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n Like Media o e(d) cebook! r i p s In Fa OXO X


NO. 29 • SPRING 2012






Luther College


Center Stage Series Center for Faith and Life, Luther College, Decorah, Iowa

Treat a great friend, teacher, staff, or a special someone to the last two shows of the season! Tickets and gift cards are available in the Luther College Box Office in various amounts.

Devilishly fun production with hit songs and American’s favorite pastime.

Damn Yankees

Friday, March 30, 2012 7:30 p.m. $26, $24, $15. Tickets available Thursday, March 1. Sponsored in part by Vennehjem Decorah’s Premier Senior Lifestyle Community

A celebration of the beauty and essence of African folk melodies infused with elements of American jazz.

Regina Carter: Reverse Thread Friday, April 13, 2012 7:30 p.m.

$23, $21, $15. Tickets available Thursday, March 22.

Center Stage Series tickets:, 563-387-1357,

SPRING 2012 contents


page 22


page 26


page 38


10 13 14 18 20 22 26 36 38 46 50

...and more! ON THE COVER: For spring and all the things hatching and being born, we thought a little chick would be appropriate on the cover. A chick made out of paper? Even better. Project and photo by Aryn Henning Nichols. \ Spring 2012


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From the Editor

Inspire magazine


hat better time than spring to talk about babies being born?!? Kristine Kopperud Jepsen’s story about Decorah women Ida Rotto and Brenda Burke is amazing – they spent several months in Africa this winter, working with local traditional midwives, helping birth babies, and, most of all, remembering to open the door to new people in their lives. This hits Benji and I just right at this time in our lives because we’re about halfway through our first pregnancy! Yep – Benji I’m sad I didn’t get to wear the and I are going to be parents! The new little Gunderburger hat. Read more about Inspire(d) person is set to arrive to this land it and the Irish Shanti on page 36 late July! (Holy moly.) In honor of new life and spring, our paper project and cover this issue is a new little chick – so cute and fun to make. We’re also highlighting other spring traditions, such as the Norwegian Constitution Day, Syttende Mai. Bring your kids out for a parade, and while you’re at it, stop and check out some rosemaling. Our artist feature this issue is Spring Grove rosemaler Bonnie Solberg. She’s passionate about the Norwegian folk art, and was so fun to chat with. Spring truly is my favorite season of all. I love watching flowers slowly peek their heads out of the grass, and I love finally getting out the house without a coat. When you head out, maybe you can stop by Decorah’s amazing almost-unknown ecosystem – the algific talus slope – right off Dug Road. You can learn more about that seriously Super Science on page 20. While you’re out and about, TRY to take in some of the great events happening this season – from the Spring Getaway to live music and theatre to dances and auctions and more. Get out and reacquaint yourself with your neighbors and friends. I know this winter wasn’t all that cold, but it still felt long. I’d love to recommend one event in particular: Regina Carter, an amazing jazz musician who is part of Luther College’s Center Stage Series. Read more about her on page 10. And when you’d rather stay in, have a party – perhaps a tapas party! Check out Jim McCaffrey’s Mississippi Mirth – he shares a great story of travel and tapas in Spain, and a couple of tasty recipes to go with it. And if you’re looking for a little travel yourself this spring, maybe it’s finally time to head to Pella to see their famed tulips. But that’s not all they’ve got! Our good friend Renee Brincks gives us the lowdown on page 38. There are tons of great things in this issue to get you up, out, and changing the world. We’re all in this together, right? So let’s do this thing…I’ve got a kid to raise in this place! Happy Spring! Looking forward,

Who are we? Co-founders: Aryn Henning Nichols / editor & designer Benji Nichols / writer & advertising sales (& husband, support team, dinner-maker)

We couldn’t do it without: Kristine Kopperud Jepsen/ contributor Renee Brincks / contributor Allison Croat/ intern Jim McCaffrey/ Mississippi Mirth

Inspire(d) Magazine is published quarterly by Inspire(d) Media, LLC, 412 Oak Street, Decorah, Iowa, 52101. This issue is dated Spring 2012, issue 29, volume 5, Copyright 2012 by Inspire(d) Magazine.

support inspire(d) Although Inspire(d) is free on the newsstands, you can have it sent to your door for only $25/year. Email for a membership or visit for more info.

Write inspire(d) Want to make a comment about something you read in the magazine? Email Interested in advertising? Contact Benji at or call 563-387-6290.

Visit our website: Aryn Henning Nichols

“Like” Inspire(d) Media on Facebook! 05

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

Personal service for a perfect look. 130 W. Water St. Decorah, Iowa 563.382.5761

Mon - Fri 9-5 Thursday 9-8 Saturday 9-5

It’s Where You Want To Be...

2. March 9: Baker London Presents: Trent Romens at ArtHaus, 8pm, $5. At age 19, this blues guitarist is already on the Grammy Entry List! Don’t miss him! 3. March 15: ArtHaus Workshop: St. Patty’s Day Sipping Steins. 6-9pm (Clay Studio), $35. Sample beers from Oneota Coop, learn some history, and make a clay stein!

206 W. Water Street • 563-382-5970


inspire & create

Stop by or give us a call! 508 W. Water St. Decorah, 563.382.5440

See Inspire(d) calendar or ArtHaus website for details!

It’s like coming home.. ...for a quick homemade lunch or breakfast, long coffee, you can even have your parties here – during business or after hours!

400 W. WATER ST, DECORAH Wi-Fi throughout, also available on seasonal outdoor deck.

563-382-5690 • MON-SAT: 6:30 AM - 4:30 PM • SUN: 7:30 AM - NOON 06

1. March 2: ArtHaus First Friday: TalkStory with John Dingley. 8pm, $5/$3 students. Come to listen, or to tell your story inspired by this month’s theme: Blarney!

Spring 2012 /

4. March 23-24: Edible Alien Theatre (EAT) presents ‘InProfundus’ – a culinary adventure benefiting Driftless Art Collective (D.Art Co.). Decorah Elks Lodge, 6:30pm. 563-382-1485

25W/ $25B

5. March 30-31: Decorah Spring Getaway! Escape for a weekend of fun, fashion, tastings, and entertainment. Great lodging discounts & drawings! Registration is free, but required at 1-800-463-4692 6. April 6: First Friday at ArtHaus: Emerging Artists’ Exhibition, 7-9pm, Free. A juried show highlighting the best young artists (age 18-23) in the region! 7. April 20: ArtHaus Poetry Slam! 8pm @ the Elks. $5/$3 students. A not-to-be-missed Decorah event! Featured Artist: Paul Dosh. Sponsored by Dragonfly Books; recommended for adults. 8. April 26-29: New Minowa Players presents the adult comedy “The 25th Annual Spelling Bee” in the NMP Theatre. For ticket info/show times, call 563-382-5174. 9. April 27-29: Upstart Crow Presents: The Merchant of Venice. Performed by a cast of students age 13-18. For details visit 10. April 29: Family Folk Dance! 2:30 - 4pm in the Community Building at the Winneshiek County Fairgrounds. Come enjoy live music and engage in delightful dances. All ages welcome! For more info: \ Spring 2012


fun stuff to do


Tuesday Wednesday


T-Bock’s Open Stage Night, Jon Stravers, 7pm


Mike McAbee, Goodfellas, Waukon


Cannonball, the Root Note, 8pm




Anoushka Shankar, Mayo Civic Center

Townsend Flea Market, Mayo Civic Center, 10am-4pm

Daylight Saving time begins 2am!



Winter Sounds, the Root Note, 8pm


Mike McAbee, Horseshoe, Calmar




ArtHaus Workshop @ the Clay Studio: Steins!


Hot Tuna (acoustic), Englert Theatre, Iowa City

Trapper 10 Schoepp & Shades w/ Jacob Grippen, the Root Note, 8 pm



3 The Chieftans, Gallagher Bluedorn



Logan Mize, The Hub, 10pm

All Good Things, the Root Note, 8pm Joe & 24 Vicki Price, George’s, Iowa City

Department Winter Dance, Back Home Boys, Nob Hill

Baker London Presents: Trent The New Romens, ArtHaus, 8pm Black 7, The Hub, 9 pm People 16 17 Bros Band, St. Patrick’s Day Haymarket, 9:30pm Decorah Fire


ArtHaus First Friday: TalkStory w/ John Dingley, Arch Allies, The Hub, 8pm Cedar Falls




31 30 29 Mike March 30-31: Decorah McAbee, 5 March Great Spring Getaway! Sportsmans, 27-April March 31: Rossville 1: Mission Winn. Med 5K, Decorah, 8am Creek Michelle Lynn, T-Bock’s, 9pm March 30: Festival, Absolute Hoot, Haymrkt, 9:30p Damn Yankees, Center Iowa City Stage, Luther CFL, 7:30pm Bela Fleck, Gallagher Bluedorn Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, Englert

28 The Magnetic Fields, Englert, Iowa City

4 The Comedy Riverdance, Vishten, March 23 & 24: Edible Alien of Errors, La Crosse Page Theatre, Theatre (E.A.T.), In Profundus, Englert, Center Elks Lodge, Decorah 6:30pm Iowa City Winona


First Day of Spring!


4 March 4: 5 6 7 KDEC Home, Mark Nizer, 3D Juggler, Elkader Sport, & Opera House, 2pm Garden Show, Heatbox, The Hub, Cedar Falls, 9pm 10am-3pm, March 9: Decorah Clovis Mann, Haymarket, 9:30pm Middle School The Fez, Englert Theatre, Iowa City Colin Hay, Gallagher Bluedorn, Cedar Falls

1 March 1: Seed Savers Vesterheim March 2-3 & 8-10: Luther Theatre / Lillian Goldman Free First Dance, “Invited to Tea,” Jewel Theatre Visitors Center Thursday! opens! Behind the scenes tours March 2: 11am-3pm General B and The Wiz, Toppling Goliath, 7:30pm Cheech w/ Javier Trejo, the Root Note, La Crosse, 6-9 pm


March 8








Dave Pietro, Englert, Iowa City

Vesterheim5 Free First Thursday! Gallery Talks

6 ArtHaus First Friday: Emerging Artists, 7-9pm



24 April 20: 25 People Brothers Band, Haymarket, 9:30pm The Midtown Men, Gallagher Bluedorn, Cedar Falls



T-Bock’s Open Stage Night, Mandy LaBarge, 7pm




28 Morgenstern Trio, Gallagher April 27-29: Upstart Crow Presents: Bluedorn The Merchant of Venice 8 April 26-29: New Minowa Players presents “The 25th Annual Spelling Bee”


Andy Grammer, Luther College

21 Hypnopotamus, Haymarket, 9:30pm

KPVL 14 Spring Soiree w/ Switchback!, Steyer Opera House, Decorah, 7:30pm

Mike McAbee, Horseshoe, Calmar


Joel Ward 7 & Jake Illika, Haymarket, 9:30pm

April 27-28: Luther Theatre/Dance, “The Secret in the Wings”, Jewel Theatre April 27-29: Bluff Country Studio Art Tour, 10am-5pm April 28-29: Iowa Wine Trail Cuisine Weekend, 10am-6pm

“Land by Hand” Fiber Arts Exhibit runs April 14 – June 2, Lanesboro Arts Center

Family Folk Dance, Winn. Co. Fairgrnds Community Building, 2:30pm


Earth Day!


17 18 Jason 19 16 Flying 15 7 20 Karamazov World Book Reeves, The April 13-15, 19-21: ArtHaus Brothers, Night pickHub, Cedar Self Help for Dummies, Poetry Slam, Gallagher up at DragFalls, 8pm Elkader Opera House Decorah Elks, Bluedorn, onfly Books, 8pm 3pm Decorah April 19-21: Mid West Music Fest, April 15: Euforquestra w/ Roster Winona, MN McCabe, The Hub, Cedar Falls


“Pillars of Society” runs April 6 – June 8 at the Commonweal Theatre, Lanesboro

April 6: Mason Jennings, Englert, Iowa City Cheech & Billy Hembd (All Neil Young show!), the Root Note, La Crosse Vic Ferrari, The Hub, Cedar Falls, 6pm


13 12 She 11 April 13: Stoops to April 14: Joe & Vicki Conquer, Regina Carter, Center Stage, Price, Root River Luther CFL, 7:30pm National Saloon, Lanesboro Pieta Brown, the Root Note, Theatre La Crosse, 8pm Live, Love That Big Band, Elkader April 13-15: 15th Annual Ibsen Festival, Englert, Opera House, 2pm Commonweal Theatre, Lanesboro Iowa City

Was the Word, Englert Theatre, Iowa City




fun stuff to do


Spring 2012 /












Storyhill, Pumphouse, La Crosse

Joe & Vicki Price, Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis


T-Bock’s Open Stage Night, Bread & Butter String Band, 7pm


Aryn’s Birthday!


Mother’s Day

Burn 13 The Floor, Gallagher Bluedorn, 2 & 7:30pm

Twist & Shout (Beatles!), Gallagher Bluedorn, Cedar Falls

8 9

Memorial Day



17 Syttende Mai at Vesterheim!

13 Evergreen Grass Band, Haymarket, Decorah, 9:30pm


22 24 Benji’s Birthday!


May 25-28: Canoe Creek Skill Share, rural Decorah


29 31

June 10: Joe & Vicki Price, Goodfellas, Waukon

COMING UP:June 2: Michelle Lynn, McCaffrey’s Dolce Vita, Decorah, 7pm Trempeleau Blues Bash


May 25-27: Festi di Bella Fiore, Harmony Park, Geneva, MN


Trempeleau Reggae Fest

Whalan, 19 MN Stand Still Parade, 10am-3pm

KPVL 11 12 12 Presents Clermont Charlie Parr, Opera House: Steyer Opera Jaik Willis, House, 9pm Jon Eric, & Joe & Vicki Patsy Price, Busted Wellman, Lift, Dubuque 5pm

May 18-20: Spring Grove Syttende Mai Festival


Sigvald Asbjørnsen, Sculptor, Vesterheim Museum, Through November 4, 2012



Carolina Story and Star with Micey, the Root Note, 8pm

May 12: Michelle Lynn and the Bad Passengers, Ed’s Bar, Winona

May 11: Michelle Lynn, the Root Note, La Crosse, 8pm


Vesterheim Free First Thursday!

“The 39 Steps” runs May 11 – September , Commonweal Theatre, Lanesboro


Happy May Day!

Seed Savers Bird & WildArtHaus flower Walk Spring Art “Simply Beautiful” - select images from National & Pancake Auction, Geographic, to May 27, MN Marine Art Museum, Winona Steyer Opera Breakfast! May 3-5: Luther Theatre Dance, The House, 6pm 8-11am May 4: Cheeba, the Root Secret in the Wings, Jewel Theatre Note, La Crosse, 8pm


this be your best month ever!



fun stuff to do












Inspire(d) World’s Greatest Party


Inspire(d) invites you to the world’s greatest party in the world’s greatest venue! We’ll have amazing amounts of fun! See you there! Time, day, month.



Learn more about 25 Words/$25 Bucks at

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


For example:

So we’ve added some pages starting with this issue and have implemented a simple, expandable list of events after our regular calendars (see the next couple of pages). Those planning “fun stuff to do” will get a guaranteed spot on the calendar and in the event listing by purchasing “25 Words/$25 Bucks.” We know it’s a tough racket to put on live music, activities, and special events, so we want to give you a chance to get the word out without breaking the bank.

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

25 Words/$25 Bucks


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

11. May 4: ArtHaus Art Auction @ Steyer Opera House. $15, 6pm, hors d’oeuvres, cash bar, art auction, and entertainment for a great cause! Sponsored by Hotel Winneshiek. www.

25W/ $25B

12. May 12: Clermont Opera House presents an awesome all ages charity event! Original acoustic music by Jaik Willis, Jon Eric, & Patsy Wellman. 5pm, $10 For More info: lukeh4tms@yahoo. com.



V& ns! T o i S t ’ a M c I S Lo 2 h t i ww No

As always, serving you at our home base.

112 Winnebago Street, Decorah


Stop in & check our awesome Home Theater Room!

1014 South Mill Street, Decorah Local & friendly US Cellular, Dish Network, Direct TV, & Satellite Internet services. Get connected, & fast!


Under new ownership!

13. May 17: Syttende Mai at Vesterheim! Celebrate Norway’s “Constitution Day” with a children’s parade through town, Decorah’s Nordic Dancers, and FREE Vesterheim Museum admission!

DO YOU LOVE INSPIRE(D)? Help support us! Become a member of our family, or give us one of your family members (aka give them the gift of Inspire(d) - maybe for graduation.)! When you become a member (just $25!), you get Inspire(d) Driftless Magazine sent to your door for one year for FREE! Go to, click on “Become a Member”, and check out with PayPal. It’s that easy! Thank you for your support – you inspire us.

eu Lik

563-382-CELL (2355) •

Mon - Fri 8 am - 6 pm • Sat 8 am - 5 pm • Thurs ‘til 8 pm Check out our great selection of HD TVs, laptops, digital cameras, & electronics supplies – we’ve got your part or can order it.

SAVE THE DATE Relay For Life of Winneshiek County Saturday, June 9th, 2012

You know what else you’ll find at • Yarden Planning • Paper Chick How-To • A backlog of great probituries • And more! And at, we give away fun, in the form of gift certificates, tickets, and more! Like us to stay in the loop!

Celebrating cancer survivors, remembering loved ones lost, and fighting back to create a world with more birthdays and less cancer! Get information, register or donate at:

“In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.” Mark Twain \ Spring 2012


World Dreams Come True: An interview with jazz violinist Regina Carter

By Allison Croat

See Regina Carter live Friday, April 13, 2012 as part of Luther College’s Center Stage Series. Tickets will be available beginning Thursday, March 22. More information:


o one ever knows when a dream will come true. “I let my soul guide me to what music I should be playing,” says world-renowned jazz violinist Regina Carter. It guided her through a rising jazz career, years of touring, the creation of eight records, and finally to realizing her dream of playing world music. Growing up in Detroit, Carter was struck by the variety of music the city produced. Car horns bleating, locals singing on the street, feet pounding against the well-worn Detroit pavement. Known as the Motor City, Detroit lured many of its citizens with industrial work. Folks emigrated there from other countries, flooding the city with an eclectic and worldly music scene. As a child learning to play the violin, Carter remembers hearing rhythmic music from Chaldea, a historical region in the Tigris and Euphrates River valley. She was drawn to the unique sounds, the melodic strings and the steady drums, and in high school, joined a musical ensemble that included two Chaldean members. “It was playing with this group of people that nurtured and developed my desire to do world music. At the time, record companies didn’t see an outlet for the genre. I had to put my dream aside, but I never forgot about it.”

To better Care for you... The Family Care Clinic is now offering Saturday Clinic Hours Every Saturday from 9 am to 12 pm, Beginning March 3, 2012 For Urgent Care and Scheduled Appointments Call for more information or to schedule your Saturday appointment

David Heine, MD • Marcy Fadness, PA-C

563.382.1200 • 10

Spring 2012 /

Renuar Special Events BRIGHTON TRUNK SHOW

FRI. MARCH 30: 9 AM - 8 PM SAT. MARCH 31: 9 AM - 5 PM • A chance to view & order the 2012 collection of jewelry, watches, & sunglasses. • A FREE GLAM NECKLACE with purchase of $50 in charms, beads, or spacers. • Register to win a Brighton watch.


Photo by Rahav Segev

Although trained on classical music, Carter would often play along to Motown on her radio, learning the smooth sounds of jazz and soul music. She attended the New England Conservatory for two years, but finished her studies at Oakland University near Detroit so she could hone her craft as a jazz musician in the town that had first inspired her. She had left the classical world behind for a world of jazz, and Detroit was where she needed to be. For the time, that is. While she still wasn’t able to pursue world music, her career as a jazz musician was taking off. After college, she began recording jazz albums and touring the world to promote her music. Traveling was something that inspired her. The best part about touring, she says, is renewing the joy of playing music. “I love it when people come up to me after a show and tell me that my playing has brought them joy. Sometimes, when I am working, I can get so bogged down by the daily tasks that I forget how lucky I am. When I am on stage playing, I feel free, and I remember not to take my music for granted.” People aren’t the only part of touring she loves – the destinations are amazing too. “Israel is one

Nomadic Traders

SAT. MARCH 31: 9 AM Advance tickets only – $12. Stop by & get yours today!

211 West Water Street Decorah, Iowa M.T.W.Fr.Sat 9-5 Thurs. 9-8 563.382.8940 \ Spring 2012


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Try our famous Signature Cocktails Connoisseur selection of Belgian, Import & Craft Beers

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of my favorite countries that I’ve seen on tour. Not only did I get to see how beautiful the country is and experience the great music – and ride a camel – I got to eat some great food. I love countries with great food!” It was the early 2000s, and social media was making its debut. With the boom of Facebook and YouTube, Carter finally had her outlet for world music. And not only did she have an outlet, she had a benefactor. In 2006, Carter won the MacArthur Fellowship, often called the genius grant. The Fellowship awarded her $500,000, which she planned to use to expand her music. After receiving the grant, she was able to focus her inspiration into “Reverse Threads,” the culmination of her youthful dream of playing and recording world music. It wasn’t straight to the recording studio, though. After receiving the grant, Carter spent time gathering her band and crafting the music. Besides her violin, the band included an accordion, guitar and drums. But there was something lacking. Her mentor, John Blake, mentioned the kora – an African harp usually played in Western African music. Carter added one to her band, and it

“When I am on stage playing, I feel free, and I remember not to take my music for granted.” - Regina Carter clicked. Then she listened to folk music from all over the world. After researching at the World Music Institute of New York, she realized it was African music that captured her attention. “It was really the music of the Ugandan Jews – it is so beautiful and unique, I had to record it.” Carter spent more and more time listening to albums from Africa. “I listen to a lot of cds,” laughs Carter. “The music is what inspires me.” The band spent a lot of time performing different songs, trying to find the right combination of the original sounds and their jazz interpretation. “The original songs are so beautiful in their simplicity, I didn’t want to lose that. But as a jazz player, it’s hard not to over decorate the songs. All my training was in how to embellish music. With this record, I had to tone down my own playing style to stay true to the beautiful melodies and phrases of the folksongs,” she says. “I try to recreate the feeling I had when I listened to the performer.” There is one completely original song by Carter on the album – a piece that still mirrors African traditions. The rest of the album carries that intersection between old and new. It can be difficult to wait for something you want, but Carter’s wait has been well worth it. She has been around the world herself, and now she is not only playing world music, she is making it.

As Allison Croat eagerly awaits graduation, she is filling her time with friends, fun, and food. She just started taking a pottery class and can’t wait to see what her hands are capable of making! She’s also looking forward to a trip to New Orleans in May for an English conference.


Spring 2012 /

Projects: Paper “Spring Chicks”! step-by-step instructions at!

Fun with Rosemaling

Interested in learning some rosemaling? There are several classes being offered at Vesterheim Museum June through September. Go to for a class schedule and more information.

Story and Photos by Aryn Henning Nichols


undreds of years ago, to get through long, cold winters, Norwegians took paint to wood, forming intricate flowers and patterns in what is now known as rosemaling. Often, it would be the men in the house creating these detailed pieces of art.

“The Only Way Out Is Through, The Only Way Through Is In.� Edible Alien Theatre (E.A.T.) presents March 23 & 24, 2012

In Profundus Into the Depths

Elks Lodge, Decorah Doors at 6:00/ Show & Dinner at 6:30 Reservations required All proceeds go to Driftless Art Collective Brochures with menu & reservation information available at Fancy Pants & online at Ad sponsored by or 14

Spring 2012 /

D.ART Co. Driftless ART Collective

Come in for your


oday, though, there are “a lot of gray-haired ladies in my rosemaling classes,” Spring Grove rosemaler Bonnie Solberg says, smiling. But Bonnie herself exudes youthful enthusiasm, her eyes shining as she shares stories of her favorite hobby, rosemaling. She is sweet and welcoming. An elementary ed teacher retired seven years, she lives in the house she and her husband built just blocks from the school where she used to work. There is rosemaling art everywhere. Bowls, plates, coasters, tiny beautiful boxes – evidence that Bonnie has a hard time parting with any rosemaling art she creates. “I gave away a bowl as a gift one year and I often think, ‘That was a nice bowl. I wouldn’t mind having that back!’” she says. “I work on them and then get really attached.” Bonnie first started rosemaling in January of 1991. She and fellow Spring Grove rosemaler Berthana Wirth decided it would be fun to take a community education class in town. It wasn’t long before the teacher saw their potential and suggested they take a class at Decorah’s Vesterheim Museum. Vesterhiem hosts a variety of classes in the Norwegian arts, and Bonnie has since become a regular in its classrooms. But the first day of Bonnie and Berthana’s very first class was another story. “We were so nervous. We walked in and there were just two seats left. And everyone looked like they knew exactly what they were doing. We were so green at it!” Bonnie says with a laugh. “I have my first piece from that class hanging in my basement. I cringe when I look at it!” The fact that she can proudly display her present-day pieces in her living room is, she feels, a testament to the art. “If I can do it, anyone can.” Really, that Bonnie was ever “green” at rosemaling is totally unrecognizable today. Her pieces are exquisite, and she seems to move effortlessly from one rosemaling style to another – at least among the styles she enjoys doing. That’s right: rosemaling is not just rosemaling. The art originated in the 1750s in Norway with each region developing its own style. The styles Bonnie enjoys are Os and Rogaland – old and “American” style – and Telemark. There’s also Hallingdal, Valdres, Gudbrandsdal, and Vest Adger.

FREE Birthday Dinner!

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But we’re not done! We’ll top it off with a FREE slice of birthday cake! Plus, you can sign up to receive more great offers, freebies & discounts via email!

Open 7 days per week at 5 p.m. | Reservations recommended. Make online reservations at: 104 E. Water Street | Decorah, IA 52101

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Offer does not include alcoholic beverages or gratuity. No split plates. Entrees include choice of soup or salad. Proof of birth date must be shown to receive offer.

And keep living it up at our new Happy Hour!

Tap Room


Happy Hour! 4 to 6 :30 pm daily Specials on drinks & appetizers!

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big movies on the big screen

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art gallery, exhibits & classes

what is art but a way of truly


community events online!

What makes a great rosemaling pattern is good stroke work, thin lines, teardrops, cross hatching, and a nice, balanced color. Norwegians brought rosemaling with them when they emigrated to the United States in the 1800s, but it didn’t become popular again in the US until the 1930s. Artist Per Lysne, born in Laerdal, Sogn, learned rosemaling from his father, Anders Olsen, and when he immigrated to Stoughton, Wisconsin with his wife in 1907, he built a business around rosemaling and taught just a small handful of students the Norwegian art. It was Lysne who made the smorgasbord plate a regular rosemaling object, and he is credited with its US popularity! While, as Bonnie says, her rosemaling classes are often filled with a slightly older generation, she believes – like knitting and sewing in recent years – there will be a popularity surge again. “I think there are always going to be artists interested in carrying on the tradition.” Folks interested in this art can usually find several of the styles being offered through classes at Vesterheim.

Another tradition, the Norwegian Constitution Day Syttende Mai (meaning literally 17th of May), offers one opportunity to check out this folk art in person at Spring Grove’s Sons of Norway. The 2012 Syttende Mai festival takes place May 18-20. See next page for details.

And no matter the style, the methods are usually the same. You start with a pattern that fits on your wooden piece, sketch it out, plan your colors, and go from there. Bonnie generally finishes a piece in about a week. “I plan to start something during a week I know I’m not busy,” she says. “I hate to remix colors – usually I just can’t get it right even if I try – so I know I have to work pretty much constantly on whatever I start.” And even after all these years and many, many pieces, she has a hard time choosing one to call “best.” “Whichever one I’m doing right now is the one that’s my favorite!” The only problem, it seems, it finding the space to put the next finished project. “It’s a great hobby. I have fun at it – you have to have fun!” she says with another one of her lovely laughs. “And once you start, you can’t stop. It’s like popcorn!”

For updates on ‘What’s Up Downtown’ check out


Spring 2012 /

Aryn Henning Nichols was charmed by Bonnie Solberg, and is intrigued by rosemaling. She’d like to take a contemporary stab at it with some grays and yellows…but doesn’t know if it’s allowed!

Syttende Mai What?

Visit Vesterheim in Decorah!

By Inspire(d) • Photos courtesy Vesterheim Museum


f you live in this region – or visit somewhat regularly – you know that Norwegians have a lot of strange traditions – eating lutefisk, following trolls around, wrapping sausages with lefse, etc. And how about that spring tradition where there’s a parade full of kids? What’s that all about, you ask? It’s the celebration of Syttende Mai – meaning literally 17 May – or Norway’s “Constitution Day.” In Norway, you might hear the day being called Nasjonaldagen (The National Day) or Grunnlovsdagen (The Constitution Day). It signifies the signing of Norway’s constitution in 1814 at Eidsvoll. According to Decorah’s Vesterheim Museum, on Syttende Mai Norwegians like to focus on children, who will inherit both the spirit of national freedom and the Norwegian heritage and culture that Continued on next page

Shop Norwegian Style for all your gifts!

Norwegian sweaters, games and toys, books, CDs, jewelry, original artwork, and other great items.

A Class is a Blast at Vesterheim ! Cooking, sculpture, beer brewing, fiber arts, knifemaking, rosemaling, woodworking, and painting for all levels. Come for quality instruction and new friendships in scenic Decorah!

Check for a full 2012 class schedule. Norwegian- American Museum

Preserving a heritage. Connecting us all.

523 W. Water St., Decorah, Iowa • 563-382-9681 •

Purl Up & Knit for a Spell Yarn, Knitting & Fiber Art Supplies, Classes, & More! Tues-Fri: 11 am – 5 pm, Sat: 10 am – 5 pm Monday: Drop In & Knit Night 6-8 pm 563-517-1059 •

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are at the heart of the festival. Thus, Norwegians celebrate Syttende Mai with a parade of kids! Happy children march through the streets, waving flags, singing songs, and celebrating the day. Vesterheim hosts the aforementioned children’s parade, in addition to the ever-popular Nordic Dancers, museum tours, gallery events, crafts, and more. The Vesterheim children’s parade begins at 12:30 pm. The route starts on Main Street in Decorah at the Winneshiek County Courthouse, then travels north along Washington Street to Water Street, then west on Water Street to Mill Street. Anyone can join in and march along or cheer from the sidewalks. Norwegian flags are provided for all those marching. Nearby, Spring Grove, Minnesota, hosts a larger threeday festival. The tiny, vibrant town has been putting on this celebration annually since 1973. 2012’s Syttende Mai Festival is May 18, 19, and 20. The family-friendly weekend is loaded with delicious food, a grand parade (more than just kids!), live music, motor sporting events and the popular band the El Caminos on Saturday evening in the Fest Building. And you don’t want to miss the “Mutton Bustin for Kids” Friday night! You can also check out demonstrations of Norwegian arts like lefse-making and rosemaling, watch a lutefisk-eating contest,

Contact Diane Sondrol for more information. 563.419.5420 or Small group and private lessons available, all are welcome!

Crafty Creations


Sue Macal, Artist

• Doors & Windows • Sun Catchers • Graduation Announcements • Wedding Announcements • Custom Designs

Contact me at 563.380.5116 • 2124A State Hwy 9 Decorah, Iowa


303 Sanford St, Decorah, Iowa


Open Mon-Fri 10-6 / Sat. 10-3 18

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head out on a guided nature walk, take in a movie, and of course taste some Norwegian food. The Spring Grove Sons of Norway holds a Norwegian food sampling on Saturday, as well as ethnic craft demonstrations and historical displays in the front room of the Legion Post on Main Street from 9 am to 12 pm and 3 to 4:30 pm. It’s there you might be able to catch rosemaler Bonnie Solberg demonstrating some of her work. Just a bit further away, the largest Syttende Mai festival in the United States – second largest in the world – takes place! Stoughton, Wisconsin, (where famous rosemaler Per Lysne lived!) holds the event. Festivities include canoe racing, two parades, an art fair, a 20-mile run that starts in Madison, and “a great deal of bratwurst consumption.” The Stoughton event is also May 18 through 20.

Happy Constitution Day, Grunnlovsdagen, Nasjonaldagen, Syttende Mai!

The Vinyl Things in Life By Benji Nichols

There’s nothing like the smell of vinyl in the morning… ok, or anytime, in my opinion. A lot of things have come and gone over the past few decades. It isn’t often you find a working 8-track machine, or even a cassette player these days – but vinyl records? They are all the rage and then some. From hipster limited pressings of obscure popular bands to collector level vintage records – and everything in between – vinyl provides a medium that has survived the ages and found a serious home in this century. Part of the charm of vinyl is that it doesn’t have to be expensive to procure, and still allows for the lost aesthetic of holding a piece of artwork in your hands as you listen to music. Don’t take us wrong – we love our iTunes, but there is a certain magic achieved in the vinyl record and accompanying sleeve. And to top off the sensory details of vinyl, the actual turntable or record player component is as available as ever thanks to the rise in vinyl interest from across the spectrum. Here are a few of our favorite places to dig for vinyl and related items:

Benji Nichols recalls being yelled at to stop changing the speed on the Disney ‘Disco Duck’ record as a kid. Vinyl has been a bad habit ever since. Tasty, tasty vinyl...

364 Days a Year! 5,000+ Vinyl LPs

(many obscure and hard to find)

1,500 Games 3,000 CDs…$4.95 or less 4,000 DVDs…$4.00 3,500 VHS…$1.50

Buy 5 Items, 6th One FREE! Buy 10, 3 More FREE! (lowest priced items count as free items)


*All discs or vinyl must be in good condition. We reserve the right to reject items based on condition or need.


118 E. Water St., Decorah-next to Mabe’s

American Family Mutual Insurance Company and its Subsidiaries American Standard Insurance Company of Wisconsin American Standard Insurance Company of Ohio American Family Insurance Company

Kerbie R Engel, Agent 222 W. Water St Decorah, IA 52101 (563) 382-8006

Home Office — Madison, WI 53783

© 2008

001726 — Rev. 11/08

Spring Getaway



Style Show Brunch! Saturday, March 31 Rubaiyat Restaurant Doors open at 8:30 am Style Show at 9:00 am Advance tickets only $12. (Purchased at Decorah Chamber & Visitors Center or J. Tupy’s)


And remember, music doesn’t have a record, but records have tons music! Happy hunting!


You need to insure both your auto and your home, so why not save money in the process? Call today for a free, no-obligation look at auto and home discounts from American Family.

The Depot Outlet – 105 Railroad Ave., Decorah (563) 382-2700 Thrift store spectacular. The vinyl is extremely hit or miss, but when it hits, it can hit big. Patience young collector, you may even find some sweet 78s here, or pick up some swank new threads on your way through.

Sims TV & Electronics / Radio Shack – 112 Winnebago St., Decorah (563) 382-2355 A long time electronics store and Radio Shack outlet, Sims can order you up a turntable that will work with your home stereo – or ever allow you to convert your vinyl to –GASP! – digital. Hit them up… and let them know Inspire(d) sent you.

Your Home for Inexpensive Entertainment!

Looking for a way to save?

Mister Groovy’s – 118 E. Water St., Decorah (563) 517- 0109 This is the Mecca of Vinyl in the Driftless Area. Mostly used, but an amazing array of collectible vinyl and fringe records. Also a great resource for other used media.

Deaf Ear Records – 112 S. Fourth St., La Crosse, WI (608) 782-7829 A long time destination for music lovers, Deaf Ear has an amazing collection of new and used LPs, CDs, and DVDs, along with the rest of the goods. And by goods we mean, uh, forget it…


Homemade Quiche Fresh Fruit Breakfast Potatoes Coffee/Water/Juice

A Bloody Mary Bar & Mimosas available at an extra charge

Participating Stores: J. Tupy’s Elaines Fancy Pants Maurices Bergstrom's Shoes Vanberia KD Rae Jewelry Milkhouse Candles Dragonfly Books Aspen Alley Interiors The Country Garden Sponsored in part by Inspire(d) Media & Hacker, Nelson & Co., P.C. Don’t forget to make an appointment for your 2011 taxes! 563-382-3637

Details at \ Spring 2012


Science, Terrific Algific Talus Slopes

You're super!

Secret Ecosystems in the Driftless Region! By Aryn Henning Nichols

There’s an undeniable appeal to secret gardens and hidden worlds – just think about all the cool stuff we don’t know about deep down in the ocean! But there is one secret world at least some of us DO know about – algific talus slopes. Say what? Algific talus slopes are these amazing mini-ecosystems that exist in only a few spots in the world, and we’re lucky enough to be right in the hub of those locations! So what are they? “Algific” means cold producing and “talus” means broken rock. Also known as a cold air slope (which is much less of a mouthful), these nearly-unknown ecosystems – first noted in the early 1980s – are found in just a few hundred spots within the karst topography of the Driftless Region of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and especially Iowa. (1) The surface of the limestone, with its sinkholes and crevices veining through an impermeable layer of rock, provides the first of three factors needed to create an algific talus slope. The second necessity is dense vegetation – to provide cool, moist shade, and the third is a north-facing slope – to minimize radiant warming by the sun. This unusual geology keeps the slopes cool on the sticky, hot days of summer, and warmer on the most frigid of winter days. It also allows many species found nowhere else in the Midwest – and, in some cases, the world – to thrive. But you’ll hear more about that later. (2) First let’s break this ecosystem down: In the winter, cold air drops through the cracks and holes in the limestone, supercooling the bedrock to 40 feet or more. In the spring, melting snow and rain is on a slow drip through the surface and down into the bedrock. There that water freezes in the supercooled rock and stays. In the summer, the bedrock warms up and that ice begins to melt, which in turn makes cold water vapor and of course melted water. Normally this would all flow further down, but because of the shale and slates in the topography, a change in direction is forced. The vapor and water has to flow through these veins and out in different angles – where there’s an opening to the surface, there’s also a blast of cold air! This is especially noticeable on those hot summer days. (2) It’s the feet of snow usually so prevalent in our winters that keeps the terrific algific talus slopes in motion, but if the Driftless Region had, in fact, been hit by glaciers and scraped clean of all its bluffs and valleys, the cold air slopes would simply not exist. Thus, certain species would no longer exist either. For possibly hundreds of thousands of years, our region kept cold-adapted plants and animals safe while the glaciers took out habitats all around the area. And then, when things warmed up 10,000 to 15,000 years ago and the glaciers receded, these slopes maintained enough ice for ancient species to survive. Cool, huh? (2) For example, the Iowa Pleistocene Snail was thought to be extinct until it was discovered on algific talus slopes in Northeast Iowa in 1955. It was placed on the


Spring 2012 /

A very rough sketch by Aryn Henning Nichols of Northern Monkshood and the Iowa Pleistocene Snail. (Not to scale.)

Endangered Species List in 1977. Congress created the Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge in 1989 to protect this and other threatened species, including the Northern Monkshood wildflower. Much of this refuge was established in pre-existing protected areas such as the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. (1) Although the refuge was established to protect the snail and flower, there’s also an entire rare community of plants and animals that can’t be found elsewhere locally. The slopes can typically contain ferns, mosses, liverworts, evergreen species such as Canada yew and balsam fir, birch, basswood, and sugar maple. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the refuge as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Unfortunately, in addition to species within the algific talus slopes being endangered, so are the mini-ecosystems themselves. Most refuges are closed to the public because of the fragile nature of the habitat. (1)

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Image courtesy The Nature Conservancy

Studies of topographic maps and aerial photos in the 1980s and early 90s sited 600 locations in the four-states that could be classified as algific talus slopes – there are no more in the whole world! Sadly, one-third of these had been destroyed or damaged by logging, grazing, and livestock confinement, quarrying, home building, etc. The biggest current threats are grazing, sinkhole filling, and invasive garlic mustard. Of what’s left, more than half are in Northeast Iowa in Winneshiek, Allamakee, Clayton, Dubuque, and Fayette counties. (2) So the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service along with helpful landowners, the Iowa DNR, county conservation boards, and organizations like INHF and The Nature Conservancy established the Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge. It has almost 800 acres scattered in remote valleys throughout Northeastern Iowa, and is purposefully the leastvisited wildlife refuge in the Lower 48. (2) But there are a few algific talus slopes are open to the public, like “ice cave” at Bixby State Preserve, near Edgewood in Clayton County. Another small slope, with good signage, is next to Dug Road (sometimes known at Oneota Riverview Trail on maps) below the bluffs of Phelps Park in Decorah. And the UNI Museum in Cedar Falls has a big, cutaway diorama of a slope and its vegetation, complete with a cold air vent that blows with a push of a button! Cool! (2)

out there!


Be active.


Specializing in sustainable residential & light commercial construction

David J. Wadsworth • 563.419.0390 •

Aryn Henning Nichols first heard about these tiny ecosystems from Benji, and she was all like, “What are you talking about?” But they’re real! And cool (literally)! 1. Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge – US Fish and Wildlife Service 2. Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation 3. Bixby State Preserve: 4. Decorah Trail Map:



Lunch & dinner Monday - Saturday • 563-382-3067 \ Spring 2012


All photos courtesy the Raptor Resource Project

Real World Decorah: The Eagle Edition By Inspire(d)


e here at Inspire(d) would almost be remiss if we didn’t check in and report on our most famous of mascots and huge source of pride: the Decorah Eagles! For those of you who haven’t had your eyes glued to the coolest reality show on the Interwebs, the Decorah Eagles are a bald eagle family that’s nesting near the Decorah Trout Hatchery. Their story is riveting. It could be told starting with the unprecedented success of a home grown, almost one-man operation of bird watching, maybe with the technical challenges that were had along the way, or how a single web cam crashed all sorts of infrastructure in its original path – traffic grew exponentially after its launch in 2009, especially after the first batch of eggs hatched in April, getting more than 70 million views in just one month! Or maybe the focus of the story should be on Bob Anderson’s 25-year journey with the Raptor Resource Project. He has worked

to maintain and preserve nesting sites for falcons, eagles, ospreys, hawks, and owls – the Raptor Resource Project has actually had nest-cams in place for all sorts of birds since 1998. In fact, it was “Mae’s Internest”, a bird cam that began as a collaboration between Raptor Resource and staff at Xcel Energy’s Alan S. King plant that spawned the passion to create what has become a bald eagle international phenomenon. Now, over 200 million people from 184 countries have watched the incredible live story unfold. From nesting to eggs, furious winter storms to predators, viewers worldwide have adopted these eagles as their own. Classrooms of grade-schoolers to college kids are streaming the cam to learn in real time about biology, nature, and more. Their nest, built in 2007 after a previous near-by nest blew over in a storm, is 80 feet high and six feet across (see the photo of Bob Anderson lying in the nest to get an idea of scale). It weighs a whooping one and half tons!

Providing Decorah with comprehensive surgical care If you need surgery, it’s comforting to know Gundersen Lutheran’s surgical team is here to care for you and your family. With more than 50 years of combined service to the community, our general surgeons and podiatrists are dedicated to serving the people of Decorah and the surrounding area. Schedule your appointment today by calling (563) 382-3140.

Phillip Yee, MD General Surgery


Spring 2012 /

Scott Bierman, MD General Surgery

Michael LaBelle, MD Greg Valkosky, DPM General Surgery Podiatry

Brooke Tappe, DPM Podiatry

Craig Sullivan, DPM Podiatry

80 Celebrating

900 Montgomery St. Decorah, IA 563-382-2933


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It is certainly summed up best on the Raptor Resource Project website ( “By giving ordinary people intimate access to the lives of wild animals, our work deepens the connection between people and the natural world, bringing benefits to both.” This year, eggs were laid mid-February, to hatch early April. D1, the papa, was tracked flying around Arlington, Iowa, with about 100 other eagles – maybe a last hurrah before egg sitting and eaglet feeding? Footage from the nest was featured on National Geographic in February, and the eagles will also have a cameo on Jeopardy May 21, 2012! Indeed, the connections have been and continue to be made. So take a moment out of your day to keep up on this cast of raptor stars, and while you are at it, thank Bob Anderson and all of the amazing folks who have helped accomplish not only the incredible eagle cam, but solidified the populations of raptors across the Driftless Region and beyond. And if you want to join in on the craze even more, you can like the Decorah Eagles on Facebook! You can also purchase a t-shirt proclaiming your support of the eagles and the Raptor Resource Project. More information is available at:

SAVE ON! \ Spring 2012


“Delicious food + great atmosphere = fun!” 117 W. WATER ST., DECORAH, IA • 563.382.WINE DINNER: WED-SAT – OPEN AT 5 SUNDAY BRUNCH: 9-1 bar menu also available

By Inspire(d)



Check in!

Read reviews!

NE Iowa & SW Wisconsin

Wine, champagne and organic cheese samples Fancy Pants trunk shows featuring local artists Free swag bags (while supplies last)

Sponsored by: T-Bock’s & Fancy Pants For more information on this and other Spring Getaway events visit: • 563 382-8898

5 to 8 pm

lower level of T-Bock’s Sports Bar and Grill, downtown Decorah

Fancy Pants upcoming events

An online magazine featuring giveaways, the “food ‘n’ fun calendar” and special offers

Friday, March 30

outdoor clothing event

Friday, April 6 2 to 8 p.m.

Featuring: Raygun , Locally Grown and Hill Vintage Join us for some Friday afternoon fun out on Water Street in front of Fancy Pants!


Folkedahel Servic

We even offer radiator work!


We’ll take care of it! Pick up & delivery available

563-382-4010 • 563-380-5851 24

Spring 2012 /

If you have been hankerin’ like we have for some great live music, look no further than the upcoming opportunities in the Driftless Region and beyond. As the old saying goes – live music only happens once, don’t miss it! (Right, Byron?)


All you need to know for food ‘n’ fun

Spring Getaway Cocktail Party & Artisan Extravaganza

Live Music

Baker London Presents: Trent Romens – ArtHaus, Decorah, March 9, 8pm, At age 19, this blues guitarist is already leaving an impressive trail wherever he goes. Get out of the house and boogie down to ArtHaus to experience this driving force of blues, rock, and soul. / Mission Creek Festival – Iowa City, IA March 27-April 1, 2012 El Rio is a nice little bar with a kick ass patio in the mission district of San Francisco. Jeff Ray is an almost life long Rainbow Foods Cooperative worker who had a vision for a one-day festival in 1996 that has become one of the Bay Area’s most loved sources for cutting edge music and media. Take the leap to Iowa City with a gent by the name of Andre Perry – and a NFP umbrella known as the James Gang, and you have one of the best arts festivals in the Midwest. This year’s line-up includes everyone from Justin Townes Earle to Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, along side The Magnetic Fields, and William Elliott Whitmore. Don’t forget an amazing selection of literary and culinary listings to match the music – and one price gets you in to it all. Stop reading and start driving… to Iowa City. P.S. Enter for a chance to win two tickets to The Magetic Fields (part of Mission Creek Festival), along with dinner for two at Oasis Falafel, at

Season is ON!

12th Annual

Bluff Country Studio Art Tour of SE Minnesota

Mid West Music Fest – Winona, MN April 19-21, 2012 Some of you may recall a write-up in last Spring’s issue of Inspire(d) about Mr. Sam Brown and the Mid West Music Fest. Well, 2011 was a smashing success and Winona is lucky to have Mr. Brown taking things to the next level with an incredible group of volunteers. Winona’s community is the real winner in this formula, as of course are the patrons of the festival, who get to hear musicians like Greg Brown, Kimya Dawson, and local heroes Joe and Vicki Price amongst tons of other artists in venues across town. And any money made on this gathering is piped right back into Winona through organizations like SEMCAC, community arts groups, and more. Three-day passes are cheap, so fly through the Interwebs and pick up one for yourself and three for your friends!

April 27 – 29, 2012 Friday – Sunday 10 AM – 5 PM

for more information go to: 507-474-6879

Regina Carter – Luther College Center Stage Series, Decorah, April 13, 2012 We could tell you all about Regina Carter and how incredible her show is going to be on April 13 at Luther College, but why not just turn to page 10 and read all about it?! See you there! Photo by Rahav Segev

Charlie Parr – Club Pyramid, Decorah, May 11, 2012 The Wooly Mammoth of the North Shore returns to Decorah to usher in those May flowers. Charlie Parr has been pickin’ and plucking pretty tunes for longer than we care to keep track at this point. Don’t miss this chance to see him play in lil’ ol’ Decorah this spring – as you might as well skip summer too if you miss this show. \ Spring 2012


Opening the Door of Life Two Decorah women head to Africa to work with local traditional midwives, help birth babies, and, most of all, remember to open the door to new people in their lives.


nearly 8 pm, and Decorah native Ida Rotto glances over her shoulder, waiting for a white coat to appear in the doorway of a small, tidy exam room in the heart of Nairobi, Kenya. Fifteen minutes before, she’d just been planning to heat some soup to savor with her friend and godmother, Brenda Burke, but, on the invitation of a new midwifery intern, she’d slipped into the exam room to greet an expecting mother, the wife of a clinic staff member. “I realized immediately that the mama, Mary, was in the care of this new intern, who had only attended one other birth and had given birth herself.” The young woman’s contractions had settled into the powerful warming rhythm of delivery, so Ida had the intern run to get the doctor on duty. “But when he looked in and saw me, then continued on down the hall, I realized, ‘He’s looking at me as the midwife...I’m going to catch this baby!’” And sure enough, several gentling minutes later, 19-year-old Ida caught her first baby unassisted, except by mama Mary, of course. “I felt kind of funny, with the doctor there acting as back-up – it’s not a situation I would have put myself in intentionally, but I was glad to be called and to know what to do.” 26

Spring 2012 /

Outside the kitchen at the Earth Birth Clinic. / Photo by Brenda Burke

By Kristine Kopperud Jepsen

The clinic’s “rickety, un-trustworthy scale” said the little girl weighed 3.1 kilos or 6.8 lbs, “but I swear she felt more than that,” Ida says, joy in her voice, her hands articulating the wonder of the moment in the small frame of our Skype video connection. “Her cheeks, her round pink face!”

the United States, she talked with Ida about the possibility of traveling together through March 2012, not only to FreMo but to Earth Birth, a birthing center in rural Uganda, near Sudan. Both clinics offer care based on traditional midwifery, emphasizing nurturing, compassionate, and empowering prenatal, birthing, and postpartum care that minimizes unnecessary medical intervention. Brenda and Ida’s role was to assist with maternal care, support and facilitate co-learning exchanges with local traditional midwives, and organize women’s empowerment groups. They also hoped to coordinate the making of crafts and baby items the clinics could sell to become more self-sufficient, and found themselves planting vegetable gardens and playing “I spy a pregnant mama” in the

Ida and the “FreMo StarLight Women Project”, a women’s empowerment group, at FreMo Medical Clinic in Nairobi, Kenya. / Photo by Brenda Burke

“I was flying high the whole rest of the evening,” she later wrote. “Brenda, I think, fell asleep that night to the sound of me singing ‘I gotta be gotta be gotta be happy, you gotta be gotta be gotta be happy, happy happy happy happy happy!’” 
If the scene sounds a little foreign, that’s because it is – literally – a world removed from the average American maternity ward. FreMo clinic, founded and run by brothers (and doctors) Fred and Moffat Osoro, is an active and effective component of the area’s medical services, yet volunteers and administrators had only recently managed to install running water in the exam rooms. Brenda, a midwife whose husband is a native Kenyan and who had long planned to travel in Africa this year, had identified the clinic as a priority for service work through a series of professional connections. Then in November 2011, just a month before leaving

neighboring communities to invite more women to try the clinics’ services. This holistic approach to maternal health, while common in many countries around the world, is not the default standard of care in much of Africa, “in large part because of the Western medical model imposed during colonization, standards of care instated without supportive infrastructure and resources,” Brenda explains. The same problem exists in the United States, too, even with substantially more resources involved. In fact, the U.S. ranks shockingly poorly among industrialized nations in numbers of maternal and fetal deaths, seemingly due to the disjointedness and over-medicalization of maternal care.

Continued on next page \ Spring 2012


Join us on select Sundays in the upper level of the Dahl Centennial Union on the Luther College Campus.

Enjoy your brunch in the spacious Peace Dining Room, overlooking the beautiful Oneota Valley. Pancakes, Waffles, French Toast, Scrambled Eggs, Hash Browns, Eggs Benedict, Carved Meats, Fresh Fruit, Baked Goods from the Norse Bakery, Made-to-Order Omelets and much more.

Spring 2012 Brunch Dates: February 5, 12, 19, 26 March 4, 11 April 1, 15, 22, 29 May 6, 13* Reservations are encouraged for all brunches. Call 563-387-1514 to make your reservations today. * Reservations are required for Mother’s Day Brunch on May 13.

PRICES Adults…………………………….$13.50 Children Ages 5-10…………….$6.50 Children Under five………………Free


Earth Birth Clinic’s colorful main building in rural Uganda. / Photo by Brenda Burke

But while traditional midwifery and home births are surging in the U.S. by mothers’ preference – Ida herself was born in her family’s log cabin north of Decorah – in Northern Uganda and the slums of Nairobi, the philosophy of compassionate birthing must heal the many wounds of war, dislocation, poverty, and injustice. “Part of Earth Birth’s focus is to support these mamas in re-cultivating the ability to attach and love so they can learn to care for their babies when they had been denied such care and compassion,” Brenda says. It’s not hard to see the social and emotional fallout, she continues. “The traditional midwives in these clinics have all lived through ‘the war years,’ 23 years of terror. One of our co-workers at Earth Birth had been one of the thousands of children abducted by rebel fighters as a girl and forced into ‘service,’ which meant sexual slavery and forced militant action toward one’s own community.” Many of these child soldiers were forced to commit unspeakable crimes, such as murdering their own families. “Almost all of these young girls were also to give birth, sometimes repeatedly, to babies born of this Brenda and her husband, Mwaura, on violence,” Brenda says. their wedding day. And with unrest came dislocation. Until 2009, the entire population served by Earth Birth had lived in a displacement camp almost wholly dependent on foreign aid, chronically impoverished and under-served, cut off from everything they knew and fearful of their dangerous and dismal reality. Indeed, “the expectation in these communities is that a woman can’t have her baby without harsh treatment,” Ida says. “Many of the women we saw had had other birth experiences in the government hospitals and been pinched with forceps, slapped or otherwise abused while in labor.

Spring 2012 /

Even the family members and midwives who attend births, who you would think would be the most supportive, will sometimes slip into a reprimanding role and be the ones yelling at the laboring mother. It’s startling and confusing, because this reflex just seems to be there, even when otherwise, these midwives are so eager to help these mamas and are such good people.” In the United States, midwifery is embraced in some circles but just as powerfully shunned in others, depending on who’s performing it, in which state, and in what setting. For example, world-renowned midwife Ina May Gaskin – well-known author and the “grandmother” of modern out-of-hospital midwifery practice in the U.S. – teaches midwifery and does rounds at Harvard. While she has more than 35 years of midwifery experience and a lifetime record of maternal and infant health that’s more impressive than most major medical centers, her advanced degree is in literature, not medicine. As such, her services could be class D felony acts in Iowa (see Iowa Code 147.2 IACODE/1995/147/2.html) and prohibited by statute in nine other states as well (see “In our culture, there’s an interesting disconnect in recognizing expertise outside the conventional medical system,” explains Brenda, a midwife who began her career as a social worker and registered nurse with both neonatal and adult intensive care and psychiatric experience. “It’s amazing to me that CNN could name a Certified Professional Midwife – Robin Lim – its 2011 Hero of the Year, and yet, lacking a Western medical training, she would face prison sentences for serving expectant women in Iowa.” In fact, Lim lived and served as a midwife in Iowa for more than a decade before building the Yayasan Bumi Sehat clinics, serving impoverished expectant

Above: A series of circles indications level of dilation inside Earth Birth Clinic. Below: Outside Earth Birth is a colorful shower. / Photos by Brenda Burke

families in Bali. “I became a nurse to become a Certified Nurse Midwife, but I began to see that the ‘mother and baby-friendly’ childbirth journey I envisioned would be a rare experience in most clinical settings.” So, Brenda spent over 25 years working with expectant families, serving as a doula (someone who provides nonmedical support – physical and emotional– to a woman leading up to and during her labor and delivery) while apprenticing as a midwife and studying midwifery traditions from all over the world. She opened her own practice in 2002 to serve the Driftless Region of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, naming it “Mamatoto Midwifery,” for the Swahili word meaning “mamababy.” Many African cultures recognize a sacred bond between mothers and babies – a bond so close that they are identified as one entity until the little one is around two years old. To date, Brenda has supported hundreds of mamas and families as they welcomed their babies into the world. And along the way, she became Ida’s godmother, and she met and married her husband Mwaura, a native of Kenya whose sister and cousin are also traditional midwives among the Maasai and Kikuio tribes. In her own way, Ida had come to understand the “credential” debate, too. Homeschooled by her family and other community members until she dual-enrolled in Decorah High School courses, Ida felt first-hand the conflict between formal education and experiential apprenticeship. “I have always been mesmerized by babies and birth, and by the time I was in high school, I was attending some births with Brenda, going on prenatals, and acting as an assistant.” (In fact, her dad, Daniel Rotto, secretly taught her to drive by age 11 so she could help with emergency transport if necessary.) Continued on next page

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Spring 2012 /

But her school-day schedule didn’t accommodate the organic ebb and flow of birthing. “I was trying to find ways to go to prenatals between classes, and I was trying to finish homework after being up most of the night at a birth,” she explains. “I ended up having to put assisting at births aside because I told myself I had committed to high school.” This trip became a reality just as she stared down the college application gauntlet, rekindling a passion and presenting the most valuable “study abroad” experience she could possibly craft. “I felt so much pressure to just apply for college and sign up for that system, even though my family and friends are totally supportive of learning alternatives,” she says. “I almost did it. But I didn’t, and I’m glad.” By nature, the travel involved more cultural friction and danger than she’d ever encounter in, say, Biology 101. Both she and Brenda battled insomnia and lethargy inflicted by typhoid, a bacterial infection causing potentially lasting damage to the digestive track, likely contracted after a sewage leak at the FreMo clinic. And whenever they traveled on foot in Nairobi, the word “mazungo” – or “white person” – roiled around them and men would grab at them, pressing close to make kissing sounds in their ears. “It’s hard for me to get used to not smiling at people and greeting them, like I would at home,” Ida says. “The risks of catching the wrong person’s eye are very real. I can see why other women just look Ida would often draw or paint depictions of her down.” Both women also early experiences in midwifery. struggled within the confines of endemic poverty, the handicap of not speaking Swahili, the languid pace of living in the African heat, and the countries’ broken civil structure. “At one point, we volunteered at a local hospital because we realized the circumciser was the only staff on duty, all the others having taken holiday at the same time,” Brenda says. “Within an hour we caught six babies, including a set of twins. What we would recognize as ‘health care’ only comes with a good chunk of money here, which most people don’t have. The closest hospital is only reliable for providing oxygen and ultrasound screenings, nothing else. Literally, nothing else.” Just days later, a fresh baby in respiratory distress died in Ida’s arms as she and the mother rushed to get him transferred to a larger medical facility.

Ida writes:

and “the sound of the lorries and matatus tooting to make all the souls already on the street at 5:30 am move to make way,” Ida and Brenda felt their confidence returning, and the buoyant business of the clinic showed them joy and meaningful work. “Miriam is her name, and as she comes in, her eyes are right there, not anywhere else,” Ida wrote of an expecting mama: 

I have tears in me, and six days worth of city dirt on my feet, and children’s face paint from painting the hand of a crying struggling woman on one arm, and residue from recent afterbirth blood spatters on my other...and complete overwhelmtion all though me. But grateful. But needing to process. And wanting to figure it out. And wanting to remember so that even if I can’t figure it out now, I will remember to figure it out later. I wanted that mama’s baby to live, and for him to live, and to feel his breaths getting stronger. I was willing the world, and willing the baby, and calling the baby, and I thought those things, plus my heartbeat on his heartbeat, and his mamas hands and prayers, and Brenda’s breaths she gave him, would have to work. I’m having a hard time figuring how they wouldn’t. The transfer hospital is horrible here. It’s like in all of the horror movies, only real. Nobody would listen to me, or help, or go fast. And………….. auuuuughhhhhhhhhaaaaathis comes from all through me. I am here. There is so much. ----------
 But as night let in the light of day, and they heard again the hourly Muslim prayer call beginning at 4 am, “the neighborhood rooster who When Ida was younger, she sent letters like this, requesting to be part has his own internal sunrise of a woman’s birthing experience. alarm...mis-set for 4:30 am,”

I came in on her prenatal the day before and did a bit of it, and came out of the room sparkling inside me. Tonight her husband said she had come home from her prenatal and said she wanted to have her baby while we were still here. This is what only three minutes of smiling and loving and caring can do. I sang “Babies are Born” for her, and she says she loves to sing Gospel music. And we talked and laughed, Brenda and Miriam and I, and eventually Brenda went to rest at 11, and we turned out the light. She would say to me, ‘Sleep my friend. Come,’ and she would pat on the bed beside her, and soon I was laying on the bed under a kenga she had brought along, closing my eyes while hers were shut, and sitting up to rub her back when she would wake, every ten minutes or so. She would sleep holding my wrist, and I cupping her other hand. Waking up and her cries and moans, her first time meeting these kinds of pains, she would sometimes cling her whole body around me, every muscle tight, oooooh my frriendyyyy, oooh my friendyy…. It is painful, it Continued on next page

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Clockwise, starting at top: The main hallway at FreMo Medical Centre in Nairobi being cleaned for a garden project; FreMo Clinic; the first FreMo StarLight Women Project empowerment meeting.

is painful. We would breathe together, and she was strong. The light came in gently from the door, and we would rest again. She needed an IV for dehydration at one point in the night, and I almost cried when she had it put in. ‘Hold it together, Ida,’ I told myself. It is so cruel that she, in all that she was going through, would have to deal with this extra, piddly pain. I slept for a while in the night then, and Brenda was with her. In the morning she was only dilated to three. She was working so hard. Her husband, Jon, visited in the morning, and was so gentle and loving and kind, something so beautiful and foreign to what I have seen in this place. This is a blessing, one that makes me full, and think, ‘This is what love is for. This beauty. This trust.’ Today, when she was about to start pushing, he was with her, blowing on her hot skin to cool her, holding her up, translating for her what we were saying, and consoling her, telling her she was strong and could do it. His face, when we told him to look down and he could

see the top of his baby’s head… He only looked for a split second, and then was quickly back up at Miriam’s face, his own emanating, oh I don’t know what you would call it – innocent joy? Pure and ecstatic excitement? It was all in him, of course. He was not making noises, but [I could see] the buoyant quickness and light tensity of his movements, and his eyes which shone. Brenda and I were smiling back, and I couldn’t keep in my laughs. He looked a little longer the next time, and longer again the next, getting used to this beautiful window into his baby. His awe. Other than those moments though he was on all fours, sideways over Miriam’s face, as she worked, her whole self taken now, into this task, bearing down, eyes closed, eyes opened wide at the huge-ness of these feelings, noises pushing out along with everything else, bracing her feet against Brenda, her arms wrapped tightly around Jon, a hand clutching my hand. 

She had her baby now, a sweet little boy, who got a few extra breaths from Brenda at the beginning, but is very healthy. The night before, when we were talking, she had said she hoped it would be a girl so she could name it Brenda’s and my names, and we had laughed and swelled, and said she should name the baby whatever name she likes best, and fits baby when she sees it. 
 All too soon, it was time to say goodbye to FreMo’s staff and the mamatotos in their care. Brenda’s husband, Mwaura, was scheduled to fly from the States to meet them and visit family, and Ida had landed another volunteer position to fill her remaining 30 days in Africa, at an International Peace Initiatives communitybased orphanage farther north, near Meru, Kenya. Their women’s empowerment group had met at FreMo several times, each session flowering into more meaningful, if still linguistically stilted, exchanges, as well as singing and dancing, and

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Spring 2012 /

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Ida & friends outside Earth Birth. / Photo by Brenda Burke

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Ida had recorded some of the women’s and children’s common songs. Again and again, they heard staff recounting in amazement the outcomes of gentle midwifery practice, saying, “We just didn’t know a mother could smile so big after having her baby.” And that, they say, feels humbling-encouraging, absolving some of their reservations about presuming to “help” the many folks they met. “Coming here is just living here, choosing a different place to live and put your actions and continue the learning of life,” Ida writes, in reflection. “Really, I think this might ‘help,’ more than anything else: kindness – always try (something they do really well here). Do something to make somebody else joyful each day: sing, live simpler, grow some vegetables, keep learning, go outside, let other people into your life..... it can be just as useful to you and the whole world, each day, at home.”

This story had deep impact on Kristine Kopperud Jepsen, whose daughter Eliza came into the world at 27 weeks, weighing just 1 lb 13 oz. Though she is grateful for the marvels of Western medicine that saved her baby’s life, she can’t help but wonder what might have been different if she’d considered pregnancy a more holistic journey. ‘Case you’re wondering, Eliza is now a happy, healthy 3-year-old -still the miracle that she was born. More info on next page \ Spring 2012


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Spring 2012 / Support Earth Birth’s initiatives to make its solar-powered flagship clinic self-sufficient and accessible to still more of the 2 million Internally Displaced Persons of Northern Uganda.

FaceBook: “FreMo Medical Clinic Volunteers” Follow FreMo clinic as they expand services in urban Nairobi. Support the NGOs and other aid organizations presented in Half the Sky, whose co-author Nicholas Kristof spoke at Luther College in February. Note: Half the Sky is how Ida got connected to her internship at International Peace Initiatives’ Amani House community-based orphanage. Keep pace with Brenda’s local work in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin, and help send medical supplies and donations as she travels abroad. On this trip, Brenda and Ida carried two large suitcases each of supplies and baby gifts, including a red felted hat made by 9-year-old Finn Lester of Decorah. The baby who received it – a little boy born at FreMo clinic – was named Finn by his mother to honor the connection! Learn more about the work of CNN Hero of the Year Robin Lim, a traditional midwife and clinic founder in Bali. Back home again, Ida plans to offer her services as a doula (a supportive birth attendant for women and families) in and around Decorah, in tandem with the area’s established midwifery practices. For more information, please e-mail her. The administrators of EarthBirth have assumed leadership of Mother Health International. They are branching out to Sudan, Haiti and Brazil.

Ida works with women on sewing projects at FreMo. / Photo by Brenda Burke

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Read to Change Your Perspective and the World! Compiled with help from our friends at Dragonfly Books in Decorah, Iowa Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn Pulitzer Prize winning husband and wife team travel across the world to show the necessity of demanding equality for women everywhere. If you think that sounds too girly for you, we dare you just crack open this book – it will change the way you see the world. Dan Eldon: The Art of Life by Jennifer New Dan Eldon was an incredibly young and talented photojournalist who was stoned to death in Mogadishu in 1993. His work and story are some of the most inspiring we have found – and are one of the reasons that Aryn wanted to start Inspire(d). Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes The idea is simple – by starting at home and moving in the right directions, people across the country and world are finding personal fulfillment and cultural change right in their own kitchens, living rooms, and backyards. Pick up this book, go home, and change the world. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien The boys of Alpha Company star in this mind-bending tail of war and beyond. Through darkness and light, truth and fiction, these words have not stopped challenging minds to look at the situation differently since they were printed. The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie “I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny little lifeboats.” Junior, a Spokane Indian, tells the tales of growing up on the reservation and struggling to find a better path in life despite all of the challenges that face him. Amidst all that teenagers face in school and at home, this book tells the story of how friends can both harm and help through the great adventure.

When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to The Present by Gail Collins From the 1960s to the 2000s, many things have shifted in women’s lives: politics, fashion, popular culture, economics, sex, families, and work. Gail Collins takes on many of those changes and points out where there is more work to do. A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit Disasters have a strange way of bringing out community, purposefulness, and meaningful work in the light of monumental challenges. Rebecca Solnit points out the positive and possible effects of what a more local and collaborative society looks like – with, or without a disaster in the mix. Color-Blind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity by Tim J. Wise In this follow-up book to Between Barack and a Hard Place, Tim Wise makes the case that colorblindness is not the answer to figuring out our countries continuing racial struggles. The book explains how diversity and differences in cultures have to be acknowledged in order for our society to truly move forward in the current era. The Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists are Changing American Cities by Jeff Mapes Simply put, bicycling is one of the most popular forms of transportation in the world. Jeff Mapes tells the tales of bicycle advocacy across the country as the developed world works to integrate one of the best forms of transportation back onto our roads and through our cities. Now jump on two wheels and grab a copy of this book at your local bookstore!

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The bacon-cheese Gunderburger. / Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols

Hans Walsh of the Irish Shanti

17455 Gunder Road, Gunder, Iowa 563-864-9289

Introduction by Aryn Henning Nichols

People drive from near and far to tiny Gunder, Iowa, for a chance to wear a giant hat shaped like a burger. Oh – they go for great food, too, and fun…but the challenge of the Irish Shanti’s giant (GIANT) Gunderburger is the stuff of legends. And rightly so. It’s one full pound of fresh ground beef served on a homemade bun. (Ed. note: When I was younger, I always thought they should make the buns bigger to accommodate those giant burgers, but now I think it’s cute…like a little burger hat.) You can order them plain, loaded, and anywhere in between. According to owner Kevin Walsh, the best side to order is probably the American Fries – a pile of potatoes shredded in-house and grilled to crispy perfection by Kevin’s son and head cook, Hans. If you’re not in a burger mood, you could also try one of the Shanti’s popular nightly specials – Tuesday BBQ ribs, Wednesday fried chicken, or Friday fried cod. They also make, of course, what Kevin says is the best corned beef and cabbage there is for St. Patrick’s Day. Yep, the Shanti isn’t just Irish in name. The Walsh family – Kevin, wife Elsie, and their four kids – holds up their heritage proudly even beyond 36

Spring 2012 /

St. Paddy’s Day, with shamrocks all over their website, menu, restaurant, and (probably) hearts. The ambiance inside is that perfect dive bar/supper club feel. The long bar along the left side is home to the Shanti’s great beer and Irish whiskey selection. They even host the occasional live performer on a small stage across from the bar. The drive itself to Gunder is beautiful – up on a ridge, the sunsets are out of this world, and it’s not unusual to see a rainbow seemingly ending at the restaurant. Who knows what you’ll find at the end? Definitely an Irishman who loves to chat. Hans Walsh took a moment to answer our Chef on the Block questions. While according to Kevin, Hans claims he’s no “chef”, he’s much too modest. He churns out a ton of delicious food from burgers to steaks to Iowa chops to their family’s tasty homemade pie – if you make it to dessert with any room left, that is. Kevin’s famous quote is this: “You can’t leave the Shanti still hungry.”

different restaurants over the years. My parents bought the Shanti seven years ago and I decided to help them. At the Shanti we have a great team. I have three other cooks that do a great job.

Name: Hans Walsh                 Age: 33 Restaurant: Irish Shanti, Gunder, IA Number of Years Cooking: 12 Formal training or live-andlearn?     Live and Learn. I’ve learned a lot of basic skills from cooks at various restaurants, but never any formal training.  I always emphasize teamwork and everyone being on the same page in the kitchen.  Our menu is fairly simple, but we go through a lot of burgers and potatoes. The cooks have a lot to keep track of on a busy night.  

What’s the best thing you’ve ever made? That’s hard to say, but I made jambalaya once that I thought was good. I probably couldn’t do it again the same way though!

Kevin (left) and Hans Walsh. / Photo by Benji Nichols

What’s your earliest or most significant memory of cooking or being cooked for? I remember my Grandma Hanson and how much work she did to cook for everyone in a large family for so many years. She was in the kitchen all day, every day until the day she died. Why did you decide to become a chef? I never really did. In college I started as a line cook at the Ground Round in Dubuque, then have had every restaurant job title in seven

Do you have any monumental food fails you’d like to share with us? Nothing I can remember.

How about secret food indulgences you don’t normally talk about? Will you tell us? I do like to cook grilled tacos with various experimental ingredients at home. Also, the cheap and effortless Jack’s frozen pizza. What’s your favorite (ingredient, etc): I don’t really have favorites – I like a lot of things I guess.

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a sunny spring afternoon, few places are prettier than Pella’s town square. In one corner, blades turn atop a walk-in windmill where visitors stop for information about the town’s treasures. Trees shade the edges of the square, and sidewalks pass by a fountain, a sundial, and several benches inviting those on foot to sit down and soak it all in. The Tulip Toren, a tower that honors the annual Tulip Time celebration and serves as a stage for community events, stands tall above it all. And, each spring, vibrant tulip beds burst into bloom here and throughout town. The square is at the heart of a storied downtown populated by bakeries, boutiques, cafes and small businesses that really put Pella on the map. It’s often tied to tulips, windmills and, inevitably, those famed and oh, so delicious Dutch letters. But, the central Iowa town really is more than just spring colors and Dutch delights. Pella is one of those lovely communities lucky to be defined by a great number of positives. “We’re located right next door to Lake Red Rock, Iowa’s largest lake,” says Jill Vandevoort, director of the Pella Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Spring 2012 /

Pella, Iowa heirlooms



“On the Great River Road,” Genoa, WI.





GIVEAWAY Head to Iowa City for some spring FUN!


Inspire(d) media

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The winner gets:

• 2 tickets to The Magnetic Fields, March 28 at the Englert Theatre, part of the Mission Creek Festival • Dinner for 2 at Oasis Falafel

“That means there are recreational activities for travelers of every age group.” A mile-long dam controls the 19,000-acre lake on the Des Moines River, creating opportunities for boating, bicycling, camping, fishing, and bird watching. Bald eagles frequent the water and its surrounding habitat, as do 300 types of birds and 36 species of mammals. The newly renovated North Overlook and two other lakeside beaches get busy each summer, and a 100-foot observation tower at Cordova Park, on the lake’s north side, offers terrific views. Still, there’s no denying the town’s heritage. Pella’s signature Dutch traditions date back to 1847, when Hendrik Pieter Scholte led families from the Netherlands to Iowa to escape famine and religious conflict. Those early settlers created a community of sod homes topped with prairie grass – references to “strawtown” still turn up in modern-day Pella – on 18,000 acres between the Des Moines and Skunk Rivers. As the town grew, leaders named new streets after their ideals: Liberty, Independence, Union and Peace. Within a few years, Pella residents built stores, sawmills and blacksmith shops, a newspaper and several churches. The Rolscreen Company, later renamed Pella Corporation, began manufacturing windows in 1925, and it was Scholte who donated land for Central College in 1853. Today, 1,600 students are enrolled in the private, four-year liberal arts college. But what was that about tulips?

Just write “Mission Creek Festival” on the Inspire(d) Media wall to enter – a winner will be chosen March 16, 2012.

Spring 2012 /

Ah yes – thousands (and thousands!) of spring flowers bloom bright for the city’s famed three-day Tulip Time festival. It debuted in 1935, and this year’s celebration takes place May 3-5. Expect Dutch dancing, street scrubbing demonstrations, and the Klompen Classic 5K run and walk. Attendees also won’t want to miss the presentation of the tulip queen and her court, or the day and

They are not your father’s wildhaired, juggling, flame-throwing, kilt-and-tutu-wearing performers. Each night, the audience is invited to bring objects to the theater for the Brothers to keep airborne in a challenge that ends either with a pie in the face or a standing ovation. As director/ founder/performer Paul Magid says, “Juggling is dropping.” Julia Roberts had to go all the way to India to learn the same thing; you need only see THE FLYING KARAMAZOV BROTHERS.

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nighttime parades, craft markets, antique displays, kids games, and popular grandstand entertainment that rounds out the festival schedule. Another Tulip Time highlight, of course, is the food. Booths peddle everything from funnel cakes and bratwurst to traditional delicacies such as poffertjes (mini pancakes dusted with powdered sugar) and stroopwafels (caramel sandwiched between two thin waffle cookies). Luckily, Dutch treats are available around town even after the festival wraps up. In fact, navigating Pella’s food scene will get even easier when the Pella Convention and Visitors Bureau releases a new tasting guide this summer. Visitors will soon be able to download a walking tour map from the bureau’s website. “Anyone can enjoy a taste of Pella by going to the different

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businesses on that route. They’ll learn how each business started, and how each specialty food is made,” says Vandevoort. With or without the map, hungry travelers should stop first at Pella’s town square bakeshops. Jaarsma Bakery, a staple since 1898, serves up flakey, fabulous traditional Dutch letters. The buttery, S-shaped pastries are filled with almond paste and topped with crunchy crystals of sugar. Vander Ploeg Bakery also sells Dutch letters, along with made-from-scratch cookies and specialty breads. Smokey Row Coffee’s expanded menu of salads, sandwiches, ice cream, and drinks draws a lively mix of college students, neighborhood residents, and entrepreneurs on laptops. For a full meal, try pizza at George’s or stop at the Windmill Café, a breakfast and lunch place owned by the same family. Nearby, Ulrich’s Meat Market and In’t Veld’s Meat Market turn out flavorful bologna, summer sausage and smoked meats. Several Pella markets also sell Gouda cheese from Frisian Farms, a local outfit owned by brothers Jason and Mike Bandstra. The pair produces wheels of the nutty, golden cheese in true Dutch tradition, using milk from their own 80-cow Holstein herd. “They do everything on site,” says Vandevoort, “from milking the cattle through the aging and packaging of the cheese. It is a fine delicacy in the area.” For a look at other agricultural efforts, visit the Vermeer Museum and Global Pavilion. The company that today sells implements worldwide started outside Pella, where Gary Vermeer built a mechanical hoist wagon on his farm in the late 1940s. The family also lends its name to the Vermeer Windmill, the newest and most Your logo Here noteworthy nod to Pella’s Dutch beginnings. With blades reaching 124 feet above the ground, Inspire(d) this structure is modeled on a grain mill from DRIFTLESS MAGA ZINE the 1850s Netherlands. Dutch craftsmen assembled the European-built pieces in Pella, and the mill grinds wheat into flour used by local bakeries. The Vermeer Mill was completed in 2002 as an addition to the Pella Historical Village. It joins 20 display buildings that range from a general store to period-furnished houses to the boyhood home of Wyatt Earp. More than 25,000 tulips free! grow on the village grounds, as well. In the shadow of the windmill sits the Your Molengracht, a huge downtown plaza with a logo Here Dutch-style canal and even a working drawbridge! Shops and businesses designed to replicate those in the Netherlands line the Molengracht,


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Pella Resources Fun Best of Thymes • 615 Franklin St. • • 641-628-3332 Big Rock Park • Big Rock Road • www.cityofpella. com Bos Landen Golf Club • 2411 Bos Landen Drive • • 641-628-4625 Central College • 812 University • • 877-462-3687 Cordova Park • RedRock/Recreation/Cabins.cfm

anchored by the 38-room Royal Amsterdam Hotel and Monarchs Restaurant and Lounge. Vandevoort says the European-themed hotel has become quite popular since its 2001 opening, and she recommends reserving rooms well in advance of a visit. A more recent addition to Pella’s hotel scene is The Cheesemaker’s Inn. Frisian Farms’ Jason Bandstra and his wife, Valerie, opened the bed and breakfast in the Bandstra family’s farmhouse in 2010. Several independent inns and chain hotels offer other affordable accommodations throughout town, and larger groups can rent rooms at Central College between June and mid-August. The college is also a cultural hub for the Pella community, hosting concerts, art exhibits, theater performances, book readings, sports, and other events during the academic year. Take a quick loop around the school’s sidewalks to view outdoor art, an organic garden and several Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design- (LEED) certified buildings. Don’t forget to stop for photos on the iconic bridge that crosses the pond in the center of campus. Three blocks north of Central, West Market Park makes a great picnic spot with sheltered tables and a large wooden playground. North of the town square, Sunken Gardens Park has a windmill, a wooden shoe-shaped pond and 15,000 tulips that are particularly popular during the spring bloom. And, on Continued on next page

De Pelikaan • 627 Franklin St. • dutchmillinn. com/page/148x9/De_Pelikaan.html • 641-628-9479 EmBellish • 605 Franklin St. • • 641-628-1738 Molengracht • • 641-628-2246 Pella Convention and Visitors Bureau • 818 Washington St. • • 888-746-3882 Pella Historical Village • 507 Franklin St. • • 641-628-4311 Royal Amsterdam Hotel • 701 East 1st St. • • 641-620-8400 Red Rock Lake Association •

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Fun, continued. Sunken Gardens Park • 1110 Main St. • The Cheesemaker’s Inn • 420 Idaho Drive • • 800-720-6321 Tulip Time • • 641-628-4311 Vermeer Museum and Global Pavilion • 2110 Vermeer Road East • vermeer/LA/en/N/about_us/history Vermeer Windmill • 714 East 1st St. • vermeer-mill • 641-628-4311 West Market Park • 1008 Liberty St. • Continued on next page Continued from previous page

the northwest corner of Pella, Big Rock Park boasts a picturesque 83 acres of trees, trails and streams. Hiking and biking are popular here, and children can burn off energy while skipping stones and climbing rocks. For grownups, downtown Pella promises a charming assortment of shops and galleries such as EmBellish, which carries jewelry and women’s accessories, and the home and gift store Best of Thymes. De Pelikaan features an array of Dutch pottery, linens, Delft tiles and, yes, even wooden shoes. There’s also golf, just a short swing away at Bos Landen. Golf Digest has recognized the 18-hole course for its affordability and great design. With Lake Red Rock only a few minutes down the road, it’s easy to follow a round with a sunset walk along the water – a perfect only-inPella way to end a vacation. During her four years at Central College, Renee Brincks passed countless afternoons at North Overlook Beach, learned to correctly pronounce “poffertjes,” built windows at Pella Corporation and ate her weight in Dutch letters.

Depot The

Pella: Yes, There’s Fun Post-Spring Tulips! With so many attractions within 30 miles of Pella, why not stay a few extra days and explore? Cross Red Rock Dam and head southwest to Knoxville, where the sprint car season kicks off in April at the Knoxville Raceway. The half-mile dirt track hosts the Sprint Car National Championships each August, and the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum showcases the sport’s history throughout the year. Don’t miss Peace Tree Brewing Co., which pours popular craft brews like Hop Wrangler IPA and Cornucopia, a sweet cornspiked seasonal favorite, at its downtown taproom. To taste local wines, take Highway 163 from Pella towards Leighton’s Tassel Ridge Winery. Free winery tours walk guests through the production process, and the visitor gallery offers views of the wine cellar and crushpad. Follow 163 in the opposite direction for the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge near Prairie City. Stop by the Prairie Learning Center for an introduction; then, follow the trails through thousands of acres of restored tallgrass prairie or drive through an 800-acre bison enclosure. And don’t miss another fun time July 13-15, when local groups will present the corresponding Summer Fest and Lake Red Rock Balloon Fest events at various locations in Pella and around Red Rock Lake. In addition to sand castle builds, kayak competitions, cycling races, a five-kilometer run and live music, the weekend will feature more than 30 hot air balloons lifting off over the water.

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Tapas Talk


By Jim McCaffrey

In 1976 my childhood and lifelong friend, James Ronan, and I decided that in order to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the founding of the United States of America, we would travel to Southern Europe. We would immerse ourselves in some of the diverse cultures that have combined to make up our vast country. In other words, we were looking to party hearty. As opposed to working for a living, seven weeks of backpacking, traveling by train, and hanging out in youth hostels seemed like nirvana. So we both went out and bought ourselves a bible. Not the King James version. Arthur Frommer’s version. Europe on Five Dollars a Day. No self-respecting backpacker would be without a copy. Continued on next page Food by Benji Nichols • Photos by Aryn Henning Nichols \ Spring 2012


wooden seats out of the 1900s. No heat but at least we were However, it was almost the trip that wasn’t. We were going to fly moving. Well, sort of. Two hours later at 3 am, the train stopped in on Icelandic Airlines out of O’Hare. We caught a ride with our good the middle of another nowhere, surrounded by the La Guardia, the friends, Bruce and Karen, and stayed overnight in the suburbs. In national military police. They were holding sub machine guns and the morning we got up and got moving. All of a sudden I heard a ordering everyone off the train along with baggage. Our backpacks “What the H…?!?” from James. It turns out that his passport and were ripped open and contents dumped unceremoniously onto the wallet were missing. They were conveniently sitting on Bruce’s desert dirt. All we could do was just sit there and hold our breath. coffee table back in Decorah. It would be impossible to make a Finally, we moved out again mad dash back to Decorah to Madrid, where Jim and and return in time for the 5 Janice picked us up. It pm boarding. James called was certainly good to see Bruce’s then-roommate Steve familiar faces. Matter (Decorah Hatchery) Zaragoza was to be and somehow convinced him to home for me for the next go on a road trip. Dave Stanley 10 days. We made our way rode shotgun. They made it with there, where Janice had 10 minutes to spare. Whew, made us some supper and that was close! After profusely then it was time to check thanking our knights in shining out the local bar scene. armor, we boarded and headed They lived in an upstairs toward Luxemburg. apartment and around the We didn’t have a clue of what corner was a small bar we should be doing. We met called the Cosa del Sol, a young woman on the plane open 24/7. Owned by three headed to Paris. So we tagged brothers, each worked an along. In Paris we procured eight-hour shift everyday. some cheese, baguettes, Inspire(d) HQ had to improvise a bit with Jim’s Shrimp and Chorizo recipe, Talk about dedication. Upon and wine at a little neighborhood mainly we had to leave out the chorizo. Sorry, Jim! It was still tasty! walking in I was struck by all grocery and headed to a youth the food laid out on the bar and hostel. There we ran into a young smoked hams dried in nets hanging from the ceiling. There were man from Australia named Sandy Aich. He had, unbelievable as this seven or eight types of huge olives along with several different may seem, an ITINERARY. In the morning we hooked up with him types of cheese, sardines, anchovies, crusty breads, small chorizo at breakfast and decided that an organized plan was much better sausages, and shrimp. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I than no plan at all. Sandy was headed to Boudreaux and on to the wanted to try everything right then and there. So I pretty much did. southern half of Europe. We left Paris without even checking out a This was one of the many tapas – or finger food – bars found all museum, a church, or Pere Lachaise Cemetery (final resting place over Spain. You make up a small plate, order a drink and repeat, of the late great Jim Morrison). Like I said, we didn’t have a clue. repeat, repeat. Sometimes the food is free, sometimes there is a After a great day in Boudreaux sightseeing and drinking delicious small charge. The tapas differ from town to town and area to area. wine we headed to Zaragoza, Spain where our friends, Jim and One of the best at the Cosa del Sol was fabulous homemade onion Janice, were living. Getting there was, to say the least, a little bit rings they kept churning out hour after hour. I’ve never had better. hairy and scary. At the French and Spanish border we had to James and Sandy decided to go to Toledo and then on to change trains. The train track in Spain was of a different width Morocco for a few days. I wanted to take in the locals and hang out then that of the French. It was midnight and the train station was with Jim and Janice. So while Jim was working I spent time at the deserted, locked, and out in the middle of nowhere. The three of Cosa del Sol. I got to know the regulars. We shared a lot of laughs. us sat on benches outside the station, smoked cigarettes, and Most of them were retired and the Cosa del Sol was their social tried to be nonchalant. Definitely not on Sandy’s ITINERARY. Finally club. Turned out to be mine as well. They were all interested in the a passenger train backed into the station. We boarded. It had old

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Jim McCaffrey is a chef, author, and co-owner with his family of McCaffrey’s Dolce Vita restaurant and Twin Springs Bakery just outside Decorah. He is author of a humorous cookbook titled “Midwest Cornfusion.” He has been in the food industry in one way or another for 40 years. SPANISH TORTILLA 6 eggs, beaten 2 Yukon Gold potatoes 2 or 3 green onions, chopped until light green parts 1/4 cup olive oil Salt and fresh ground black pepper Slice potatoes into 1/8 inch discs. Pour olive oil into a nine-inch cast iron skillet. (Must be able to put under oven broiler). Heat it over medium high until a test end piece of potato sizzles when it hit’s the oil. Work potato slices in batches, frying one layer at a time until lightly browned. Dry on paper towels and salt and pepper to taste. Drain most of the olive oil. Sautee the onions until just crisp. Turn off pan. Spread onions evenly around the bottom of the pan. Top with potato slices in a scalloped pattern. Turn heat back to medium. Add eggs along with salt and pepper to taste. Shake the pan so eggs completely cover potatoes. Cook until the edges begin to set. Cook under broiler for 5 minutes until top is browned. Remove pan. Let cool for 5 minutes. Place a plate on top and invert pan. Remove pan and you have a Spanish Tortilla. Cut into wedges. This can be served cold as well, which how I had it in Zaragoza.

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political scene in the US. I also got to know the bar owner brothers and their families. I had long hair down to the small of my back and a pretty good beard. One of the brother’s sons came up to me, touched my hair and said “Boofalo Bill”. That became my handle for the rest of my stay. On my last day, the regulars decided they wanted to show me the town. This involved taking me around to all of the tapas bars in probably a 12-block area for a small glass of wine and a small bite. There were a lot of tapas bars in that area. My favorite served one of the national dishes of Spain called the Spanish Tortilla. (Recipe to follow). It is simple and wonderful. Clueless as James and I were, we had a wonderful experience and it is time to thank Steve and Dave for making it all happen. (I mean it’s only been 35 years).

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SHRIMP AND CHORIZO TAPAS 5 Tbl olive oil 2 tsp salt 1 lb chorizo 1 tsp black pepper 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion 1 1/2 lbs peeled raw med shrimp 2 cloves garlic, minced 3 tbl lemon juice 1/2 cup dry sherry 2 tbl minced parsley 1 tbl paprika 1 crusty baguette Slice chorizo into ½ inch diagonals. Brown in one tbl olive for 7-8 minutes. Add onion, stirring off and on until caramelized, 4-6 minutes. Add garlic and ¼ cup sherry and stir for 1 minute. Devein shrimp. Add along with paprika, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper and cook until pink, 4-5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, stir to combine, and remove from heat. Spoon on small plates with juices and pass the bread for mopping up.

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Probituary: It’s a notice of life!

Charlotte Strinmoen: finding strength in loss, love, & survival Interviewed by Ketel Paulsen

Charlotte (Christopherson) Strinmoen is as delightful a woman as they come. She met her first husband, American Carmen Christopherson, at a USO club after World War II and went through the difficulties of getting the permit to marry a foreigner and leave Germany’s tremendous devastation behind. Born in a village near Berlin, her father, a cooper and builder of all items of wood decided she would leave for more opportunities in the capital. Traveling across the ocean by a long, awful boat ride - and then across the US to Northeast Iowa (and a large waiting family!) couldn’t come quick enough.  Born an only child who lost her mother when she was only one, Charlotte came to be among a very large Highlandville family, the Christophersons. When Carmen died in a car accident in 1960 she remarried Lloyd Strinmoen three years later, also of Highlandville. The most impressive aspect our talk was the depth of the despair from the war and the lack of materials to rebuild.  Charlotte is a testament to loss, love and survival. What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?    Take one day at a time. Without that I wouldn’t be here. What did you want to be when you grew up and what did you want to do?    When I was small I wanted to be a teacher. At 16, I worked for an interior decorator who ended up accepting the job of camouflaging roofs against the enemy during the war. The job abruptly ended when his trucks were confiscated by the army for the war and his business was bombed twice. I ended up having a very interesting life anyway. My daughter was a teacher and my two granddaughters are now teachers.   Try to describe yourself  in one sentence: I’m a survivor. In 1945, by post-war agreement, the Russians were given Berlin. I’ll never forget when the Russians came to our house, our air raid shelter. We had no lights down there. Hitler’s bunker was not so very far from where I lived. Multiple choice: tell us about: Your wedding:   I met my first husband in Berlin because he was stationed there. We were both invited to the USO club in Berlin. He was with the constabulary. It was very difficult to get the permit to marry an American. I was loaned a veil and I bought shoes from a second hand store –we were married in December of 1947 and left Berlin to join an army troop transport ship for war brides. It was a trip that was supposed to take 9 days but instead the seas were so rough it took thirteen. All the men were abovedeck and the women down below were separated by nationality. Everyone was tossed and piled up on one another by the waves. I never want to go on a cruise. It was bad. Your  favorite memory: Being able to be married in a half bombed out church in a dress made from the silk of an American parachute.  It was even hard to find a church to get married in, one that wasn’t destroyed. If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?   Chocolate

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Lasting Memories: There is one possession Charlotte is most proud of, a vase she won as a gift from her hometown’s land baron (pictured, photo by Ketel Paulsen). It stands high and beautiful in her home now. I carried that vase with me in every air raid.  The vase was for a time lost in a suitcase when she and her husband also were separated but luckily it had the address in Highlandville on it.  I still can see that suitcase, it was lost a week or more before it finally came. In Highlandville I learned very fast to live off the land. I had a big garden. We sold cucumbers to be able to buy baby clothes. Carmen worked for other farmers while Charlotte raised their 4 children. Charlotte’s German friends in Decorah are war survivors as well and they get together regularly.  It’s a lasting joy of her life.

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Midwifery in Africa, Regina Carter, Rosemaler Bonnie Solberg, Books to Change the World, Boxed (IN) Pella, How to Make Paper Chicks, Algific...

Inspire(d) Spring 2012  

Midwifery in Africa, Regina Carter, Rosemaler Bonnie Solberg, Books to Change the World, Boxed (IN) Pella, How to Make Paper Chicks, Algific...