:30 pm. These events will highlight the new exhibit, a travelogue presentation, and samples of heritage food and drink. Attendees even get a “passport” to collect stamps each month. The pop-up exhibits remain on display in the new “Welcome Center” room at Giants through that month, highlighting textiles, costumes, maps, books, and other collections relating to that month’s country. In January, Passport event attendees got to immerse in the culture of Turkey, and February brought the foods and dance of Brazil to the program.

This spring, Passports will be highlighting the following countries: Thursday, March 3: Ireland features Irish Dancers, Dulcimer Music, a travelogue by local Irish enthusiasts David Storlie and Sean Young, and a St. Patty’s pop-up concert by the Buck Towne band. Thursday, April 14: An Easter (Velikonoce) Mini Czech-Fest, featuring Eileen Tlusty and Pivo/Blepta Studios owners Craig and Sara Neuzil, and Sara’s mother Rebecca. Egg Making demonstration, Beer Samples, and Kolaches, Oh My! Thursday, May 12: Kick off Spring Grove’s Norwegian Syttende Mai Fest (May 13-15, 2022) with a Passport MaiFest, featuring a community mask/puppetry class, and more! Bonus fun Saturday, May 7: Mollie B. performs in collaboration with Giants of the Earth Heritage Center! At the end of the year, Giants plans to create a cookbook featuring the foods and recipes experienced during the program. Cookbooks will be available for sale at the Heritage Center gift shop. Giants of the Earth Heritage Center is open Monday-Friday from 10 am-5pm for viewing of the pop-up exhibit, assistance with genetic-based or traditional genealogy, shopping, and more. Make sure to ooh and ahh over the recent building renovations as well: An elevator (the building is fully ADA now!), recording studio, and largescale kitchen, to start. More information about Giants of the Earth Heritage Center can be found via Facebook or at Program organizers are still seeking country-relevant guest speakers and collaborators (musicians, foodies, artists, etc) for Vietnam (Hmong culture), Germany, and India, as well as collections for each month’s pop-up exhibit! Please call Giants to lend your expertise or collections for short-term viewing! 507-498-5070




The Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce has been busy lining up multiple opportunities for members to connect and network across the community. Check out one or all of these events to keep in the loop, give input, and lend a helping hand to continue making our region a great place for local businesses to thrive! Not a member of the Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce yet? Learn more about becoming one at Community Connections Hour at Impact Coffee A quarterly “all member” networking opportunity. The first half hour is a formal presentation about a community project. The second half hour is a structured opportunity for Chamber members to continue discussions and network. Upcoming dates: May 11, August 10, November 9 – 7:30-8:30 am Networking Breakfasts at the Landing Market Grab a coffee and a pastry at The Landing and say hi. This is a great opportunity to pop by or stay awhile and chat with chamber staff and members. Upcoming dates: April 27, June 22, August 24, October 26 – 7:30-8:30 am





Continued on next page




Being real Trial Lawyers means we don’t settle out cheap. We fight for full justice and nothing less and see our clients as human beings who we care about. We cherish and place great value on fundamental constitutional rights (Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness). If you or a loved one ever need help, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Request a FREE consultation at 866-TL4J-LAW or

Des Moines • Decorah • Waterloo • Minneapolis • Chicago • Denver • Boston • Oklahoma City • New Mexico Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death Cases Against Insured Defendants

Trial Lawyers for Justice • • • 563-382-5071 • 421 W. Water St, 3rd Floor, Decorah, IA

What We’re

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Wed-Sat: 5pm-close. Reservations highly recommended. 563-382-9463


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Spring 2022 /

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Young Professionals/Business Social Hours – Various Locations Check out these fun, low-key networking events (each with a theme!) for young professionals. Social hours, each hosted at a different location within the community, will generally be held the 3rd Thursday of each month from 4 to 5pm, with exceptions for holidays. Upcoming dates: March 24, April 28, May 26, June 23 – 4-5 pm Find specific event details at


The Decorah Senior Citizen Hospitality Center, or what you might know as the Decorah Senior Center, could use your help! Located at 806 River St, in Decorah, the Decorah Senior Center was built in the late 1960s by a group of farmers and businessowners with the foresight and desire to create a space of community for our retired residents of Decorah. It became just that: A place to play cards, do crafts and workshops, participate in events, and catch up with friends. But there haven’t been many improvements to the building or location in recent years, and it shows. We got an impassioned phone call from our friend, Marilyn Bassford, wondering how to get the word out about the needs of this important community asset. Marilyn herself recently became a member of the Decorah community (moving here to be closer to family), and one of the first places she visited to get to know folks was the Senior Center. And while the people there were more than welcoming, the space could use some renovations: New flooring, restroom and kitchen updates, and more. We here at Inspire(d) are, well, inspired by these amazing business owners, community builders, and leaders that have laid the foundation for Decorah (read about Lillian Bruvold, president of the Decorah Senior Center board on page 66 for just one example), and we want to be sure to pass on the information for folks inspired to support the Senior Center fundraising campaign. Checks can be written out to: Decorah Senior Citizen Improvement Fund, and mailed to Decorah Senior Center treasurer: Mrs. Gerry Sorenson 502 Sunrise Blvd Decorah IA, 52101 Thanks for your support!

Come and visit in scenic Decorah, Iowa! Vesterheim Main Building and Museum Store are open daily. Check for scheduled hours.

Special Exhibits: Innovators and Inventors

Open through May 30, 2022

An Artist’s Journey: Carl Homstad, 50 Years Open through May 30, 2022

Sylvsmidja: Superior Craftsmanship in Silver Since 1940 Opening February 5, 2022

Join Vesterheim Folk Art School in-person or from anywhere in the world! Registration for online and in-person classes through June 2022 is now open! Find more information and register at! This ad supported by Decorah Hotel Motel Marketing Committee.


“Root Down” by Amy Rice Enamel, Acrylic, Ink and Cut Paper 16”x20” - 2018


“A Closed System” by Amy Rice Enamel, Acrylic, Ink and Cut Paper 20” x 16” - 2021


Spring 2022 /


Looking for an amazing venue? Mark your calendars for


Opera House

March 13: The Looney Lutheran’s Livin’ La Vida Lutheran 2 pm April 2: Mitchell Hall & The Tennessee Trio – A Tribute to Johnny Cash 2 & 7 pm April 24: Owl at Home – opera for all ages 2 pm 45 minutes of fun, laughter, & poignant reminders to appreciate the joys of life, featuring Luther College Faculty May 7: Joseph Hall: Elvis Rock N’ Remember 7 pm




or Minnesota-based artist Amy Rice, art was simply another part of growing up. Raised on a farm in Lake Mills, Wisconsin, Amy and her family were always creating, growing, or working on something. “My family was big into 4-H. In addition to sheep and rabbits, I exhibited art at the county fair and almost always had my art picked for the state fair,” she says. “It was a validating experience.” Moving beyond the State Fair arena – and out of Wisconsin – Amy now resides with her husband in Minneapolis, where she’s represented by Groveland Gallery and continues to “always be creating something.” Her art style has solidified over the years, layered with old love letters, envelopes, sheet music, spray paint, acrylics, gouache, and ink (to list just a few). And she has a truly diverse set of offerings – from tiny, intricate artwork to larger pieces painted over old maps to stickers, cards, and even stamps for lettersealing wax. “I am as inspired in my art as much by childhood memories of growing up on a Midwestern farm as I am the urban community in which I now live,” she says in her artist bio. “I am influenced by bicycles, street art, gardening, and random found objects, collective endeavors that challenge hierarchy, acts of compassion, downright silliness, and things with wings.” And north of Minneapolis, in Henriette, Minnesota, Amy is building a kingdom that’s perhaps her largest piece of art. In 2010, Amy was featured on the Minnesota Public Television series Minnesota Original. In that interview, she announced she was making a creative shift from painting her present and past to painting what she wanted for her future. At the time, that included having a cabin on a lake with a swan paddleboat and big gardens. Fast-forward 12 years: She now has the cabin in Henriette. It’s on a creek, and there’s no swan paddleboat (yet), but she does have big gardens. “Much of my current work is my to-do list and my stretch goals,” she says. “I am a wanna-be-flower-farmer. I’m not satisfied anymore with a big garden; I want acres of stripes of living colors. I want my fields to be my canvas and flowers to be my paint. Slowly, year by hard working year it’s happening. My paintings are just a few steps ahead of my reality.” A Few Steps Ahead is, in fact, the name of Amy’s show at Lanesboro Arts in Lanesboro, Minnesota. Inspire(d) is sponsoring this gorgeous show, and we invite you to take a few steps out the door to check it out. Before you go, turn the page to read this fun interview with Amy herself:

Champlin Hall Rent the Opera House for live theatre, music & entertainment, weddings, corporate events, movies & more. Or Champlin Hall in the lower level - perfect for family reunions, wedding & baby showers, meetings & more! Visit or call 563-547-1066 for details \ Spring 2022




April 2 am Advance tickets only

Style Show Brunch

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“Farm to Vase Swan Delivery” by Amy Rice

Are you still painting your future? Do you feel like you’ve manifested any more of your dreams? I am still painting landscapes and narrative pieces that have large fields of colored stripes representing my flower farm of the future. I don’t have that yet, but I am a heck of a lot closer than when I first started painting flower farms in the background. On our farm now, if one stands in the right place at the right time of year: stripes of color! So, it’s working. I am appreciating where I am now on this journey as well. I have been inspired by the wildlife that lives around (and under) the flower farm. My favorite are the 13-lined ground squirrels; they are friendly and curious. I love to imagine what their underground world just below the flowers is like. The rabbits are my least favorite and are in fact my nemesis. But they are cute, so they get in art too. Do you have a favorite piece in this show? If so, why is it favorite? My favorite piece is almost always the last piece I made. Or the piece I’m currently working on. My work is a process and that’s what it’s all about for me. At the time of this writing, the piece I have completed for the show that is my current favorite is probably “The Collector.” My husband was sweeping out the tractor shed, and the tiniest mouse stood up to him, ready to protect his home and family from this giant causing havoc. My husband laid down the broom and walked away. There was nothing in the shed we can’t share. Later we found the mouse’s small stash of leaves, twigs, berries, and dried flowers. We let it be. Tell me about your tiny artworks (see example at right). LOL This is an answer in three parts: I swoon for fancy paper. In the beginning of the pandemic, I ordered handmade paper from a sevengeneration family-owned paper company in Japan. It took six months to arrive, and the paper was very, very small. But it was so beautiful, and the package was wrapped like it was my birthday. I needed to do something very special with it. I sold subscription flower arrangements last summer from flowers I grew on our farm. I really got into the arrangement part. I felt like I was just warming up when the first frost hit. One of my beloved printmaking tools is dying and unreplaceable. It is a gocco printmaking device that was sold as a toy in Japan in the 1980s. It is completely self-contained. It burns its own small (silk) screens with powerful bulbs and then presses the (specialized) ink through the screen in the same device. By the time I bought mine they had already discontinued making the supplies. I talked about how I was almost out of supplies when I was featured on Minnesota Original a decade ago and people reached out and gave (or sold) me their unused inks, screens, and bulbs. One can still find the supplies

Spring 2022 /

on ebay and such, but they are as old as mine and the emulsion on the screens is deteriorating and the inks are separating. I keep thinking someone will make a new version but it hasn’t happened yet. I can only successfully use it now to print very tiny elements. After the real flowers went away, I printed hundreds of tiny vases and thousands of tiny flowers onto antique paper Amy Rice – photo credit: Zoe Prinds-Flash (handwritten letters, journals, ledger pages). I slowly painted in and then cut out the flowers and vases. When I had a (to scale) truckload, I took myself on an art retreat (in Lacrosse, WI) and I spent a week making tiny paper flower arrangements. I love all the options you have for your art! The Sealing Wax with Floral Stamp Greeting Card Box Set! Tiny Greenhouse! Sticker Club! What draws you to this diversity in offerings? I’ve had a greeting card line with the Minnesota company, Artists To Watch, for just over a decade. They are great company and with their powerful distribution my art is in stores (on cards) all over the world. My Grandma Flo, who mailed me a letter from the farm once a week for 30 years until she passed, was the inspiration for me designing and self-publishing my own stationery and greeting cards. She loved stickers, fold-it-notes, stationary and fancy colored envelopes. My main motivation was just keeping her rich in cards and stationery. I wish she could see my new sticker line develop. I have a fantastic local printer (Smart Set Inc) that I have been working with for almost 20 years. They print my annual calendar and self-published cards. I would not have been able to do any of it without their advice and expertise. I also do it to keep my work accessible. My art is represented by Groveland Gallery in Minneapolis now and has steadily increased in value. I know that not everyone (including myself) can afford my larger originals, but most folks can buy a card or sticker. Continued on next page

Tiny Arrangement 17 by Amy Rice– 3.5 x 2.2 2021 Ink and Cut Paper On Handmade Washi Cards from Awagami Paper Factory \ Spring 2022


In your opinion, what’s like, “How do I apply to galleries? How do I make the best part of being an prints of my work? How do I get a grant?…” And artist? The hardest part? when I follow up with questions about their work, I Any advice to aspiring discover that they are not currently actually making artists wanting to make a go art. Maybe they have made art, maybe it’s even at it as a profession? amazing art, maybe they even have an art degree, The best part is having an but they are stuck on what will they do with the excuse to own ALL OF THE art they have not even made yet. Just make the art ART SUPPLIES. and the rest will follow. The hardest part for me is the gamble. I am not a Amy Rice’s exhibit, “A Few Steps Ahead – Finding risk-taker at heart. Every Hope in a Seed Started,” is sponsored by Inspire(d) exhibition I am accepted for Media and on display at Lanesboro Arts March 26and agree to, costs me a lot May 29, 2022, with an artist reception March 26 from of time and a lot of money 6-8 pm. The gallery, located at 103 Parkway Ave in (in supplies and framing) downtown Lanesboro, is always free and open to the without any guarantee I will public – hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm. recoup any of it. Of course, LEARN MORE: the galleries are also taking Lanesboro Arts: a risk. I am never sure how Amy Rice: much income I am going Groveland Gallery in MSP: Japanese paper company: to have next week or next Smart Set Printers: month. Art is my full-time Artists To Watch Card Company: job and it’s a choice I’ve made knowing it does not Amy Rice flower farm: always work out (at least “Neon Bouquet with Old Judge Coffee Can” by Amy Rice financially). Enamel, Gouache and Acrylic - 18" x 14" My best advice to aspiring Looking for more opportunities to see art this spring? artists is simple: MAKE ART. I have been asked this question so • April 22-24, 2022 – Bluff Country Studio Art Tour many times in my now 20-year career. Folks want to ask me things

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• June 18, 2022 – Art in the Park Lanesboro

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BUILDERS Better Together: Friends of Decorah Public Library supports and enhances the library’s efforts to serve Decorah and the surrounding community. BY SARA FRIEDL-PUTNAM


public library is, arguably, one of the biggest community builders there is. In fact, it is often home to a good variety of other communities within its walls as well. And one such community, the nonprofit Friends of Decorah Public Library (“Friends,” for short), is a vital part of the support system that helps keep the pages turning at the Decorah Public Library. “It is so important to have a gathering space that is open and free to everyone, and the library truly is the closest thing we have to a community center in Decorah,” says Cynthia Peterson, a Friends board member. “Friends is proud to support the library staff and their innovative ideas to bring programming for all.” Recently, that support has included books for adult book-discussion groups (which are shared with other libraries upon completion of the groups) and fees for guest lecturers and educational programs like the Absolute Science Bubble Stations event, which attracted more than 325 community members last fall. It also includes the popular “Take

Friends of DPL Decorah, IA and Make” craft program for kids (which had 3,000 registered participants in 2021), the elimination of fines for overdue books, and the statewide distribution via interlibrary loan of its large print collection (the largest such collection in Iowa). “Friends of Decorah Public Library is absolutely essential to the programs that DPL offers and provides a significant amount of support above and beyond Cynthia Peterson, a long serving Friends of Decorah Public Library board the funding the library member, volunteers at the library, selecting, packing, and shipping Large gets from taxpayers,” says Print books to libraries all across the state. Photo by Brittany Todd Zach Row-Heyveld, DPL Below: Karla Brown, Friends board president. Photo by Sara Friedl-Putnam administrative coordinator. “While our staff dream up the innovative programs you see at DPL, they can’t make those programs possible without the financial support of Friends.” According to Karla Brown, Friends current board president, the group has been lending aid to the library ever since receiving its 501c3 designation as a tax-exempt, charitable institution in January 1995 – an effort spearheaded by community leaders Cheryl Pellett, Jim Rhodes, and Sherry Nichols. The first grant received by Friends – from the Winneshiek County Community Foundation – was used to establish the Friends of Decorah Public Library Endowment Fund, still operational today. Its first purchases? A bookshelf and environmentally themed books. Continued on next page \ Spring 2022


Friends help bring in large programs for kids and families, like rays and skates from the National Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque. Photo credit: Nick Chill

“I tend to think of city and county funds for the library keeping the lights on and paying the salaries,” says Brown. “But most of what the public sees and experiences through the library, Friends helps provide.” She herself is an active participant in many of the library’s programs, including its book clubs and the “Take-and-Make” craft program. “The crafts are so cool, so creative,” Brown says. “I signed up for the program to pass on the craft bags to one of my nieces for her little girl but actually kept one or two to do myself.” And as Shanna Putnam Dibble, a member of the DPL board and the Decorah Community Schools staff, points out, Friends funds have supported a number of library-school collaborations as well. The Pumpkin Project, for one, provided a pumpkin for every student from preschool through second grade. “Each student picked a full-size pumpkin from our ‘pumpkin patch’ and then read a book and decorated their pumpkin with their families to represent their chosen book,” she says. “It was such a fantastic event.” A mom of two young children, Putnam Dibble is quick to praise the community-wide family programming as well. “The funding from Friends – along with the knowledge, passion, and collaborative efforts of the DPL staff – provides so many amazing opportunities for our youth and families to be engaged in educational and fun activities throughout the community,” she says. “I’m a big fan.” (In all, notes the 2021 DPL annual report, the library hosted 264 programs in various formats that tallied some 6,592 attendances.) Friends’ support was particularly vital when the COVID-19 pandemic forced closure after closure of buildings around the world – including, in mid-March of 2020, the Decorah Public Library. As dedicated library staff scrambled to develop innovative yet practical ways to continue to serve Decorah and its environs while being closed to foot traffic – think digital services like e-books and film streamings as well as curbside book pickup – they still had to work within their budget. And who could have possibly budgeted for expenses incurred by an unforeseen pandemic? Thankfully, the library staff knew exactly where to turn to obtain funds needed for critical “pivot programming”: Friends of the DPL. And, like it has for decades, Friends had their proverbial backs, quickly establishing a COVID Innovation Fund that library staff could use to, among other things, purchase equipment to help with virtual endeavors. 24

Spring 2022 /


LANDSCAPES Sunday, April 24th 3:00 pm

Decorah High School Auditorium Cost: Free will donation

The Moldau from Má vlast Bedřich Smetana

Over 325 people explored bubbles at the Absolute Science Bubble Stations event last fall, which was made by possible by support from the Friends of Decorah Public Library. Photo credit: Nick Chill

So how does Friends raise the funds it distributes to the library? Approximately 250 members (individuals and businesses) support the group at various levels, and those funds are augmented by memorial and other donations from community members. Both Brown and Peterson give a special shout-out to the Monday Club of Decorah, a local study club active since 1896, and a staunch supporter of the DPL. Each year the Monday Club holds an auction among its members, with the proceeds (often in the $1,000-$2,500 range) going to the library. Brown champions her organization in the latest Friends newsletter, published last fall. “Some of the most interesting and fun things that happen at the library would not be possible without Friends funding,” she writes. “It is easy to take the community resource of our library for granted, but it is thanks to the Friends group that our most-loved programs and materials are available.” Indeed, the noble mission of the Friends of the DPL is to “promote and enhance the DPL and its programs for the leisure, entertainment, and personal lifelong learning of the citizens of Decorah and greater Winneshiek County.” Philanthropist Dale Carnegie perhaps put it best with these famous words: “A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people.” One of the first stops that Sara Friedl-Putnam made when she moved to Decorah was the Decorah Public Library to get a library card. She is grateful for the dedicated library staff and for the many services that the library provides to the Decorah community.

SUPPORT FRIENDS OF DPL! Did you know that Friends of Decorah Public Library recently purchased more than 600 new books for the library collection… or that it funds library programming for all ages…or that it helped the library end overdue book fines? These efforts can only happen through donations and member support. All community members are invited to learn more about Friends at its April 25 meeting, to be held at 7 p.m. at Impact Coffee and featuring Birgitte Meade speaking about the Decorah crater. Visit and click on “Friends of DPL,” or email decorahfriends@ to learn how to support Friends. And if you are already a supporter, thank you!

On The Beautiful Blue Danube Johann Strauss Jr.

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Renée Bergstrom with her loom. / All photos courtesy Renée Bergstrom



Renée Bergstrom Lanesboro, MN BY STEVE HARRIS


rt seems a solitary pursuit. You imagine a painter, a writer, a dancer, a photographer, most often practicing and doing their craft alone. Yet what they create builds community. It’s a paradox, but a nice one. Renée Bergstrom of Lanesboro, Minnesota, knows about that. Renée is an artist, has been all her life. She weaves, she paints, and she’s a photographer, among other talents. But she’s a community builder, too. In a quiet, steady way, her art has brought people together in varied settings over many years, creating a body of work as impressive as one filling any portfolio. As a child, Renée enjoyed drawing. As a teen, she designed and sewed her own clothes (including her wedding dress later on). She took art classes at Moorhead State College and received an arts degree from Winona State University. But she says it was the gift of community that helped her flourish as an artist. “My husband, Gene, and I had three kids in less than three years and I loved being a stay-at-home mom,” she says. “But a child-centered world can get lonely. I needed new challenges so I took a yarn-spinning class in the ballroom of the Plummer House in Rochester. I enjoyed it and soon ordered an Ashford spinning wheel from Australia. I needed to do something with the wool


Spring 2022 /

so I bought a second-hand loom. Later I met Marjorie Pohlmann, a liturgical artist from Minneapolis, who designed fiber art for our mission church, Good Shepherd Lutheran, in Elgin/Plainview, Minnesota. She designed paraments; I wove them. It was an inspiring project.” The Zumbro River Fiber Arts Guild became another community that encouraged Renée as an artist. “I met like-minded people who were eager to share their work and who invited me to share mine. The Guild helped me learn my craft; it also gave me a sense of belonging that was very uplifting.” Renée’s children grew, as did her career, but art remained a key focus. “I became a patient education specialist at the Mayo Clinic and worked with their art department to create brochures, posters, videos, and a computer-based interactive program. There was wonderful community there, too – graphic designers, medical illustrators, photographers, videographers – all inspiring each other. I felt privileged to be a part of that.” In the early 1990s Renée and Gene bought property in Lanesboro where they designed and built a home. They moved there full-time in 2015, becoming members of a distinct “arts town” where Renée could do art and discover new communities of artists as well.

Mountain tapestry by Renée Bergstrom

“We’ve enjoyed the art and artists of Lanesboro for almost 30 years now,” she says. “Early on, Gene and I were involved in the creation of the Cornucopia gallery that later became Lanesboro Arts. We enjoy Art in the Park, the Commonweal Theatre, the Lanesboro Community Theater, productions at the St. Mane Theatre, History Alive – Lanesboro offers so much! Over the years I served on the boards of a couple of art organizations, including Lanesboro Arts, which I still do.” Additionally, from 2012 - 2015, Renée was on the first Board of Directors for the Charles E. Gagnon Museum and Sculpture Garden in Rochester. After a weaving hiatus, she took her loom out of storage and is now active in the Oneota Weavers and Spinners Guild that meets monthly in Decorah. “Weaving offers so much,” she says. “It combines cognitive challenges – including more than a little math – with calming, rhythmic movements. Sitting at a loom is good for the mind and the spirit.” For Renée, art is community. Before the pandemic, she had joined a group of women to create reusable, fabric shopping bags. She is part of Cecilia Cornejo Sotelo’s “Wandering House” embroidery project that will be exhibited at Lanesboro Arts through March 20. Renée’s home is also a popular stop on the annual Bluff Country Studio Arts Tours, and creating projects with local artist-friends is part of her routine. “My friend, Jennifer Woods, and I encourage each other in our water color painting projects. My woodworking friend, Norb Kelly, used walnut wood from our family farm in South Dakota to build a frame for a recent weaving I did, and he also upgraded my loom from a four harness to an eight harness. Diane Knight, an artist and poet who lives in Whalan, is my close friend – we visit often to share ideas and inspire each other. Gene and I have 10 grandchildren who visit each summer for what we call ‘Nana Camp’ and art projects are part of our time together. I always seem to be working on some fun project!” Continued on next page \ Spring 2022


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Spring 2022 /

Art can create community across many miles as well. In 2018 while at a women’s conference in Berkeley, California, Renée met Severina Lemachokoti from Kenya. She recently invited Severina – who now lives in Rochester – to a meeting of the Oneota Guild and asked her to share some of her Kenyan beadwork. “We were all talking and laughing like we always do,” Renée says. “I looked over at Severina and noticed she was smiling, but crying, too. She told us the friendship she was feeling at that moment in Decorah filled her with memories of her home in Kenya, where her mother and friends share similar moments. It touched her, and all of us, deeply.” The community Renée has built or discovered through these connections has been the ultimate work of art, and one she plans to continue to treasure – and create – for years to come. Steve Harris, a freelance writer and the author of “Lanesboro, Minnesota,” also serves on the Lanesboro Arts board.

For more information about the Oneota Weavers and Spinners Guild contact the Guild’s president, Wendy Stevens, at



Bree Breckel & Eric Weninger Cashton, WI

Eric & Bree on the B&E Maple Farm. Below: B&E’s signature maple syrup. / Photos courtesy B&E’s + Embark



hen Bree Breckel and Eric Weninger purchased 40 acres in rural Cashton, Wisconsin, in 2011, they knew they were embarking on a new path – one centered around their off-grid maple syrup farm, B&E’s Trees, and “bringing maple into new spaces.” Bree and Eric, partners in life and business, both grew up exploring nature and connecting with the land of the Driftless Region. Their dream was to build a life doing what they love: preserving the forest, building community, and playing outside. Maple farming allowed for all that, and in 2013, they developed their specialty product: Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup in collaboration with Central Waters Brewing Company

in Amherst, Wisconsin. The brewery provides empty charred oak bourbon barrels for B&E’s certified organic maple syrup to age in over two years, giving it a unique flavor profile of vanilla and a hint of smoke. When the maple aging process is complete, the brewing company takes the barrels back to create a specialty maple barrel aged stout. “Our approach to maple farming and running a farm-based business has always been to expand opportunities for the community we are a part of,” says Bree. “Rather than competing with our friends and neighbors for a limited number of traditional maple syrup shoppers, we’ve looked for new spaces where maple can be a great fit.” Continued on next page

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B&E’s created Embark Adventure Packs, pouched maple syrup combined with a few other simple, sustainably sourced organic ingredients, to serve as good energy while adventuring (or in coffee, cocktails, and more). / Photos courtesy Embark Maple.

Bree and Eric built their business and in turn, a community, on face-to-face relationships and in-person events, hosting annual open houses, farm tours, a yearly Rampfest (a sustainable harvest educational event) and more. Then COVID happened. With the shutdowns in 2020 going into effect just a week before their planned open house on the farm, Bree and Eric knew they would need to start looking at other avenues of connecting with people. They started with putting together a virtual “closed house” alternative event and continued to brainstorm other ideas.

“The first question we asked ourselves was, ‘If we can’t meet people face to face, where are they going, and how can we meet them where they’re at?’” explains Bree. “The answer was one that was very natural to us: the outdoors.” Continuing with the concept of taking maple into new spaces, B&E’s took maple syrup out of the kitchen completely and on to the trail with a new product: Embark Adventure Packs, pouched maple syrup combined with a few other simple, sustainably sourced organic ingredients. The goal was to provide clean nutrition, energy,

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Spring 2022 /

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and outstanding flavor to endurance athletes, adventurers, and explorers. The new product has three varieties: Elderberry Maple Energy, Coffee Maple Energy (featuring coffee from another local business: Wonderstate Coffee in Viroqua, Wisconsin), and Salted Maple Energy, all of which can be consumed directly from the pack for quick energy, mixed in water for a hydration aid, or used in camp cooking and cocktails. It was an endeavor years in the making. Before starting the farm, one of Eric’s favorite ways of exploring the outdoors was endurance mountain bike races and multi-sport adventures. To fuel those adventures, he would often use commercial energy gel, but disliked the texture, taste, and numerous unnatural ingredients. After researching and realizing that maple syrup had the energy and mineral profile he needed with just an added pinch of sea salt, Eric began Eric pops a wheelie at the end of a race. packing organic maple / Photo courtesy Embark syrup for his athletic adventures. After founding the maple farm he wanted to explore bringing this idea to market, but hadn’t had the chance until the pandemic provided time and opportunity to refocus the energy of the business. As Eric also felt the need during the pandemic to reconnect with the adventure community that had helped him work through challenges in the past, he was even more eager to bring this new product with him into those circles. “Exploring the woods and learning about the natural beauty of the Driftless is what led us to become maple farmers, and it is where we find connection, purpose, and renewal,” says Bree. “We were seeing more of a need for that good energy as the pandemic wore on, so we thought, how could we bring the good energy we find in our woods to people as they explored the places where they sought rejuvenation?” After years of research and development, and saving up of syrup harvest to create the first line of Embark pouches, a supply chain issue created another hurdle – the packing pouches that were used to create the first run of Embark product were not the quality and sturdiness that had been expected. This wasn’t discovered however until all the pouches had been filled. “Instead of destroying the packaging and creating a bunch of waste while trying to reclaim the syrup, we decided to ‘pay it forward’ and give them out as samples,” says Eric. “We spent the past year going to endurance cycle events, volunteering at aid stations/checkpoints and handing out ‘prototype’ packs.” At the races and events they have been traveling to, the B&E’s team has also been hosting the “Good Energy Awards,” where participants nominate other racers or volunteers who shared good Continued on next page

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energy throughout the event, “Managing a farm for longand made it a great experience. term sustainability happens on a “The fastest folks are always different timescale than running recognized, but there is so a small business,” adds Eric. “The much more to an event, and to farm and forest will continue to be life, than getting to the finish B&E’s Trees, where some of our line first,” says Eric. “We’re conservation projects occur on celebrating the everyday generational timescales. All of our adventurers, the journey, and products will be under the Embark the people who bring joy to brand name, which allows us to focus the ride.” on the adventure, optimism and Though the pandemic empowerment that comes from our brought unprecedented roots of working with the woods.” challenges, it also provided With the discontinuation of some time to take a step back, longstanding events that had been evaluate things, and refocus. hosted on the farm in the past, new In addition to launching the events – more suited to a pandemic Bree and Eric offering free samples of their prototype Embark Energy world – have taken their place, such as Embark product, the B&E’s Trees pouches at a community event. / Photo courtesy Embark farm committed to becoming the building and maintaining of local Climate Neutral Certified and the business joined the 1% For the trails and hosting Embark to the Park – a collaborative effort with Planet movement, meaning they pledged 1% of their annual sales to Friends of Vernon County Parks and Forests where Embark leads support environmental nonprofit organizations. community bike rides to the Wednesday night Music in the Park “By being part of these organizations, we’d like to elevate doing events held during the summer season. the right thing for people and planet to being the standard way of “Embark is about finding inspiration and positivity in light doing business,” says Eric. of challenge; being the Good Energy to help people on their As these new developments took root and began shaping the adventure,” says Eric. future of the farm and business, the idea behind Embark grew from a new product offering and soon pivoted into a transition and Tallitha Reese is a freelance writer and content rebranding of both. “As we have grown it makes sense to distinguish manager based in Cashton, WI. She owns Words By Reese and you can find out more about her and her work at between the two and allow Embark to really embody our mission and vision as a company,” says Bree.

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he time before spring fully hits can be tough, mentally, for me. I am always SO EXCITED about the warmer weather and for tiny green things to start budding in the world, but I’m also often thinking, “How is it already March (or April, or May)?!?” Or why isn’t this, that, or that other thing done yet? As we observe time in its slippery fashion – too fast each month, too slow each day – it can feel like our own functions operate on their own timeline, often one that’s grindingly slow. January came and went with its resolutions and goals, and now we’re thinking, “Welp, guess I may as well just give it up” and resume the status quo of lifeas-usual. But wait!

When the act of doing anything, let alone reaching our goals, is feeling insurmountable, maybe it’s time for a restart! A hard stop in your day, month, life, to power down, then power back up again, restarting a goal, a dream, a life with intention and strategy. Wherever you are on this path of life, we encourage you to stick at least one toe forward. I like to say, “progress is progress” around here, and any progress you make to move closer to your goals and dreams is a step (or toe) forward. The next several pages are here to give you some inspiration in your restart this spring. You’ve got this! Happy spring, my friends! XO – Aryn

Read on


Photography by Brittany Todd

563-382-3657 . 108 Fifth Avenue, Decorah, Iowa . \ Spring 2022


Widen your lens and look at the bigger picture. Look at what you HAVE accomplished. Look at and reprioritize your values.

Power down Do a hard stop

Remember the past doesn’t have to predict the future

Starting over might feel scary, but can also be a reason to celebrate

p u k c a b er w o p

Start today! Take even one step forward - that’s momentum!

Get rid of things weighing you down – stuff, people, thoughts, feelings, habits


When you press this, it says “You are awesome!”


Audit your life


Build in time to clear your mind and rest


he t l l a out e t at i r h t W s p e st e l b a n actio elp you get will h ere. th

Make new goals – be realistic Think about what you really want, and why. Visualize the outcome.

Be kind to yourself.

Reaudit on a regular basis

any day of the year, at any point in your life

Restarts can happen

Brushing your teeth? Say some affirmations. Starting to eat dinner? Drink a big glass of water before.

Make it sustainable – work new habits into your regular life. Got a habit you’re already doing? Build a new one on top of it or while you’re doing it.

The S.M.A.R.T. goals approach – making your goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time sensitive – is useful for helping you make progress within the window of time you have.

Set SMART goals

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Illustrations: Shutterstock / BSD Studio

Restart Northeast Iowa-based mental health counselor, Olivia Lynn Schnur, shares ways to restart your goals this spring. BY OLIVIA LYNN SCHNUR


pring is a restart. It energizes us to begin again. It is a time of motion, action, and change. In many ways, spring represents growth. It is also a time when we begin to revisit our goals for the year. We may reflect on our New Year’s Resolutions and realize we are not where we hoped to be. But just like the seasons, growth is cyclical. Spring starts with mud, rain, and cold but by the end we see that it was necessary to nourish the soil for flowers to bloom.


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WHEN IT’S TIME TO RESTART, REVISE, OR LET IT GO Not only is spring the perfect time to reflect on our goals, it can also be a great opportunity to restart, revise, or let go of some of those goals. We occasionally set lofty resolutions for ourselves, only to find they are unattainable. Or maybe the goal still fits, but requires some adjustments to make it work in our life. A simple change can make all the difference. If a goal seems too unrealistic, we might find ourselves avoiding it altogether. But when a goal is attainable, we look forward to chipping away at it. Our progress leads to feelings of success. And sometimes the goal truly doesn’t fit. Maybe we took on

something we thought our friends, family, or society wanted from us. But did we want it in the first place? If a goal does not align with our lifestyle or values, it may be time to let it go. We need to give ourselves permission to let go of dreams not meant for us so we can wholeheartedly pursue the ones that are. You know it is time to restart when you find yourself revisiting a goal or dream. Perhaps, that dream is about relationships, children, or loved ones. Maybe that dream is related to a career or owning a business. For others, the goal may look like a new lifestyle to cultivate. Regardless of the dream, nearly everyone has a vision of their lives buried beneath the surface. If it resurfaces time and time again, it is worth pursuing.

EMBRACING FEELINGS OF FAILURE Unfortunately, some unsetting feelings may arise when we return to old goals and dreams. For example, we may feel shame that we returned to an old habit we swore to quit. We blame ourselves for falling off the wagon and forget to acknowledge our progress. When we return to old dreams or ideas, we may feel pressure to act quickly out of fear that our time is limited. We may lose sense of all the things that needed to occur to prepare us for action. Instead of embracing this stage of change, we get caught up in productivity and risk burning ourselves out. Then there is our greatest fear... failure. We write stories in our mind about what our lack of progress means. We call ourselves a failure and hold onto unnecessary guilt, shame, or blame. We may feel like an imposter or sabotage our own progress for fear that we do not deserve it. We may even fear realizing our dreams because we do not feel worthy. Worst of all, we may give up on our dreams or goals once more. It is important to recognize our feelings around success and failure so we can start to heal. Just because the feelings are there does not mean they are true. We never fail unless we fail to learn from our mistakes. Failure gives us an opportunity to take an honest look at ourselves, and learn from the past. It is a chance to reevaluate and prioritize the thing we truly wish to commit to. When we change our thinking from “failure” to “opportunity to learn,” real change can occur. That is what a restart is all about.

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FACING RELAPSE In the realm of psychology, theories have been generated to explain the cycle of change. But none are complete without the idea of relapse. Relapse simply means returning to a behavior we thought we left behind. For example, we lose 30 pounds only to gain it back. We quit smoking and then start again. The worst part is we make judgments about what this means instead of accepting that relapse is part of change. Continued on next page

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Without relapse, we are not tested, and each time we are tested we grow. It is not the end; it is part of the cycle. Because none of us are done learning, we are always growing and evolving regardless of the level of success we achieve. When we think about stories of success, it is not the effortless path that inspires us; it is the struggle and the courage to endure despite failure, setbacks, and suffering. Why then, do we readily embrace our hero’s “failures” as inspirational, but place feelings of blame, guilt, and shame on ourselves for encountering the same barriers? We need to stumble. It teaches us where our edge is and reveals areas where true growth can occur. When we see change as a cycle, we recognize our mistakes as a chance to restart. But it is not a complete beginning. We are now armed with greater self-awareness of our weaknesses and limitations. Therefore, we have more tools at our disposal to reach our goals and dreams. That may look like greater support in the form of loved ones, mentors, or even a therapist. It may also look like investing in ourselves in the form of education, books, or tools. We are always worth the investment. Just like the seasons, we go through cycles of change. We develop visions and dreams; we pursue some, give up on others, and revisit a few time and time again. It is important to remember that there is no such thing as failure, only growth. When we are committed to growth, we see our relapses as a chance to restart and become better than we were before. See the worksheet on the following page for ideas on how to Restart your Goals.

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Olivia Lynn Schnur is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), Certified Yoga Teacher (CYT200), and writer. She blends her passion for mental health and her love of writing to create content designed to educate, uplift, and inspire readers. Learn more about Olivia, or book a yoga session, at

WORKSHEET: A GUIDE TO RESTARTING We need a “why” to motivate us when things get hard. Our why is often aligned with our values, lifestyle, and vision for the future. It is the guiding light that keeps us going when we want to quit. What is your “why?” Continue asking yourself why until you get to something that really resonates with you. ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ On the flip side, we have a “why not” that serves to lead us off track. It is the story we are telling ourselves that is untrue. Examples might be, “I am a failure,” “I am not capable of achieving this goal,” or “everyone knows I am fraud, why do I even try?” Just like we need to know our why, we need to remain aware of our why not to stop it from running the show. What are some of your “why nots”?” ________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ Once you have created your “why nots” cross them out. Replace them with your whys! (Hint: Why is typically the opposite of why not. For example, “I do not have what it takes” can become, “I am willing to give this my all until I succeed.”) Our vision needs to be crystal clear in order for us to remain on track. Visualizing our success might seem like daydreaming, but daydreams allow our mind to begin to imagine the possibility of success. When we can see it, we can achieve it. Take a moment to write out your vision (be as specific as possible): ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ Last but not least, we need support – someone willing to remind us of our why when we are deep within our why not, to help us navigate the setbacks, failures, and doubts. That someone may be a loved one, or a therapist, healer, or life coach. It might be a famous leader or story of success. Whatever form your support system takes, keep it close and check in often. We need someone to inspire us when we are feeling uninspired in ourselves, and remind us we are worthy and capable of success. Who is part of your support system? What stories of success inspire you? Write them here as a reminder. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ Each time we restart, our why becomes louder and our why not loses its voice. Every time we get off course, our vision becomes clearer. Sometimes, learning what we do not want, helps us to see what we desire. Lastly, if we are willing to ask for help and be vulnerable about our setbacks, we are sure to gain support. Our goals may be individualized, but we do not have to do it alone.



Kids’ Books Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer

How do you restart when you can’t seem to shake a grumpy mood?

The Rain Stomper

Adult Books Still Life by Sarah Winman

A war has ended but life still goes on. Do you restart your life where you left off, or do you search for a new beginning to move forward from?

by Addie Boswell

Jazmin is supposed to lead the parade until thunder and lightning send everyone home. Read to find out how Jazmin resets her energy and restarts the celebration.

Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo

When a young boy visits his Nana in the big city, she makes him a special cape to help him find his courage.

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

When Taylor’s block castle gets destroyed all the animals try to help, but only the rabbit stops to listen to how Taylor feels.

Mel Fell

by Corey R. Tabor

Mel the kingfisher needs to be brave enough to fall before she can learn to fly.

Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess by Dr. Caroline Leaf

This book lays out five simple, scientifically proven steps to reduce anxiety, stress, and toxic thinking. Give yourself a mental reset by “cleaning up” the way you manage your thoughts.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

This spellbinding historical novel seeks to answer the question ”What happens if you could live your life over and over until you got it right?”


by Page Dickey

What happens when you leave behind 3 decades of work and start over?

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

When is it too late to re-write your story? In this novel set during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Sophie not only writes her own future, but also the people who will come along with her or disappear.


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DIY Scratch Pads!

Most households have piles of paper – worksheets from school, recipes you didn’t love, junk mail – just waiting to be recycled. But wait! How about a reuse first?!? As long as your paper has blank backs, you can turn it into your own DIY scratch pads with this fun project!

step-by-step instructions at


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amie Gavle is a mover and a shaker. Or maybe that ought to be “a doer and a maker.” In 2018, she founded Rendered Unique – a store dedicated to selling locally made goods in Decorah, Iowa. Inside, shoppers will find a fun mix of rehabbed and vintage furniture, handmade jewelry, pillows, and home decor, awesome Midwest-inspired apparel, and lots more. Rendered Unique (RU) features roughly 30 makers from around the Driftless – currently ALL women (woot)! A maker herself – Jamie rehabs furniture and sews pillows for the shop – connecting creative entrepreneurs with visitors and residents alike is one of her favorite parts of the business. RU first started as a pop-up shop, but Jamie knew after the very first Rendered Unique event that this is what she was meant to do. The business quickly grew from a pop-up side hustle to a fulltime gig for Jamie, even through the pandemic (she bought her current building in 2020). Jamie moves the pieces of her business around as expertly as she does the furniture in store. Some of that might be credited to her degree in Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Production from Iowa State, but most is likely due to her natural talent in weaving the different aspects seamlessly together. Business-

Start here!


Name: Jamie Gavle Age: 40 Business: Rendered Unique Years in Business: 4 Business address: 309 E Water Street, Decorah, IA Website:


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wise, the purchase of her building meant expanding offerings to include a short-term rental in the upstairs apartment – now called the Retreat at Rendered Unique – and she also creates cool events around Jamie Gavle poses at her shop, Rendered local musicians, food Unique. All photos courtesy Lukes Photography trucks, and more on the patio out back. Rendered Unique is a great example of a business built to support other businesses, and we here at Inspire(d) sure love that idea. Learn more about Jamie and Rendered Unique here, and check the shop out at

1. Tell us about the “leap” moment. When/how did you decide to jump in and become your own boss? Rendered Unique started as a seasonal pop up shop in 2018. My good friend, Amanda, and I felt there was a definite need for a home decor store in Decorah and we were also aware of many talented makers and artisans that were offering some really cool, handcrafted goods. After two seasonal events (one in the fall and then one in the spring) I was hooked, and in love with what we were doing. I loved telling customers about the people behind the goods they were buying and I loved creating spaces in the shop to show customers how these products could be used or styled in their own homes. The pop ups were built on the concept of bringing together our favorite local and regional makers into one place, focusing mainly on home decor, furniture, gifts, a small amount of apparel and accessories. It’s a mix of handcrafted, made, vintage, modern, and new. My degree is in merchandising and I have always had a love for fashion, interior design, and home decor. After our first pop up in fall of 2018, I found myself constantly thinking about how to grow RU and consumed with the idea of making this side hustle a full time gig. In July of 2019 I brought RU to its current home at 309 E Water (renting the entire first floor) and decided to be open one weekend every month. In February of 2020, I decided to take the leap, quit my desk job, and jump into RU full time! It was the best decision! Besides starting a full-time brick and mortar during the start of a pandemic. HA! Can’t make this stuff up! Thankfully, we live in an amazing community that takes pride in supporting local businesses and my website had just been finished and was up and running to offer online shopping and local pickup options. The shop is currently open every week from Wednesday-Saturday. Mondays and Tuesdays are spent working on new inventory, resetting/reworking the shop, and/or painting new furniture pieces. We work hard to be always changing things around, creating new

displays or vignettes so customers continue to feel inspired every time they come visit our store. In October of 2020, I was fortunate to purchase the building that I was currently renting. Along with this came the apartment upstairs, which we call The Retreat at Rendered Unique and rent through Airbnb. It’s a really great space that I have been able to design and decorate with many vintage finds, handcrafted items from our makers, and things that can be purchased in our store. 2. How do you connect with the different vendors you carry in-store? Are they all women-owned? Is fostering women-owned businesses a big proponent of your mission? RU currently features roughly 30 local and regional makers and artisans. All from Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Yes, all makers and artisans in the shop are currently ALL women! And, absolutely YES, we love fostering women-owned businesses and sharing their livelihoods and stories behind them, their craft, and their goods. There is nothing more gratifying that seeing these other women succeed and do well. The relationships created with them mean the world to me and I am so inspired by their creativity, their courage to follow their own passions, and their willingness to support each other, and I am so fortunate that a lot of them have become good friends. They have taught me so much about running a small business and I am inspired by these ladies on the daily. I have connected with this great community of small, women owned business owners on social media, and other vendors I have in shop have been great finds from visiting their own stores or shops. The Midwest Girl has a beautiful brick and mortar in Dubuque and I happened to walk into their shop three summers ago and immediately fell in love with their products and brand. They weren’t doing wholesale at the time but after meeting and chatting with one of the owners, Marissa, that day, I was bound and determined to bring their goods to Decorah! We eventually became Continued on next page


Specializing in

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The Rendered Unique shop gets reset regularly, so customers can be inspired by new pieces each time they visit. / All photos courtesy Lukes Photography


Spring 2022 /

their first wholesale account and pride ourselves on being the go-to place for MWG goods in NE Iowa. For one of our newest additions to the shop, Aesthete (modern clay jewelry), maker Julia was actually staying at The Retreat with her college friends over Luther Homecoming. She had brought a bunch of her jewelry for her friends to see and purchase and thankfully one of her besties came down to the shop to tell me about Julia and her beautiful goods! I got one look at them and new they would be a fabulous fit with our vibe and customers at RU! They have fast become a customer favorite!

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3. Where do you find your pieces for upcycling? I am ALWAYS on the hunt for cool, vintage furniture! I find most of my pieces at auctions, estate sales, or for sale groups on social media. Sometimes, I have people reach out to me personally if they have a piece they are wanting to get rid of and think I might be interested. I love the challenge of taking something old and making it new again! Giving it another life per se! I also sew most of the throw pillows that we carry in store. 4. What’s the best thing about being your own boss? The best thing about being your own boss is working for yourself and your family. I have been fortunate enough to take a passion project and turn it into my full time gig and for that I am forever grateful! I never saw myself as an entrepreneur or business owner but now that I am here, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I can honestly say I love going to work every day. The flexibility is also great. I find myself working odd hours sometimes and into the evenings but if that allows me to be home when my girls need me to be, then that is totally worth it. 5. How about the worst? LOL, you’re ALWAYS working! ; ) It’s really hard to turn it off or not be thinking about the shop, when I am not at the shop. I think every small business owner would agree. When your job is your passion, or when you are working for yourself, it’s really hard to step away. Throw in social media, online shopping, painting furniture, new inventory coming in, constant shop resets, it’s always something. BUT, I wouldn’t change it for a thing and I am thankful for my wonderful staff that has helped create a little more work/ life balance. I think one of the best pieces of advice I got from one of our featured vendors was, “Your business is going to grow during the hours of 5-9 pm, not necessarily the work you put in from 8-5pm” and I have come to learn that this is so, so true! Continued on next page


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Jamie loves to create vignettes around the shop, featuring different makers in every corner. / All photos courtesy Lukes Photography

6. Any mentors/role models you look to/have looked to? So many! I am very fortunate to be surrounded by strong, creative women. My college roommate, Allison, was the initial spark I needed to get this thing going and I have learned so much from her over the past few years as she runs a successful business of her own in Minnesota. Marissa of The Midwest Girl has been an amazing mentor to me and I find myself reaching out to her on a weekly basis with questions related to running a successful business, what’s working for her, what’s not. We love bouncing ideas off of each other and I am so thankful for her advice and being so willing to be open with me about the highs and lows of being a business owner. Stephanie, owner of Modish, has also been a great role model and mentor to me. She’s been running a successful business here in Decorah for nine years and that’s amazing. She’s been a great resource for me as I have built a small staff, learning how to be a boss and mange others, which does NOT come naturally to me. 7. What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you started? Don’t be afraid to take a risk! If it’s something you are passionate about, something you love doing, don’t listen to the negative from yourself or others. When I was still working my full time desk job and doing RU as a side gig, I found myself constantly thinking about what was next for RU. How could I make this work for it to become a full time brick and mortar store instead of just being open one weekend a month or seasonally. It made me excited and I felt for the first time in my life I was doing exactly what I was meant to do. I have also been supported 100 percent by my husband Joe and amazing family and friends. And for that, I feel very lucky.

8. How do you manage your life/ work balance? Ha! What’s that? Again I am so thankful for the four girls that are on our team here at RU. Olivia works for me full time and has become my right hand person at the shop. She has been with me just over a year now and I am so thankful she took a chance on me and came aboard. I am so fortunate to feel that I can leave the place in her hands and know things will run smoothly and customers will be taken care of.

10. Tell me about the events you’ve been putting together! I love all the fun things you’ve been bringing in to Decorah! We love putting together fun events at the shop! We have this great space on the back patio plus The Retreat Upstairs, and we love being able to use these spaces to bring in other small businesses that may offer a different service or bring something extra or unique to the shop and our customers. There are so many people doing really cool and unique trucks, traveling taps, coffee campers, etc. If it’s a business we love and we can find a way to bring them to Decorah and introduce them to new customers, we are ALL for it! We also love to bring in some live music here and there! These events bring something new and exciting for our customers and only enhance their experience while shopping with us. We are working on some fun stuff this year for Women’s Weekend Out and summer! Stay tuned!

9. What keeps you inspired? Any quotes that keep you going? Honestly, the 30 other makers and artisans featured in store keep me going! We work in a business where things are changing seasonally. Our makers are constantly coming up with new designs and products, and that alone is inspiring! When you are surrounded by constant creativity, it’s hard not to get excited! I am in constant awe of the new ideas that these women bring to life. And, the stories behind the products and the hard work that goes into making them come to life is what makes them so unique and special.

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pring garden planning is one of the best ways to feel inspired at the end of a long winter (in our humble opinion, anyway). We caught up with Keith Kovarik at K&K Gardens in Hawkeye, Iowa, to chat about favorite plants for the Driftless and garden planning – which they’ve been doing professionally at K&K for 26 years! “What started as a hobby, turned into a passion, which then transitioned into a part-time hobby-business, which is now a full time seasonal business,” Keith says of their more than two decades in business. Their out-of-the-way location has had its challenges over the years, but Keith and his wife and business partner, Kelli (that’s the K&K), have worked hard to make K&K a true destination garden center. Their knowledge of gardening, plus their winding paths, tree house-like gazebos, ponds, and general chill vibe attracts visitors from all over the Midwest. “It is common to see vehicles from several Midwest states in our parking lot any given weekend during the summer,” Keith says. It’s these customers that keep Keith, Kelli, and staff inspired and passionate about their work. “Gardeners are fun, energetic, appreciative, and positive,” Keith says. “These personality traits are lacking in many areas of our lives these days. However, the gardening profession, whether avid or newbie, seems to expel a sense of happiness and gratitude. Gardening is contagious, but a healthy contagious.”


Keith Kovarik from K&K Gardens in Hawkeye, Iowa, gets us dreaming of our future gardens

1. Plan location & plants Make sure you can accommodate the heights and colors you are interested in. 2. Plan plants Factor in amount of light, soil type, and size of plants… 3. Know mature dimensions It takes a minimum of three years for plants to reach maturity. 4. Know growing style Learn which plants are more invasive, more clump forming, stay put, or like to be a little more crowded. 5. Prep soil

“Soil prep is very important. Don’t get in too big of a hurry. Make sure the soil is suitable for the types of plants you select. Most perennials like moisture, but also prefer the area to be well drained. Very dry, or consistently wet conditions will cause perennials to perform poorly, and most likely die a slow death.” - Keith Kovarik

TOP 5 REASONS TO START GARDENING: 1. Stress-relieving 2. Creating wildlife habitat for birds and other creatures 3. Ability to grow your own food 4. Gardening is good for your health (mental and physical) 5. Enjoying the outcome of your labors through a relaxing outdoor environment 48

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“My #1 reason was to relieve stress. Gardening, or tending to plants was therapeutic for me. I enjoyed the sense of accomplishment, and satisfaction from seeing a tiny young perennial transform into a flourishing and stunning mass of flowers (every year) without much care!” – Keith Kovarik


• Bottle Rocket, The Rocket, Britt-marie Crawford (Ligularia) • Hellebore • Bugbane (Cimicifuga) • Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla) • Toad lily (Tricyrtis) • Hakone grass Note: Most shade plants prefer rich, organic, moist soil. Avoid very poor and dry soil.


• Wild Indigo (Baptisia) • Bee Balm (Monarda) • Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) • Blazing Stars (Liatris) • Coneflower (Echinacea - pale does the best) Make sure the plants you choose are hardy in your zone.


At K&K Gardens, we love to use perennials to add different colors and textures to the arrangement. Commonly, we use ornamental grasses, hosta, Joe Pye Weed, Astilbe, Daylily, Blackberry Lily, Rudbeckia, or Liatris, and we will often pair them with favorite annuals: Zinnia, Salvia, Talinum, and Gaura.

TOP PLANTS FOR LAZY GARDENERS: Unfortunately, there is no “no attention garden.” Every garden, whether it has plants, shrubs, or trees, needs some attention. Here are some low maintenance options: Daylily, mums, dwarf conifers, hosta, Rudbeckia, spirea, smaller ornamental grass (Blue Oak, Prairie Dropseed, Karl Foerster, Hakone).

LOVE TO WEED IF IT’S WORTH IT: Creeping Dianthus, Oriental Lilies, Artemisia Power Castle (or similar varieties), Nepeta Cat’s Pajamas, Hardy Geranium, Coreopsis.

LOVE DRAMA: Joe Pye Weed, Aralia Sun King, Cimicifuga Black Negligee, Hosta Guardian Angel, Sun Coleus, Panicum Northwind grass, Amsonia hubrichtii, Stachys monieri Hummelo.

TOP DRIFTLESS PLANTS ACCORDING TO KEITH: Some are native, but some are not. Little Bluestem grass, Common Milkweed, Blue False Indigo, Butterfly Weed, Queen of the Prairie, Black Eyed Susan, Blue Star, Artemisia Silver Mound.

Coneflowers and Black-eyed Susans in Aryn’s garden. / Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols








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pring is always a time of new life in the world. But all seasons of the global pandemic haven proven to be disrupted by the idea of “new.” With supply chains impacted all over the world, many of our favorite goods are no longer available, or they’re shipped very slowly, or the places they once occupied on a store’s shelf remain empty due to staffing shortages. But for four female resale shop owners in the Driftless, there is no time like the present. New goods might be in short supply, but used clothing, furniture, sporting goods, music, and toys are still very much available. And for these women, the potential for upcycled, salvaged, and repurposed goods is unlimited – and good for the planet. Resale is experiencing a revolution, and these four businesses are at the forefront.

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THE GETUP – DECORAH, IA. For Lisa Lantz of Decorah, Iowa, the resale business is about offering good deals to customers, but it’s also about sustainability. “There is so much stuff out there. Storage units are being built at a record pace, clothes are filling up landfills. There is so much waste in the world, anything we can do to alleviate that is worth it,” says Lisa. That’s why she and her husband, Scott Bassford, decided to open their store, The Getup, in the first place. Lisa is passionate about promoting a circular economy rather than a one-way track into the garbage, which is where many used items end up. It was this value that led her to take the plunge four years ago and open The Getup. Just when Lisa was feeling the itch to change careers, the JC Penney location in Decorah closed. All of a sudden, the community Lisa Lantz in front of The Getup, 102 W lost its primary source Water St. Decorah / Photo: The Getup for kids’ clothing. Lisa and Scott started to think about how they had always bought used clothes for their own children. “We believed in it, it’s something that we did,” she explains. And then they started to think about how they could fill that community need. They researched similar business models, like Once Upon a Child and other resale stores, and from there they started building The Getup. With Scott’s technical savvy, they implemented their own point-ofsale system and got to work, buying used items in like-new condition in current styles. Though they initially started with kids’ items, they quickly expanded to include adult clothing, as well. Sellers to The Getup receive either cash or store credit, the latter of which is something many families take advantage of. “It’s a really Continued on next page

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great cycle for families,” Lisa explains. “They bring in the size their child grew out of and then buy the next size up.” And The Getup will even donate the items they don’t buy on behalf of their customers. “It’s a great value we can offer our customers,” she adds. It’s those customers and the surrounding community that Lisa credits with the success of their store. “I am constantly blown away by the support. Every year we’ve been in business we’ve grown,” she says. “That’s because our community supports us.” The Getup has loyal patrons, but Lisa also loves that it attracts new shoppers all the time, too. “Almost every day I have someone who comes in who says, ‘I’ve never been here!’” She also loves to offer other items via pop-up shops that are on the fringe of what the store already offers. For example, Erin Ryan of Honey Head Vintage has a little stand in the front of the store selling vintage clothing. “It fits with our sustainability mission and also our mission of supporting the community,” Lisa says. She previously had another woman who sold her upcycled wool baby booties and pants

in the store. “There are things like this on the edges of what we do that we love to support,” she says. “It fits the same ethos.” Another way her resale shop ties back to supporting Decorah is when they get unique sports gear, like cross country skis and ice skates. “I love when we can provide things like that as they help people go out and enjoy our community.” Lisa has even figured out a way to help customers who don’t necessarily like to shop or are interested in having some input on their wardrobe: Bundle Boxes. This plays off the subscription-based companies of ThreadUp and StitchFix, asking customers just a few easy questions. Then The Getup does shopping and styling on their behalf. Customers can review their cart online and buy what they like or swap items for others they prefer. It’s this kind of personal touch, and her dedication to sustainable solutions for her community, that have made Lisa a pillar of the resale community in the Driftless.

OOLALA CONSIGN – LA CROSSE, WI. Oolala Consign in La Crosse, Wisconsin, isn’t just a store, it’s an experience – and that’s one of the best parts of the gig, according to owner Kay Mazza. “We are trying to offer a shop that cares, and provides connection and community in our products, artistry, and placement in the map,” says Kay. She welcomes shoppers to linger in-store to listen to their collection of used vinyl, CDs, and cassettes. She also hosts live musicians in the Furniture Annex area, and the store itself promotes that connection to the community through an environment that just feels welcoming. “Being advocating community members and active participants in making our neighborhood stronger and better is exciting for all of us.” Kay has always worked in retail, but her venture into resale started more recently. When a long-time consignment shop owner in La Crosse was ready to retire, she approached Kay to take over her business. Encouraged by the idea of an established location and clientele, Kay thought the pandemic was a fitting time to try a different aspect of retail. So she became a first-time, small business owner and has never looked back. Now her days are spent swooning over beautiful pottery and glassware that she finds for the shop. “We are in the wonderful position of showing and selling unique artful pieces all day long that have stories and legacy,” she says. “I love so many things that we see.” The neat thing about Kay is that she doesn’t just want to keep these amazing finds for herself. She wants everyone to experience them. “We love to help share information, find and show beautiful items, and make each experience unique for the consignor and customers alike,” she says. 52

Spring 2022 /

Oolala Consign, located at 1006 19th St S, La Crosse in Jackson Plaza, is home to a great collection of thrift finds, and a great community to boot. Above, owner Kay Mazza poses in store. / Photos: Oolala Consign

And it’s an added bonus that Kay’s work also helps promote the mission of sustainability within the community she loves. “There is value in sustainable purchasing and when you’re in a smaller town like La Crosse it also gives you access to items you would never be able to locate in a regular retail shop here,” she explains. “Luxury products and quality items with stories matter in a world where there is so much one-time, disposable thinking.”

SUGAR LOAF LANE RESALE & BOUTIQUE – WINONA, MN It’s not enough to say that Heather Peterson is very invested in her work at Sugar Loaf Lane Resale & Boutique in Winona, Minnesota – she sold her house and quit her job to open the store in May of 2021. Heather’s interest in resale began long before though, as a thrift-storeshopping teenager. Her career later landed her in various consignment stores and in a role at the chain resale store, Clothes Mentor. She considered opening her own franchise location for a while, started selling on Poshmark, and tossed around a few ideas in her brain. “I love finding hidden gems,” she says, sharing how fun it was when she scored a Judith Leibier purse for $10. “You have to be willing to do your research,” she says. “You have to look for quality and know your brands.” Enticed by the thrill of those hidden gems, and knowing that Winona was lacking upscale resale, Heather decided to go for it and make the leap into a brick-and-mortar store of her own making. And she couldn’t be happier. She loves her fun, pink-filled boutique on 2nd Street in Winona (there’s even a big pink sign out front).

“I’m focused on department store brands and higher-end brands like Prada, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Chicos, and Loft,” says Heather. She also offers some new items from lines like Lake Girl, home decor, and soon, she’ll offer men’s clothing, as well. When it comes to sizes, Heather sells everything from XS-XXXL. It’s important to her to carry inclusive inventory – Heather wants customers to feel comfortable shopping in her store. “I can’t speak about female positivity if I don’t Sugar Loaf Lane, located at 56 E 2nd St, carry all sizes,” she says. Winona, has a great collection of thrift She loves sharing different and new finds. / Photos: Sugar Loaf Lane clothing options with her customers just as much as she likes hunting for thrifty finds. “[In resale] you’re opening people to new brands and looks that they’ve never heard of before. You can find some really cool stuff and you can get it for a good deal,” she explains. When she’s not looking for items to sell, Heather continues on the thrill of the thrift hunt for herself. She’s currently on the lookout for Chinoiserie decor for her own home, seeking out those same good deals she hopes her customers will find at Sugar Loaf Lane. Continued on next page






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REDOUX 232 - DECORAH, IA. In Kristi Haindfield’s world, items once thought of as disposable become amazing transformations. With the help of her husband, Terry, Kristi’s furniture restoration and resale business, ReDoux 232, has been cranking out reimagined and repurposed pieces since 2015. The retired couple has found great joy in their work. “There is something rewarding about keeping usable and restorable items from being tossed aside. Many times, under a coat of rust or dust, is a piece with unlimited potential,” says Kristi. “Our pieces are one-of-a kind, hand-crafted, and have a history or story behind each one.” And there have been some interesting stories. Terry once purchased an antique wine/fruit press that they transformed into a pub table. They also made a coffee table from the bowling alley floor once used in the Luther College Union basement. There was a wine bar made from a 1930s console

Kristi Haindfield works with her husband, Terry, to create one-of-a-kind pieces out of materials that might otherwise be discarded. Photos: Redoux 232

radio and a bench made of vintage school lockers. “Terry and I both like the creative aspect of what we do, the excitement of a new find, and the challenge of creating something unique and useful,” Kristi says. She hunts down items for Redoux 232 through ads, flea markets, auctions, and word of mouth referrals. The passion for this work is simply part of their lives – their home is outfitted with salvaged or restored furniture as well. But mostly, they love creating for others, producing quality work for their buyers – they even do custom projects, restoring or transforming family pieces with special history.

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Speaking of special history, the number 232 is a one that kept appearing in their lives, starting with a memorable $2.32 lunch at a café in Derby, Iowa. Kristi and Terry decided to work the serendipity of this number – and the feeling of stepping back in time – into their business. Redoux 232’s work is mostly sold and showcased online (, but they also do pop-up sales events like the springtime Funky-Junk-A-Loo show in Waterloo, Iowa (March 19-20, 2022). And they’re always open to making appointments for customers or showing them around their workshop near Highlandville, Iowa, as well. “We appreciate our customers,” Kristi says. “And we love to create pieces for them that are unique, attractive, and useful.” Sara Walters is a freelance writer as well as an avid buyer of used vinyl and weird t-shirts.


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ig environmental issues – such as groundwater contamination in our karst Driftless and climate change credited with bigger and more frequent storms (derechos?) – are, without a doubt, overwhelming. It can be hard to watch earth issues continue to escalate, especially if you’ve long been trying to do your part on the homefront by recycling, driving a fueleconomized vehicle, or investing in renewable power, among other commitments. That’s where green advocacy on a community scale picks up, say Ayla Boylen of Cedar Rapids and Leslie Smith Sand of Decorah. Both have found meaningful and diverse friendships, hope, and a stronger voice in civic initiatives. “I found a community I hadn’t realized I was lacking,” says Ayla. “And now that I’ve found allies, I can lift up even more people who are very deserving.” A Mount Mercy University art major, Ayla grew up a self-professed “feral woodland child” on 30 acres surrounded by thousands more acres of forest near Decorah, she explains. “In an environment that pristine, it wasn’t too hard to see the mark humans make in everything.” Then, when she was in 8th grade, her dad Scott (also her 8th grade English teacher), made Ayla and her brother Samson watch An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary that followed Al Gore on his international campaign to raise awareness of climate change. “That’s when I first thought, ‘Oh s$!t. No one is willing to give up convenience to look longer term.’” Ayla started pulling for community action in earnest in the wake of tragedy: her brother’s sudden death at age 14, when she was 16, of rare complications of cancer treatment. Samson’s unfinished life accelerated her Ayla Boylen anchored a four-hour Cedar Rapids Climate thinking about the kind of world she would Strikers’ peaceful protest every Friday, encouraging a have wanted to give his children – if he’d had friendly “honk for a green future” conversation with them. She also needed to find her own way to passing motorists. / Photo courtesy Ayla Boylen advocacy, outside of climbing the traditional ladders of influence. “More and more young people aren’t sure their vote even matters when what they’re hearing – no matter how they vote – is some kind of excuse-making about the super-slow process of policy making. They’re frustrated and feel disenfranchised. “I came to realize that many people, young people especially, are terrified by every month, every week, every day of inaction, and they need something to do with that fear.” Ayla credits Swedish climate advocate Greta Thunberg with inspiration to action. “When I saw how this high schooler with Asberger’s [syndrome] was starting the conversation, I thought, ‘Surely there’s more I can do here.’” Beginning in 2019, Ayla anchored the Cedar Rapids Climate Strikers’ peaceful protest every Friday on the steps of Cedar Rapids’ city hall, encouraging recognition of climate issues through the passage of

Spring 2022 /

Continued on next page

“Cedar Rapids’ Climate Story – A community pursuit of climate action, equity, and leadership,” features these graphics illustrating the causes and impacts of the climate crisis, and ways the city could mitigate and adapt for the future. / Ayla’s community garden was her senior thesis. / Photo courtesy Ayla Boylen

LEARN MORE ABOUT CLIMATE ADVOCACY IN THE DRIFTLESS AND BEYOND Sunrise Movement Cedar Rapids: Cedar Rapids Community Climate Action Plan: Feed Iowa First: Citizens Climate Lobby: Oneota Film Festival: Skeptical Science: Global Weirding (podcast) with climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe: TED Talks with Katharine Hayhoe: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication: \ Spring 2022



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Spring 2022 /

a climate resolution. Her hand-lettered cardboard signs read, “No Planet B,” “Our House is Dying,” and “Declare a climate emergency.” Often she stood alone. “I looked at city policy and didn’t see much movement, or any other voices asking for climate preparedness,” she explains, “even though Cedar Rapids has seen two 100-year floods in the span of fewer than five years.” Slowly, her persistence paid off. She joined the Sunrise Movement Cedar Rapids, the members of whom were already working with city council to develop a workable resolution. In the meantime, the fourhour Friday strikes started up a friendly “honk for a green future” conversation with passing motorists, creating visibility for climate concern without causing divisiveness. In February 2020, Cedar Rapids formally passed a climate resolution and went on to create a Citizens Climate Review Board and develop Cedar Rapids’ Community Climate Action Plan, released in September 2021. Heralded as “ambitious” by advocates across the country, the plan aims to make Cedar Rapids carbon-free, resilient, and accessible. Goals include eliminating carbon emissions by 2050, transitioning to 70-100 percent clean and renewable power by 2050, and building resilience to flooding and climate hazards, especially for economically or socially vulnerable residents. To her surprise, Ayla found herself with a voice in local climate advocacy. Today she’s engaged with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Feed Iowa First, which organized community garden projects across the city and inspired Ayla’s senior thesis: the conversion of her entire front yard into an artful, intentional community garden. The goal is to invite neighborliness and share hyper-local resources (like kale, or pumpkins from last year’s Halloween jack-o-lantern seeds) as an antidote to destabilized global supply chains. “Wanting a healthy, green future is the least political thing,” she maintains, “and climate is an economic issue, a race issue, a social issue – basically, any cause that has ‘justice’ after it is a climate issue. My job is to show people that local action is possible.” On the other end of the “career arc,” retired ER nurse Leslie Smith Sand of Decorah, went looking for ways to make a difference when she found herself the grandmother of four little boys – and she wanted to leave a broader legacy than driving a used Prius or maxing out the energy efficiency of her home (shared with her husband, Kevin, a retired physician). “I sat down to watch a documentary on regenerative agriculture at the 2019 Oneota Film Festival,” she explains, “and then I sat through another, and another, and pretty soon I was riveted, thinking, ‘What systemic change am I making?’ I started talking to friends, my kids, my grandkids, asking ‘Are you worried?’ I’m paraphrasing someone somewhere, but I realized yes, it’s true: I do not want my grandsons to go to war over clean water.” And so, Leslie did what most biology majors might do: she started conducting her own research, reading up on climate issues and effective economic levers for change. She soon found herself immersed in the activism of Citizens Climate Lobby, a nonpartisan think tank and platform for bipartisan solutions. “I’ve been around the drama of many elections,” she explains, “and I knew I didn’t have time or patience with choosing sides. What I found in CCL was a respectful, inclusive, supportive discussion. People honestly just want to see conversations go somewhere.” And she stumbled upon what has become her personal mantra, in the lyrics of folk singer Joan Baez: “Action is the antidote to despair.” By the time Leslie’s friend Jim Martin-Schramm, then a religion and ethics professor at Luther College, suggested she start a local chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby, she was committed. She planned an outdoor event to make her pitch to what she thought would be a small handful of family and friends. “It was a rainy afternoon and not


Leslie Smith Sand’s mantra, “Action is the antidote to despair,” are lyrics by the folk singer Joan Baez. She recently started a Decorah chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby. / Photo courtesy Leslie Smith Sand

a great day to be strolling down Water Street considering climate change,” she recalls. “But 40 people showed up. And signed up. I was stunned.” Today, Northeast Iowa’s chapter of CCL has 100 engaged members. Through the pandemic and careful quarantining, Leslie has focused on legislative policies to curb carbon emissions, centered on the idea of monetizing carbon at the source, charging a federal carbon “fee” for production and paying out dividends equally to all citizen consumers. The concept is currently proposed by U.S. Representative Theodore E. Deutch of Florida as H.R. 2307, “Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2021,” and referred to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy. “I feel compelled to have these conversations,” Leslie explains. “CCL has given me the vehicle to learn and to work collaboratively. I now feel confident there are solutions; we just need to start talking. And that’s saying a lot, getting to a place of hope and of building political will.” So, what’s more important, Leslie likes to recall from a TED Talk by “evangelical climate scientist” Katharine Hayhoe: Individual action or systemic change? “All she said was, ‘Yes,’” Leslie quips with a smile. “Yes.”’ Kristine Kopperud is a writer/editor, SBDC small business counselor, and end-of-life doula collaborating on a clearinghouse for informed and inspiring end-oflife care in the Driftless (a website! Soon!). When not cleaning her floors to avoid looming deadlines, she’s usually at the riding barn, watching her daughter’s horse lessons. Read more at




restoration & weatherization

Residential & light commercial construction David J. Wadsworth • 563.419.0390 • Online farmers market all year long. Pick-up sites in Decorah, West Union, Postville, Calmar and Waukon. \ Spring 2022



Skunk cabbage / Artwork by Mary Thompson


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The Brief, Spectacular Lives of Spring Ephemerals BY CRAIG THOMPSON ARTWORK BY MARY THOMPSON


eep under a blanket of snow, in the frozen kingdom of springtails and millipedes, they slumber in darkness each year. Then, as the vernal sun forces winter’s retreat, they awaken and reach skyward. On cue, ochre-tinged forests sprout dapples of color. Spring ephemerals, as they’re known, are the first plants to emerge after the snow melts. They activate when the rich soil that nurtures our temperate growing season breaks dormancy. By definition, ephemerals are fleeting. It’s a remarkable display of botanical bravado, perfectly timed to occur during that brief window between soil thaw and tree leaf out. Some refer to it as the phenological Goldilocks Zone – not too cold, not too shady, just right. For a spring ephemeral, life is brief and spectacular – emerge, flower like there’s no tomorrow, soak up enough sun to last until next year (the heck with sunscreen), go dormant by late spring, disappear by summer. These green Houdini’s are the original practitioners of “leave no trace.” For the lucky observer, it’s one of the greatest shows in the Driftless. Imagine being front row center for the year’s only performance by Virginia Bluebell and the Hepaticas (two lovely spring bloomers). The roster of woodland wildflowers is long and reads like a creative writing assignment – Dutchman’s breeches, squirrel corn, bloodroot, Jacob’s ladder, spring beauty, trout lily, Jackin-the-pulpit, large-flowered trillium. Like tiny spring fireworks, they light up the woods with vivid displays of whites, yellows, and blues. Those venturing farther afield can find ephemerals in other Driftless habitats. Skunk cabbage is among the earliest bloomers, often discovered in full flower by mid-March. A specialized metabolism generates heat that enables the plant’s flower to melt its way out of icy confinement. The temperature inside the flower may hit 50 degrees while the mercury remains well below 32. The Pepé Le Pew of plants is so named for the strong odor it produces while flowering. Skunk cabbage likes wet feet and is typically found near creeks and spring seeps. Continued on next page



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Dutchman’s breeches / Artwork by Mary Thompson


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On the drier end of the spectrum, pasque flower challenges skunk cabbage for the title of “earliest bloomer.” Plant enthusiasts scour goat prairies (grassy knobs on steep, south facing bluffs) in March and early April to lay claim to the year’s first pasque flower. The lovely purple flower hugs the ground to stay warm and sports a coat of fine hairs that provide extra protection from frost. Its prostrate growth form requires intrepid botanists to closely examine every hillside nook and cranny. In the end, it’s all about scraped knees and bragging rights.



Jeff Scott . 563-379-1101 . Anne E. Kaspar, LMT, MMT

Pasque flower / Artwork by Mary Thompson

More than just pretty faces, spring ephemerals serve as an important source of nectar and pollen for insects roused from their winter snooze. Drawn by the waft of putrid perfume, scavenging flies home in on flowering skunk cabbage for an early spring meal. Hungry bees awakened by warming temperatures find great eats at the Pasque Flower Café. And while blooming early has risks, it also offers rewards. Being the only open diner in the neighborhood increases the likelihood of successful pollination. The iconic conservationist Aldo Leopold said, “the chance to find a pasque flower is as inalienable as free speech.” This spring make it a point to get out there and exercise your right to revel in the emergence of ephemerals, one of nature’s finest festival of flowers. Mary Thompson has degrees in Fine Arts and Education. She has delighted in the creative arts since her first box of crayons. A dyed in the wool people person, she teaches art lessons to adventurous adults using a variety of media.

Craig Thompson is a professional biologist with a penchant for birds dating back to a time when gas was $0.86 cents a gallon. His Dutchman’s breeches no longer fit.

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Driftless IN THE


Things continue to shape up at the Historic Fortney in downtown Viroqua. The massive renovation to return the hotel to useable retail, office, and restaurant spaces has continued to bear much fruit (and, cheese…) for the community. The latest addition alongside the Historic Fortney Lounge (which offers weekly trivia, plus carry-in of delicious bites from Driftless Café) is Noble Rind Cheese Company, a local specialty food store! Opening this spring, Noble Rind will offer well-chosen artisan cheeses (cut and wrapped to order!), meats, and classic accoutrement to compliment – from crackers to fresh baked bread, jam, honey, and mustards, pickles and preserves, beer, wine and a variety of non-alcoholic options. They also have sandwiches, soups, salads, and small plates available. Watch www. for details on their Grand Opening!


A new “old” space in Lansing is offering up big services in this scenic Northeast Iowa town! Lansing Office Works, a project brought to life by local entrepreneur Maryann Baldwin, the Rural Ideas Network, and an IEDA Rural Innovation Project Grant, has been gaining steam – and tenants – through the past year. It’s now home to Main Street Lansing’s Executive Director’s office, Wood Media LLC, and the Eastern Allamakee High School’s Innovation Lab class, and the space also hosts a variety of events, including Meet the Author nights, Vision Board sessions, Entrepreneurship sessions and more. With Co-working plans, Meeting Space, Innovation Services, and more available, the 100-year-old building has quickly become a hub of activity in downtown Lansing.


Spring 2022 /


Been through Waterville, Iowa, lately? Well, next time you are winding your way through the scenic hills of rural Allamakee County, swing by and say howdy at “Provisions” – a postagestamp-sized rural outpost of a convenience store, located in the old Post office building in downtown Waterville! Proprietors Clark White and Christopher Jordan opened the store to provide the essentials for local residents, with basic groceries, cleaning supplies, and more. The building also houses White and Jordan’s other business, Integrity Management Consulting Corp. Current hours for Provisions are 8am-5pm Monday-Friday, and 9am-3pm Saturday (Closed Sunday). Feel free to check ahead before you go: 563-535-7103.


If there’s one thing better than tasty BBQ, it’s tasty BBQ with a fresh-made beer! That’s right, Fat Pat’s BBQ / Jo’s Coffee in Spring Grove, Minnesota – at Red’s Hometown Market – is now brewing their own beer in-house! It’s been a journey to get the microbrewery online, but Father and Son team Pat & Patrick Jr. are makin’ the dreams come true. BBQ is served Friday nights from 4-7 (feel free to check ahead!) and tasting room hours currently run Mon-Thurs 11am-5pm, FriSat 11am-9pm, and Sundays 1pm-5pm. Hours may shift into the spring and summer seasons, so plan accordingly, and tell ‘em we sent you!


We love pie. That should be of no surprise to anyone that reads Inspire(d). What may be news, though, is that Decorah is home to a new Pie Shop and Café! Kozi Pie Shoppe is now open in downtown Decorah, serving several varieties of pies, in addition to breakfast and lunch. Schedules are still varying a bit as the schedule gets ironed out, but Thursday-

Sunday is a sure bet, with daily “pie” specials at lunch (think Pot Pie, Shepherd’s Pie, Tomato Pie, Spaghetti Pie – you get the idea!). We’re pretty excited about this entire concept, ‘cause who doesn’t love pie?! Find more info, drool-worthy pie pics, and daily specials at

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Pop(corn) Culture, Food & Fun – that’s the name of the game with Otts’ Pops Indie Pop – hand-crafted small batches of Iowa popcorn, made by two (amazing!) women. Seed Savers Exchange co-founder Diane Ott Whealey, and Iowa native musician Lissie decided to pair up and work on a joyful project together. Diane had a homemade, long held, secret caramel corn recipe cooked in a cast iron skillet and Lissie had a passion to create a line of pop music genre flavors, so Otts’ Pops Indie POP was born. What has transpired since then are multiple flavors to match music, mood, and good times, available across the region and by mail! We love grabbing a bag at Convergence Ciderworks (goes well with Cider… or beer!), or the Landing Market on the West Side of Decorah. Order online as well, and check out all the flavors – Folk Pop, Cheesy Pop, Dream Pop, and Synth Pop!

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





The Brim, formerly known as Treats on Bridge Street in Elkader, is off and running with a fresh look and updated menu! The Brim offers specialty coffees (beans sourced locally from Euphoria in West Union!) plus a variety of baked goods and pastries, soups, salads, and sandwiches. Open Monday-Saturday, check ‘em out next time you are looking for a little R&R (road trip and retail therapy!) Elkader is one of our favorite destinations in the region, with beautiful, historic buildings, fun shops, and unique dining. Find details and learn more at facebook. com/TheBrimElkader/

110 East Water St 563-382-4297

More than 60 years of great food!

personal, affordable style 802 Short St. Decorah 563.382.5592 402 Rossville Rd. Waukon 563.568.3130 Up to $2000 rebate on Café appliance packages \ Spring 2022



Lillian Bruvold

Interviewed by Inspire(d)’s Benji Nichols


ne could make the case that 98-year-old Lillian Bruvold is one of NE Iowa’s most valuable resources. Born and raised in Springfield Township on a farm that held one of the first creameries in Winneshiek County (Opdahl), Lillian started milking cows with her Dad (Helmer) at age eight. It was on that farm that Helmer and Cora (her Mom) exemplified the importance of caring for the land on which they relied. Helmer was a County Soil and Water Commissioner, as well as an early adopter of terracing, strip cropping, and various soil conservation practices. Lillian would continue these practices for decades to come, on the farm and off as well, as Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Commissioner. She also served as Farm Bureau County Chair for five years, WELCA President, Circle chair, taught Sunday School, joined the Historical Society and Aase Haugen Home Auxiliary, and delivered meals for the Decorah Senior Center for 16 years. In fact, it was her father and peers who had the foresight to raise funds and build the Decorah Senior Center in the late 1960s. Her work has won much-deserved recognition from a long list of organizations, including two State of Iowa Volunteer Recognition Awards (’91 and ’09), and the Ruth Wagner Award from the IA Association of Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioners. Lillian married Harris Bruvold in the fall of 1946 – one year after he returned from WWII in 1945. They kept up through his time in Europe with countless letters. Together, they had four children, Paul, Lila, Orval, and Harlan. Lillian farmed with Harris for decades until his passing. She reckons she milked close to 50 years, when it’s all said and done. The Bruvold family has founding roots at Washington Prairie Church, where they have also done great conservation, prairie restoration, re-forestry, and other projects in memory of Harris, Orval, and Harlan. Lillian is the proud Grandma of nine, and Great Grandma of 15! At 98, Lillian has barely slowed down, with three weekly card clubs, regular meetings to attend as the long time President of the Decorah Senior Center (See Page 14 for more details about the current Sr. Center Improvement Fundraiser!), and Washington Prairie functions. Her bridge playing is as sharp as her quilting scissors, and her love of family as important as ever.

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you? The more you put into something, the greater the reward. What did you want to be when you grew up? I always had my heart set on being a teacher. What do/did you do? After growing up in Springfield Township, I went to “normal school” and became a teacher. I taught K-8 at the Knutson School for two years, and then the Aschem School in Glenwood Township. I only had to walk about a quarter mile to the schoolhouse, and get the fire going each morning when it was cold. The mailman was the same as at our house, Louie Moore, and he came by the school on his route. He’d honk and drop off letters from Harris. After we were married we farmed – I milked, and Harris did the farming. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you? My Bible, fresh water, and a deck of cards! Try to describe yourself in one sentence. I’m a better listener than a talker, I love to bake, and am willing to help where needed. If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? Whenever I go to a potlock anymore, I do look for rommegrot – but I do like a variety! Name one thing you could not live without. Grandkids – and all the support from my family.

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Tell us about some favorite memories: Harris and I were married in September of ’46 – about a year after he returned from the service. One of our first dates was with another couple, including Roger Wheatman. We went to see a ball game in New Hampton, but we were in an accident on the way and rolled the car over. We were OK, but it was an exciting start, and my Mother wasn’t so happy when she found out! I also have many great memories with my family. Harris and I helped start and run the SWCD Chicken BBQ that was a fundraiser at Walden Pond for the district. That was quite a thing for many years, with the men BBQing the chicken, and we’d make all the salads and beans. We met a lot of people from across the state through those times.

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