Inspire(d) Spring 2023

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...and more! SPRING 2023



We love these amazing humans!





Sara Friedl-Putnam / writer

Sara Walters / writer

Tallitha Reese / writer

Steve Harris / writer

Renee Brincks / writer

Christy Ebert Vrtis / writer

Olivia Lynn Schnur / mental health writer

Craig Thompson / conservation writer

Mary Thompson / art + illustrations

Scott Boylen / photography


What’s the name mean?


Interested in becoming a contributor? Email work samples to Aryn at, and we’ll chat!

Inspire(d) Driftless Magazine is headquartered & created in Decorah, Iowa. Big thanks to our HQ Community Partner, Visit Decorah. Say hi to these awesome folks in Downtown Decorah or online at

Learn more about Community Partnership opportunities by emailing


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find the gnome...

Remember G-Gnome, our frequent summer cover model? He’s hiding somewhere in this magazine! The first five people to send us his page location through our contact form at gets a free Inspire(d) 7-Year Pen in the mail!


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! We’re here to remind folks that people are good! Our mission is, ultimately, to change the world… starting with our own community. We like to call it an experiment in positive news. Support

Inspire(d) Magazine is published quarterly by Inspire(d) Media, LLC, 412 Oak Street, Decorah, Iowa, 52101. This issue is dated Spring 2023, issue 72 volume 16, Copyright 2023 by Inspire(d) Magazine.

We want Inspire(d) to be accessible for all, which is why it is free on stands across the Driftless! But you can support Inspire(d) through Membership! We’ll send the magazine in the mail, to you or a loved one, for only $28/year. Visit the Membership page at for details, or send a check for $28 to Inspire(d) Magazine, 412 Oak St., Decorah, Iowa 52101. Thank you for your support, and for joining the positive news movement!

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Spring 2023 / 06

Every year, I wish I could stretch spring out… juuuuust a little longer.

It’s one of the beauties of this fleeting season, though. Blink and you’ll miss it. So keep those eyes open wide. You are here. Let’s live in the now.

Living in the Now is about being mindful of the moment. While we can’t slow down time, we can pause to savor it. My spring infographic dives into this theme, and introduces Olivia Lynn Schnur’s mental health article, with methods for “paying attention on purpose.” The great thing about mindfulness is that it can make every moment, every activity feel brand new, Olivia says. The act of paying attention makes the moment sacred.

Mindfulness also taps into your senses, and spring is perfect for that. The smell of the earth, the sound of birds announcing their return to the region, the texture and feel of the – new paper! – in this magazine in your hands.

In fact, some things are just better on paper. Magazines, obviously. Books, in my opinion. And community maps! It’s a whole tactile experience. So it was really fun to have writer Renee Brincks profile a handful of Driftless Indie Bookstores, the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association (MIBA), and artist Kevin Cannon in this issue. Kevin’s art is featured on the Spring Inspire(d) cover, and he creates the artwork for the Midwest Indie Bookstore Roadmap. A new roadmap is released each April to celebrate National Independent Bookstore Day. Indie bookstores are huge builders of community, and we love them so much. They invite residents and visitors alike to slow down and meander the aisles (not isles…but who needs trips when you’ve got books?!).

We’ve got a great roundup of Community Builder profiles this issue as well. Decorah’s Jane Kemp has offered many hours of volunteer service to local organizations. John Sutton of Westby, Wisconsin, gathered community around wood carving. Norb Kelly, in Lanesboro, Minnesota, often works with wood too, and hammers and saws… pretty much any tool that helps him fix or build things for people in his community.

In La Crescent, Minnesota, folks rallied together to build a bridge. Sara Walters writes about how leaders and community members worked to create a more connected and bike-friendly hometown. They opened the volunteer-run Bike Shoppe, and fundraised and organized to have a bridge built over a busy highway. The positive effects these efforts had were pretty much instantaneous.

I loved interviewing sisters Azia Thelemann and Dani Peterslie of La Crosse, Wisconsin’s Drift Mercantile for this Sum of Your Business Q&A. I kept nodding my head and saying “yep” to all their answers – entrepreneurship runs in their blood, and they clearly understand the work that goes into, well, making it work.

Also on my love list? Craig Thompson’s Driftless Natural History Quiz! His light-hearted questions test your knowledge of Driftless nature in the spring. (Don’t worry if you still have much to learn – I do too!)

There are quite a few businesses and organizations celebrating milestones this year. One is Northeast Iowa’s Helping Services for Youth and Family. This incredible non-profit has been helping to make healthier and safer families and communities for 50 years!

Christy Ebert Vrtis compiled 50 Ways Helping Services Helps, and we would give 50 high fives if we could.

Many high fives to you all as well. Thanks for reading and being Inspire(d). This is going to be a great spring!

Looking forward,

What is the driftless?

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 greatly to the geography as well). It’s a lovely place to live and visit, and we’re happy you’re here!

Minneapolis based artist Kevin Cannon’s art is featured on this spring cover. Read more about Kevin and his work on page 20.

cover art by...

What We’re Loving right now



Cold water streams are one of our regions greatest gems and special resources, and hence, fly fishing is a popular pastime in these parts. These magical sources of cold, fresh water not only create the perfect habitat for trout, but also the perfect opportunities for outdoor recreation and education. One of the groups that has long recognized the importance of supporting the health and maintenance of cold water streams is Trout Unlimited – and specifically the Iowa Driftless Chapter of “TU”. The group has led efforts for stream restoration, water quality, and fish population health projects across Northeast Iowa Iowa and our region.

As a special project to raise funds in 2023, the Chapter is hosting the national touring “Fly Fishing Film Tour” (or F3T, as it’s known), at the Hotel Winneshiek on Saturday, April 29, at 6 pm.

This annual collection of films takes viewers across the globe to locations near and far, as anglers chase some of the wildest species of fish with fly fishing gear – just for the chance to land – and return – these magnificent creatures in their habitats. The films are always

an incredible collection of global escapes and scenery – well worth the time and energy to check them out. You can find tickets and more information on current TU projects by visiting: www.facebook. com/ or

Speaking of Fly Fishing – check out one of our latest episodes of the “Rhymes With Decorah” podcast, featuring Alayna Sobieniak and Lance Prado of the Root River Rod Company in Lanesboro. The shop, which Alayna’s Dad Steve originally started, is continuing to flourish under their care after Steve’s untimely passing from cancer in 2022. We talk all things fly fishing and Lanesboro, and baby Finn even makes an appearance on the show! Check it out at


Speaking of podcasts, our companion podcast project “Rhymes with Decorah” is entering its second season, with 40 shows covering local and regional topics. Hosted by Inspire(d)’s Benji Nichols, its like a half hour audio window into different topics from across the region! Find it at, or on our new Inspire(d) website:

Oh, and speaking of our website (haha, okay, last time, we promise!), have you visited us online recently!? As you well know, we are big fans of paper, print, and beautiful things you can hold in your hands – but we do also embrace the digital age! =) We are excited to officially “Love” our pretty new website! It is much easier to navigate and read on your phones and tablets (in addition to desktop, of course). We’re posting all our regular great content there, plus personal stories, extra projects, interviews, and more. Find something you like there? Share it with your friends –positive news forever!

Spring 2023 / 12 MACHINAL JEWEL THEATRE APRIL 20 & 21– 7:30 PM APRIL 22 – 1:30 & 7:30 PM DANCE 2023 MAY 4 & 5 – 7:30 PM MAY 6 – 1:30 & 7:30 PM ULTRA MEGA MEGA Mark your calendars for Luther Dance & Theatre shows! More info online at PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRITTANY Dance & Theatre CENTER FOR THE ARTS • DECORAH, IA MAY 12 –6:30 TO 9:30 PM JEWEL THEATRE OPEN HOUSE, CFA


The Motor Mill site outside of Elkader, Iowa, is coming back to life! A dedicated group of individuals have been working hard on the property and buildings at the historic site, located along the Turkey River in rural Clayton County. Built in the mid 1800s, the sixstory mill only operated commercially for a short amount of time. It was part of what had originally been planned to be a larger settlement area that never came to be. The mill is a magnificent piece of historical architecture, and much work has been done to restore the facilities and preserve its history. In 1983 the Clayton County Conservation Board bought the Motor Mill site, at which point restoration efforts began in earnest.

Most recently, the Turkey River Recreational Corridor (TRRC), was awarded a $328,000 grant through the Iowa Great Places program, to update the Motor Mill Inn site – a project that will not only provide unique lodging for visitors, but it will also protect the Inn from flooding, return the historic structure to its original state, provide meeting rooms, and house a small visitor center.

Visitors are welcome to see the historic site for themselves. The Motor Mill is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day on

Saturdays, from 12 to 4 pm. In the fall, the Mill is open every other weekend until the second weekend in October. Visit or for up-to-date hours and details on any upcoming events.

One event you should definitely note: The greater community is invited to register for the annual Motor Mill “Mill Run 5k & 10k.” The 2023 event takes place Saturday, March 18, at 9 am. Early bird registration for both races and more information: www.


The Bluff Country Studio Art Tour has announced its dates for the 22nd annual weekendlong art adventure and celebration of SE Minnesota. Gather a carload of friends April 28-30 for a fun, selfguided tour of 30+ local artists in their studios or galleries. This event is free to attend, and offers exceptional art and scenery off the beaten path. Participants can download the all-new app to make it even easier to journey around the region to check out participating artist’s studio locations. Find all the information, maps, listings, and information at

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® OPENING MARCH 1! Lillian Goldman Visitors Center Gift & Garden Store, Gardens, Trails & More Visitors Center open March-October 10am to 5pm | 7 days a week 3074 N Winn Rd, Decorah, IA 52101 563.382.6104 ·

What We’re Loving



A new event to support the Decorah Community Free Clinic will take place on May 6, 2023 on the Trout Run Trail. The Free Clinic has been in existence for 20 years, with a mission to provide primary care for those who are un/underinsured. An ever-growing amount of people are seeking services from the Free Clinic and, therefore, the cost of medications, care, and staffing are becoming larger challenges. With funding coming almost entirely from local individuals, clubs, and businesses, the Clinic is always in need of financial support. To compound the challenges, the Clinic is anticipating relocation in the next year, creating additional needs for funding to support a new lease agreement and the costs of moving.

The good news is that a fun and fantastic group of local citizens and Luther students who share a passion for cycling have gotten

together with a goal to raise $10,000 to help support the Free Clinic.

The cycling event will take place on Saturday, May 6, 2023 on Trout Run Trail, beginning at 10 am at Will Baker Park and ending at Pulpit Rock Brewery with an after party. Snacks, water, and assistance will be provided as needed along the trail.

Pre-registration is required, and if you’d like to do an apparel order, it must be completed by April 17 (if just cycling, registration closes April 24). For more information, scan the QR code here, visit, or contact Souk at


The first Ridges & Rivers Book Festival will be held in Viroqua April 28-30, 2023. The three-day event will be a celebration of reading, writing, creativity, and community. The festival brings the community and visitors together face-to-face with authors in a variety of ways - through readings, book-signings, workshops, and presentations. The fest looks to bring people together in the exploration of ideas and the literary and visual arts by engaging all kinds of readers at every age.

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There’s even a fun hook to Decorah, as Dragonfly Books will be coordinating book sales and small/independent presses at the onsite book fair.

The festival is sponsored by the Driftless Writing Center [a 501(c)3 nonprofit] and the McIntosh Memorial Library.


As we’ve definitely mentioned, we love print… so naturally, we love libraries (the OG bastions of print). Big congrats to the McIntosh Memorial Library in Viroqua for being named the Wisconsin Library Association’s “Library of the Year” award in late 2022!

McIntosh Memorial Library has been a community beacon in downtown Viroqua since 1904. Even when the library closed due to COVID-19 mandates, library staff remained resilient – curbside services were implemented and shortly thereafter, contactless lobby service. Library staff organized a D.I.Y. face mask drive during the nation-wide PPE shortage for essential workers, and perhaps most impactful, a Library Band (of the music variety) was formed. The librarians streamed and recorded their live performances, which were also broadcast by a local cable television station to all cable subscribers including area nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The intent was to bring local, friendly messages and joyful music into homes. Following suit, when the mandates lifted, the Library Band traveled to nursing homes and assisted living facilities to relieve isolation and spur outreach, good memories, and joy. The library continues to provide hope as the only centrally located site for weekly COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics in the City of Viroqua. Due to her leadership of guiding the library through COVID-19 safety protocols, the tenured Library Director of 14 years, Trina Erickson, was appointed to serve as the City’s Public Information Officer by the Mayor. Since 2020, Erickson has been serving with the City Administrator as representatives of the city on the Vernon County Emergency Management and COVID-19 Response Team Committees. 118 years after opening, and especially through the uncertain times of a worldwide pandemic, the McIntosh Memorial Library continues to shine as a community beacon.

Guest Artist – Decorah’s Own: Philip Wharton, violinist

Festive Overture – Dmitri Shostakovich

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra – Philip Wharton Symphony No. 1 in C Minor – Johannes Brahms

The New York Times proclaimed Philip Wharton’s playing “a rousing performance!” His compositions are described by the New York Concert Review as “decidedly contemporary... both engaging and accessible.” \ Spring 2023 15 Strong communities are built on rock solid foundations CRUSHED STONE PRODUCTS • SAND • GRAVEL AG LIME SPREAD • CONSTRUCTION SERVICES Serving communities in Iowa, Minnesota, & Missouri BRUENING ROCK PRODUCTS, INC 900 Montgomer y St, Decorah, IA 563-382-2933 . Four generations of Bruenings –90 years in business! SUNDAY, APRIL 30, 2023 • 3 PM Shostakovich, Wharton
Season Finale
Sponsored by Marion E. Jerome Foundation & Depot Outlet Free admission Decorah High School Auditorium

Sarah Zbornik

With you every step of the way


The Decorah Hatchery is turning 100 – and we think it’s worth crowing about!

What is now one of our region’s best sources for high quality outdoor gear and clothing was originally exactly what you would think: A building where baby chicks were hatched! For just shy of a century, the Matter family kept chicks peeping away and helped create small farm flocks across Northeast Iowa and beyond. In the same location since 1928, John Matter started in the chicken business in 1923, and the Hatchery brought millions of chicks into the world through 2009, when the last egg was hatched. Through those later years, the third generation Matters brought in supplemental business via outdoor gear and clothing – an

Spring 2023 / 16
. Decorah, IA

opportunity recognized through their own travel and adventures.

The Decorah Hatchery was a typical chick facility of its time, consisting of three Petersime redwood incubators each holding 20,000 eggs, from which 14,000 baby chicks were hatched each week. (You can still see pieces of these incubators repurposed into the shop in downtown Decorah!). Early in the morning, twice weekly, the fresh chicks were taken from the hatching trays, counted by hand, and put into cardboard boxes, 100 to a box. Most were picked up by local farmers soon after, though some went to the post office to be mailed to farms in Iowa or neighboring states. In later years, specialty markets, like the region’s Amish farmers, kept the chick hatching business clucking along.

As small farms turned into bigger farms and the hatching business shifted, the Matter family continued building up their outdoor goods offerings, specializing in high quality gear and brands that weren’t readily available in the region. The Hatchery also became famous for their “Quality Chick” t-shirts and apparel, which have been spotted from coast-to-coast and beyond.

As third generation owners Steve & Peg Matter approached retirement, the decision was made to sell the store to fresh new owners. The Hatchery continued to flourish under Maria and Drew Stevenson for the next several years until Steve & Peg’s son, Nathan Matter, returned to Decorah. He picked up the family thread and took over operations of the Decorah Hatchery for a fourth generation.

As part of their 100th anniversary celebration, Nathan commissioned a fun and unique custom Decorah Hatchery advertising poster from cult art-world stars and Manhattan immigrant bachelor brothers Miguel and Carlos Cevallos. The brothers, 81 and 79, have been making hand drawn advertising signs since they were teenagers in Bogotá, Colombia, by way of Ecuador. For decades, their work has graced the five boroughs of New York, and a young friend of theirs launched their work into the world during the pandemic. The original Decorah Hatchery Cevallos poster is displayed at the Hatchery, beautifully framed by Decorah’s Perfect Edge. Look for a 100th Anniversary Ribbon Cutting with the Decorah Chamber of Commerce this spring! \ Spring 2023 17 Live Show catch a Save the dates For rental opportunities contact wendy 235 8th Avenue W, Cresco, Iowa • Call 563-547-2101 to learn more! MRI & PET SCANS to RHSHC now o ers CLOSE HOME Expanded MRI Services 5 Days a Week

re Loving right now



History Alive Lanesboro brings their latest street theatre creations to Spring in 2023! The group has been bringing historical snapshots of Lanesboro to the streets for several seasons, and this year’s Pop-up Play will be “Lanesboro: Feelin Groovy, 1969. “ Experience true events and characters from Lanesboro in 1969 as you follow costumed actors to several locations for acting, music, and song. Does the turmoil of the era reach little Lanesboro? Long hair vs. a buzz, VW bugs vs. tractors, Beatles vs. choirs, protests vs. farms. Produced by History Alive Lanesboro this will be the groups eighth original show. Event-goers can see the show May 27, 28, 29 at 1 pm and 3 pm each day with tickets at the door of Sons of Norway Lodge, located at 200 So. Parkway Ave. near the park.


We feel so grateful to have such a wonderful outlet for creativity here in Decorah, Iowa: ArtHaus! And we have been lucky enough to enjoy their classes and events for 15 years now! That’s 15 years of art, theater, writing, and dance classes, concerts, poetry slams, and Shakespeare Festivals.

Come celebrate the 15th Birthday of ArtHaus at a super fun birthday party May 6 from 7 to 10 pm at Convergence Ciderworks in Decorah. There will be all the birthday party fun and games, including Pin the Ear on the Van Gogh, a cake walk, ceramic cupcake glazing, party hats, and, of course presents! If you can’t make it, there will be an online silent auction so you can buy yourself a gift or enter to win any of several raffle prizes. Tickets are $25 in advance. Find details at Cheers to ArtHaus! Thanks for 15 years of connecting people through creativity!

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What We

Some things are just better on paper. Magazines, for instance. And books, in our humble opinions. And community maps! Somehow, seeing the scope of a region on a page in front of you – not a screen – helps ground you to that community. Independent bookstores bring it all home, creating spaces where people can connect over common interests.


This is just one section of the Midwest Indie Bookstore Roadmap, with amazing artwork by Kevin Cannon. You’ll have to pick up a copy of your own at your favorite Indie Bookstore, then marvel at the fun details throughout...and at the great quantity of bookstores we are lucky to have here in the Midwest! / Artwork by Kevin Cannon •

Spring 2023 / 22
Artwork by Kevin Cannon /



At a time when buying novels might involve tapping a screen, physical bookstores feel especially delightful. Wander into a shop. Explore shelves packed with new releases and old favorites. Flip through some pages and escape into a story. It’s an immersive experience, and a reminder to focus on what’s at your fingertips.

For Minneapolis artist Kevin Cannon, bookshops have long been that source of engagement and discovery.

“I’ve always loved independent bookstores. I was the kid who would go into a bookstore, plant myself against a shelf, and just start reading,” he says.

On Saturday, April 29, as Independent Bookstore Day events unfold nationwide, Kevin’s work will encourage others to plan book-based adventures. He illustrated the 2023 Midwest Indie Bookstore Roadmap, which spotlights more than 200 independent bookstores anchoring the Driftless. Equal parts whimsical collector’s item and serious resource, the paper map links readers to a network of diverse, book-focused businesses.


Creating connections is one aim of the Midwest Indie Bookstore Roadmap, a Midwest Independent Booksellers Association (MIBA) project now in its sixth year. MIBA is a nonprofit trade organization that supports locally owned and independently operated bookstores in 10 Midwest states. The group puts together trade shows, educational seminars, networking events, and other programs for its membership, which includes about 225 booksellers plus some publishers, distributors, wholesalers, and other industry professionals.

Kate Rattenborg Scott and her staff hand out nearly 1,000 MIBA maps a year to customers of her two Decorah bookstores, Dragonfly Books and The Silver Birch. Kate, past president and a current member of the MIBA board of directors, says the roadmap helps customers visualize the number of indie bookstores operating in the region. And, despite the independent nature of these bookstores, it facilitates relationships between the stores themselves. \ Spring 2023 23 101 West Water St. Decorah, IA OPEN DAILY SUN-SAT +EVENINGS THURS-SAT

“It pulls us together as colleagues,” Kate says. “And it gives us a stronger voice against big-box stores and big online shopping sites.”

Customers light up when they spot their favorite home bookstore on the map. Many search for their second or third stores, too, sharing details about the places they like to shop while on vacation. In fact, some people plan whole trips around routes inspired by the bookstore roadmap.

“I thought this project was going to serve as a really nice poster to put up in the store or at home, but it has become more than that. We know that people do beer tourism. This is the book tourism version of that,” Kate says.

“It’s like when you pick up an antique map and go to all the little towns and comb through all their antique shops. This feels like that, but much larger,” says Mary Flicek, who owns Driftless Books in Wabasha, Minnesota.

Mary’s cozy shop is a haven for customers who want to chat about their favorite books or simply browse.

“I just play quiet music and let them have a quiet, contemplative visit,” she says. “It gives everybody a chance to open a real book.”

Mary frequently welcomes road trippers who stop by after spotting her store on the MIBA map.

Downtown Decorah
211 College Dr, Decorah, IA .
N Market TH E L A NDING @dragonflybooks @WabashaReads
market local vendors bottle shop

“Some will say, ‘You’re my sixth bookstore today.’ We have a bookshop basically every 30 miles up and down the river valley between La Crosse and the Twin Cities. Neighboring bookstores and I send customers to each other’s shops,” she says.

Even Kevin, who drew the MIBA map, uses it as a trip-planning tool. He and some college friends often meet up in various Midwest destinations. A few summers ago, after sketching a new bookstore called Paper Moon, he suggested they gather in the store’s hometown of McGregor, Iowa.

“We based a whole vacation around this incredible bookstore. It was amazing,” Kevin says.

While visiting Paper Moon, Kevin chatted with a traveler who happened to stop in with the bookstore map in hand.

“That was a very serendipitous meeting, and a lot of fun,” says Jennifer White, who co-owns Paper Moon with her mother, Louise.

The roadmap gave Jennifer a list of other regional booksellers to connect with when the pandemic left her, as a small-town store owner, feeling isolated. Bookshops help customers build bonds, too, and Jennifer’s own shop is a hub for diverse community members.

“We have been very vocal about being a safe place for people who might not feel safe or don’t feel like they belong,” she says.

“We need spaces for community members to gather and get to know one another. Bookstores offer that. They also offer inspiration, especially if you haven’t exactly found yourself yet. Bookstores open pathways for young readers to discover who they are. And, bookstores support their communities by hosting events, giving to schools, and donating to causes,” says MIBA Executive Director Carrie Obry.



In 2016, Carrie and the MIBA team created a Twin Cities bookstore passport, encouraging Twin Cities MIBA members to embrace opportunities to build community through collaboration. The project’s success inspired today’s Midwest Indie Bookstore Roadmap, open for all MIBA members. In addition to appearing on the main map, some owners partner with regional neighbors to create passports, punch cards, and contests related to Independent Bookstore Day, held annually on the last Saturday in April. (See the sidebar on page 30 for details on upcoming events at Driftless-area bookshops!)

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“Over and over again, we hear from stores that the map works. Customers get inspired by it. New customers are coming into stores and saying, ‘I found you on the roadmap,’” Carrie says. “It highlights this super-impressive ecosystem of independent bookstores, and customers love it when one store promotes another. The map connects stores in a way that’s vibrant, colorful, and fun.”

As a cartoonist and illustrator, Kevin sketches playful store images and highlights architectural and cultural elements on the map. Some stores then use their individual illustrations on websites, social media feeds, advertisements, postcards, t-shirts, mugs, or keychains. One shop put its illustration in a snow globe. Another replicated it on the side of a bus.

“Kevin gives us this wonderful way of showing that every one of our stores is unique and quirky and delightful, but also that we’re absolutely in this together. It’s hard to put into words how special his work is to us,” Carrie says. “Kevin is a hero for bookstores, and we’re thrilled to work with him.”


As mentioned, Kevin is a true bookstore enthusiast. In fact, he and his wife, Maggie, snapped their engagement photos inside Magers & Quinn Booksellers in Minneapolis. These days, the couple enjoys taking their young son to Cream & Amber, a bookshop in nearby Hopkins.

In addition to loving books, Kevin has worked on a few books of his own. He and Michael F. Patton released an all-ages graphic novel, “The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy,” in 2015. He earned an Eisner nomination (the comic-world equivalent of an Oscar) for his arctic adventure graphic novel, “Far Arden.” Kevin has illustrated several children’s books, too, and he’s animated online games for Cartoon Network.

More recently, Kevin has developed an interest in illustrating maps. His handdrawn cartography projects explore neighborhoods, cities, states, transit systems, and everything from the U.S. Naval Academy to the Minnesota State Fair. That combined love of maps and books landed him on the Midwest Indie Bookstore Roadmap project.

Sometime around 2015, while dating Maggie, Kevin started sketching caricatures of the independent local bookshops that she loved. Eventually, he shared those drawings on social media. After spotting Kevin’s work, a MIBA representative reached out and asked him to help with the original Twin Cities bookstore passport. That set the stage for the multi-state map now released each April.

Kevin enjoys the challenge of fitting more than 200 distinct stores and 10 states into a cohesive design.

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

Opposite page, Kevin poses with his son. Below that, cover art for two of Kevin’s graphic novels. At left: Kevin has done a variety of cartography projects, including this one for the U.S. Naval Acadamy. / Artwork by Kevin Cannon

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“As a cartoonist, I can be pretty loosey-goosey with locations. Even if the bookstores geographically are condensed to one side of the state or another, I have the flexibility to spread them out and give myself the breathing room I need,” he says.

The production process starts with a spreadsheet of store listings that Kevin plugs into Google Maps. In addition to documenting store locations, he explores exterior photos and street-level views. From there, he scours social media feeds to get more familiar with each store’s design features and details. Kevin sketches stores by hand, scans the sketches into Photoshop, and completes design, color, and editing work on the screen. Each year, he deletes closed shops, positions new additions, and re-layers existing images to create an updated map.

“I love delivering a product that people can really dive into. It’s almost like a good novel. They can look at my map, enjoy it on a base level, and then go back again and again and find something new,” he says.

Along those lines, Kevin tucks place-based surprises –”little Easter eggs,” as he calls them – into each new map. These range from images of books by local authors, to Paper Moon’s solar panels and shop cats, to a wine glass set next to Prologue in Charles City, Iowa, which sells books along with wine by the glass or the bottle.

“I have had many tourists come to the bookstore because of the MIBA roadmap,” says Prologue owner Darci Tracey, who opened her shop in December of 2021. “I refer to them as Indie Bookstore ‘groupies!’ Many people are trying to visit as many bookstores on the map as possible. It’s lovely!”

Spring 2023 / 28
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Artwork by Kevin Cannon

And in the fall of 2022, MIBA worked with Kevin to turn the latest map into a 1,000-piece puzzle, produced by Minnesota company PuzzleTwist. For Kevin, each expansion of the project introduces his artwork to a wider and more enthusiastic audience. That’s not the only reward, however.

“The idea that this gets into 200 stores every year is so exciting. People come up to me out of the blue because they recognize me from the map,” he says. “It’s also nice to know that my art is out there supporting bookstores in 10 different states. That is really gratifying.”

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Another “Easter Egg” Kevin puts in the map each year is an illustration of his family. You can see how they’ve changed and grown over the years. / Artwork by Kevin Cannon




– APRIL 29, 2023!

Select bookshops throughout the Driftless are teaming up to celebrate 2023 Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, April 29. Swing by your local store to pick up this year’s Midwest Indie Bookstore Roadmap and keep an eye on individual shop websites for details on special events and related in-store surprises.


– APRIL 28-30, 2023

The first-ever Ridges & Rivers Book Festival, a three-day event in celebration of reading, writing, creativity, and community, will be held in Viroqua, Wisconsin, April 28-30, 2023. The festival is sponsored by the Driftless Writing Center and the McIntosh Memorial Library.

The Ridges & Rivers Book Festival will bring the community and visitors face-to-face with authors and illustrators in a variety of ways – through readings, book-signings, workshops, presentations, and conversations – that explore ideas and foster engagement in literary and visual arts. The performances and activities will appeal to all ages and interests, readers and non-readers alike.

Decorah’s own Dragonfly Books will be coordinating book sales and small/independent presses at the onsite book fair. Find additional information at

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Artwork by Kevin Cannon


In September, Kate Rattenborg Scott of Decorah’s two indie bookstores, Dragonfly Books and The Silver Birch, announced the launch of the Oneota Valley Literary Foundation.

Many of Dragonfly’s mission-driven initiatives and communityserving efforts now operate under the foundation’s umbrella. Working through a nonprofit organization creates pathways to grant funding, donations, volunteer support, and other kinds of assistance.

“It opens up some flexibility, and it also allows the store’s forprofit side to stay a bit stronger,” Kate says.

The literary foundation supports three main goals, each with a community-building component. The first goal is to connect students with books. By distributing print releases through schools, daycare centers, and youth organizations, Kate hopes to cultivate a community of young readers and families who value books in the home. At the same time, the foundation will engage a wider audience by working with regional libraries, schools, senior centers, and other venues to hold author events for all ages.

The third objective is to introduce a retreat space for writers. Housed in an apartment above Dragonfly Books, the retreat will provide a landing spot for authors who are visiting the area to hold readings, lead discussions, teach public writing programs, and work on their own projects.

Visiting independent bookstores can help position under-theradar authors for success.

“As a debut novelist, there’s real opportunity in making connections with booksellers and even one or two customers. The bookseller talks to everybody who comes through about how a book is amazing, and that leads to a kind of launch. Many authors mention the value of that, and we, as a profession, pride ourselves on creating these opportunities,” Kate says.

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Jane Kemp Decorah, IA

Decorah’s Jane Kemp smiles easily and often. Yet beneath that kind smile and unassuming demeanor lies a fierce advocate for community causes, and a strong will to get good things done. It’s a fact to which numerous boards and nonprofits across Decorah and Winneshiek County can attest.

“This may be a tired phrase, but it really is all about giving back,” says Jane, 78 years young.

“I’ve had a wonderful life thus far, and it’s important to me to give back – this is a marvelous community, but it rests on people giving of their time and talents to stay that way.”

About Community Builders

A community is defined as a unified body of individuals. You can build community in a neighborhood, city, region, state, nation… world, at any level. It doesn’t have to be big to have a big impact. Building community is one of the most important things we can do in this life. Connecting with others helps us connect with our humanity, and realize we’re all in this together. Read more Community Builder stories at, and send us a note if you know someone we should feature here in the future!

Jane at the Decorah Public Library. / Photo by Sara Friedl-Putnam
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An Iowa native, Jane – full name, Henrietta Jane – decided to move to Juneau, Alaska, in 1966 after earning her bachelor’s degree in history and German from the University of Iowa. Though she “only intended to stay for the summer,” fate had other plans.

Not long after her arrival, Jane met her future husband, Don, then a staff member at the Alaska Department of Health and Welfare. In 1969, the couple tied the knot. And while both left the state temporarily to pursue master’s degrees – Jane earned a master of library science degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1971 – it was not until 1977 that they decided to relocate to Des Moines, Iowa, with their young daughter, Anna, in tow.

When Luther College offered Don a position as director of its social work program the very next year, they moved to Decorah and never looked back – by 1981, Jane had been hired by the college as well. Over the next 30 years, Jane carved out a career in Preus Library, serving as circulation librarian, library department head, and supervisor of the Fine Arts Collection – it grew impressively under her direction – as well as a professor in the college’s PAIDEIA program for first-year students. “We did a lot of reference and circulation work and a lot of bibliographic instruction in the early days,” says Jane, who retired from the library in 2010 as professor emerita of library and information studies. “It was well before Google, so we were charged with teaching students and other library patrons how to use the many reference materials.”

Both in retirement (and well before), she put her exemplary organizational skills and undying passion for good causes to use well beyond the Luther campus. When Winneshiek County Habitat for Humanity (WCHfH) asked her to join its board after the death of her husband, its director, in 2003, Jane accepted immediately. “I served both as a memorial to Don and because I believe deeply in the program,” she says. “Our goal was to have houses in every community in Winneshiek County, not just Decorah, and the scope of the work was just incredible – we did not only new builds but also renovations, including a church.”

Jane stepped off the board years ago, but she and her daughter, Anna, remain among the organization’s biggest advocates. As did Jane, Anna has served as board secretary. And the Kemp family has been a consistent supporter of the Don Kemp Golf Tournament, which raises funds for WCHfH building projects. (Jane is quick to point out that she does not golf in the annual event: “I am the least athletic person,” she says with a laugh.)

Other Decorah-based groups, both large and small, have also benefited from Jane’s time and talents. She is past president of Friends of the Decorah Public Library, a volunteer group that raises money to support the library and invest in needs not covered by its budget, from technology upgrades to programming. She currently chairs a local travel club that was established more than a century ago, says Jane, “for women who needed, at that time, to get out of the house and really sink their minds into something.” The group meets regularly at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, where Jane is an active member. She has served as church webmaster and has volunteered for the landscape committee and altar guild, among other things. “We have a very small staff so we are very much a congregation of volunteers,” she notes.

And while Jane claims no Norwegian ancestry, she has always loved history, so currently serving as a trustee of the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum is, as she says, “a natural fit.”

Continued on next page \ Spring 2023 33
Jane enjoys taking walks in nature. In this one, she’s out on a trail at Twin Springs Park in Decorah. / Photo courtesy Jane Kemp

During her tenure on the board, the museum has developed Heritage Park, dedicated in 2021, and the Vesterheim Commons, due to open later this year.

“Vesterheim is such a fabulous asset for Decorah; not only does it preserve the history of Norwegian-Americans who are so prominent in the Upper Midwest, but frankly, it’s also a huge tourist draw.”

When asked, Jane quickly credits her good friends and “mentors,” Georgie Klevar and Joyce Epperly, for the seemingly endless inspiration she spreads around the community. “They set the standard for me for volunteering and giving to nonprofits,” she says. “And they absolutely have inspired me.”

Jane says that while she logs time every day on volunteer work, she also makes time for other activities she enjoys, including reading (of course!), traveling with family and friends, and walking the many trails of Decorah. “This town really does check all the boxes for me,” she concludes. “I love helping this community, and it’s been very fulfilling to do so.”


Winneshiek County Habitat for Humanity (WCHfH) was established in 1992 to help lowincome families in Winneshiek County break the cycle of poverty. And it has done exactly that for the past 40 years.

Last November WCHfH – one of some 1,500 Habitat for Humanity International affiliates throughout the United States – dedicated its 34th home. And with the expected dedication of its 35th home in Fort Atkinson in 2023, WCHfH will have built homes in every town in the county: Burr Oak, Calmar, Castalia, Decorah (including Freeport), Fort Atkinson, Hesper, Ossian, Ridgeway, Spillville, and Ridgeway.

As its website ( notes, WCHfH homes are built through a partnership with selected families. Partner families must have sufficient income to pay a 25-year interest-free mortgage and must give 150 volunteer hours of “sweat equity” per adult family member to a WCHfH build. For more information about the organization, including how to serve as a volunteer, email

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Sara Friedl-Putnam first met Jane Kemp in the 1990s when they both worked at Luther College. She was thrilled to reconnect with Jane to learn more about her life and volunteer work in Decorah and Winneshiek County. Jane (right), and her daughter, Anna, visit the Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C. in connection with a Vesterheim reception. / Photo courtesy Jane Kemp
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Westby, WI

One might think of wood carving as a solitary craft, but when you get a group of these artists together, there’s nothing but community. In Westby, Wisconsin, an annual get-together, Karve In, builds both community and skills.

Westby, Wisconsin is a small town big on Norwegian culture and heritage. Syttende Mai is celebrated every May, the annual Snowflake Ski Jumping Tournament attracts an international pool of competitors, and Nordic names are the hallmark of many local businesses. So its no surprise the area is also host to an annual woodcarving event that brings craftsmen and visitors from all over the Midwest to connect, shop, and learn a craft that, for many in the area, is rooted in their Norwegian heritage.

Karve In started as an effort by founder John Sutton to bring people together. He realized there were multiple woodcarving groups in the area – Coulee Region Wood Carvers Association of La Crosse; Driftless Spoon Carvers of Driftless Folk School in Viroqua; and The Hatlem Carving Group of Viroqua – but they were all very much separate organizations.

“I realized these groups did not much intermingle nor know what the others were doing,” he said. “So, I thought why not get all three groups together in one location, so they could meet each other, carve, share ideas, tools, patterns and carving styles.”

The Bekkum Memorial Library, where John was a member of the Board of Directors, hosted that first event in 2017. John requested a help committee and quickly found the assistance of Kathy Anderson (then the Library board president) and Kris Strand (then secretary),

and both women continue to hold vital roles in making the annual event happen. They work behind-the-scenes on marketing, as well as arranging details and logistics before and during Karve In. A guiding committee meets throughout the year to plan for and keep the event going. The Bekkum Memorial Library as well as the Friends of Bekkum Memorial Library have continued to support this event through the years, as well, along with the City of Westby and the Westby Area School District.

Since that first year, this event has continued to grow – even, notably, through the COVID pandemic. Though the Carve In was delayed in 2020, when the event was next held, the turnout was even larger. In fact, the event, previously held in the lower level of the Bekkum Memorial Library, has grown so large that this year’s Karve In 7 will take place at the Westby Elementary School.

Another change to this year’s event is the slight spelling adjustment from “Carve” to “Karve,” which is a Norwegian term for boat – just another way to pay homage to the Nordic ancestry and influence in the area that has led many to the craft of wood carving.

Spring 2023 / 36

“While wood carving is an important art form in many cultures, our Norwegian heritage in Westby is especially connected to the art,” says Steve Michaels, who is this year’s event chairman as well as the superintendent of the Westby Area School District. “Our Norwegian heritage and connectedness to the art of wood carving is part of the culture in our small city.”

John notes that the growth of the event just proves the need and interest in the area for wood carving that can be shared with the next generation.

“It’s great, as we share with our youth, and maybe it doesn’t stick now, but may come back again in the future to them,” says John, whose own first experience with wood carving started at scout camp when he was in fifth grade. “It lingered in the back recesses of the mind until I got involved with Norskedalen and the Nordic carvers there, a book by Rick Butz and some old pocketknives,” explains John. “Today it’s sorta all consuming.”

The passing of wood carving knowledge from one generation to the next is something that Steve has also witnessed first-hand at last year’s event.

“As a member of the library board, I signed up to volunteer and brought my son along,” says Steve. “One of the carvers there took my son under her wing. She spent an hour with him, teaching him the proper and safe way to hold and use a knife. They created several ‘10 minute owl’ carvings. After that, he was hooked! These people are very willing to share their knowledge with young and old alike.”

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Top: Carving groups get together to share their craft. Bottom: Karve In attendees will have the chance to purchase artwork - like this by John Overby – at the April 22 event in Westby, WI - see sidebar on next page for details. Left: There are many different styles of carving. / Courtesy photos

Adding to the community aspect of the event is what John calls a Carve Around, where a rough start of a figure (at this year’s event it will be a dog) is cut out and any carver who wishes to participate will take a few cuts, signing the sheet of carvers before it passes on to the next carver. The completed carving is then donated to Bekkum Memorial Library.

In recent years, each year’s event has also included a “Featured Carver” position, which highlights and recognizes the work of one local carver who has mastered carving, may be a professional carver, or is simply an excellent example of a carver. Ken Larson is the featured carver this year for Karve In 7. Interested folks should carve out some time to stop by Westby Elementary School on Saturday, April 22, 2023, to learn more about carving, buy tools or crafts, and embrace the community culture of Westby, Wisconsin. Unique
Discover them here.
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SAVE THE DATE: Karve In 7 Saturday April 22, 2023 10am to 4pm Free Admission Award winning wood carvers will show, demonstrate, and sell their art Westby Elementary School 122 Nelson St Westby, WI 54667
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her work
Sinita Dix & Homer Roberts display carving work. / Courtesy photo


Lanesboro, MN Norb Kelly

Building Community, One Nail at a Time

Community builders use many tools. Creative ideas. Cheery optimism. Contagious enthusiasm. Norb Kelly of Lanesboro, Minnesota, uses tools that are more traditional, though: A saw, a hammer, a screwdriver.

In 2010, after his 36-year teaching career, Norb and his wife, Nancy, moved to the Lanesboro area. “I grew up in White Bear Lake and taught elementary and junior high in Elk River,” Norb says. “We looked for retirement property up north. Too many mosquitos. We found nice acreage outside of Lanesboro and were soon building our house.”

Norb wasn’t sure what the next years would be like for him, but he knew what he didn’t want. “I wasn’t looking for a normal retirement,” he says. “I like nature but I’m not drawn to canoeing or kayaking. I wasn’t going to be out on a golf course. What I like to do is make stuff. I’ve always loved woodworking and spent many summers remodeling houses. I wanted more time for those kinds of things.”

Norb sought counsel about his plans, including from his parish priest. “I asked him how I might get involved in our local church. When he learned about my woodworking background he mentioned the church needed wooden stands for the liturgical books called

missals. I tried that and they came out well. Then he told me they needed a portable altar for an annual retreat of Catholic middle school students at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center. I wasn’t quite sure where to start, but once finished I was very moved to see it being used in a community like that.”

Using his skills in a church setting was natural for Norb, a lifelong Catholic who had once considered entering the priesthood. Other projects soon presented themselves as well, including building theater sets for both the Commonweal Theatre and the Lanesboro Community Theater (LCT).

“I enjoyed those projects but I had to get used to them,” he admits. “When I build a house I want it to last 100 years. For the theater I build things that are here and gone in less than 100 hours. Brandt Roberts and I created a set for a Commonweal apprentice production that – because of COVID – only had one performance. My friend, Tom Barnes, who directs LCT plays, told me, ‘Don’t worry, Norb, it only has to look good from 30 feet!’ I guess he’s right.”

If you’ve seen a play or musical in Lanesboro in the past five years, you’ve seen Norb’s work. You know it looks good way past 30 feet. Just ask Rita Dalzell, musical director for LCT’s production of ‘The Music Man.’ \ Spring 2023 39
Norb Kelly / Photo by Renee Bergstrom
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Norb in his workshop. / Photo courtesy of Norb Kelly

“Over my career I’ve been involved in more than 40 plays and musicals,” Rita says. “Norb’s work is a cut above. He’s meticulous, he goes the extra mile, he’s a carpenter extraordinaire! The quality of our ‘Music Man’ set –that main street, those porches and screen doors

Norb’s craftsmanship gives the audience a whole new level of joy.”

Norb helps build community in very quiet, low-key ways, fitting a man whose humble spirit isn’t eager for a spotlight on him or his work. You’ll have to hunt a bit to find him mending pews at St. Patrick’s Church, perched high in the church bell tower repairing wooden louvers, or replacing smoke detectors in the home of an elderly friend. “Norb can fix anything,” is a common sentiment around Lanesboro, and he usually can.

Those tasks give him great pleasure. “I tell people, ‘Don’t pay me, just pray for me.’ That’s enough. I read somewhere that life is not about you. Or at least it shouldn’t be. That clicked for me. Life is using the talents God has given us to help others. Pretty simple, really.”

Norb’s handiwork is helping build a new community these days, one stretching far beyond Lanesboro’s town limits. “I’m part of an Instagram group that connects woodcrafters in the United States, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. We share current projects, learn from each other, and enjoy the friendship.”

Ask Norb Kelly if he’s a community builder and he’ll tell you no. He doesn’t want to talk about it, really. He’s too busy just doing it, “making stuff,” one nail, one project, one community at a time.

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Steve Harris is a freelance writer and the author of “Lanesboro, Minnesota.” Loves
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Norb created “The Music Man” set for the Lanesboro Community Theater. / Photo courtesy Norb Kelly

Spring forward with a visit to Lanesboro!

As winter ebbs away and spring emerges across the countryside, the Lanesboro community becomes energized with activity. The sunny warmth begins to melt the snow and inspires the flowers of spring to bloom.

Wildlife is stirring, and you are certain to enjoy the sounds of many birds returning north. Anxious anglers are ready for the trout opener in April and a chance to catch rainbow, brook and brown trout in some of the best streams in the country.

Lanesboro stores, restaurants, inns and other businesses extend their hours and prepare to greet another busy season with warm hospitality and excitement. Events highlight local artists, musicians, food, beverages, actors and even the owls.

Bicyclers arrive to hit the trails, enjoying the beautiful scenery and seeking out the emerging wildlife along the way.

Spring also brings the season opener of live, professional theatre at The Commonweal Theatre Company, which provides entertainment and thought-provoking art as actors tell their stories on stage.

History Alive Lanesboro brings local stories to several locations in the community with pop-up plays on Memorial Day weekend.

Spring into Lanesboro soon for fun and entertainment!

Find more information about Lanesboro

Signature Events at:


Lanesboro Mon-Sat 9am-5pm | Mention this ad and receive 10% off until June 1, 2023. Bluff Country Photography is available for all of your phot ography needs whether personal, professional, tourism or travel photography.

EAGLE BLUFF ENVIRONMENTAL LEARNING CENTER Lanesboro | Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center is hosting events for the whole family, including snowshoeing, indoor rock climbing, overnight outdoor family weekend, maple syruping, and more!


CONTRACTORS Mon-Fri 7:30am-6pm

Professional Roofing and Remodeling company in Lanesboro. This spring we are offering a $500 discount on a full roof replacement. Hello, warmth & sunshine!

HISTORY ALIVE LANESBORO No longer in September! History Alive Pop-up Plays: “Feelin’ Groovy, Lanesboro 1969” will be performed on May 27, 28, 29 at 1pm and 3pm. Sons of Norway Lodge, tickets at door. Multiple show sites.


8am-8pm | Residential, Commercial, Farm, Hunting Land, Investment Properties - Get a free Comparative Market Analysis of your home and property! Client Focused-Results Driven!

Destination Lanesboro Summer High Ropes course at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center
Photo: Barb Jeffers, Bluff Country Photography

How did the tree feel in spring? Releaved. \ Spring 2023 43
Sunrise over the Mississippi River, taken between Effigy Mounds National Monument and Marquette, Iowa. / Photo by Scott Boylen

“I love spring sunshine and flowers (daffodil season!), and I look forward to three other things this time each year: Spring Training baseball games, Decorah Eagles camera footage, and the opening of the Whippy Dip.” – Renee Brincks

“Spring makes me feel hopeful and excited for what’s ahead. I love to take mindful walks and observe the transformation it brings - both in the community and in nature. I can’t wait to see more smiling faces and warmer days!”


“I love watching nature come back to life!”


“I love tilting my face up to the sun on a warm spring day!”


“…to go on hikes to the area goat prairies and look for spring ephemerals. I especially enjoy seeking out the first pasque flowers of the year. That is my sign that the season is changing.” – Scott Boylen

“… starting seeds indoors and watching the seedlings emerge and grow, knowing I will be planting them out in my garden in the weeks ahead.” – Sara Friedl-Putnam

“…sitting quietly on a stump in the woods watching (and listening) for the return of the first spring migrants.” – Craig & Mary Thompson

“Spring is my absolute favorite time of year – the world comes alive, and the trails eventually dry out enough to get back out in the woods on foot or bike!”

Spring 2023 / 44
Crocus photo by Aryn Henning Nichols (who also loves looking for sprouts in the garden)

“Just do the next right thing” is a quote from Anna in Frozen that I like to bring up a lot around here. (It’s a hazard of raising a kid through the Frozen era, but honestly, I’m totally good with it.)


The next right thing is what comes to my mind when I think about Living in the Now. Sometimes when we zoom out so far, we see mistakes in the past and mountains in the future, and moving forward feels impossible. But you are here. Now. Do the next right thing.

But how do you focus in like that? How can you remain present in the moment and in your current choices? Mindfulness (another popular word in Inspire(d)-land) is one of the most helpful tools for living in the now, and it’s a habit and practice in which we can all find rewards. When you’re mindful of your breathing, your shoulders relax; your stress eases. When you’re mindful of the food you’re eating, it becomes more enjoyable, and you’re more in tune with your body. When you’re mindful of your time and habits, you

become more engaged and engaging with your loved ones. Spring feels like a great time for mindfulness. It’s my favorite season of all. I love noticing the little green shoots that start poking out of the earth. I love the first 50-degree day that somehow feels like summer. I love the light that lasts just a little longer each day. But if we aren’t living in the now, we won’t take note of these things we love. And then our lives pass us by. The only thing we can be certain of is this moment right now. What are you going to do with it? Regret something from yesterday? Worry about something for tomorrow? Or find something to be joyful about today?

I’m going for the latter. And while it might seem like that’s something I, as a “positive person,” do all the time, I can tell you: It takes work, every day. It’s worth it though.

The following pages will walk you through some ideas, practices, and tools to help engage your mindfulness and senses. Let’s get out there this spring and live in the now. You are here. What’s your next right thing? \ Spring 2023 45 30+ REGIONAL MAKERS. 100% WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES! RE-HABBED VINTAGE FURNITURE, HANDMADE HOME DÉCOR, MIDWEST-INSPIRED CLOTHING & ACCESSORIES 309 E Water St. Decorah, Iowa •


Chew your food slowly. Savor the taste. Breathe in a favorite scent. (We

What is one sense you can dive into today that brings you delight?


Easier said than done...

Every time you think of being present, stop to really be present.



’ s personalmantra

No guilt, no worry, no regret What if? YOU ARE HERE

Pause. Run through your senses. What can you...

See Taste Hear Smell Feel

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Mental health counselor

Olivia Lynn Schnur shares ideas for tapping into mindfulness and our senses this spring.

Sometimes words get thrown around so often in the mental health and wellness space that they start to lose their meaning. We’ve heard (many times) the various benefits of mindfulness and living in the present. And while the over-saturation of these ideas can lead to an in-one-ear-out-theother effect, it does not diminish their effectiveness.


Perhaps the greatest benefit of mindfulness is gaining the ability to respond, rather than react, to our surroundings. “Mindfulness

is the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally,” says mindfulness expert Jon Kabat Zinn.

We can practice mindfulness as we go about our days, present and aware of our surroundings, emotions, thoughts, or sensations. It does not require a specific space, process, or singular focus, and we can shift focus as often as we like (as long as we remain intentional). We make the moment sacred with our intention to remain mindful.

So, let’s sit – in the present – with some mindfulness methods for a moment and allow them to sink in. And keep in mind there is no one-sizefits-all approach to connecting with your reality. The ideas presented here are simply that – ideas. Furthermore, the practices that help us to feel centered and calm one day might not serve us the next. So, here is your permission slip to mix-and-match, check in with what feels good each day, and allow the practice to evolve as you do.

Spring 2023 / 48
Mental health graphics / Shutterstock * davooda


For many of us, our routines allow us to go about our day on autopilot. We can multi-task both physically and mentally. We might be driving and thinking about our grocery list, planning for dinner, or rehearsing (or ruminating over) a conversation. But this takes our mental focus away from – and dulls our experience of – the present moment.

Now, imagine that same drive but with mindfulness. We hold an awareness of our body in the seat. We might feel our spine grow tall and our hands grip the steering wheel. Perhaps, we shift our attention outward and appreciate the scenery. Or we might bring our attention to the music or a podcast playing in the car. As we focus on the present, we allow our breathing to be deliberate, fluid, and nourishing. We are present and living in the now.

Mindfulness allows us to go deeper and explore our thought and behavior patterns. We cannot stop thinking; it is a fact. But when we identify with every thought, we lose our identity. When we are driven by every emotion, we lose our calm. And when we are pulled by every image that enters our mind, we lose our peace.

We are not our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors; we are the observer of those things. The more often we can return to the place of observer, the more we will regain our true identity, calm, and peace.

We are still human, of course. We will get angry, self-critical, judgmental, and frustrated. We will, at times, lose our temper or act in ways we later regret. If we can take the seat of the observer, though, we can learn to watch those emotions flow without judgment and delay our reaction. After all, it is not the anger that is a problem, but what we choose to do with it.


What does it mean to “take the seat of an observer?” For many of us, the idea of watching our thoughts might seem foreign. But with enough practice, it can start to feel familiar and even enjoyable.

The key to this practice is detachment. When we remain detached, we can begin to observe our thoughts. And when we do so non-judgmentally, we are practicing mindfulness.

As we start to observe our thoughts, they can seem jarring. At times, our memories can feel intrusive. We might even imagine these thoughts like a toddler demanding our attention. The longer we go without acting on them, the louder and more intrusive they might become. Yet, with patience and persistence, the thoughts will be soothed by the simple act of noticing.

Another practice that can help with this process is called noting. Noting just means that we take note of the thoughts that emerge. We might lump them into categories such as thought, emotion, or memory. As soon as a thought arises, we note it and let it go. A new thought will emerge, and we repeat the process.

With practice, we might start to notice patterns emerge. Perhaps we often revert back to anger or resentment. Or maybe we relive the same memories that cause us to develop painful emotions. We might even find ourselves rehearsing future worries. Whatever arises, try to notice the themes without judgment. The more we return to the present moment, the more control we gain over these patterns. The more awareness we develop around our thought patterns, the more power we have to change them.

Continued on next page

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We make the moment sacred with our intention to remain mindful.
- Olivia Lynn Schnur

More often than not, our repetitive thinking patterns are negative. We might fixate on a core memory or trauma that brings us back to a place of pain – both physical and emotional – and we get caught up in the “what ifs.” What if that trauma had never happened? We find ourselves living in the past.

On the flip side, sometimes pain can trigger fears of the future, spiraling us into worries about future pain, or – if physical – surgery or medical costs. No wonder chronic pain can feel so crippling. Emotional pain is no different. When we repeat stories from the past or fears of the future in our minds, our problems multiply.

Coming back to the present moment is a shift from thinking “what if” to “what is.” What is happening in the present moment? What is within my control to change? What is not? Act accordingly.


When we shift from what if to what is, we hope to come to a place of acceptance. And, beyond that, the present moment is ripe with sensation. When we open our senses to fully immerse ourselves in the present, our lives can quickly become more enjoyable and meaningful.

One practice for mindfully connecting with sensation is called grounding. Like mindfulness, grounding can be practiced anywhere and anytime. Grounding is simply a practice of checking in with each of the five senses until feelings of presence, awareness, and calm arise.

Here is a quick 5-4-3-2-1 grounding practice you can do right now: Notice five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.


Grounding can also be combined with walking meditation. To do so, make sure you are somewhere that you can walk slowly and mindfully without much distraction. Please make sure the environment is safe. Take slow and deliberate steps. These steps

might be taken in sync with the breath. Or, we can turn our attention outward and notice our surroundings.

First, notice the scenery. Really take in the weather, foliage, and life forms around you as if observing them for the first time. Next, start to listen to your surroundings. You might even stop walking for a moment and close your eyes to heighten the sensation. Take as much time as you like. Then, check in with the sensation of touch. You might feel your breath or your feet as you walk. Perhaps you feel the breeze or the temperature on your skin. After a while, start to notice what you smell. Again, try to connect with this sensation as if it is your first time. Allow your lungs to expand as you breathe in the scents. Lastly, is there anything you taste? (Even if not, checking in with this sensation is an act of mindfulness).

Walking meditation can be a beautiful practice for appreciating the beauty of nature while moving our bodies. However, grounding can be practiced anywhere. We can ground while we shower, wash the dishes, brush our teeth, or climb into bed. The possibilities are limitless. And an added benefit of this practice is allowing ordinary activities to feel brand new.


For people with trauma histories or mental health disorders, mindfulness and meditation can bring up intense emotions. At times, it may be best to practice mindfulness with a therapist. For some people, it may be best to work though the emotions or memories that arise before attempting a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness will be here whenever you are ready.

Olivia Lynn Schnur is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Certified Yoga Teacher, and Reiki Master. She is passionate about mental health and her writing is designed to educate, uplift and inspire others to improve their own mental health. To learn more, visit her website at

Spring 2023 / 50 LIVING IN THE PRESENT
Auny Pole Photography
563-382-3657 . 108 Fifth Avenue, Decorah, Iowa .

Set aside a moment for yourself to try this exercise in mindfulness. Instead of attempting to control the moment, allow it to be as it is. Allow any noises or intrusions that occur during this time to help you to go deeper into relaxation.

1. Start seated with your eyes open. Mindfully scan the room as you check in with each of the five senses. Take as long as you need to feel fully present within this space.

2. Then, close your eyes. Bring your attention to your breath. Allow your breathing to become slow and deliberate. Let your muscles relax and your limbs hang heavy.

3. As you sit, your thoughts will grow louder. Start to pay attention to them without judgment or attachment. Practice noting what comes up.

• If you feel an emotion, simply note “emotion.”

• If a memory arises, think “memory.”

• If a pain or discomfort in your body pulls at your attention you can name it, “sensation.”

4. Sit with this practice until you begin to notice a feeling of separation from your thoughts. Take the seat of the observer.

5. Once you’re done, make (literal) notes of your observations. Pay attention to any patterns that emerged. Notice any changes that take place with regular practice.

Note (literally) your notes from this practice here:

For an extra awareness of the present, write down your sensations. What did you:

See: Hear:

Smell: Feel:

Taste: \ Spring 2023 51
Spring 2023 / 52

Driftless Quiz

Driftless Quiz


Untouched by Pleistocene ice sheets that reshaped the northern tier of states, the Driftless Area’s ruggedness is iconic. Rocky bluffs dissected by narrow, steep-sided valleys create a signature landscape not only beautiful, but also biodiverse. Myriad topographic nooks and crannies support a trove of plant and animal species. By any measure, the “Driftless” is considered among the most biologically diverse landscapes in the Upper Midwest. This lighthearted quiz will test your Driftless natural history savvy, both biological and geologic. Multiple-choice questions may have more than one correct answer. All answers can be found on the next page.

1. A cherrystone drop is:

a. a throat lozenge

b. a fruit tart often served by Auntie Em

c. a rare snail found in cool, moist Driftless forests

d. the portion of a cherry pit uneaten by squirrels

2. Wild bergamot, a native Driftless wildflower, is preferred by bumblebees because:

a. the purple flowers complement their yellow and black coloration

b. they enjoy making tiny cups of tea from its leaves

c. they prefer to hang out with flowers that have a reputation for being wild

d. it is considered a pollinator superfood, packed with nectar, pollen and nutrients that build their immune systems

3. A jumble of rocks emitting cold air from the base of a wooded cliff is known as:

a. a safety hazard

b. an algific talus slope

c. a tectonic extrusion

d. gassy granite

4. The Prothonotary Warbler

a. got its name from the bright yellow robes of prothonotaries, papal clerks in the Roman Catholic church

b. is the only warbler that breeds in tree cavities

c. is typically found in Driftless area floodplain forests

d. spends the winter in Latin America’s mangrove forests

5. Dutchman’s Breeches:

a. is one the earliest blooming plants during the Driftless spring

b. should not be worn with a plaid blazer

c. have flowers that resemble upside down pants

d. were standard issue for sailors on the Flying Dutchman ship

6. When calling, this common inhabit of Driftless ponds and marshes sounds like a plucked banjo string:

a. green frog

b. leopard frog

c. Kermit the frog

d. spring peeper

7. Halloween Pennant, Autumn Meadowhawk, and Blue Dasher are names for:

a. Driftless folk bands

b. dragonflies

c. local superheroes

d. butterflies

8. Treeless, grassy areas on the edges of otherwise forested bluffs are commonly known as:

a. vegetative voids

b. putting greens

c. goat prairies

d. fuzzy bedrock

9. Crickets create a late summer Driftless serenade through a process known as:

a. invertebrate orchestration

b. six-legged bebop

c. harmonic convergence

d. stridulation

10. The Viceroy butterfly is a mimic that looks almost exactly like which of these Driftless butterflies?

a. Monarch

b. Meadow Fritillary

c. Red-spotted Purple

d. Baltimore Checkerspot \ Spring 2023 53
Turn the page for the answers


Youth Books


The stone seems like an ordinary rock--but to the animals that use it, it is a resting place, a kitchen, a safe haven.


An assortment of animals living separate lives discover they need each other when they have a chance encounter on a river.


If only Egg would just hatch already! But Egg thinks the outside world is too dangerous.


Looking at a ower teaches us to look at everything around us, to expand our perception, and to question what it means to see and be.


A young boy, CJ, rides the bus across town with his grandmother and learns to appreciate the beauty in everyday things.


Adult Books


What could be more “living in the now” than a single sentence stretching over 1000 pages documenting the stream-of-consciousness thoughts of an unnamed woman as she stands in a room.


The Zen master teaches us how to turn di cult, antagonizing moments into positive experiences.


Piranesi (who suspects his name is not actually Piranesi) lives in an endless statue- lled house with the sea ooding the rst oor and clouds ooding the top oor. The less you know about this beautiful, weird, haunting novel before reading it, the better.


This collection of poetry (available through the Libby app) is a meditation on the natural cycles of life and death and the wisdom of the garden and orchard.


“The luminous and shocking beauty of the everyday is something I try to remain alert to, if only as an antidote to the chronic cynicism and disenchantment that seem to surround everything, these days.” Nick Cave, the iconoclastic rock legend, spent 40 hours of interviews interrogating his devastating grief after the accidental death of his 15-year-old son and how he’s found a way to survive his loss.

Decorah Public Library and Inspire(d) are here to keep you


1. C - The Cherrystone drop is a brownishred, diminutive (smaller than Lincoln’s head on a penny) land snail that inhabitants cool, moist, shaded banks and bluffs in the Driftless Area and along the Lake Michigan shore.

2. D – Also known as Bee Balm, Wild Bergamot is a member of the mint family found in prairies, fields, and along woodland edges. A favorite of butterflies and bees, this hardy perennial is a must for backyard pollinator gardens because it’s a superfood, packed with nectar, pollen, and nutrients that build pollinator’s immune systems.

3. B – Algific talus slopes are rare habitats found only the Driftless Area and the Alleghenies of West Virginia. They often support assemblages of unusual plants. Algific refers to “cold air,” while talus is a pile of broken rocks at the base of a bluff or cliff.

4. A, B, C, & D – The Prothonotary Warbler is one of more than 50 species of North American wood warblers, but is the only warbler that breeds in tree cavities. They are typically found in Driftless area floodplain forests but spend the winter in Latin America’s mangrove forests. They are known as the butterflies of the bird world due to their brightly colored plumage. They got their name from the bright yellow robes of prothonotaries, papal clerks in the Roman Catholic Church.

5. A – One of the earliest-blooming species of the many Driftless spring wildflowers (also known as spring ephemerals), the white flowers of Dutchman’s Breeches dapple leafless Driftless woodlands in April.

6. A – The green frog sounds like a plucked banjo string. In fact, each of the nine species of frogs inhabiting Driftless marshes and waterways is recognizable by its own unique vocalization. Technically, the same is true for Kermit the Frog.

7. B – Halloween Pennant, Autumn Meadowhawk, and Blue Dasher are names for dragonflies that can be found in the Driftless. The beauty of dragonflies belies their ferocity. They are among the most efficient predators in the insect world. Agile adults consume significant quantities of flies, gnats, and mosquitos.

8. C – Goat prairies, also known as bluff or hill prairies, are treeless, grassy areas on the edges of otherwise forested bluffs. They are a signature feature of the Driftless landscape. These formerly common plant communities are being lost to encroachment by trees and shrubs. Conservation efforts are restoring many goat prairies to their former glory.

9. D – Crickets create a late summer Driftless serenade through a process known as stridulation. Male crickets stridulate by rubbing their wings together. The chirp is intended to attract females. Grasshoppers and Katydids also stridulate.

10. A – The Viceroy butterfly is a mimic that looks almost exactly like a monarch. While lovely, monarchs are toxic to potential predators due to chemicals acquired when monarch caterpillars eat milkweed. Viceroys, on the other hand, are tasty but fool wouldbe predators by looking like monarchs.

Mary Thompson has degrees in Fine Arts and Education. She has delighted in the creative arts since her first box of crayons. She loves watching dragonflies while sipping a good cup of bergamot tea.

Craig Thompson is a professional biologist with a penchant for birds dating back to a time when gas was $0.86 cents a gallon. He’s working on his Kermit the Frog impression. \ Spring 2023 55



Shiny new bike day is a happy day.

But sometimes the joy is found in the journey. Restoring a bike – shining up something old and making it new again –can make that two-wheeled reward even sweeter.

Like an old bike, La Crescent, Minnesota, had the framework to build a healthy and active community. It had the support of its citizens, city, and schools. It had natural beauty, visible from its neighborhood streets and scenic byways. And it had growing families looking for ways to spend time outside with their children.

But to become a truly bike-friendly city, it needed a tune-up. In 2007, a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota set the wheels in motion. With this money, community members created Active Living La Crescent, which worked to build a presence in the school district, add bike racks, and create bicycle-related programming. Active Living La Crescent operated under Healthy

Community Partnership (HCP), a local group that serves as an umbrella organization for La Crescent nonprofits. With a mission of impacting the health, wellness, and livability of the city, HCP was the perfect partner, and ultimately, a very qualified predecessor. When the grant money ran out, HCP didn’t want all that work to be lost.

“We essentially had a bicycle shop in a box,” describes Linda Larson, who at the time was serving on the HCP board. She and other community volunteers looked to examples of other bikefriendly cities like Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Boulder, Colorado, and decided that a community bike shop was feasible given the great groundwork laid by Active Living La Crescent.

With these other cities in mind, Linda took on the role of Project Manager and worked to develop The Bike Shoppe. “We knew what we needed to do, we just had to do it on a smaller scale,” she explains. And although they started small, they’ve outgrown several

Spring 2023 / 56
The new Wagon Wheel Trail bridge in La Crescent, Minnesota, became “an overnight landmark,” according to City Administrator Bill Waller. It connects the community on both sides of Highway 14/61, providing safer routes for bikers & pedestrians. / Photo courtesy the Bike Shoppe & Healthy Community Partnership

locations over the last 10 years, and interest is always increasing. “It just grows and grows and grows. Every year there’s more interest as people learn more about what we do, and then they support us even more.”

In a nutshell, the Bike Shoppe is a small-scale used bike shop with limited hours and a community-based mission. Continuing to operate under HCP, it offers many services to the community, including bike repair and tune-ups, bike sales, and bike education. And impressively, all of this is completely done by volunteers. In 2022 alone, the Bike Shoppe volunteers put in over 1,000 hours of work.

Volunteers work to restore used bikes that have been donated by community members – there were 80 in 2022. These bikes are sold at an affordable price on Saturdays during the spring and summer, or are used for things such as donations and giveaways to organizations in the area.

In addition, the Bike Shoppe volunteers completed 63 service appointments in 2022 – including tune-ups and repairs – for La Crescent riders. Their trained technicians work on all kinds of bicycles, from e-bikes and road bikes, to recumbents and tricycles. Repair and service hours are varied, so it’s best to reach out and schedule an appointment or connect with The Bike Shoppe crew during the Saturday sales.

Replacing tires, greasing chains, tightening brakes, wrapping handlebars, and more – it all takes time and patience, but Scot McCollum enjoys his time volunteering at the shop. An avid cyclist himself, it’s how he returns the favor to those who support the rides and the races he participates in. “I see this as a way to give back to the bicycling community,” says Scot.

Continued on next page \ Spring 2023 57 28097 Goodview Dr., Lanesboro, MN register now at:
The Bike Shoppe operates new bike or drop off days in La Crescent on Saturdays 9 am to 12 pm (May-August) in the Corky’s Pizza parking lot (see sidebar). / Photo courtesy the Bike Shoppe

He also sees the empowerment that comes from learning to take care of your own bike, which he often teaches the Bike Shoppe customers. “A bad experience such as a flat tire or squeaky brakes can be off-putting and leave people feeling on the outside. I try to encourage and empower riders through education in maintenance, provide better functioning and fitting bicycles, and help riders get more out of their bicycles,” he says.

A big part of the Bike Shoppe’s mission is giving back as well. In 2022, they donated 25 bikes to organizations supporting both adults and children in La Crescent and neighboring communities. They also gave out 65 bike helmets at National Night Out in August.

Michele Coulombe’s son, Yazan, was one recipient of the group’s generosity. Nine-year-old Yazan likes to ride his bike everywhere. But last summer the tires stopped holding air. “I’m a single working mom with no family here and I couldn’t afford a bike for him. The other kids were riding and all he could was watch them,” explains Michele.

A friend of hers had heard of the Bike Shoppe and shared Michele and Yazan’s story with the staff. Soon after, Yazan had a new set of wheels. “We were given what looks like a brand new bike,” she says. “He was over the moon and even cried. After that he was outside day and night riding.”

In true cyclical fashion, Yazan’s old bike went to the shop so they could repair it for another child in need. Michele is so grateful for their assistance. “They were an absolute blessing,” she says. And Yazan is happy to be out riding again. He likes to ride to the store for his mom and is hoping to ride to school this spring.

A decade of this kind of work has helped to give La Crescent the tune-up it needed. “Riding is contagious,” says Linda. “Families see each other out riding and then they want to go, too.”

The Bike Shoppe has done its part to get properly working and safely operating bikes in the hands of La Crescent residents. And luckily, they’ve got great partners at city hall that have worked diligently to provide places for folks to ride.

Until 2022, Highway 14/61 has separated the community with busy traffic and hardto-cross intersections. Children, living on the side opposite the schools, had to be bussed less than a mile because crossing was too dangerous. The community also had limited access to the Wagon Wheel trail, an old stagecoach road that runs through the Mississippi River marsh next to the city. The new bridge connects to the Wagon Wheel trail, which connects homes in the Shore Acres community to the rest of La Crescent.

It has been a years-long project. With the help of a $2.5 million bonding bill in 2018, and a $1 million grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the city was finally able to complete this phase of the development in 2022 with the construction of a biking and pedestrian bridge across Highway 14/61.

Spring 2023 / 58
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National Night Out is perfect for helmet giveaways. / Photo courtesy the Bike Shoppe

The bridge has become “an overnight landmark” says City Administrator, Bill Waller. “It has created an energy, an excitement. People gravitate to it. Overnight it just became a focal point in the community.” Linda loves what it represents about the city. “Nothing says ‘this is an active town’ quite like putting a bridge right on the highway,” she laughs.

Bill heard from downtown La Crescent merchants that upon completion of the bridge, there was an immediate uptick in traffic to their businesses. Allie Benish, owner of Current Clothing Co., gets a first-hand view of the bike and pedestrian traffic. Her store is located within Johnson Livings on Walnut Street, just steps from the bridge. She’s used it herself with her eight-year-old son, Jase, and sees other community members accessing it all the time. “It’s great that it makes downtown more accessible,” she says. It’s also something that homebuyers really value, says Allie, who sells real estate in the La Crosse area as well. “Families want to live in areas that have access to bike routes and trails so this is an excellent value-add for La Crescent.”

Bill has also seen the benefit for La Crescent families. “We’ve got kids safely crossing into downtown and to school. We’re even seeing kids riding their bikes across it with their fishing poles,” he shares, describing how they now have access to the Mississippi River.

Providing even more trails for families to utilize is still in the works, says Bill. Representatives from the cities of Hokah, La Crescent, and Houston, as well as from Houston County, have entered into a cooperative agreement to work together to connect La Crescent to the Root River State Trailhead in Houston. It’s a big undertaking, but \ Spring 2023 59
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The Bike Shoppe participates in events like the UW La Crosse Bike Camp. / Photo courtesy the Bike Shoppe

Bill feels confident they’ve got the right people in place to make things happen. “There’s a lot of work to be done,” says Bill, who adds that there is no definitive timeline for the project. “But we’ve got good people on board.”

Meanwhile, other developments continue. In addition to the bridge, The Wagon Wheel trail got an upgrade from crushed rock to black top last year, and a bike lane was added on Shore Acres Road. This route will extend even further when the City of La Crosse begins construction on a bike and pedestrian bridge near the Sportsman’s Boat Landing that will cross the west channel of the Mississippi. This project is slated for 2025-2026. When it’s completed, bikers will be able to safely ride from La Crescent to La Crosse – despite the major roadway and river.

“These trails have improved connectivity in our area and offer a greater number of options for local bicyclists,” Scot says. “New and existing riders are not just talking about these amenities, but are getting out there and using them and that momentum is growing.”

Providing this kind of access is why Linda became involved with The Bike Shoppe in the first place. “Until you build the infrastructure to make it easier for your community to be active, there will be barriers,” she explains. Linda raised her own family in La Crescent and strived to be active with them. She knows others want this, too. And luckily for them, La Crescent is well on its way to becoming another of the Driftless Region’s most bikeable cities.


Shop for a new bike or drop off an old one on Saturdays (May-August) from 9 am - 12 pm in the Corky’s Pizza parking lot at 25 S Walnut St. La Crescent, MN. Call (608) 790-2580 or email for repair/service inquiries. See updates and news at

Spring 2023 / 60
5 6 3 - 3 8 2 - 2 2 2 8 ∙ w w w . k e r n d t b r o t h e r s . c o m G A N K S G I V E A S H O T A T B U Y I N G A H O M E ! * S o m e r e s t r i c t i o n s a p p l y . S e e a r e p r e s e n t a t i v e f o r d e t a i l s .
Sara is a mom and writer living in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She has been an Inspire(d) contributor since 2018. Volunteers Jim Gehrig and Scot McCollum work on bikes in the La Crescent Bike Shoppe. / Photo courtesy the Bike Shoppe


Elroy-Sparta Trail

This 32.5-mile trail goes through three rock tunnels and five towns as you cycle from Elroy to Sparta, Wisconsin!

Great River State Trail

A 24-mile crushed rock trail that travels through prairies and backwaters of the upper Mississippi River valley – it’s scenic, off-the-beaten-path, and beautiful! dnr.wisconsin. gov/topic/parks/greatriver

JUNE 23-25, 2023

Root River Bike Trail

This 42-mile paved trail in SE Minnesota takes you along bluffs and the Root River, from Fountain to Houston, and Lanesboro in the middle. It connects to the 18-mile Harmony Preston Valley State Trail.

Prairie Farmer Trail

A 20-mile, truly family friendly (re: flat!) trail from Calmar to Cresco, Iowa, with Ridgeway in the middle!

Trout Run Trail (pictured here)

An 11-mile paved loop circling the town of Decorah – with serious hills – and lots of fun! Perfect picnic spot on the trail: Siewers Spring at the Decorah Fish Hatchery.

the beauty of the Driftless. Harness a broader understanding of yoga. Practice equity-driven, radical compassion. learn more & register at
FOR CHANGE Experience
downtown DECORAH, IOWA
Stop by our visitor center: 15 2nd St NW, Harmony • 1-800-288-7153 • Discover Only 30 minutes away from Decorah, this full-service community offers a variety of great dining options, unique antiques, gift shops and exciting recreational opportunities. Harmony, Minnesota Stop in and see us today! • 507-886-2323 2 Main Ave North Downtown Harmony Small & Large Appliances HVAC • Plumbing Housewares • Paint Toys •Gi s • 10,000 sq feet Open Daily 10am-5pm • 50 Industrial Blvd. NE, Harmony, MN • 507-886-6660 130+ Booths @beebalm_harmony BOUTIQUE & CONSIGNMENT GIFTS • VINTAGE • HOME DECOR CONSIGNMENT CLOTHING & OTHER GOODS Consign with us! Learn more at 65
of Harmony Enjoy an exciting tour of Harmony’s Amish community with one of our knowledgeable guides! Mini Bus Tours . Car Tours . Group Bus Tours . Spring thru Fall Call 507-886-2303 . Experience a lifestyle... Join us for a fun night of live music in the alley off Main Avenue by Harmony Spirits June 22: Avey Grouws July 20: The Paperclips August 17: LaBarge HARMONY’S BACK ALLEY JAM!
Amish Tours

Starting seeds is definitely a favorite spring activity around Inspire(d) HQ. Make your own boxes for your seed starts with this fun DIY. BONUS: You can plant the whole thing in the ground when it’s time!


step-by-step instructions at ILOVEINSPIRED.COM
Paper Project!
Seed Starter BOXES! 63


Spring 2023 / 64
Sisters Dani (left) and Azia (right) are co-owners of Drift Mercantile in La Crosse, Wisconsin. / Photo courtesy Drift Mercantile

There’s not much of a sibling rivalry for sisters Azia Thelemann and Dani Peterslie, owners of Drift Mercantile in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Okay, there was maybe the occasional disagreement as they worked to open their shop in 2017. But after more than five years of learning and gaining experience, the vibe at Drift Mercantile – “a modern take on the general store” – is all family (even the dogs get to chill).

“Siblings are fun,” Dani says with a smile. “Everything is honestly pretty agreeable at this point. And Drift’s manager, Scout, who has been with us from the start, often feels like a sister as we work very closely with her, attending buying shows and communicating on the daily.”

Drift – as those familiar like to call it – is located at 211 Pearl Street, in the historic John Voegle Building, aka Pearl Street West. It features a curated selection of locally made and inspired goods, selling everything from in-house designed and silk-screen printed apparel to locally crafted gifts and art. It’s a great stop for folks traveling through La Crosse and the Driftless Region looking for souvenirs, or locals looking for some fresh hometown merch.

“We have a team in place that does a really great job in displaying and curating our environment that makes the shopping experience unique,” says Dani. “That alone draws people back to see what’s new and happening!”

Daughters of TJ and Michelle Peterslie, founders / owners of The Pearl Ice Cream Parlor, Confectionary, and Coffee House, Azia and Dani joined the family legacy of entrepreneurship at the Pearl Street West building when they opened Drift Mercantile. On the second floor of the building, the Peterslies also operate The Grand Hotel Ballroom event space, and you’ll find TJ’s Cheddarheads gift shop next door. The Peterslie family businesses anchor an iconic and charming section of La Crosse, and Azia and Dani definitely feel honored to see residents and tourists regularly coming in to buy local. \ Spring 2023 65
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Locally made and inspired goods featuring the bluffs, La Crosse, Wisconsin, and the Driftless are popular offerings at Drift Mercantile. / Photos courtesy Drift Mercantile

“The love and support we receive from the community, as a whole, is the most rewarding thing about being in business,” Dani says. “Whether it’s seeing some of the same faces time and time again perusing in the shop, or just hearing comments when I walk through that people are happy when in the store and love looking around at everything, it’s those little things that make all the difference.”

The community is in for another treat – one beyond Pearl Street –this spring as well. Azia and Dani are opening a new shop – Keeper Goods, a “Midwest lifestyle boutique” – at 330 Main Street in downtown Onalaska in April or May this year.

Read more about what inspires these two business-owners in our Sum of Your Business Q&A below, and keep tabs on their shops on Facebook and Instagram: @driftmercantile.

The Basics:

Azia Thelemann (28 years) and Dani Peterslie (34 years); sisters.

Business: Drift Mercantile

Year Business Established: 2017

Business address: 211 Pearl Street, La Crosse WI 54601


1. Tell us about the “leap” moment. When/how did you decide to jump in and become your own boss?

As sisters growing up in an entrepreneurial household, we always knew that we would follow the same path as our parents in the sense that we really wanted to exercise creative freedom and share our vision with others. The space where Drift Mercantile is located was a former art gallery operated by our parents, which connected TJ’s La Crosse Shop to The Pearl Ice Cream Parlor, also family-owned and operated. In 2017 we were evaluating the businesses and asking ourselves what was missing. Azia had recently graduated from UW-L with a degree in business, and Dani had just finished an entrepreneur training program through The Small Business Development Center. Our business plan for Drift developed through both of these facets coming together. We thought to reenergize the former art gallery space by bringing in a store that offered more of an emphasis on the local La Crosse region – that’s where the concept of Drift was born. We named our store Drift Mercantile after the Driftless region, and because we have a large selection of offerings in the same way that a mercantile does. We sell everything from apparel to art, food to home goods – with an emphasis on locally made or inspired.

2. What’s the best thing about being your own boss?

Dani: We really appreciate the fact we are able to bring ideas to life and share them with like-minded people. It’s even better when it resonates with them and brings them joy! We also enjoy bringing our dogs to work. Just saying!


This activity is 10 AM to 5 PM DAILY Continued on next page

made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. Additional support provided by the River Arts Alliance. \ Spring 2023 67
Download our mobile app! Find out more at: Visit more than 30 area artists at work in their studios or galleries. Tour the countryside and shop for unique art. Save the dates for our next tour: April 26-28, 2024
of southeastern Minnesota 22nd Annual
Azia: I love the flexibility of being my own boss. Even though I work more than just about anyone I know, I also have the freedom to set my hours and pace, book a trip without submitting the dates to HR, or be able to take the day off when the sun is shining and I’d rather be hiking. I feel claustrophobic when I know it is nice outside and I am stuck inside working, so I love being able to do bookkeeping from my patio at home, wake up at 4 am and go in early so I can leave early, or work double today while it’s raining so I can take tomorrow off when it’s supposed to be a beautiful day. (My dog Sunny loves this feature of the boss title too!) I thoroughly enjoy the work that I do for my business, so it makes it easier to be accountable/stay on track and work as much as I do even though I have that flexibility. FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY
April 28–30, 2023

3. How about the worst?

Dani: At times it can feel like there is no disconnect from ‘work.’ Even if you want to shut off that part of your brain, there’s always a little part that says: I still have so much to do, or that I should be doing, and so on...

Azia: The never-ending to-do list does it for me. It doesn’t matter how much I get done in a day, there will always be things that spill over or get put on the back burner that I just don’t have the time or energy for. When you are in essence “the one in charge” you generally get stuck doing the things nobody else wants or knows how to do, and also being damage control when something goes wrong. If there is one saying that seems to be on repeat it would have to be: “It’s always somethin.”

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

Honestly the COVID pandemic, just because there was so much uncertainty and the challenges were ever-changing. There were many times in the beginning where we wondered if we would ever be able to reopen as we were previously. We don’t have an online shop presence yet, as so many of the items we carry are ever-changing. Further, our vision for Drift was always about the experience we wanted to cultivate versus just the items we sell. A lot of what we love about our business is being downtown, in a storefront, with customers in our store shopping around and chatting. When that was not possible during the early stages of the shutdowns, we lost that part of our business that we really valued. Obviously the pandemic was a hurdle that everyone was

facing together, and I think that sense of oneness also helped us push through – it wasn’t just a challenge that we were facing alone. It gave us more hope that we would be able to either pivot our business or reopen like we had been operating prior. The support of the community for small business during the pandemic was also instrumental in moving us forward.

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

Our parents were definitely role models for us growing up. They were always dreaming up new ideas, traveling around for inspiration, and “talking shop” unwaveringly. We always felt included in their projects and businesses, which no doubt set us on the path for our own endeavors. Now that we have transitioned into being small business owners ourselves, we are still baffled on the daily for how they were able to manage all they had on their plates and have the family life that we did growing up.

Spring 2023 / 68 Specializing in CABINETS • COUNTERTOPS • CLOSETS • PANTRIES • DESIGN SERVICES COME VISIT OUR SHOWROOM | 1813 Trout Run Road Decorah | 563-382-9360 |
Angie Herrmann David Finholt

6. What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you started?

Since we grew up in a small business family we had a pretty clear idea of the sheer amount of work that goes into it from the beginning. However, what has become clear since starting our business is that it’s easy to underestimate the amount of time and energy things will take. There are so many facets to the day-to-day, and each come with their own strain on those two precious resources. Whether it be creating a social media post, placing an order, or doing a daily deposit, everything takes a minimum amount of time – and usually longer than you think it will.

7. How do you manage your life/work balance?

Azia: Since 2020 I haven’t felt a whole lot of balance, with my life leaning more heavily in the work category. I still have managed to take time off and travel, but it usually has been under the guise of “work hard first, then play hard.” After a couple years of that, I am inviting more ease into my life. To help manage the balance, I am actively working towards delegating more of my day-to-day responsibilities and employing systems to help with the endless paperwork and such! Oh, and still making time for my bucket-list trips.

8. What keeps you inspired?

A big inspiration comes from the notion that we have created a space that people enjoy visiting. We often hear compliments of our store from visitors who have never been to La Crosse before and happened to stop in, and from locals who have us in their “favorite shop” lineup. It’s a special feeling being out and about and seeing someone wearing one of your custom designed shirts or walking around with a shopping bag. We have so much gratitude for all of the support that we have, which gives us momentum to keep growing, creating, and existing downtown. Offering over 40,000 plants! Iowa's #1 Destination Garden Center 108 E. Wilbur St, Hawkeye, Iowa • 563.427.5373 • Open daily May - September 50 mins north of Waterloo 30 mins south of Decorah Decorah K&K Gardens Waterloo
Dani and Azia like to call Drift Mercantile a “modern take on the general store.” / Photo courtesy Drift Mercantile


“Your programs have really made a difference in our family.” – Helping Services client

“Family Educators helped me gain confidence as a first-time mom. They answered any concerns or questions without judgment.”

– Helping Services client

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my mentee & it’s been great showing her new places & exploring new places together. It has also been great seeing our relationship grow.” – Mentor, Allamakee County

50 YEARS OF HELPING SERVICES All photos courtesy Helping Services for Youth & Families Spring 2023 / 70
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Helping Services was founded in 1973 by a group of Luther College students and faculty. It originally began as a drop-in center for youth called the “Hobbit Hole,” located on Water Street in Decorah, Iowa, and a “trouble line” for folks to call with questions and concerns, many related to drug and tobacco use.

Over the past 50 years, Helping Services has evolved to meet changing community needs. The “trouble line” became the Domestic Abuse Resource Center Hotline [(800) 383-2988]. The focus on drug use and smoking tobacco education and prevention expanded to include vaping and the opioid crisis. And the organization itself went through name changes and expansions in scope, size, and geography.

Today, Helping Services for Youth and Families is a thriving and exemplary nonprofit, with 26 full time staff members overseeing services at nine offices in Northeast Iowa.

While some things have changed, the organization’s mission remains the same: to create healthier and safer communities in Northeast Iowa.

“Our organization is here for you,” explains Ben Krouse-Gagne, Director of Community Engagement. “If you need help or want to get involved today or 10 years down the road. You may not see many of our advocates driving around and meeting with survivors of domestic violence or you may not think anything of an adult with a youth, but that’s our youth mentoring in action. You don’t always see it, but it’s there, it’s real, and it strengthens our communities.”

Helping Services operates under four pillars of service that focus on different areas of community need: youth mentoring, prevention education, family education, and domestic abuse advocacy and resource hotline. Their service goals are straightforward: to provide tools, resources, and encouragement for community members.

“We may be helping your neighbor, your relative, you may not even know it,” adds Carson Eggland, Helping Services Executive Director. “I guess I would just say that sometimes it’s hard to see the impact. But I’d like people to know the impact is real and meaningful.”

It’s an impact Helping Services has every intention to continue far into the future.

“We want to be in your communities,” affirms Eggland. “If you see a need in your community that either is not being addressed or if you see that there may be some connection to the work we’re doing currently, don’t hesitate to reach out. I see us as a continued driving force in NE Iowa for healthier and safer families and communities.” \ Spring 2023
71 Home Health Nursing Personal Cares Public Health Services Committed TO YOU Vaccinations Smith Building, 305 Montgomery St. Ste. #3, Decorah, Iowa • 563-382-4662 Homemaking Services Happy Feet Clinic 110 East Water St 563-382-4297 FAMOUS PIZZA FUN & CASUAL ATMOSPHERE MABE’S PIZZA DELIVERY AVAILABLE! Celebrating 70 years in 2023! 416 W. Bremer Ave. Suite D • Waverly, Iowa 319-202-1043 • Gentle, powerful and long-lasting relief, Fascial Counterstrain changes lives, not just symptoms. Mindfulness • Breath Work • Earthing Mindfully, Anne Fascial Counterstrain A therapeutic hands-on, multi system approach to release spasm that impacts and treats the body's fascial system
Tim & Kaden particpate in the mentor program



This includes a wide variety of services, programs, and training, with the goal of prevention, aiming to ensure that community youth are safe, drug-free, and grow into responsible adults.

12. Teaching safe medication practices


50 WAYS Northeast Iowa


Adult volunteers pair with youth mentees for a year full of shared experiences, fun, support, learning, and cross-generational friendship.

1. Mentoring Coordinators match caring adults with youth ages 6-16

2. Mentors spend 4+ hours per month with their mentee

3. Mentors provide a positive role model for lifetime impacts

4. Mentor for a Day (MFAD) program allows interested mentors the opportunity to mentor a youth on the waiting list for a full-time mentor

5. Bowl-a-thons in Decorah and Manchester bring the communities together and raise money for the Youth Mentoring program

6. Tasty Thursday Ice Cream Events at Sugar Bowl, Decorah encourage mentorship community

7. Mentors/Mentees look forward to the Annual Summer Picnic celebration

8. Mentoring encourages: - Skill building

9. - Relationship building

13. Teaching safe prescription drug disposal and providing community drop-off points

14. Stopping tobacco and nicotine use

15. Opioid and stimulant use education

16. Reducing alcohol and marijuana use

17. Problem gambling prevention

18. Youth and Youth Group prevention programming linked to the statewide movement, ISTEP (Iowa Students for Tobacco Education & Prevention)

19. Youth leadership: high school groups that are teen-led with experienced Helping Services staff offering guidance

20. Helping Services’ Annual Youth Leadership Day at Camp Ewalu in Strawberry Point

21. Presentations for schools and community organizations covering topics such as: drug trends, marijuana, prescription drugs, tobacco, alcohol, and gambling presented by Prevention Specialists

22. Curriculum-Based Support Group (CBSG) Program allows youth to meet in confidential, small group settings and learn essential life skills, including how to: cope with difficult family

201 West Water St • Decorah, Iowa • 563-382-2626 • • Hours: Monday - Friday: 9am - 6pm • Saturday: 9am - 3pm
in honor of 50
of Helping Services, here are:
Amerra & Cindy enjoy Tasty Thursday at the Sugar Bowl in Decorah.

situations, resist negative peer pressure, respect others, set and achieve goals, make healthy choices, and refuse alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs

23. CBSG also teaches protective factors and major messages such as: Autonomy–“I am,” Confidence–“I can,” Interdependence–“I have,” Problem Solving–“I will,” and Sense of Purpose and Future–“I believe”

24. Education regarding the Social Host Law, which makes it a criminal offense in Iowa to allow youth to drink alcohol in your home or on your property

25. Alcohol/Beverage Server Training for local retail establishments and their employees

26. Prevention Specialist presentations for businesses to explain laws regarding sale of alcohol and tobacco products

27. Cheers Award for businesses that complete and pass the Alcohol Retailer Risk Assessment

28. Assisting companies in creating workplace policies that best define the restriction of tobacco, drugs, and alcohol in the workplace

29. Supporting and partnering with community coalitions that are made up of business owners, educators, law enforcement, and community leaders

30. These coalitions provide training, policy changes, educational experiences, and awareness campaigns

31. Coalitions also equip neighbors and youth with the knowledge to make educated decisions when it comes to substance use

Molly Gallagher Mediation Support through difficult conversations • 319 270 4592 In person or on Zoom retreat spaces | contemplative pursuits morning glory (563) 419-2357 downtown space retreat house Decorah, Iowa E M P O W E R I N G P A T I E N T S H O L I S T I C A L L Y T H R O U G H T H E 4 P I L L A R S O F H E A L T H Dr Scott Gamm 563 277 1649 Build your health here Tues-Fri 9:30am-5:30pm Sat 9:30am-3pm SHOP DECORAH'S ORIGINAL GNOME STORE! If itʼs stylish, inspirational, unique, or original, Itʼs Heavenly Made! 126 E. Water St. Decorah . 563-380-1362 . Your number one destination for gift decor and so much more! Heavenly Made
“I enjoy the one-on-one time with my mentee while also being a part of a bigger group. I like being able to spend quality time & try to make a positive difference. I like that my mentee is given different experiences through the group outings.”
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– Mentor, Winneshiek County
Sara Neuzil, Pivo Brewery & Blepta Studios owner, with TIPS certification.


Family Educators work with young families to help them start off their parenting journeys strong by learning about developmental stages, offering support, and connecting with other families.

32. Using the Parents as Teachers™ approach, families who are pregnant and those with a child age birth to three work with a bilingual family educator to receive a myriad of support and services, including:

33. – Breastfeeding support 34. – Child passenger safety 35. – Developmental assessments 36. – Healthy home environment checklist 37. – Vision/Hearing screenings 38. – Weight Checks

39. – Resource referral and parent support

40. – Zumbini (baby Zumba) group movement classes

41. – Parent-Child playgroups



Highly trained Domestic Violence Advocates and volunteers listen without judgment and empower individuals and families to overcome dating and domestic violence and become survivors. All services are free and confidential and are client led.

42. Domestic Abuse Resource Center Call line [(800) 383-2988], a free and confidential 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week emergency and non-emergency phone line, offers assistance related to intimate partner violence. It is staffed by highly trained volunteers who listen without judgment and provide support.

Spring 2023 / 74
5 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms. Sleeps up to 13. Perfect for gatherings & retreats! • 602 W Water St • 563-380-5772 1870 Highway 9 East. Decorah, Iowa. 52101 Quality homes built with simplicity & certainty 563-382-8406 563-382-4010 • 563-380-5851 Pick up & delivery available We’ll take care of it! 501 MONTGOMERY ST. DECORAH, IA Folkedahl Service since 1983 563-382-4750 Ar tis tr y in Cabinetr y Live-edge furniture • Kitchens • Bars Entertainment centers • Fireplace mantles Home of f ices • Cabinets & shelving Remodeling • Finished carpentry
Madi Brauer, Family Educator, leading a playgroup. / Photo courtesy Helping Services

43. Domestic Abuse Resource Center online Chat line accessible via

44. Support offered such as: safety planning, crisis counseling, community resources, and referrals to area providers

45. Individual and group advocacy, including: legal advocacy and child and teen advocacy

46. Support group facilitation

47. Transportation needs for clients provided by volunteers

48. Gas or grocery gift cards

49. Supply pantry with diapers, wipes, laundry detergent, household cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, canned goods, boxed food, peanut butter, cereal, pots, pans, silverware, and stamps

50. One final way Helping Services helps all of us in the Driftless: Holiday Lights!

“If we can bring a little bit of joy to people, especially in these dark hours, it’s nice,” said Krouse-Gagne. “And Holiday Lights also supports all of our programs!”


1. Invest in Helping Services by donating your time, money, supplies, gas/grocery gift cards, and used cell phones

2. Join Helping Services for a community celebration honoring 50 years of service in NE Iowa on April 22nd!

3. Be an advocate! “We need you to be an advocate for what we’re doing,” Eggland implores. “However that fits into your life right now.” The easiest way to do so? Share this article and/or tell a friend about the many amazing services Helping Services for Youth and Families continues to provide in Northeast Iowa, and advocate for the organization as it heads into the next 50 years of service and education!

Christy Ebert Vrtis is a teacher, writer, mom, and crime drama enthusiast who loves to curate book lists for family and friends, run (slowly) on the Trout Run Trail, and adventure around the world and throughout the Driftless with her husband and kids. \ Spring 2023 75
All profits are donated to Winneshiek County nonprofit organizations DONATE GIVING LOCAL IS WHAT WE DO! Depot Outlet A Thrift Store for All REUSE SHOP Mon-Fri 9 to 6 • Sat 9 to 3 or find us on Facebook 563-382-2700 • 510 Montgomery St, Decorah, IA Helping people create charitable connections to the causes they love. Let us help inspire your generosity in your community. INSPIRED GENEROSITY Contact Roger Huinker Charitable Advisor 563-380-1500 cell KinderHaus Outdoor Preschool For Ages 3-6 Play! Play! Play! Explore! Explore! Explore! Grow! Grow! Grow! 563 - 379 - 7303 kinderhausdecorah com Domestic Abuse Resource Center Pantry More information can be found at, or by calling the Decorah office at 563-387-1720 or by emailing

Thanks for your support!

Become a member


Every quarter, we chat at Inspire(d) HQ about what new things we’ve seen pop up around the region, and marvel at the continued growth. Great things are happening across our rural-but-wonderful towns and cities. All. The. Time! We truly love hearing about fun new spots to grab a beverage or meal, or a reason to get out and explore the Driftless. Starting a new business is an act of bravery, as is making changes to a current one. Thank you to these people who continue to believe in this corner of the world (and themselves), and invest in our communities. We applaud you all! So without further ado: Here’s a little list of recent Driftless business additions and changes that we think are totally worth checking out!


If you haven’t been out and about in downtown Decorah lately, we suggest you make a plan to do so! The new beginnings of spring are the perfect time to see all the new and transplanted businesses!

Movers & Shakers:

Ace Kitchen has found a new home (one with a lot more space for all the store’s wonderful home and kitchen items)!Located at 101 E. Water St –essentially across the street from their old store – Ace Kitchen has beautifully remodeled the corner storefront, maximizing the beautiful, wall windows and super cool nooks (like old bank vaults) perfect for fun product displays. It’s gorgeous – we really love the old-school vibe they’ve got going on in there!

Our friends at Red Roxy Quilt Co. have also moved to larger digs, with lots of room for more fabric and fun! Find them at 804 Short Street (in the shopping center near Sherwin Williams). The new shop is now open, and we think it’s going to be “sew” great (sorry, had to do it) for all their classes, workshops, and awesome retail. Pop in to say hi, and keep an eye out for what they’ve got in store over the coming months (and beyond)!

Magic Morpho: Downtown Decorah is now even more magical! Magic Morpho, a super fun gift + crystal shop, opened late fall of 2022. You’ll find it at 130 W. Water Street, in the heart of downtown (next to Magpie Coffee and Sparrow’s). Inside, you’ll find crystals, fossils, minerals, handcrafts, art, apparel, and many things magical. Plus, there’s a “pick-your-ownset-of-rocks” table that is every kid’s (and rocklover’s) dream! Who doesn’t need a little more magic in their lives?!

Double Windsor Clothing Company

Another welcome addition in Downtown Decorah is Double Windsor Clothing Company, specializing in men’s casual and dress wear, shoes and accessories, tuxedo rentals, and more. Located at 309 W. Water St, in a historic building has been a bakery, real estate office, law office, and now clothing store, Double Windsor opened its doors in December 2022.

Owner Darrin Walter previously ran Decorah Cleaners, so he saw firsthand what fabrics and brands were the best quality and lasted the longest. Double Windsor customers can find brands such as 7 Downie Street, 7 Diamonds, Bamboo Cay, SAXX, Woolly, and many more. Check them out in Decorah, or at DoubleWindsorClothingCompany.

Continued on next page \ Spring 2023 77
@RedRoxyQuiltCo P.S. Did we miss something? Please let us know!
@ decorahace

Decorah Greenhouse & Flowershop

Across the river on the west side of Decorah, the former Decorah Greenhouse & Flowershop space continues to transform its fun offerings – from flower design classes to herb garden workshops to high teas (Aryn and friends even participated in an escape room the Greenhouse created onsite on New Year’s Eve!) Out of town guests (or local staycationers) can also stay at their gardenthemed Airbnb. TheDecorahGreenhouseandFlowerShop

(P.S. Rumor has it that Downtown Decorah may finally see its very own fly fishing shop as well. We’ll see what spawns!)


At the corner of Spring Ave and Main Street in Waukon, fun things keep coming together in Downtown Waukon. Our friends at Aztec Parlor Coffee Shop have been holding things down at 15 W. Main St since the Fall of 2021, offering coffee and tasty food to residents and visitors alike. facebook. com/aztecparlor

But just over a year ago, a large multi-structure fire broke out in Waukon, wiping out “Paws Up” Pet Supplies, and severely damaging Steel Cow Gallery next door (15 Allamakee St NW). Luckily, Paws Up was able to relocate quite quickly to a lower level space at the corner of Spring and Main (4 Spring Ave), and Steel Cow

was able to complete renovations (again) on their beautiful gallery and studio spaces – and are fully up and running. In fact, Steel Cow is also adding additional floral offerings through their Steel Cow Lavender Farm in the near future, and with their lovely mobile flower cart outside of Steel Cow (in season).

Broker Leather, formerly of Decorah, has also moved their high end boot and fashions to the building at Spring and Main (5 E. Main St), offering a whole new environment with their fun kicks and accessories.

Spring 2023 / 78
DECORAH, IOWA 563-382-8406
@TheDecorahGreenhouseandFlowerShop @aztecparlor @steelcow

Buck Me Up boutique rounds out the building next door (3 E. Main St), with a fun selection of clothing and wears, making the block an all-out shopping extravaganza! www.

And just across the street is Hello Sunshine – a bright and fun gift store offering everything

from silly to serious home wears, gifts, and anything that will bring a bright smile (9 W Main St).

Throw in crowd favorites like Hartig Drug, Elliott Jewelers, and a meal at AJ Steakhouse, Yen Hin Dragon, or the new Uptown Grill, and you’ve got an afternoon’s worth of fun!



Our friends at The Pearl Ice Cream Shop have continued their traditions of candy and ice cream favorites for decades now. Next door is Drift Mercantile, run by sisters Azia Thelemann and Dani Peterslie (read more about them in this issue’s Sum of Your Business Q&A). If you’ve ever perused the shop, you know the unique selection is definitely worth the gander. And it turns out Azia and Dani are opening a new store this spring – this one in Onalaska, with a bigger focus on clothing. Keeper Goods, “a Midwest lifestyle boutique,” will be located at 330 Main St in downtown Onalaska. Keep up with the details at @ driftmercantile

Continued on next page


of tackling a home improvement project, buying a vehicle, or taking a vacation?
the equity in your home
that and
much more!
us today!
Borrowing from
allows you to do

Earlier this year The Damn Tasty opened in downtown La Crosse at 1217 Caledonia Street. Serving up tasty breakfast and brunch Tuesday through Friday from 8am-2pm, this is a great – and might we say damn tasty – addition for Driftless dining. www.

Pizzeria Dolorosa – at 115 4th St N in La Crosse – has joined the scene just this spring. Their beautiful three-day fermented dough sets the base for some delicious pizza pies. Swing by and check them out in the Rivoli Theatre Building!

Spring 2023 / 80 802 Short St. Decorah 563.382.5592 402 Rossville Rd. Waukon 563.568.3130 personal, affordable style Up to $2000 rebate on Café appliance packages 321 W Water St. Decorah, IA • 563-387-0191 • Serving you for more than 25 years Friendly, local faces 563-382-4646 | 804 SHORT ST, DECORAH, IA M-F 10-15 • Sat 10-4 • Sun 12-4 WE’VE MOVED! Purl Up & Knit for a Spell Call for current hours – 563-517-1059 Yarn, Knitting & Fiber Art Supplies, Classes, & More!
G A B I M A S E K , L . A C A C U P U N C T U R E & C H I N E S E M E D I C I N E 5 6 3 3 8 2 4 3 1 2 1 1 1 W i n n e b a g o S t D e c o r a h I A 5 2 1 0 1 h e l l o @ w i l d c r a f t e d a c u p u n c t u r e c o m w i l d c r a f t e d a c u p u n c t u r e c o m @thedamntastylax
La Crosse continued on next page

While you’re in the neighborhood, see what all The Creative LaX is providing to help small businesses get up and running on 4th Street! @ the_creative_lax


Red Clover Ranch

While you’re over in Driftless Wisconsin, check out the idyllic setting for Red Clover Ranch, just outside of Soldiers Grove. Owner Annie Coleman is bringing something really special to life. She’s been renovating the buildings and hosting creative gatherings on the property ever

since she bought it in 2009. These gatherings spawned the realization that Red Clover Ranch should be a place where people can find community, creativity, and nature. Along with partners like Dani Lind (of Rooted Spoon fame in Viroqua), Annie is creating an almost 80-acre paradise in Southwest Wisconsin. The property will host gatherings, lodging, retreats, weddings and events, catering, and more. Check it all out


Worry free retirement living!

All homes have open floor plans and as part of Aase Haugen Senior Services Continuing Care Retirement Community, these homes give you the independence, security and comfort you want now, with access to additional services if you need them in the future! \ Spring 2023 AaseHaugenPatioHomes Decorah,Iowa Duplex3Dormers 50+ senior living neighborhood nestled in the bluffs of Decorah, IA. Decorah, Iowa 563-382-3603 • • • Two 2-level KOS homes will be available soon! New homes planned for 2023! Call today to take advantage of cutomizing your finishes and moving to prime lots in the neighborhood!
Doing something new in the Driftless? Know of something new in the Driftless? Drop us a line! >>>>>>> ILOVEINSPIRED.COM @redcloverranchwisconsin

Marilyn Myrah Bunge

My Grandma Marilyn is a strong person of faith and has lived a life in service to others; she has an impeccable memory, recalling special memories and family and friends’ birthdays at the drop of a hat; she is a musician and shared her music with thousands of people; she is the queen of card writing, helping to keep the USPS funded; and she has spunk – ready to gracefully stand up for herself and others or share her opinion. To think of Grandma Marilyn is to also think of the Sound of Music playing on her record player; enjoying her julekake, pickled beets, freezer jam, and fruit soup; and enjoying hot summer days tending the vegetable garden and picking strawberries. Marilyn Annette (Myrah) Bunge is a Spring Grove native who grew up on the family farm with three younger brothers. Marilyn enjoyed playing timpani and drums in the Luther College band and played church organ for over 50 years. She married fellow Spring Grove native Waldo Bunge in 1954, and together they raised three children, Andrew, Mary, and Eric. Her commitment to service included leadership roles in the American Lutheran Church Women and in the ELCA Southeastern MN Synod. She also served with a mission team to support Lutheran churches and their work in Bogota, Colombia, and travelled there three times and still keeps in contact with her Colombian friends. Marilyn is always proud that her three children grew up to know and love their grandparents, and she is proud that her seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren have gotten to grow up to love and know their grandparents as well. She keeps busy corresponding with her family and friends via email, mail, and phone calls and streams church services and concerts on her computer. Marilyn keeps her family on their toes with her continued spunk and gratitude for each new day.

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you? Be kind to one another is the best advice I have received and try to live by. I know my parents taught me this, and my faith taught me about being kind to everyone.

Tell us about your life’s path: I attended Luther College beginning in 1948, the same year famed choir director Weston Nobel came to Luther and graduated in 1951 with a Bible and Social Science degree with a minor in Norwegian. Next, I was a parish worker at Grace Lutheran in Fairmont, MN, managing programs for the church parishioners and completing office tasks. I worked for the Dean at Luther College and in the Registrar’s office after getting married, and continued after we had our first child, Andrew. When we moved to Rochester in 1956, I was a stay-at-home mother and welcomed our second child, Mary. We moved to Preston in 1959 and welcomed our third child, Eric, in 1961. I continued to be a stay-at-home mother. There was a need in Preston for someone to teach piano, so I gave it a try and taught for a few years. The only time my kids could watch cartoons was when I was giving a lesson. A few different summers, my family and I worked at Minnewaaken Bible Camp in Cass Lake, MN. Christ Lutheran Church in Preston was in need of an organist, and I was asked to play organ, which I played for 50 years until my eyesight gave out. When my husband retired from teaching, I became the church secretary for Christ Lutheran Church in Preston. In 1992, my husband, three children, and I started our family business, the Cottage House Inn, in Lanesboro, MN. My husband and I were innkeepers until the early 2000s, and it brought us a lot of joy to host others and provide them with a place to relax and enjoy beautiful bluff country.

If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? I grew up with my mom making oyster stew on Christmas Eve. I carried on that tradition with my family and grandchildren. That is a favorite meal of mine.

Do you know someone you’d love to interview for this page? Let us know!

Name one thing you couldn’t live without: I grew up in a world without many things we have today – electricity, family car, indoor plumbing, running water (we had a pump in the kitchen), and no TV. But the one thing I wouldn’t want to live without is a radio – to hear music, sports, and more.

Tell us about your...Wedding day: Waldo Bunge and I got married on 1/1/54, which everyone thought was crazy, but it turned out to be a wonderful day with a temperature of close to 60 degrees and no snow. We had a fabulous time with our family and friends at Trinity Lutheran Church in Spring Grove, with a reception that included my Grandma Melinda Glasrud’s sandbakkels. My wedding dress was meant to be because the last few weeks I was in Fairmont, our organist had surgery and was unable to play. I played the organ for 8-10 weeks, and my dress cost $100, which was exactly the money I made from playing the organ. My mother Sigrid Glasrud came to Fairmont to help me choose a dress, and that bridal shop redid my mother’s veil for me. The flowers for the wedding were two huge pink poinsettias, and it was the first time I had ever seen a pink poinsettia. My organist friend from Fairmont came to play the organ, and my cousin Helen Vaaler was the soloist who sang “O Perfect Love” and “The Lord’s Prayer.”

...Favorite Memory: One of my favorite memories is when Waldo and I went to India and Europe during a four-month trip in 1984. We visited a veterinarian who once worked in Lanesboro as a University vet student. He set us up in a guesthouse, and visited schools, a Bible Camp, and friends. Then we went to visit friends in Hungary, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Norway, and England.


Decorah, Iowa 563-382-3603 •
illness or injury. •Large, private, fully furnished rooms • Private bathrooms/walk-in showers •Therapy and 24/7 assistance
Cable TV & wireless internet
Restful rehab to return home Valley Suites Rehabilitation
Post-hospital rehabilitation
Interviewed by granddaughter Alison Leathers
305 East Water St. Decorah, Iowa • 563-382-4279 • Call us – our doctors are here 24/7 for eye emergencies. 9:00-5:30 MON 8:00-5:30 TUES, WED, THURS 8:00-4:30 FRI 24 HR EMERGENCY CARE ACCIDENTS HAPPEN Even on the weekend FROM PAINFUL TO POSSIBLE JOINT REPLACEMENTS Orthopedics & Sports Medicine
250 artists. 7 days a week. 1 gallery. 563.382.8786 | 102 West Water Street, Decorah, Iowa | agora arts art - gi s - jewelry