Inspire(d) Summer 2024

Page 1


SUMMER 2024 • NO. 77 CREATED IN Decorah, Iowa yep, it’s free!
AN EXPERIMENT IN POSITIVE NEWS DRIFTLESS | located at 1600 PROSPERITY Road, decorah, IA | 563.387.6700 Toppling Goliath Taproom APPETIZERS to Entreés brewery tours 20+ TAPS & cocktails now serving cockails!!
This ad paid for in part by the Iowa Tourism Office. chOOse 50 197 4 2024 decorah, iowa ONEOTA C OMMUNITY FO OD COO PErative yearsof cooperation Photo courtesy of Josie Smith, Decorah Bicycles co-owner YOur adVENTuRE and paCK snaCKs! Gift & Garden Store, Gardens, Trails & More Visitors Center open March-October 10am to 5pm | 7 days a week 3074 N Winn Rd, Decorah, IA 52101 563.382.6104 · VISIT & EXPLORE Stay updated on summer events at the farm! Tomato tasting, benefit concert, and more! Scan !em Join us!
Full service banking for everything, from your first home purchase to planning for retirement A 5-star mobile app for convenient, on-the-go banking No annual-fee debit cards Friendly service with a small-town touch Contact a Personal Banker, scan the QR code or visit We offer a wide range of banking products and convenient services to fit all stages of your life. CE N TE R STAG E S ERIE S 202 4– 25 Call (563) 387-1357 or visit for more information. Sep. 27 Nella >> Oct. 10 Imani Winds Nov. 12 The King’s Singers: The New World Feb. 14 Ailey II March 14 Danú April 11 ETHEL and Robert Mirabal: The Red Willow Subscribe!















...and more! SUMMER
contents 09 16 24 20 22 36 41 45 48 52 59 60 65 68 72 78 82 36 52 78 05




Aryn Henning Nichols / Editor-in-Chief + Designer

Benji Nichols / Head of Logistics + Advertising Sales (& husband, distributor, writer)


Sara Walters / writer

Steve Harris / writer

Renee Brincks / writer

Lynsey D. Moritz / writer

Greg Kirscher / writer

Laura Barlament / writer

Olivia Lynn Schnur / mental health writer

Craig Thompson / conservation writer

Mary Thompson / conservation artist

Aaron Lurth / center spread photographer

Allison Thomley / design intern

Margaret Mullin / editorial intern

Jennifer Drinkwater / cover artist

Roxie Nichols / Future Focused essay


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

Inspire(d) Driftless Magazine is headquartered & created in Decorah, Iowa. We cover communities located in the NE IA, SE MN, and W WI area of the Driftless Region. Email to learn about Community Partnership opportunities in the future - we’ve got some fun ideas!


1. Buy local - We couldn’t make this magazine without our amazing advertisers and partners. Visit or shop with one (or many) of our advertisers, and let them know you saw them in Inspire(d)!

2. Become an Inspire(d) Member at

3. Sign up for our Positive News Newsletter by scanning the QR code here ----- :

4. Visit us online – website and social – and share with your friends and family!

5. Listen to our “Rhymes With...” podcast at

find the gnome...

G-Gnome is hiding somewhere in this magazine! The first five people (no previous winners please) to send us his page location through our contact form at gets a free Inspire(d) 7-Year Pen in the mail!

What’s the name mean?

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

Inspire(d) Magazine is published quarterly by Inspire(d) Media, LLC, 412 Oak Street, Decorah, Iowa, 52101. This issue is dated Summer 2024, issue 77, volume 17, Copyright 2024 by Inspire(d) Magazine.

We want Inspire(d) to be accessible for all, which is why it is free on stands across the Driftless! But you can support Inspire(d) through Membership! We’ll send the magazine in the mail, to you or a loved one, for $35/year. Visit the Membership page at for details, or send a check for $35 to Inspire(d) Magazine, 412 Oak St., Decorah, Iowa 52101. Thank you for your support, and for joining the positive news movement!

Want to make a comment about something you read in the magazine? Email

Interested in advertising? Contact Benji at or call 563-379-6315.

Summer 2024 / 06 @iloveinspired
Support Inspire(d)
est 2007
couldn’t do it without
SUMMER 24. #77
Hooray for thesehumans!amazing

Ah summer. Throughout life, it’s meant different things for me. In my younger years it was a welcome break from school. Pool fun. Summer jobs. During early parenthood, it was all about finding ways to keep our kid engaged... and also the work flowing. Searching for balance (always). More recently? It means grasping at every second I can get with our pre-teen as she grows like the corn in so many fields across Iowa: Seemingly before my eyes.

Family selfie: 2023 ropes course adventure at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center near Lanesboro, MN!

I swear I can hear it happening. It makes my heart simultaneously swell and constrict. These days are fleeting. And these kids are the future. Everything we do in this life needs to be for them. We need to connect with each other, with the land, with our communities. We need to find compassion for one another.

The obvious next step is to start hearing young people’s opinions, thoughts, and dreams. So... we’re excited to announce a new column: “Future Focused – Listening to the Next Generation.” Our daughter, Roxie (turning 12 this summer), has written the first essay for this page. Dang, I’m proud.

Her writing is inspired by her experiences with Ida Rotto and Red Oak Outdoor School. Our Luther College editorial intern, Margaret Mullin, wrote an amazing piece about Ida’s wonderful, nature-based educational programs – which Roxie has been a part of for the last three years. (How about all those cycles of inspiration?!)

And our Luther College design intern, Allison Thomley, put together an epic spread that reminds readers to be kind as they head out on summer adventures in the Driftless and beyond. I’ve loved working with and mentoring different interns over the years – it’s fulfilling, and a great reminder of the good folks coming up in the world.

Our cover artist, Jennifer Drinkwater, created The What’s Good Project because she wanted to start seeing the good as well. Her goal was to rewire her thinking to stop focusing on the bad, and instead spot – and share – the positive things happening in a community. Obviously, we are 100 percent on board with this idea. Sharing positive community stories is our core mission!

And we’ve got some great community builder stories to share this summer. Charlie Dee, a Holmen, Wisconsin, businessman, teamed up with three nurses in La Crosse to send compassion – along with medical supplies and training – across the world to Laos. In Southeast Minnesota, Nathan Davidson builds community one gig at a time through live music, and in La Crosse, the owners of Blue Zone Pickleball are bringing people together through exercise and healthy lifestyle.

Benji Nichols’ inspiring Sum of Your Business interview with Chris Jackson from Borah Teamwear will have you clamoring to take in the beauty of this region, as will Lynsey D. Moritz’s feature on Sarah Farrell and James Mackessy at ændre arthouse.

RAGBRAI, cave adventures, live music, mystical moths, fair time scenes… you can find it all in this Summer Inspire(d) Magazine, and this summer in the Driftless. There are so many people planting seeds of magic out there, seeking and sharing happiness. In fact, our Summer theme is “Compassion: We’re all seeking happiness.” We are encouraging folks to take a beat and consider the humans you encounter on your summer adventures. We’re all going through stuff that you can’t see on the outside. Let’s extend a little compassion. Happy Summer, friends!

Looking forward,

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


Iowa artist Jennifer Drinkwater painted this lovely summer cover art, Bandstand (Oskaloosa, IA), as part of her What’s Good Project. Read more about Jennifer & her work on page 16.

Plan your next visit at or by calling 1-877-251-0606 Discover Only 30 minutes away from Decorah, this full-service community offers a variety of great dining options, unique antiques, gift shops and exciting recreational opportunities. Harmony, Minnesota @beebalm_harmony BOUTIQUE & CONSIGNMENT GIFTS • VINTAGE • HOME DECOR CONSIGNMENT CLOTHING & OTHER GOODS Consign with us! Learn more at 65 On The Crunchy Side AMER I CAN BAR & EATER Y 31 Main Ave N • Harmony, MN Best 20 feet of bar in SE MN! 507-886-5560 From burgers to salads to steak dinner, served with homemade bread. Plus tasty pizzas, soups, & chili! Wed-Fri 4pm-1am • Sat 11am-1am • Sun 11am-12am /onthecrunchyside Takeout available! • 10,000 sq feet Open Daily 10am-5pm • 50 Industrial Blvd. NE, Harmony, MN • 507-886-6660 130+ Booths Amish Tours of Harmony Enjoy an exciting tour of Harmony’s Amish community with one of our knowledgeable guides! Mini Bus Tours . Car Tours . Group Bus Tours . Spring thru Fall Call 507-696-1354. Experience a lifestyle... Get ready for fun in Harmony! June 20 – Back Alley Jam – LaBarge, 6 pm Sponsored by City of Harmony Arts Board July 4 – Harmony 4th of July Celebration July 15 – 2nd Annual Chamber Golf Tournament July 18 – Back Alley Jam – Main Street Harmony, 6 pm Sponsored by City of Harmony Arts Board August 6 – National Night Out August 15 – Back Alley Jam – The Buck Hollow Band, 6pm Sponsored by the Harmony Conservation Club September 21 – Fall for Harmony Visit for details

What We’re Loving right now



Ok, we were a little gung-ho with the “X Marks the Spot” title, but there’s been a fantastic addition to Van Peenen Park in Decorah this spring. A new (round, not X) bronze medallion, set into a concrete base, marks the scientific ‘point of impact’ of the meteor that struck the area 465 million years ago, long before the dinosaurs roamed the earth. If you aren’t familiar with this incredible scientific story, and the story of the woman behind the discovery, you can scan the QR code at right to listen to a podcast from Inspire(d)’s Benji Nichols on the subject!

Many visitors to the Marker are observing that it’s on top of a hill – geologic truth! One of the most fun, and hard-to-imagine parts of this story is the “Deep Time” reality of when the large meteorite hit our region (one of only about 200 sites in the world!). It was so long ago that our region was a shallow sea. The Earth’s geology changed significantly since then –with glaciers, ice ages, and more – leaving the limestone and erosion type topography that most are familiar with, which (almost) covered up the prehistoric geology of the Impact Crater. You can think of it like the layers of a cake (Mmmmm…) or an onion if more helpful.

If it weren’t for Jean Young’s hunches and unique findings from well drillings that she was inspecting for the DNR, this incredible discovery would not have been made - nor the finding of fossils like Pentacopterus Decorahensis – a six foot long sea scorpion!

To stand on the ‘point of impact’ visitors will need to make an approximate 1.5-mile hike from the top entrance of Van Peenen Park off of Quarry Hill Road in Decorah. From the park informational kiosk, hikers can take either the “Higinn Trail loop” or the main field trail to the top of the hill. The marker is located at the northwest corner of the prairie - in-between the “Pines” east and west sections. These single-track soft trails include elevation changes and rough terrain, so plan accordingly, and avoid times of mud as possible. For more information and maps: or stop by the Visitors Center at 507 W Water Street in Downtown Decorah. Happy Hiking!


Summer is HERE and so is the Decorah Public Library (DPL), bringing countless opportunities for users of all ages to engage with incredible community programming. DPL is featuring a special community project this summer called “Read 10,000 Books!” No, you don’t have to commit your summer to reading 10,000 books - but DPL is aiming to help the community read 10,000 books this summer, and they need your help. Check out or drop by the library to learn how to join the fun. At the end of the summer, all those who submit a reading log will be invited to join in a book-lovers pool party at the Decorah Community Pool (August 9).

In addition, there are Large Family Programs that feature everything from the Mikayla Oz Magic Show (June 20) to the ISU Insect Zoo (July 18) and weekly programs like Wednesday Morning Storytime (10am), Stay & Play Awhile (Thursdays 10am), or Circle Song (Select Thursday 9am). Special shout out goes to the Friends of the Decorah Public Library, the Decorah Methodist Church Trust Fund, and the Marion E. Jerome Foundation for helping make these amazing programs happen. Learn more about all the fun at

Continued on next page \ Summer 2024 09 101 West Water St. Decorah, IA TRIVIA EVERY THURSDAY NIGHT LIVE MUSIC ON WEEKENDS @impactcoffee BINGO MONTHLY OPEN DAILY +EVENINGS THURS-SAT


You may have heard the stories about a small street festival aptly named “Live on Winnebago” that existed through a short period of years around the turn of the century (2000ha!). After a long hiatus, the current Live on Winnebago organizers have announced the eclectic music festival is set to make its return this fall, on September 21, 2024. The one-day event promises a day of captivating performances and community engagement, celebrating the rich tapestry of musical talent in the heart of Decorah on Winnebago Street! Long-cherished for its diverse lineup and genrebending artists spanning from folk and indie rock to blues and electronica, this year’s revival promises to uphold that tradition, showcasing both established acts and emerging talents, ensuring an unforgettable experience for attendees of all ages.

One of the defining features of Live on Winnebago is its commitment to accessibility. True to its roots, the festival remains free to attend and family-friendly, fostering an inclusive atmosphere where music lovers of all ages can come together to celebrate their shared passion.

For more information and updates, keep an eye out on or contact festival organizer Caleb Ulring at or (563) 379-0828.


Lansing, Iowa, holds a special place at Inspire(d) HQ! It happens to be where Benji asked Aryn to marry him (just down on the bank of the Mississippi) and it’s now a favorite rivertown escape. As most readers know, the Black Hawk Bridge is slated for replacement with construction to be completed in 2026, but when the current bridge structurally shifted this past winter, it stopped cross-river traffic cold. As part of an effort to shine a light on all that Lansing offers

Summer 2024 / 10 What We’re

to our region, Benji recorded a mini-series of five podcast shows in Lansing in early Spring. “Rhymes With Lansing” features Rick Welsh of Welsh’s Village Farm & Home; Melssa and Nick Hammell of The Safe House Saloon and Simply Salon; Executive Director of Main Street Lansing Andrew Boddicker; Allamakee County Naturalist Erin Cubbon; and Lansing entrepreneur Maryann Baldwin. The introduction show to the series also includes multiple interviews that Benji recorded while walking around downtown Lansing including Paul Horsfall Jr of Horsfall’s Lansing Variety, Dave Jansen of Lansing Hardware, Wendi Wilson-Eiden of Coffee on the River, Lansing transplant Stan Fullerton, and musician Jeni Grouws talking about Thee OP.

You can find the series of shows as part of the “Rhymes With Decorah” podcast, available at, iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts (or scan the QR code here). If you are new to podcasts or haven’t listened before - just think of them like a short form radio show hosted online instead of on the radio!


In 1970, Dean Schwarz co-founded South Bear School, an innovative artist collective, in a former hospital house in Highlandville, Iowa, adjacent to a trout stream called South Bear Creek. Idyllic? Indeed, it was.

Marguerite Wildenhain, a Bauhaus master potter and Dean’s mentor, played a pivotal role in shaping the school’s ethos, and was a frequent visitor to both South Bear and Luther College. Wildenhain’s “Pond Farm,” located near Guerneville, California, became a destination for many artists. In her later years, she advised new students to study first at South Bear before working with her in California. By 1976, South Bear School relocated to a wooded rural property near Decorah, Iowa, formerly the original site of the Aase Haugen Home.

The teaching tradition of Master to Apprentice was foundational to the Bauhaus pottery of the early 1900s and is the basis for instruction at South Bear School. These teaching steps were handed down to Dean’s students in the 1970s era and are now being taught to current students by those Alumni. South Bear School is in full swing, with multiple events throughout the year, as well as a twoweek summer coursework centered on traditional techniques. Other mediums, such as writing, drawing, painting, and meditation are all encouraged in their present capacity.

The upcoming summer session, running from July 15 to 27, focuses on pottery. They have 10 spaces for beginners (on the kickwheel), 2-4 for intermediate to advanced students (electric wheel), and 2-4 for hand-building students.

South Bear School also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including open studio days, one-day courses, various film showings, and the annual Midsummer’s Eve Music Night. Find out more and sign up for the e-newsletter at \ Summer 2024 11 We buy and sell gently-loved clothes and accessories for newborns to adults! 212 W Water St. Decorah, IA • 563.419.8511 • The brands you want at the prices you love! 563-379-1292 | 106 College Drive Decorah, IA 52101 Licensed in Iowa Sarah Zbornik With you every step of the way FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA FOR WEEKLY UPDATES @PRBREWING 5 6 3 . 3 8 0 . 3 6 1 0 2 0 7 C O L L E G E D R . D E C O R A H , I A W W W P U L P I T R O C K B R E W I N G N E T OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK! M-TH: 2-10 PM FRI - SAT: 12-11 PM SUN: 12-8 PM THIS COUPON WORTH $5 $5 $5 OFF PURCHASE OF $50 OR MORE QUALITY GEAR $5 406 WEST WATER ST DECORAH Limit one per customer 63 EAST 3RD ST WINONA AT THE Hatchery $5

What We’re Loving right now


One of our favorite areas of Iowa’s “East Coast” are the river towns of McGregor and Marquette – also known as Iowa’s “Ports of Discovery.” These two towns have been a joint tourism destination for decades and were established as a unified Iowa Great Place in 2008, and offer a special glimpse into River Town life both historic and modern.

The cool new website, portsofdiscovery. com, offers visitors an easier way to plan their adventures, with a comprehensive

directory of attractions, lodging, local businesses, and events, as well as itineraries to kick things off. Find out more and plan your trip at

Sidenote: One of Inspire(d)’s favorite tiny tips for Marquette is the Emma Big Bear basket exhibit that exists in the entryway of the Marquette City Hall (just across from Casey’s). Take a minute next time you’re through to peek at this beautiful collection, handcrafted by Emma Big Bear Holt (1869-1968), who was known for the handcrafted baskets she sold in Marquette, and as one of the last Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) living a traditional Ho-Chunk lifestyle in Northeast Iowa through the late 1960s. Another favorite lesserknown attraction is the sand artwork collection of Andrew Clemens that can be seen at the McGregor Historical Museum at 256 Main Street. Open Memorial Day through October, this small-town museum is a treasure trove of McGregor history and connections to the world (and is highlighted at


2024 Marks the 175th anniversary of Decorah, and the public is invited to help commemorate!

Several events are planned for Saturday, June 15, including a short program at 10 am at Vesterheim Commons – with remarks by Mayor Lorraine Borowski, Prosper Waukon (descendant of Chief Waukon Decorah), a performance of the Decorah Municipal Band, and more. The rest of the day highlights visits to historic locations around the community for special tours, events, and family activities, like an Ice Cream Social at Winneshiek County Historical Society with ice cream

FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE, CIVIL RIGHTS, & EQUALITY Trial Lawyers for Justice • • • 563-382-5071 • 421 W. Water St, 3rd Floor, Decorah, IA Being real Trial Lawyers means we don’t settle out cheap. We fight for full justice and nothing less and see our clients as human beings who we care about. We cherish and place great value on fundamental constitutional rights (Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness). If you or a loved one ever need help, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Request a FREE consultation at 866-TL4J-LAW or Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death Cases Against Insured Defendants
KAREN ZAHKA Albuquerque • Atlanta • Boston • Bozeman • Brooklyn • Casper • Chicago • Decorah • Denver • Des Moines • Irvine Juneau • Los Angeles • Ojai • Oklahoma City • Providence • San Diego • San Francisco • Santa Barbara • Seattle • St. Louis WE ONLY GET PAID IF WE WIN • WE HAVE WON OVER $2 BILLION DOLLARS FOR OUR CLIENTS

provided by Sugar Bowl and vintage games at Phelps Park (Decorah’s oldest public park) courtesy of Decorah Parks and Recreation and the Locust School Committee.

Prosper Waukon, his wife, daughter, and granddaughter have been invited to Decorah by the Winneshiek County Historical Society as special guests of the 175th anniversary celebration. Prosper Waukon will be available for conversation from 2-4 pm at the Winneshiek County Historical Society, 302 South Mill St, with a more formal presentation titled “The Waukon Decorah Family Legacy” being presented at 6 pm at the Hotel Winneshiek in downtown Decorah.

For the full day’s schedule, specific event details and locations, and to stay apprised of additional opportunities go to Visit Decorah’s Facebook event or Visit Decorah’s Event Calendar


The Luren Singing Society has carried on the tradition of Scandinavian immigrant singing societies since the late 1800s, building community for 155+ years through voice, broadening repertoire, relationships, and a membership that spans ages and generations. The group performs annually at Decorah’s Nordic Fest, at many biannual Sangerfest events across the Upper Midwest (the 156th Sangerfest is at Luther College June 7 & 8, 2024), and at special events near and far. Multiple tours of Norway and Scandinavia have been mounted over the years including full ensemble tours in 1969, 1973, 1983, 1993, 2001, 2015, and 2023. There are seven different Luren groups across the country. Since 1975, Dr. David Judisch has been the director of the Decorah Luren Singing Society, and since 1984, the Director-in-Chief for the Norwegian Singers Association of America (NSAA). Assistant Director Douglas Poppen has also served the group since 2018.

You can hear a podcast show with Director Dr. David Judisch on Inspire(d)’s companion “Rhymes With Decorah” podcast hosted by Benji Nichols. Just go to to find it (along with 60 other local shows!). Find out more about the Luren Singers and catch them at Nordic Fest, around the region this summer, or at the Luren Singer food booth at the Winneshiek County Fair. • \ Summer 2024 13 Open daily! 563-382-4275 • 112 West Water St. Decorah wledgable Staff Bestsellers Fiction Mysteries Childrens Books Puzzles Poetry Scandinavian And more! visit us at 3220 Highway 52. just 9 miles north of decorah, ia Friday 10-5 Saturday 10-4 & Sunday 11-4 get social with us! open every Bringing a smile to your space! New Home Decor & ANTiques 319-939-3039 for our Summer clearance sale! stop by july 25-28

’re Loving right


Looking for an excuse to get out of the house, meet new friends, and enjoy a good meal while exploring our area? The Osborne Nature Center and Clayton County Conservation have embraced a fun series of programming events called “O.W.L.S” – Older Wiser Livelier Souls – to do just that! Join the Clayton County Conservation OWLS each month from March-November for a regional outing and lunch. The 2024 theme is “Farms and Agriculture,” featuring tours involving Iowa’s largest and oldest industry. Each month will highlight a different part of the region, for example, OWLS will visit the Turkey River Farm on June 20, the Secret Octagon Barn on July 18, and the Maiden Voyage August 20. Reservations are required. Find out all the details at or by calling 563-245-1516.

In additionally exciting news from Osborne Nature Center, a new campground is currently being planned and slated to open Summer 2025! The new campground will accommodate 20 RV sites with electric and water hookups, as well as a separate tent camping area. If you are interested in supporting the project, donations can be made at


The Decorah Senior Center is needed in the community to provide a safe and friendly environment for our region’s golden generation –representing more than 30 percent of the population.

A group of dedicated individuals has been working to bring Decorah’s Senior Citizen Center up to modern expectations. More than $120,000 has been invested in improving the Center since 2021, with new restrooms, lighting, ceiling tiles, and now a fresh coat of paint. Many maintenance repairs have also been made, and the center is looking the best it has in decades. There are still projects to accomplish, though – a new kitchen, updated seating, and exterior work – and you can be a part of helping make them possible.

Donations are welcome and appreciated – checks can be made out to: Senior Center Improvements, and sent to: Senior Citizens Hospitality Center, 806 River St, Decorah IA 52101

Summer 2024 / 14 107 WEST WATER ST. DECORAH, IA . 563-382-2567 @theperfectedgedecorah NEW LOCATION! 563-382-4646 | 804 SHORT ST, DECORAH, IA M-F 10-5 • Sat 10-4 • Sun 12-4 WE’VE MOVED! 802 Short St. Decorah 563.382.5592 402 Rossville Rd. Waukon 563.568.3130 personal, affordable style Up to $3000 rebate on Café appliance packages WE ARE PROUD TO PARTNER WITH LOCAL FARMERS AND ARTISANS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR Wed-Sat: 5pm-close. Reservations highly recommended. 563-382-9463 117 WEST WATER ST. DECORAH, IOWA What We

Jennifer writes on

“In 2022, my husband and I visited the Nelson Pioneer Farm in Oskaloosa, Iowa, to check out Celebrating Buxton, a fundraiser to preserve the history of Buxton, a former coal-mining town in Mahaska county. The afternoon included, among other things, a family-style soul food lunch, gospel choir performance, puppet show, history tour, and old-fashioned baseball game. It was genius. Why celebrate Buxton? Because it was a predominantly African American community from 1880 to 1920, with nearly 2700 Black Americans and 1990 white Americans and Europeans living there in 1905. Currently an Iowa ghost town, the Buxton community included Black doctors, lawyers, and business owners (and no police or city council), as well as an integrated YMCA, community pool, and the Buxton Wonders, a winning Iowa baseball team. The demise of this community, as with many others in southern Iowa, was due to a combination of factors, mainly companies exhausting the local coal supply and a decreased demand for coal.”

Summer 2024 / 16
“Buxton” / Artwork by Jennifer Drinkwater


By creating art that explores what makes places special, What’s Good Project founder Jennifer Drinkwater connects individuals and invigorates communities.

Jennifer Drinkwater describes herself as a “glass-half-empty kind of person.”

The Ames, Iowa-based artist understands how challenges can weigh on people. We all experience tough times, of course. And it’s natural to feel overwhelmed when facing news of war, natural disasters, and other negative world happenings.

Yet despite being wired to watch for threats – “I am not an optimist by nature. I’m more of a realist,” Jennifer says – she fully appreciates the power of redirecting one’s attention. So, in 2019, she launched the What’s Good Project to help citizens recognize and celebrate the resources in their own backyards.

In participating What’s Good Project towns, Jennifer talks with residents and explores local landscapes. Then, she creates multi-layered acrylic paintings that showcase what makes each community special. The initiative mixes art and engagement.

“The What’s Good Project is inspired by the philosophy of asset-based community development. According to research, when we shift our focus from what’s wrong to what’s right, we can affect positive change where we live,” Jennifer writes on the project’s website,

Creating change isn’t about overlooking problems or adopting a starryeyed view. Instead, it starts with identifying and expanding upon what already works.

“As individuals and as small groups, people can make such a difference. They are making such a difference. But we don’t hear enough about those stories,” Jennifer says.

This July, Jennifer will share What’s Good Project stories and paintings, plus new paintings of her favorite Northeast Iowa places, during an exhibit at ArtHaus in Decorah (see page 22 for event details).


Jennifer’s own story starts in Mississippi, where she grew up. She loved drawing and painting from an early age. She double-majored in studio art and anthropology at Tulane University and spent summers doing trail maintenance on the Appalachian Trail. After graduation, Jennifer moved to Massachusetts for a Student Conservation Association-AmeriCorps position. There, she did trail work and taught middle-school environmental classes.

Continued on next page \ Summer 2024 17

Soon, she got accepted into an environmental education graduate program.

Though she was passionate about nature, Jennifer wasn’t sure if teaching was the right next step. She reflected on this while doing a section hike on the Appalachian Trail.

“While I was hiking, I realized, ‘Okay, you’ve got to go paint. You’ll figure this out,’” she says.

Instead of studying environmental education, Jennifer earned a Master of Fine Arts at East Carolina University. She then moved to Ames to teach drawing and painting at Iowa State University (ISU). A few years into that role, she spotted an opening for a community arts specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. The new hire would drive community and economic development through art.

While she didn’t have a development background, Jennifer saw an opportunity to draw on her two areas of undergraduate study. She landed the job. Since 2015, she’s split her time between the ISU College of Design and ISU Extension.

Jennifer calls the mix “stupefying and magical.”

“As a younger person, there’s no way I could have designed a job that bridged cultural anthropology and art,” she says. “I always tell students, ‘Don’t compartmentalize your interests, because you don’t know how they will braid together in life.’”


For the newly created extension position, Jennifer chatted with community members and arts advocates across Iowa. Then, she started organizing interactive

Summer 2024 / 18
More Than an Asset, acrylic on wood, 12”x 12”, 2022. – Rolling Fork, Mississippi. / Artwork by Jennifer Drinkwater While Decorah won’t officially be a “What’s Good Project” community, Jennifer has painted some Decorah spots for her show at ArtHaus July 5-27, including this piece featuring Seed Savers Heritage Farm. / Artwork by Jennifer Drinkwater

Artist Jennifer Drinkwater, pictured here, painted the piece, “Bandstand,” that’s on the cover of this issue of

projects. In Perry, she helped participants enlarge and carve images from photographs onto pieces of wood. They drove a steamroller over the inked carvings to create prints. In Ames, she coordinated a yarn-bombing installation that covered a building in more than 1,200 hand-knit squares. For another Perry project, Jennifer distributed disposable cameras to fifth graders. She asked them to photograph what they loved about their town, and the images anchored a large-scale photo mural.

People started asking Jennifer how to organize their own events. To share ideas and spark creativity, she published several free, downloadable tool kits on the What’s Good Project website. (Some are also available through the Iowa Arts Council and ISU Extension.) The kits contain step-by-step instructions for starting community projects. Each covers topics like site considerations, budgeting, funding, engagement, and evaluations.

Jennifer’s first tool kit tackled murals. She based a yarn-bombing tool kit on her experience in Ames, and it’s been a popular, less-permanent alternative to murals. Another kit outlines how to stage pop-up events and exhibitions. And the most downloaded release, a plan-of-work tool kit helpful for individual artists and community groups alike, provides practical guidance for brainstorming, setting goals, and collaborating on creative projects.

The tool kits highlight both nuts-and-bolts basics and project benefits. Jennifer has seen installations that showcase unique assets, honor local history, and engage an assortment of community members.

“There’s an acronym that we use in extension: STP, or the ‘same ten people.’ It makes me laugh, but there’s truth in it. When communities get the same volunteers, it’s easy to forget there are all these other people with talents and skills and interests,” she says. “Art becomes a way of engaging with different people, or more introverted people, or more creative people. It becomes an easy way of getting to know somebody without having a focus group or serious meeting. You can sit around and knit together and build friendships under the guise of something totally different.”


Three years after she started the ISU Extension job, Jennifer took an arts business class. One assignment involved explaining the “why” behind her creative work. \ Summer 2024 19
Continued on next page
Inspire(d) / Photo courtesy of Jennifer Drinkwater

Images above: Jennifer Drinkwater says Oskaloosa’s lighted puppet parade was one of the coolest community art events she had ever seen. Students worked for two weeks making puppets, then staged a community-wide puppet parade on the town’s recreation trail, complete with a drum line. “It was something else,” she says. Above left shows the inspiration image for her “Mammoth” artwork at right. / Photos courtesy of Jennifer Drinkwater. Read more about Jennifer’s experience in Oskaloosa at

“I’ve written artist statements my entire life. But this was about figuring out, at the core, what is your value system? How do you recognize yourself as an artist? What does your work communicate?” she says.

After reviewing her wide-ranging projects, she discovered a common thread.

“I’m not somebody who is self-expressive in my painting. I don’t paint my story, but I love other people’s stories,” Jennifer says. “I started thinking, ‘What if I was more deliberate about it?’”

First Friday Art Crawls First Friday Art Crawls

Come out for art, drinks, & snacks every First Friday in

Iron Farmers Market Jennifer Drinkwater Barbara Fedeler Angie Herrmann Erik Dutcher Michael Floy & Charlie Langton Wild Things Spaced Out
7-9 pm Deep Dive Mystic Sundog
June 7 July 5
2 Decorah

That lightbulb moment led to the What’s Good Project. Working in Iowa and Mississippi, Jennifer visits small towns and talks with locals. She attends major events. She studies an area’s history. She spends time at parks, cafes, shops, and attractions. Jennifer then documents a community’s treasured places and prized features in vibrant paintings, layering images of structures and scenery atop bright, underlying patterns.

The goal is to highlight the positive and help other communities build momentum by sharing what works.

Sales of original What’s Good Project paintings and prints raise money for nonprofits in participating towns – about $16,000 and counting since 2019. Some images get used in visitor guides or advertisements. Jennifer also creates postcards from various paintings. Twice a year, her email newsletter subscribers receive a handwritten postcard that shares the story behind an image.


What’s Good Project art spotlights a town’s attributes, while also helping residents see their surroundings in a new way.

“Jennifer’s paintings were an awakening to a lot of people living here,” says Velma BensonWilson, the economic and tourism director for Quitman County, Mississippi.


“Regular Folk Giving Light” is artwork produced during The What’s Good Project’s time in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, which includes the small towns of Sumner, Tutwiler, Charleston, and Webb. / Artwork by Jennifer Drinkwater.

The birthplace of singer Charley Pride, Quitman County has deep musical roots, historic Native American sites, and a storied civil rights legacy. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., visited the Mississippi Delta community in early 1968, when Quitman was the nation’s poorest county. The poverty he saw in the county seat of Marks cemented the small town’s significance in King’s Poor People’s Campaign for economic justice.

The county is probably best known as the site of 14-year-old Emmett Till’s murder trial in 1955, Jennifer says. The work of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center inspired the Tallahatchie series for The What’s Good Project. The photo below is of the third Emmett Till Center Sign that was desecrated at Graball Landing, where Emmett Till’s body was found. The fourth sign is bullet-proof. / Photo courtesy of Jennifer Drinkwater

While poverty still impacts the area, Quitman County has cultural and recreational riches. The What’s Good Project encouraged community members to embrace those treasures.

“Sometimes you don’t appreciate what you’ve got until you see it in a different light. Jennifer brought awareness to the assets that we have and how we can take advantage of them,” Velma says.

21 For events & ticket information visit 207 N. Main, Elkader, IA 563-245-2098 MUSIC THEATRE COMMUNITY Jeff Scott . 563-379-1101 driftlessgardenscom DESIGN • INSTALL • CULTIVATE OUTDOOR LIVING GARDENS
Jennifer’s studio space in Ames, Iowa. / Photo courtesy of Jennifer Drinkwater

A similar thing happened after Jennifer painted scenes in the southern Iowa town of Oskaloosa.

“You see people really study and consider the paintings. They look at these places that they see every day through a different lens. It creates a different appreciation for where you are,” says Allison McGuire, who leads community engagement and education at Oskaloosa’s George Daily Community Auditorium.

Allison and her husband, Andy, who is the auditorium’s executive director, invited Jennifer to bring the What’s Good Project to Oskaloosa. After kicking things off with conversations at the town’s 2021 Art on the Square festival, Jennifer interviewed more than a dozen residents. Those discussions informed 15 related paintings. Subjects range from Maskunky Marsh, a local birdwatching hotspot, to Penn Central Mall’s center court, a popular community gathering space.

The paintings were unveiled during Art on the Square in 2023. Descriptions accompanying each image talked not about the painting process or style of work, but the stories behind each piece.

“It has nothing to do with the artist or the art. It has everything to do with the people that inspired it. You’re hearing from students and longtime community elders and people who just moved, and they all tell stories of what’s important here,” Andy says.

This work has changed Jennifer’s whole outlook on life.

“I feel like it’s made me a better person. It’s made me a lighter person. I do feel different, having talked to all these people. I know more about their sacrifices. I hear what they believe in and how hard they are working to really make their small towns better,” Jennifer says.

The stories, and the people behind them, can transform whole communities.

“There’s research to back this up,” Jennifer says. “I’m meeting people in these tiny towns in Mississippi and Iowa who have no idea what asset-based community development is, but they’re doing it. Things are improving, and things are working, and people are excited because there’s momentum. There’s joy. You can see it in action.”

If asked to list northeast Iowa’s top assets, Renee Brincks ( would start with bike trails, breweries, libraries, and places that serve taco pizza.


To see Jennifer Drinkwater’s work, including What’s Good Project images and paintings of places she likes to visit in the Driftless, swing by ArtHaus (107 W. Broadway, Decorah) between July 5 and 27. Jennifer will greet guests during the exhibit’s opening reception on Friday, July 5, from 7 to 9 pm.

For additional What’s Good Project information, and to join Jennifer’s postcard list, visit

Summer 2024 / 22
“Maskunky Marsh” near Oskaloosa, Iowa. / Artwork by Jennifer Drinkwater

Holmen, WI Charlie Dee


How a Local Businessman and Three Nurses Reached Across the Globe

Since the advent of the biblical term, “Good Samaritan,” the moniker has been used to describe the unsung heroes throughout history who cared enough to stop and lend a hand to the hurting. In countless ways, each of these “Samaritans” has re-written their own unique script to make their world a better place. This story is one of them.

For years, local businessman Charlie Dee of Holmen, Wisconsin, along with First Free Church in Onalaska have been creating a community of helpers. This particular community, however, reaches worldwide. Charlie is a frequent flyer around Coulee Region medical facilities. Not because of health issues. Charlie collects used medical equipment. And with the backing of First Free Church, he ships it to Laos. To date, this partnership has sent over a hundred wheelchairs, examination tables, a variety of canes and walkers, several tons of miscellaneous equipment…and two ambulances.

To come full circle, Charlie and the church added medical training to the outreach. Three La Crosse nurses, all Viterbo grads and all Gundersen employees, accompanied him on an early 2024 trip to Xieng Khouang province to train 20 Laotian volunteers.

About Community Builders

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

Summer 2024 / 24
From left: Charlie Dee, Alex May, Shyler Harmsen, and Matt Post brought medical supplies to Laos, and provided a training class in emergency medicine for community members. / Photo by Greg Kirscher

According to State Department statistics, Laos is the most heavily bombed country per capita in the world. During the Viet Nam war, the U.S. dropped close to two and a half million tons of bombs on Laos, the equivalent of about 270 million bomblets. A third of them still remain, undetonated. And in a largely agrarian country, that translates into casualties of epic proportion.

Early on in the trip, Charlie spoke with a government official who knew some English. “The next day our interpreter told me that the official’s mother had been killed when her hoe struck a bomb in a rice paddy,” he says. Bomb squads have cleared over 1500 unexploded ordinance from the province but that still accounts for only a small percentage of the estimated total.

“They all know somebody or had family impacted by the problem,” adds Shyler Harmsen, one of the nurses. “We heard so many stories.” Even now, many people each year are injured, some even die from the bombs, she says.

Not far from the training facility stands a museum with exhibits and memorabilia from the war days. It also showcases the grim reality that Laotians face every day. “There was a story of some girls who found a bomb outside their school,” recalls Shyler. “I left the museum in tears.”

Shyler first became acquainted with medical missions through her undergraduate studies at UWL when she experienced firsthand the needs in Guatemala. So, when her pastor described the situation in Laos, she knew what she had to do. “He said we’re not going there to help and then leave. We’re going to help them help themselves.”

Although Laos has made significant strides in reducing poverty, economic parity is still a long way off. According to Charlie, poverty and inflation have actually increased over the last three or four years, especially in rural areas. Many Laotians simply cannot afford doctors or hospitals, so paramedics fill the gap. \ Summer 2024 25 1870 Highway 9 East. Decorah, IA. 563-382-8406 Quality homes built with simplicity & certainty Home Health Nursing Personal Cares Public Health Services Committed TO YOU Vaccinations Smith Building, 305 Montgomery St. Ste. #3, Decorah, Iowa • 563-382-4662 Homemaking Services Happy Feet Clinic Decorah, IA • Depot Outlet Thrift Store
Shyler Harmsen (kneeling) teaches proper methods for opening airways at the Laos training center. / Courtesy photo

Shyler recalls that when the team stopped at a restaurant, she told the waitress to keep the change. “Her eyes got huge,” she says. Converted to American currency, the change amounted to 24 cents. Matt Post, a 10-year Army weapons-sergeant-turned-nurse had a similar experience with soccer balls he brought along to give away. Matt served two deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. After experiencing the dark side of humanity, he came away with the

handed them a soccer ball,” he says, “they looked at each other like they had won the lottery.”

School Days

Work began the first night when, after a grueling 23-hour flight, the nursing team sat bleary-eyed until 11 pm designing curriculum for the week ahead. Since Laos lacks a trauma center, the Laotian volunteers got a crash course in both basic and advanced emergency

Summer 2024 / 26 Offering over 40,000 plants! 108 E. Wilbur St, Hawkeye, Iowa • 563.427.5373 • Open daily May - September 50 mins north of Waterloo 30 mins south of Decorah Decorah K&K Gardens Waterloo Iowa's #1 Destination Garden Center
(Center) Matt Post, Shyler Harmsen, Alex May, and Charlie Dee pose with the first graduates of the Laos emergency medicine training class.

care. “We did trauma training – burns and infection control, how to apply a tourniquet, things like that,” Matt says.

Students at the training came from all walks of life – from a doctor to an unemployed 20-year-old. “They were really engaged in what we were teaching and eager to soak up as much information as possible,” Matt recalls. On multiple occasions he saw some of the volunteers go out on a call and then hurry back to class.

For Alex May, the ink was barely dry on his diploma when he joined the team. Newly minted as a nurse, he was impressed by how quickly doors opened through medicine. And, according to Alex, matriculating from the same university kept the trio on the same page. Their nursing school curriculum centered on a wholistic care approach which became their model for training throughout the week in Laos.

A Cultural Connection

Not everything was academic though. As much as Laotians desire information, they also crave friendships. “It was an eye-opening experience given our history during the Viet Nam war,” says Alex. “The way they welcomed us was super cool.” With his background as an angler, Alex connected with the locals through fishing. Fishing is big over there, he says. “I was able to learn what they do, and I told them what I do.”

The arts were another connection. The first day of training, the locals wanted to hear an American song. And they reciprocated, sharing traditional Lao dances. “We were able to live life with them – not just as spectators,” says Shyler. And that included the Sunday gathering at a little one room church. A standing-room only crowd sang American praise songs translated into Lao. “Halfway through the service I had to pinch myself,” Alex says.

Yet, despite their poverty, the Laotian penchant for hospitality was evident throughout the trip. “Every day they brought us something, like food baskets,” says Shyler. “On the last day they pooled their money and threw us a Bar-B-Que. It blew me away.”

The team is already planning a return visit in February of 2025, and all indications are that their group might expand. Matt says that after sharing their experience with colleagues, some want to sign on for the next trip. As for Alex, the outreach had been a perfect way to kick off his career. “I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” he says. \ Summer 2024 27 Christian Books & Gifts • Bibles • First Communion Gifts • Cards Strong communities are built on rock solid foundations CRUSHED STONE PRODUCTS • SAND • GRAVEL AG LIME SPREAD • CONSTRUCTION SERVICES Serving communities in Iowa and Minnesota BRUENING ROCK PRODUCTS, INC 900 Montgomer y St, Decorah, IA 563-382-2933 . Four generations of Bruenings –92 years in business!
Greg Kirscher is a La Crosse based writer focusing mostly on faith issues and church events. He is also a photographer focusing mostly on his 14 grandchildren. Matt Post (Kneeling) discusses best practice trauma procedures with the class at the Laos training center. / Courtesy photos


Southeast Minnesota Nathan Davidson

Building Community, One Gig at a Time

ommunities aren’t measured by clocks or calendars. Some book clubs, garden circles, and service groups meet for years, decades even. You can find choirs whose elderly members now sing with their adult children. Or some project-based communities span only weeks or months. Think of a music concert. People gather, enjoy a performance for a few hours, then leave. Is that a community? Of course. Time doesn’t matter. Connection and impact do.

Nathan Davidson, a music teacher, performer, and band leader originally from Rushford, Minnesota, has been building those kinds of communities for more than 50 years. He counts them among the most meaningful –and lasting – memories of his life.

“Out of high school I was uncertain about what was next for me,” Nathan says. “A former teacher encouraged me to see the Woody Herman jazz band that was playing in La Crosse. I was underage but somehow got in. That one night changed the entire course of my life and started me on the road to performing and teaching music. I’ve never looked back.”

“It starts with the performer,” he explains. “A combination of talent, physical presence, the way they smile and make eye-contact. You can feel when a performer connects with an audience. I’ve seen Billy Joel in concert a number of times. Since I play the sax, I find myself watching Mark Rivera, the saxophonist in that band. He plays and moves with an energy that brings everybody together. That happens!”

Nathan points to the magic that music has to move people. When that magic is shared between performer and audience, it also has a power to raise everybody to a higher level of, well, community.

Nathan played on a recent rainy spring evening in Elgin, Minnesota, a half-hour northeast of Rochester, joined by his pianist-friend, Dan (The Piano Man) Rengstorf, a longtime and greatly respected fixture in the Rochester and Twin Cities jazz community. Their gig was at Jazz Shepherd Coffee, a cozy venue located in an historic, red-brick building whose seating capacity of 30 people fits a town of barely 1,000. Lined with inviting mahogany leather couches, vintage posters, and floorto-ceiling cases containing 14,000 vinyl records collected by owner Dan Van Eijl (pronounced “aisle”), Jazz Shepherd is a spot primed for community to happen. And it did. Jazz standards filled the room starting with “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” to “Stardust,” “As Time Goes By,” and “Fly Me to the Moon.” Requests were mostly fulfilled (“I’d play that, but I don’t know it,” The Piano Man quips with honesty), sing-a-longs were encouraged, and at one point folks even saw a man (Dan the owner) dancing

Summer 2024 / 28
Nathan Davidson / Photo by Denise Davidson Nathan Davidson on the sax and Dan Rengstorf at the piano “building community” at Jazz Shepherd in Elgin, Minnesota. / Photo by Steve Harris

with a dog (his Siberian husky, Kera).

Nathan’s mother, Eleanor, who recently turned 100, was in the audience and joined in singing her favorite songs (“You Are My Sunshine” and “In the Mood”). It all made for an evening that warmed the night and attendee’s hearts, bringing people together in community.

“In jazz there are no wrong notes; some are just more right than others,” Nathan says with a smile. “We never play the same song twice.”

That’s a good description of community, too. People share oncein-a-lifetime experiences that are spontaneous and unpredictable, always evolving. No wrong “notes.” Never the same “song” twice. Jazz Shepherd owner Dan, a lifelong musician and DJ himself, agrees. “A jazz concert, any musical event really, can feel almost congregational, church-like,” he says. “Music expresses the human condition. It touches our heart and soul and brings people together.”

After a few more songs it’s time to end this concert, find hats and coats, and head home. For Nathan Davidson, it had been another gig in a string of dozens that will find him busy playing – and building one-night communities – for weeks and months to come. It’s a life he knows and loves, having spent decades playing in and helping lead a collection of music groups in Southeast Minnesota.

Nathan joined the Chatfield Brass Band in 1978 and still plays with them 46 years later. He’s also in Polka Dots, a band with an incredible 70-year history. His other groups include the CBB Jazz Combo, the Rutabaga Brothers, and Lost Faculties. (“We play classic rock and roll and even got to open for Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits,” he says.)

A full-bore Beatle fanatic, Nathan also worked with “Ringer Star,” a top-rated Ringo Starr tribute band, and played with them for 6,000 people in Rochester.

pe ddl er the Vintage, Handmade, & Fair Trade Fun for the whole family! Check out the full schedule of events! august 1-4 alo-bill-days
Nathan and Dan “the Piano Man” at Jazz Shepherd. / Photo by Steve Harris

What is Nathan’s greatest music memory? “That’s easy,” he says. “My dream was to get Woody Herman to play again locally. This was the man whose one concert changed my life. He was a jazz giant, won multiple Grammys, was recognized internationally as one of the founding fathers of swing jazz/big band music, a contemporary of musical superstars like Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and Duke Ellington. In 1987 I took a financial gamble and brought Woody and his band to Grand Meadow, Minnesota, where he played to our packed high school auditorium. He wasn’t feeling well; sadly, this turned out to be his last public performance. But what a night! Later his daughter sent me the blue formal dinner jacket Woody wore at that concert. I treasure it.”

Lately, Nathan and Dan “The Piano Man” have expanded their musical menu. “We’re playing senior care homes and memory centers,” he says. “To see people who are struggling physically and mentally light up with a smile and tap their toes when they hear a song they remember is a total gift. It’s another chance we have to use music to bring people together. They love it. So do we.”

Steve Harris ( has written two books, “Lanesboro, Minnesota” and the recently released “Dads Like Us: Raising a Child with Disabilities,” and can be reached at

Summer 2024 /
30 OCT 10 - 12 , 202 4 | WIN O N A , M N August 15-24, 2024 Houston, MN This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. Rochester, LaCrosse We invite you to explore the fields at our family-owned farm where we grow more than 600 varieties of peonies. The on-site garden center also features unusual perennials, annuals, tropicals, fruit, trees and shrubs. Open year-round. 18581 County 4 | Spring Grove, MN 55974
For information about Nathan Davidson’s musical calendar and potential bookings, visit
Nathan (right) with his musical hero, jazz legend Woody Herman. / Photo courtesy of Nathan Davidson

The Blue Zone

La Crosse, WI

he six owners of the Bridgeview Plaza, Rick and Michelle Beyer, Jim and Karen Christenson, and Todd and Deb Page, had a space to fill – a really large one. Their North La Crosse strip mall’s flagship store, Shopko, had been empty since 2019. The business partners knew they needed something to fill that 65,000-square-foot gap – what Deb calls, “the big, empty box.” Then they started to think, quite literally, outside of the box.

“We’re all very active and believe strongly that exercise improves health outcomes,” Deb says. “And we’re all pickleball players.”

Pickleball, a combination of table tennis, badminton, and tennis, is the fastest-growing sport in the nation. Its open-play format, easy-to-learn rules, and adaptability for all ages and abilities has contributed to its huge growth in recent years.

The couples hoped that the increased popularity of the sport and the size and space within the building would be a winning combination. They started researching, visiting several similar pickleball facilities and even attending a pickleball conference. They brought their ideas back to their space and got to work.

They started with the essentials, replacing all the HVAC and lighting, painting, and adding bathrooms. Then they added an office, a reception area, and a community gathering center, reworking

Angie Herrmann David Finholt From left: Brandon Jensen, Blue Zone Director, along with owners Todd Page, Deb Page, Michelle Beyer, Rick Beyer, Jim Christenson, and Kari Christianson. / All photos courtesy Blue Zone Pickleball

the space to accommodate 17 regulation size pickleball courts and fencing, Deb says. The result was The Blue Zone – named for its notable blue courts – one of the largest indoor pickleball facilities in Wisconsin.

With a new plan for the “big, empty box,” the partners decided to keep the health and wellness business train rolling. They began work on a juice bar and bistro in the space next door to The Blue Zone that was previously the Shopko Pharmacy.

“The goal is for people to be able to watch pickleball while eating a healthy meal,” says Deb. “These two businesses are really all about encouraging eating healthy, connecting with friends, and exercising.”

The new restaurant has obtained a liquor license, as well, and will be available to cater events in The Blue Zone’s community room, which is free to reserve.

Promoting healthy living is something the group feels strongly about. “Some health insurances will now cover your court fees as a way to promote health and exercise,” Deb adds, encouraging potential pickleballers to explore this option.

The Blue Zone has embraced the idea that pickleball is truly for everyone, experienced or not. You don’t even have to have your own gear, as they offer equipment rentals on site. “You can just rent a court and come and play,” says Deb.

The facility has only been open since the end of February 2024 – they celebrated with a grand opening late March – but it has \ Summer 2024 Small batch Fresh Fudge 1930s Soda Fountain • Ice Cream, Chocolates, Candies, Fudge 207 Pearl St. Downtown La Crosse, WI • • 608-782-6655 You won’t find anything like this without a time machine. 211 Pearl Street, La Crosse, WI. @driftmercantile 330 Main St, Onalaska, WI ï Midwestboutique H a n d - C a r ve d C a ro u s e l O u t d o o r M i n i - G o l f Gifts • Toys Galore Fudge & Candy To y Wo r k s h o p Games & Puzzles LARK-Made Toys Food & Ice Cream Bookstore • Llamas A n t i q u e Toy M u s e u m

been filling up the events calendar steadily since. They already have several leagues in place and have hosted a handful of themed tournaments, and are offering some classes, too, for those new to the sport.

“Pickleball is a sport for all ages and abilities,” says Deb. “We hope The Blue Zone will help get families out and about, and ultimately, make La Crosse a better place to live.”

All of The Blue Zone partners are lifelong residents of the La Crosse area, so improving their community is a mission close to their hearts. They are working to beautify the community with a planned facelift for the entire Bridgeview Plaza. Many of the facility’s employees are coaches and teachers in area districts and at local colleges, helping to connect even more community members to the facility. And Deb has started to see other area organizations reach out to learn more about partnering with Blue Zone to tap into the ever-growing phenomenon that is pickleball.

“The community has been very receptive to us,” Deb says. “It’s been absolutely amazing.”

and pickleball fan living in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She has been an

Sara Walters is a writer, mom, Inspire(d) contributor since 2018. LEARN MORE: The Blue Zone offers online court reservations - to find an open play session, visit

Fair Fever Fair Fever theIOWA STAT E FAIR presents

Des Moines, Iowa


IYears of Niagara Cave! 100

t was three pigs that went missing from farmer Phil Tod’s barnyard in 1924 that led to the discovery of one of Southeast Minnesota’s greatest natural treasures: Niagara Cave!

“After a quick look around, Phil sent his nephews and a hired hand to look for them. Their search led to a large sinkhole on the property where lo and behold, a two-foot-by-four-foot hole in the bottom of the sinkhole seemed telling. With the help of ropes, lanterns, and several men from Harmony, one of the gents was lowered over 60 feet down where he found all three pigs still alive on a muddy rock ledge. Tied one-by-one to ropes, the pigs were hauled back up through the hole – and Niagara Cave was ‘Discovered!’” says Aaron Bishop, one of the current owners of Niagara Cave.

Back then, word got out about the sinkhole excitement, and three caving friends from the Decorah area, Joe Flynn, Leo Tekippe, and Al Cramer, spent many hours exploring the newly discovered cave system. They acquired a lease from the property owner and proceeded to develop the cave, making it more accessible. “By June 1934 it was opened for tours, with the same sinkhole entrance having now led hundreds of thousands of visitors into Niagara Cave,” Aaron says.

Thus begins the story of Niagara Cave, a true geological gem of the Driftless, and one of the top ten show caves in the United States. In 1995, Mark Bishop and his family became “caretakers” of Niagara Cave, with sons Ryan and Aaron taking over operations in recent years.

Mark remembers the spark that led to this new family venture. “While perusing the business opportunities section of the Rochester

Post Bulletin, I noticed that a commercial cave operation was for sale in Southeast Minnesota,” Mark says. “Since I was a resident of the area for most of my life, I knew that it must be Niagara Cave. I was immediately intrigued by this. I told my wife, Jenny, that I was going to check it out, and asked my brother and a friend to accompany me on my first visit as a prospective buyer in the fall of 1994. I had already visited the cave a couple of times over the years because of my interest in geology. After reviewing the business, I came home and told my wife, ‘I think we’re buying a cave.’”

After getting the family’s stamp of approval, they negotiated the purchase, and started their era as caretakers and custodians of Niagara Cave, Mark says. And now, after 30 years, they are happy their sons will continue the business into the next generation.

Caves are incredibly unique natural environments – and thus, unique work environments for the Bishops. Take, for instance, the steady 48 degrees year-round.

“Although we are not open in the winter, I personally enjoy working on the various projects and upgrades in the offseason,” says Aaron. “Forty-eight degrees feels pretty warm compared to the negative temperatures – plus windchill – that can be found above. A natural heated space!”

The belowground world is, of course, still affected by what happens weather-wise up above.

“If a person were to visit the cave in the springtime after some heavy rains or the seasonal snowmelt, they would experience a louder and more powerful waterfall,” says Aaron. “Additionally, in the late spring visitors can experience a more active ‘living’ cave in terms of water dripping from or flowing along formations.”

The stalactites and flowstone are more actively growing in the springtime, Aaron says, giving many a glossy appearance. As the season morphs into the drier summertime, then the 48-degree cave becomes a haven from the intense heat outside.

Summer 2024 / 36
Visitors can tour Niagara Cave from April to October to see the underground waterfall, 450-million-year-old fossils, and cool cave formations. / Photos courtesy Niagara Cave

“A naturally air-conditioned space!” says Aaron. “The noises in the last room of the cave will reflect whether we’ve had dry or wet weather recently. When it’s wet, the room echoes with the splashing sound of the intermittent ‘shower,’ as we call it. But when it’s dry, you can hear the individual drops of water from the stalactites falling into pools of water or onto rocks.”


When Aaron gets the opportunity – and consent from the tour guests - he likes to turn off all the lights so everyone can listen, without making a sound themselves, to the sound of nature. Drips and splashes from various sized water droplets are amplified by the complete darkness, Aaron says, which even allows people to register the depths of the room based on the echoes from the drips. “This is probably my favorite experience in the cave: listening to the sound of water,” he says.

But no matter what is happening above ground, the Southeast Minnesota cave will continue to showcase the ever-changing rock formations and sights down below. Visitors can tour Niagara Cave from April to October to see the underground waterfall, 450-millionyear-old fossils, and cave formations both delicate and massive.

The cave tours start and finish in a geologically packed gift store full of fossils, gems, and more, with a gem-panning sluice and mini golf course available for additional fun, as well as lovely picnicking grounds, and a concessions stand that runs Memorial Day to Labor Day. Plan ahead, pack a picnic – along with your sense of fun and adventure – and make it a day trip to Niagara Cave! Your underground adventure awaits! Learn more at \ Summer 2024 37 Mark your calendars for fun! Showing movies nightly at 7 pm and a Sunday matinee at 2 pm Rent the
events or
& more. July 18-21: Cresco Community Theatre Productions – The Addams Family August 24: Our 110th Anniversary Celebration! • The Looney Lutherans – Young(ish) at Heart – 2pm • Free Movie that evening – The Wizard of Oz 235 8th Avenue W, Cresco, IA • • 563-547-2101
Opera House
Champlin Hall for reunions, showers
Watch for the completed Cresco Medical Clinic expansion and remodel coming later 2024!
recovery… • Cataracts • Colonoscopies • C-sections • Hernias • Joint replacements • And many others
From surgery to
Benji Nichols has long been a fan of the accessible subterranean parts of our region. He enjoys the magic and incredible views into the watersheds, geography, and natural wonders that caves offer. Make the trip to Niagara cave this summer - and tell them we sent you! Harmony locals helped rescue three pigs that had fallen into a sinkhole, leading to the discovery of Niagara Cave. / Photos courtesy Niagara Cave Joe Flynn, Leo Tekippe, and Al Cremer explored and helped develop the cave when it was first discovered.


Summer is an amazing time for a road trip – big or small – in our region, and what better than a day of digging through antique, vintage, and rustic “junk” shops!? The Highway 52 Corridor from Decorah to Chatfield offers some amazing opportunities to check out unique shops - so grab your peeps and hit the road - and make sure to tell them Inspire(d) sent you!

Market 52 •

3220 Highway 52, rural Decorah, IA.

If you enjoy finding a treasure trove of modern and vintage, Trisha and Mark at Market 52 are going to amaze you! The husband-andwife team with a love for auctions, primitives, and unique items have created a fun on-farm stop for vintage (and vintage inspired) decor lovers of all kinds. From the latest trends in home decor to a little rust around the edges, Market 52 offers up both a finished shop space in their rusticrural store, as well as the vintage barn for picking. Stop by every Friday (10-5), Saturday (10-4) or Sunday (11-4) to check out the seasonal decor, antiques, vintage, new home decor, furniture, and DIY projects.

What’s New Antiques •

2291 350th St, rural Burr Oak, IA.

Craig Newhouse has been filling up his “barn” with interesting auction and estate finds for many years – and the best part is that it’s an ever-changing scene of unique pieces and furnishings, many with a local twist. The location is rural - on gravel road “350th Street” not far from the Farmers Winn Coop “Country Express” store in North Winneshiek County.

Summer 2024 / 38 You'll find the destination is worth the journey every time for amazing Home & Cabin Décor Fashion & Accessories Personalized Engraving Wines & Humor Great Selections, Staff & Music! 4 1 3 N O R T H Tues - Fri 10-6 Sat 9A - 1P 7 reet Our mural "Modern Rosie" by Robin Macomber see her on the back of the building!
Art Experience 115 W Main St. Fredericksburg, IA • 563-412-6000 Check online for Fun Art Classes: Thurs & Fri 12-4pm • Sat 10am-2pm • Sun 1-4pm Shop a Unique Collection of Local Art. Find us on Facebook Online farmers market all year long. Pick-up sites in Decorah, West Union, Postville, Calmar and Waukon.
Market 52

Roadside Market Baked Goods and Baskets

12668 Highway 52, Canton, MN.

As Highway 52 meanders north into Minnesota, you’ll find an Old Order working Amish farm on the east side of the highway that offers a fantastic array of baked goods and handmade items. Everything from baskets to woodwork to many simple, sturdy, and functional items. The bakery is like walking back in time, with woodfired deck ovens, pies galore, and an always-rotating display of bars, cookies, and breads. As this is an actual working Amish farm, there is no phone, website, or contact details – but it is generally open most days from 10-6 excluding Sundays.

New Generations Antiques

50 Industrial Blvd NE, Harmony, MN

On the north side of Harmony, Minnesota, is New Generation Antiques – an always-fun and unique stop on the Inspire(d) distribution route, as you never know what you’ll find! It isn’t uncommon to find a horse (or team) hitched to the post out front, and some solid collectible items inside. Whether you’re looking for items from kitsch to collectible, the kind staff always welcome browsers, or are

happy to point you in the direction of a specific booth. This summer, they’re turning up the Vintage Fun with a series of outdoor Vintage Markets! Shop vintage, antiques, and collectibles with vendors from across the region. There will even be an Amish Mini Farmers Market offering pantry items, vegetables, and baked goods. The Vintage Markets are scheduled for June 1, July 6, August 3, and September 7. Keep an eye out for fun updates and posts about recent treasures to be found at New Generations @newgenerationsofharmony

Adourn •

218 Main St, Chatfield, MN.

In the middle of historic downtown Chatfield is Adourn, the adorable brick-and-mortar dream shop of Melissa Klema. With a wide variety of rehabbed vintage and antique furniture and accessories, handmade items, jewelry, and gift items, this shop is a crowd pleaser every time. The shop even offers custom painting and building for clients, interior design consultation, wedding design, and workshops. The salvaged and repurposed vintage furniture finds are a constantly changing delight, with unique colors, hardware, and finishing touches. Check out the shop Thursday-Saturdays in downtown Chatfield or online @ shopadourn

Drew Stevenson #MW-4507 • 563-382-3810 • • Tree Pruning • Tree Removal • Stump Grinding • Disease diagnosis & treatments ISA Board Certified Master Arborist
New Generations of Harmony Adorn

Visit the new Commons building and enjoy fun and innovative exhibits, classes, and programs at the dynamic campus and park in scenic Decorah, Iowa, and online at

Special Exhibits:

The Art and Crafts of Ancient Scandinavia

Open through October 27, 2024

Showcasing original oil paintings by D. Sven Lindauer about ancient Scandinavian history. Made possible through the generous support of Vesterheim’s friend and members.

Boreal Ornament V June 29-September 22, 2024

Artwork by Tara Austin featuring rosemaling with a contemporary painting focus. Made possible by a gift from Tina Keune in memory of Russell Keune.

Hand Me Down the Fiddle: Norwegian Fiddlers, Fiddles, and Fiddle Tunes in the Upper Midwest

August 15, 2024 - May 18, 2025

Guest Curator Beth Hoven Rotto. Sharing stories through artifacts, instruments, photographs, recordings, and video. Made possible by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs; and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Visit to learn about fun special events related to these exhibits!


Remember paper maps?!? Got some old ones lying around? Make these adorable lanterns for a fun adventure inspired night outside! Cheers to Summer!

MAKE IT: step-by-step instructions at ILOVEINSPIRED.COM Paper Project! Road Map LANTERNS!
Why did the watch go on vacation? To unwind. 42

Photographer Aaron Lurth writes: “I have always been fascinated with the oddities and quirks that seem to unwittingly come with modern society. I’m the person that goes to famous landmarks to photograph the people, not the object. For me, the local fair, with its bright palette, eclectic crowd, and vibrant energy, has always served as an exceptional place to photograph. There’s something so relatable about this moment: being a kid staring up at this ride that seems larger than life…though perhaps it’s also an example of something that never changes no matter your age.” To see more of Aaron’s photography you can visit his website at:

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

Voted Visit Bluff Country’s 2020 Best of the Best Winery!

Empty Nest Winery

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

Upc ing Events

June 9: Waukon EMS Color Pop 5K, registration begins at 3 pm, 5K at 4pm

June 16: Father's Day!

Live music on the patio Sunday 1-4pm. Kymar food truck Sunday 11-4pm.

June 30: Bingo! Free to play, lots of prizes, 2pm

July 5: Release limited edition White Lace, 4pm

July 27: Murder Mystery Dinner Theater tickets on

July 28: Bingo! Free to play, lots of prizes, 2pm

August 2: Release limited edition Sticky Buns, 4pm

August 25: Bingo! Free to play, lots of prizes, 2pm

August 30 - September 1: Labor Day weekend! Friday 4-8 pm, Saturday & Sunday 11-5 pm (closed Monday).

Live music on the patio Sunday 1-4 pm. Kymar food truck Sunday 11-4 pm.


October 5: Release Radiant Strength – a pink moscato with profits going locally towards breast cancer.

November 2: Last Release of Limited Edition Seduction, Night Temptation, Private Reserve & Berrylicious

November 29 & December 31: Murder Mystery Dinner Theater Advance tickets only at or by calling winery | 563-568-2758 1253 Apple Rd. Waukon, Iowa Like us for details!
Summer hours: Fridays 4-8pm, Sat. 10-5 & Sun 1-5

One act of compassion has the ability to shift your entire day. Maybe even week. Month. Year. Hey, I know it sounds ridiculous, but maybe that one act of compassion will shift your entire life. Making an effort to be kinder than you need to be, to open the door for a stranger or smile at a passing walker, or to be extra generous as you travel through life has the potential to ripple good vibes across the universe.

Compassion is defined as recognizing the suffering of others and then being inspired to take action to help. It’s an emotion related to empathy - the ability to place yourself in other people’s shoes and really understand where they’re coming from with their thoughts, feelings, and actions. The leading theme in this issue is compassion because I believe it’s what we need to reconnect in humanity. Shifting our perspectives, allowing ourselves to see things from different points of view, is vital to creating a worthwhile future for the next generation.

But don’t mistake these efforts as a way of sugar coating the state of the world, or a move toward complacence. It’s quite the opposite. This is a mountain we’re climbing here. There is so much division right now, and there’s a lot of language out there pushing us to believe that “people are horrible.” Sure, *some people are horrible. But *way more people are good. We have to remember that. And then open ourselves up to acting as though we believe it. That first step is a leap. Especially if we’re the first one to do so. An act of compassion is a vulnerability. But it’s one I heartily implore you to find the courage to take. We need you in this climb. Believe in the good in people. Assume positive intent. Granted, it won’t change the reality of the situation either way. But whether your thoughts are true or false, believing in the good in the world will change you. Your compassion, by its very existence, makes the world a better place. And that’s worth it every time.

Always looking forward (with as much compassion as I can muster),

XOXO - Aryn \ Summer 2024 45 Molly Gallagher Mediation • 319 270 4592 In person or on Zoom Facilitating healthy conversations for personal and professional growth David J. Wadsworth • 563.419.0390 • WOODEN WINDOW restoration & weatherization Residential & light commercial construction We are all seeking COMPASSION
ha ppiness

Nobody is Perfect Mistakes = Lessons

Be kinder than you need to be

Believe in the good in people.

Self-compassion Make caringcool.

Open the door for a stranger

Compassion is recognizing the suffering of others and then being inspired to help.

Being jaded just messes up your own life anyway… try giving compassion a chance. You deserve good things as much as the next person. Go easy on yourself. Don’t be your harshest critic. Be your biggest cheerleader. (Check out our DIY affirmation cards at for positive message ideas!)

Jilt the Jadedness

all seeking COMPASSION
We are
47 ACUPUNCTURE QIGONG HERBAL MEDICINE 563.382.9309 309 W. Broadway Decorah, Iowa 206 W. Water St. Decorah 563-382-5970 Burgers. Sandwiches. Salads. Appetizers Great Wings. Best Bloody Mary’s in Town! PRIVATE EVENT VENUES LOCAL INGREDIENTS • 22 BEERS ON TAP! For current hours & menu visit 2 amazing spaces. Small or large events. Delicious in-house catering. Imagine yourself in another person's shoes. Everybody is going through something. Cut people some slack. We all want to be heard in this noisy world. Be open to other perspectives, even if you don’t agree. Treat yourself –and others –as you would treat a friend. Smile at a neighbor Be extra generous Assume positive intent Remember: We are all just out here, seeking happiness. Empathy Listen




Mental health counselor Olivia Lynn Schnur offers tips and ideas for tapping into compassion.

Summer beckons us to emerge from our homes and immerse ourselves in community. The season swells with opportunities for connection as people gather at festivals, sporting events, farmers markets, and more. Parks and trails become busy destinations, and families and friends head out for long-awaited summer vacations.

As we prepare to engage in this social season, there is one emotion that can increase our capacity for connection: compassion. Compassion is the driving force that turns a crowd into a community. It is an inherently social emotion that allows us to see the suffering of another – and drives us to help. It can also be turned inward, helping us connect to our own humanity through selfcompassion.


Compassion is an emotion we are all primed to experience, and it starts with empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s emotions as if they were our own. It allows us to imagine life from another perspective. Compassion takes empathy a step further and propels us to act in a way that helps to alleviate another person’s pain or suffering.

If we lean into the drive to help others, we can experience a cascade of benefits. When we act compassionately, our brain rewards us by releasing oxytocin and dopamine. Volunteering, for example, increases a sense of purpose and feelings of connection, which in turn, can help to ward off feelings of isolation or loneliness. The reward system in our brain motivates us to repeat behavior. The release of feel-good hormones has a purpose: to let us know that compassion is good – not just for others, but for ourselves as well.

So why isn’t everyone practicing compassion?


When we struggle with compassion for ourselves, it can be difficult to extend it outward. Our own fear of judgment or the shame we feel surrounding our mistakes can lead us to judge or shame others. Feelings of inadequacy can spur our desire to point out weaknesses in friends, family, and acquaintances. And in turn, it can leave us susceptible to depression, anxiety, and burnout. What happens in your head when you make a mistake? If you punish yourself or ruminate on what you did wrong, it could be a sign you lack compassion in your self-talk. Self-talk is the voice inside our head that sets the tone for how we feel about ourselves. It can be positive or negative and contribute to or diminish our self-esteem and self-worth. People with negative self-talk often have a harsh inner critic. The inner critic can be judgmental, cruel, and unforgiving. It fixates on failures and flaws. It sees the worst in everyone and everything.

Summer 2024 / 48
Illustrations • Shutterstock

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Everyone has some version of an inner critic, but the trick is to not let that voice overpower self-compassion. The next time you make a mistake, offer yourself compassion. Practice talking to yourself like you might talk to a friend or a child. You did not make the mistake on purpose. You either miscalculated or needed more information. Positive self-talk can subdue your inner critic.


To develop a more compassionate mind we need to make sure we’re fostering a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. People with a fixed mindset believe “this is just the ways things are.” These individuals view their failures as a reflection of themselves. They might carry the belief that their emotions and thoughts are not under their control, and therefore unchangeable. None of this is true. People with a growth mindset perceive mistakes as opportunities for growth. They know that change is possible and desirable. There are some things, however, that are out of our control, and that’s where mindful compassion is helpful. Mindfulness is a practice of acknowledging what is. It requires nonjudgmental acceptance of the present moment. When we add a layer of compassion to this practice, we offer the moment grace, sending love to those less-than-perfect areas of life. Everyone has flaws or weaknesses. When we accept our own, we create an environment where others feel safe to accept theirs as well. This helps us forge more connected and meaningful relationships in our lives.

Take a mindful moment to acknowledge all the growth and resilience that led you to this moment. Consider all the uncontrollable moments and celebrate what you’ve overcome. Look at your life with compassion. Notice how beautiful it really is; just as it is.


Metta meditation is a traditional Buddhist practice of loving-kindness. We start by sending lovingkindness to ourselves. Then, to those we know and love. We extend that outward to our community. From there, the world. The most advanced form of the practice is sending lovingkindness to those whom we dislike or who have wronged us.

We can modify this practice to also assist with tapping into our compassion – both for ourselves and others. Start by offering compassion to yourself. Remember –compassion for others starts from within. Then, send that compassion to those you love. From there, extend it outward, offering compassion to people you interact with daily: coworkers, cashiers, servers, and even people you pass on the street or your commute. With regular practice, you will gain the ability to offer compassion in the most difficult situations: when you are inconvenienced, wronged, dismissed, or hurt.

49 Est. 1961 31 West Main Street Waukon, Iowa 563.568-3661 3 goldsmiths 2 graduate gemologists 1 watchmaker 3 diamond setters Monday: 9am - 6pm Tues - Fri:
1pm People you can trust. Quality you can depend on.
9am - 5pm
9am - \ Summer 2024 Continued on next page


You know the phrase: hurt people hurt people. It’s simple, but there is a layer of truth to it. It comes down to projection.

When we carry unconscious pain and trauma, we often project it. Projection occurs when we transmit beliefs or feelings onto others because they are too painful to acknowledge within ourselves. It is an attempt to rid ourselves of what we cannot tolerate.

Projection is an unhealthy coping skill. It distorts our view of others and damages our relationships. It gets in the way of genuine connection and creates a heavy burden on our loved ones.

Instead of rejecting and projecting our feelings and beliefs onto others, we can practice self-compassion. Developing self-compassion frees us to face our wounds. Furthermore, it allows us to recognize when others carry similar wounds.

When we accept ourselves and our feelings, we create space for vulnerability. We stop projecting our judgments and fears. This creates safety and ease in our relationships.


Compassion naturally impacts the way we connect with people daily. By adjusting our perspectives through compassionate empathy, we give others the benefit of the doubt. Everyone is going through something that we know nothing about. Most people do not intentionally cause harm.

To practice compassionate empathy, pause when someone makes a mistake. Suspend your reaction and consider whether it was their intention to hurt you. Is it possible that there is something else going on? Consider how compassion might allow you to respond in a more meaningful way. Try reacting with patience, acceptance, and generosity. Our first reaction is usually not our best reaction. Practice pausing and assessing with compassion. Every time you do, you will be rewarded. Not only by offering compassion to another, but by extending those benefits to yourself. And every time, you do your part in creating a more compassionate world.

Olivia Lynn Schnur holds a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, EMDRIA Certified EMDR Therapist, Certified Yoga Teacher, and Reiki Master. She integrates her mental health, yoga, and writing passions to educate, uplift, and inform readers. To learn more about Olivia, or to book a yoga session, visit

Summer 2024 / 50 Make this a season of Compassion Independent Living • Assisted Living • Long-Term Care • Skilled Rehabilitation • Specialized Dementia Care • Respite We’re making a significant change in senior health care for our community by building an innovative and amazing new nursing and assisted living complex. This facility is for seniors with the greatest medical needs, those who are seeking rehabilitation, and any senior who is searching for companionship and a place to call home. Your gift can make a difference in someone’s life! Donate online today at 563-382-3603 X110 Decorah, Iowa


Think about something you’re struggling with right now or in the recent past. Maybe it’s something you beat yourself up about or find hard to forgive. Try to access your most compassionate self. If that is difficult, imagine how you might respond to a loved one, a friend, or a child. Offer yourself kindness, grace, and forgiveness. See the best in the situation and try to help alleviate suffering. Now, practice extending that self-compassion outward. Remember to view each situation with compassionate empathy, letting go of projection, and instead, giving people the benefit of the doubt.

How do you respond with compassion in each of the following scenarios?

You’re walking down the street, and you smile at the person you pass. Instead of smiling back, the person has a scowl on their face and averts their gaze. How can you practice compassion in this moment?

You spent weeks preparing a presentation at work. In the middle of your presentation, a co-worker walks in late with a cup of coffee in their hand. How can you practice compassion in this moment?

You’re at a grocery store and holding a carton of eggs. A parent is busy looking at the items on the shelf and does not notice their child bump into you and cause you to drop the carton of eggs, which crack and make a mess in the aisle. How can you practice compassion in this moment?

Now, think of a situation when you felt wronged, inconvenienced, or hurt and you did not respond compassionately. Try not to judge yourself. Instead, give yourself compassion and think of this as a learning opportunity. Take some time to recall the details of the event, including how you and the other person reacted. What might have changed if you took a moment to pause and respond – rather than react? From the perspective of compassionate empathy, what alternate perspectives emerge? Take some time to write down how you could have responded differently. Apply this lesson moving forward. \ Summer 2024 51

Red Oak

“Ida is kind-hearted, silly, and able to do magic with words and turn them into songs that will never leave your heart. Her ability to drop down to see the small wonders of the land and hold the big picture of what is happening on the landscape let me know that my children would not only be safe while in her care but taught how to see the world in a new way. We will be forever grateful for what Ida has brought to our family.” -Stephanie Elliott, parent

Summer 2024 / 52


Ida Rotto helps kids get connected with the natural world, themselves, and each other.

Whether it’s making camouflage t-shirts with walnut dye, harvesting Virginia Waterleaf to eat for lunch, singing, or starting a fire with friction, you can find Ida Rotto out in the country, teaching kids how to slow to the speed of nature and exist in relation to one another and the land.

This is Red Oak Outdoor School, where learning on the move is the norm. The location changes based on things like the weather, bird migratory patterns, and the acorn harvest, because as the seasons ebb and flow, Ida teaches us to move with them.

Snowy winters, spring hail, summer heat, and autumnal chills are not barriers to learning – they are defining features of Ida’s work, where nature and the land are the principal teacher.

Ida launched the outdoor school’s first program in 2019. Rooted in the natural world, the mission statement is “supporting resilience in youth through connection to self, each other and the natural world.”

“I have always, throughout my life, had a strong draw towards the natural world, and also towards personal transformation journeys. As a kid I got lots of time outside to develop those relationships,” says Ida, who grew up along Canoe Creek in rural Decorah closely connected to the world around her.

Ida’s early life was a collage of home and public schooling, apprenticeships and self-directed learning, and she says the trust and respect given by her family and community helped her find her own callings. “And in a big way, I feel like wow, I’m getting to do the things I just love and feel inspired by,” Ida says with her trademark enthusiasm. “Getting to support young people in finding their own sense of respect and trust in themselves, and trust that they belong in the natural world and within a supportive community is really powerful.”

and “what do the oaks need to grow tall and strong?” and “what do we need to grow tall and strong?” A big part of the work is building relationships and strong connections among the kids. It is foundational to the learning itself. This sense of relationship extends beyond the humankind as well.

Ida Rotto, far left, leads songs and conversation as kids circle up at Red Oak Outdoor School. On the last day of a program, parents and caregivers are invited to join in the closing circle, bringing the mission of connection – to nature and each other – home. / All photos courtesy of Red Oak Outdoor School

Mr. Whitewing is a beloved member of Red Oak Outdoor School. He is a robin that has returned each year, recognizable by a white patch on his wing that makes him stand out. He helps Ida teach kids how to shift to an owl’s vision, incorporating a more expansive view, and moving with awareness of our impact on the world around us.

Warm emails go out to parents and caregivers, encouraging adults and children alike to ask, “where does the robin sleep at night?”

Continued on next page \ Summer 2024 53

“Ida is a heartfelt guide into the majestic story of the outdoors. She embodies genuine connection with the non-human relatives with whom we share this wonderful planet. Song, wonder, and tangible knowledge are her whisper into the spectacular realm of the natural world.” – Eden Kelner, parent

“When you build relationships with not only the humans around you but all of the animals and plants and other life, and really have a sense of care and intimacy and family with them, then there’s no option but to feel responsible for them,” Ida says.

Ida is a graduate of Weaving Earth Center for Relational Education and Rx Outside Nature-Led Trainings for Mentors, both of which helped shape her teaching methods. As a lifelong musician, Ida also incorporates musical elements as a central part of her approach. Music is woven into each days’ activities, from songs during circle time to creations on the fly, out in nature.

Fundamental, place-based teachings inform Red Oak’s approach as well, encouraging students to learn through observation and participation, exploring a way of life more in sync with the natural world. Ida helps introduce these concepts to kids, and by extension their families, in a way that invites more people into the conversation.

“The reality is that not only do we care for the land, the land cares for us – and you start to feel that when you spend a lot of time on the land,” Ida says. “We’re being provided for in amazing ways, and feeling that two-way relationship supports a whole reality shift that I see as being essential to moving forward as humans.”

In the age of climate anxiety and a lot of collective fear for the future of the world, Red Oak Outdoor School embodies a localized response to this global problem. Climate change is a massive, systemic issue, and reconnecting with the places we live will be a critical part of a solution.

“I see this work as essential to the shift that is needed in how we relate to the land and ultimately to addressing the many environmental challenges we’re in,” Ida says. “I’m glad to be part of the patchwork of responses. Also, I think that one of the things that is so needed

Summer 2024 / 54

in this time is a human sense of belonging to one another, and this work tends to that. Each day we circle up and invite the kids to share and feel heard, and as simple as that can sometimes be, hearing each other’s stories…. I think it’s an integral part of our relationship with the land.”

Iowa is the most biologically altered landscape in America. Around 85 percent of the land used to be covered in prairie. Now, there is less than a fraction of a percent. Still, Ida reminds us that this does not and cannot stop us from putting in the work.

“It’s a really particular thing to do this work in this place,” she says. “It’s a little bit of a battleground. Iowa is where I grew up and I love this land. I really have a sense of being cared for here, and my body is at home here. Continued on next page \ Summer 2024 55 eat drink gather N Market TH E L A NDING
Helm Helm Available now at Cardboard Robot Downtown Decorah Build-it-yourself Headlamp
Close to Pulpit Rock Campground & Downtown

So seeing now how broken this land is… there’s some intense grief and also, a sense of responsibility to give back. The animals and plants are still here and showing up for us. Can we actually see that and remember to show up for them?”

Red Oak Outdoor School clears a path for us to treat Iowa and the region with the reverence it deserves. There is so much hope in the desire for this change, and the community impact is just as powerful. Red Oak is expanding for a reason. Ida’s work is passionfueled and it fills a void in a way that is incredibly needed.

“What gives me hope is seeing kids care, and seeing the brightness and their ability to pick up new old ways like that,” she says, snapping her fingers. “What gives me hope is peoples’ longing, what their longings are for, and the fact that I don’t feel like a lot of those things are very far away…I think a lot of the relationships we’re longing for and needing are actually really close and still in our DNA. It doesn’t take much to light those connections back up.”

Red Oak Outdoor School offers a variety of programs year-round, so while camp registration may be full for this summer season, make sure to keep your eye out for future registration dates. There are monthly weekend programs for kids in school, and homeschool offerings during the week. The summers bring nature-based day camp opportunities centered around play, exploration, relationshipbuilding, adventure, and creativity. Programs are divided by age

Summer 2024 / 56
of downtown
radically compassionate, yoga-inspired studio in the heart
Decorah! Walk-ins welcome. Mats & props provided.

“My daughter absolutely loves Ida’s camps. She explains to me that Ida’s camp not only teaches her so much about nature but most importantly helps her to truly feel a part of nature. Every time I pick her up from camp, she explains that it was the best day of her life!” - Maria D, parent

group (generally ages 5-6, 7-9, and 9-12) to ensure the learning matches ability levels. Activities range from weaving willow baskets to shelter building to music-making and beyond! These are experiences all kids can find their place in to grow their confidence, willingness to try new things, and connection to the world around them.

When American author, philosopher, and theologian Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive,” he could have been talking about Ida Rotto. Anyone who has been so lucky to have heard her talk about her work can attest to the excitement in her eyes and the commitment with which she speaks. “It is such a gift to get to know the kids and support their unique ways of interacting with the world around them,” she says. “I love this work. And, I’m very open to the fact that I have a long life and lots of things I like to do. I’m 31. There is still a lot of time, right?”

Margaret is from Minneapolis, Minnesota and just graduated from Luther College this spring with an Environmental Studies degree. From canoeing the Upper Iowa River to biking the Trout Run Trail, this place has affirmed that wherever she ends up, the Driftless area will always be a place she calls home.


Ida is committed to making Red Oak Outdoor School more accessible to families across the region, and has goals to expand financial assistance options in the coming years. Currently Red Oak Outdoor School Programs (ages 5-6, 7-9, and 9-12) have a tiered tuition guide.

Tier 1: Supporting others – this is for families with the resources to support others otherwise unable to join.

Tier 2: Covering costs – this is the basic cost of the program.

Tier 3: Supported by community – this helps people that would otherwise be unable to join.

To stay up to date on Red Oak Outdoor School offerings, sign up for Ida’s newsletter at (or scan this QR code):

Wednesday 3-6 pm & Saturday 9-12 pm May - October Located \ Summer 2024 KinderHaus Outdoor Preschool For Ages 3-6 Play! Play! Play! Explore! Explore! Explore! Grow! Grow! Grow! 563 - 379 - 7303
com G A B I M A S E K , L . A C A C U P U N C T U R E & C H I N E S E M E D I C I N E 5 6 3 3 8 2 4 3 1 2 1 1 1 W i n n e b a g o S t D e c o r a h I A 5 2 1 0 1 h e l l o @ w i l d c r a f t e d a c u p u n c t u r e c o m w i l d c r a f t e d a c u p u n c t u r e c o m
in the Heivly Street parking lot, behind Oneota Co-op


As a community, Decorah Public Library is aiming to read 10,000 books this summer, and we need your help! Drop by the library to learn how to join the fun. At the end of the summer, all those who submit a reading log will be invited to join in a book-lovers pool party at the Community Pool! See our website or stop by the library for more details.


PROGRAMS (*Registration Required)

Summer Reading Kicko :

Picnic Party at Phelps Park

Friday, May 31st @ 5pm

Build an Owl with the International Owl Center*

Wednesday, June 5th @ 10am

Dr. Bechtel’s Animals*

Monday, June 10th @ 10am

Mikayla Oz Magic Show*

Friday, June 20th @ 2pm

ISU Insect Zoo*

Thursday, July 18th @ 3pm

Jonathan May Magic Show*

Friday, July 19th @ 10am

Book-Lovers Pool Party*

Friday, August 9th @ 9am




Wednesday Mornings at 10:00am

Stay & Play Awhile

Thursday Mornings at 10:00am


Select Thursday Mornings at 9:00am

(See our calendar for dates)

Check out our events calendar for an up-to-date weekly schedule of outdoor events, craft opportunities and more!







Close your eyes and put yourself in my shoes…or, really, at this moment it’s bare feet. You’re lying in the sun, you can faintly hear the water trickling down the smoothedover-time rocks, there’s a couple of birds calling peacefully, and the breeze gently floats across your toes. Think about what you love most in this moment in nature.

My favorite part could be trees, rain, rivers. Although honestly, I’d be lying if I said there was one specific part I liked over another. There are so many amazing things on Earth that give me goosebumps. I love climbing trees and hearing their leaves wave in the wind, their branches creaking like hinges on a door. I love sitting in the sun by the river, hearing water trickling as it flows. There are also those times when I get home from school and run outside to dance around in the rain or have an evening fire with my lovely parents (and/or) neighbors. If I think about it, my favorite part could be the smell of fresh air and the feeling of being “free” in a way. Maybe wild is a better word. It’s just an irreplaceable thing that you can’t experience inside or online.

I love nature and being “wild” out in the wild. I feel most connected to the land around trees, running water, and birds. For the last three years, I’ve been part of Red Oak Outdoor School programs, or as we like to call it: “Ida Camp.” Ida and Red Oak Outdoor School have helped me and my friends learn more about and feel more comfortable in the outdoors. Ida has taught me how to identify plants as edible or harmful, introduced me to new games and songs, and made me care for plants and animals more than before. All while having fun! I’ve just become extra excited to go into nature and learn more, make more, and see more. Altogether, the different camps and events I do are the highlight of my summers and teach me all new stuff that is often not taught in school nowadays. These summers have planted in me the huge importance of caring for Earth. I learned more about stars and the universe in fifth grade this year, and it helped me realize just how small we are here on this planet, and just how special this place is.

So, now it’s time to open your eyes. You can see a robin rummaging through the dirt to find a worm for their newborn babies. The sun’s going to set soon, and the stars start to come out. Think about how those stars are trillions of miles away and are also millions of miles wide, even if they look no bigger than your pinky finger. Now, think about the observable universe, which is 94 billion light years across. We are tiny specks in this universe, living on this unique planet, standing an average of fivefoot-six. Now zoom yourself out of my toes and back into your own perspective… but hang on to the importance of loving – not destroying – this beautiful thing we’re living on. Please remember to care more about our little 7,926-mile-round The next generation – my generation –

Roxie Nichols (pictured here with Ida Rotto) is the daughter of Inspire(d)’s Aryn Henning Nichols and Benji Nichols. She turns 12 this summer, and looks forward to her first severalnight camping trip with Ida and friends in July! \ Summer 2024
Illustrations by Lynsey D. Moritz

ændre arthouse:

Learn more, get involved, and see upcoming events online at Follow along on Facebook @aendrearthouse & Instagram @aendre_arthouse


i) verb, Danish: to shift, to alter ii)  an arts collaborative and destination in the Driftless Region

Photo by Brian Gibbs / Timberdoodle Photography

Exploring Creativity & Community

In the heart of Ferryville, Wisconsin, where the rolling hills of the Driftless embrace the mighty Mississippi, sits ændre arthouse. Located on a 16-acre property near Copper Creek, ændre arthouse is a place for dreams: live music, art happenings, intimate local meals, and creative connection in the Driftless.

Founded in 2022 by Sarah Farrell and James Mackessy, the non-profit hopes to bring communities together through art. Sarah is originally from Indiana, and James grew up in central New York, but has family in Wisconsin. After living many years on the West Coast, the couple decided to create a life closer to their families in the Midwest. Their journey to founding ændre arthouse is as eclectic as their many, diverse artistic endeavors. Sarah’s and James’ paths first crossed in the bustling service industry of Portland, Oregon.

“Make a space for the things that inspire people, and you will continually be inspired by the inspiration people bring to and derive from being in your space.. it’s like a feedback loop,” says ændre co-founder James Mackessy. Continued on next page \ Summer 2024 61

“Sarah worked as an actress, arts volunteer coordinator, house manager, clown, and a client service specialist for a performing arts ticketing company. I was a furniture builder, gigging musician, meandering-engineeringthen-music-major, amateur sound and lighting guy, bartender, and handyman,” James recalls with a smirk.

In the early 2000s, they were both working in the same restaurant together. One night, while Sarah was handling an event upstairs and James was working in the bar downstairs, he rode the elevator up and handed her a matchbook with his phone number. It took a few years, but she finally called. They met to hang out and play music, and so it began.

The two went on to create music, art, and, eventually, a home together. They married in 2012 and that same year, moved down the coast from Portland to California. In 2015, they opened lille æske, a venue for visual arts, live music, culinary events, and performance in the heart of Boulder Creek, California, in the Santa Cruz Mountains. There they witnessed the profound impact of art and music on a community, and it proved to be a recipe for their future dreams.

“Taking care of people, making art and music, loving the art and music of others, and maintaining a platform for visual, performance, and culinary artists… Through it all we got the sense that those types of experiences provided so much of the richness of life in community – not just for us, but for everyone participating,” says James.

For their next project, they wanted to create something similar in the Midwest. They moved to Wisconsin in 2019 and started planning. It was the height of the pandemic, though, and they realized this creative gathering space would need to have a new approach in order to be successful. They decided to launch the venture as a non-profit community asset.

They officially received 501(c)3 status in July of 2023, which allows them to apply for different funding opportunities and focus on making a greater impact on the arts community and its supporters.

“We wanted to grow this project as organically as possible, in sync with our community, our artistic impulses, and our lives,” Sarah says.

The name “ændre” – Danish for shifting or altering – reflects Sarah and James’ philosophy of constant evolution and adaptation. It embodies their commitment to embracing change.

“After moving across the country, recalibrating what we really wanted to focus on, and trying to live closer to nature, the name holds as a guiding principle for our own creativity as well as a record of everything we’ve done,” James says. “As a non-profit arts collaborative, ændre’s name encourages the community it serves to see life, art, and meaning as creative acts – ever-shifting and never static. It is about growth and the immense reward that comes with shifting our context and our expectations.”

So far, they have hosted eight music-centric shows at ændre. Starting with their opening show in October 2022, followed by one show per month from April through October in 2023. Along with the music, each event had a spread of locally sourced homemade food and a bar that offered a variety of options including a cocktail made with seasonally foraged ingredients. They have also collaborated with chefs from Salt & Tipple in Viroqua and Coffee On The River in Lansing for a couple of the events.

“What really makes the whole thing sing is a core ethic of collaboration, and a commitment to that process,” James says. “This will become even more evident as our partnerships grow and develop, and as we develop the space on our property to be able to host art and artists in more established and sustainable ways, via gallery space, residencies, dinners, and more.”

They hope this momentum will catalyze economic growth, promote tourism, and elevate the cultural vibrancy of Ferryville and its surrounding rural communities.

Summer 2024 / 62
Celebrating the Visual, Performing, and Culinary Arts of the Driftless Area Free admission, 80+ visual artists, performing artists, culinary artists,
Driftless Area Art Festival 2024
kids ’ activities
us on Facebook or at Saturday, Sept. 21, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin
Photo by Brandie Myhre James & Sarah / Photo courtesy ændre arthaus

“We were drawn to this area because it has a reputation for natural beauty and serenity - it seems to attract and nourish nature lovers and artists, any folks who value peace and beauty, really,” Sarah says. “This valley…our perch near the Mississippi River and the generous, adventurous spirit of the Driftless Region…there’s a community of national and internationally touring artists that we cherish who are eager to visit us here.”

Many of those artists will have their first experience of the Driftless because of their show at ændre arthouse.

“Having them share their talents and experiences with our local community, and having those artists in turn recharge and gain inspiration from our community and our region’s natural beauty… that exchange is at the heart of what the arts really have to offer participants,” she says.

As they start their second season, Sarah and James reflect on some of their favorite memories from the first full year of events.

“The nature sounds interacting with the music adding a sort of spell over the audience,” Sarah says.

“The glow of the lights through the hoop house. Having people explore the property on trails we made or gathering around the fire pits… these little moments all add up to big magic,” James says.

“Also, being able to host the musicians overnight, getting to know them better and adding another level of hospitality to the whole experience,” Sarah continues. “That level of care really guides us. Having worked in both the music and service industries, we have seen the opposite, and we really want to put extra effort into everyone having wonderful and memorable experiences at ændre.”

Looking toward the future, Sarah and James envision ændre as a place of inspiration and possibility, showcasing a deep appreciation for the magic that happens when art and community collide… reminding us that true beauty sometimes lies in the act of creation itself.

“It’s jobs, it’s quality of life, it’s mental health, but most fundamentally it’s that sense of place and connection that is much of what makes life worth exploring, and we’re here to facilitate, share in, and celebrate all those opportunities,” Sarah says. “We try to put a lot into what we do because we get so much from our community and the people we work with. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s staggering, but it’s always inspiring!”

Lynsey D. Moritz is a Decorah, Iowa, native who has planted roots in rural Southwest Wisconsin. She is a graphic designer, freelance writer, and budding herbalist. Lynsey enjoys learning traditional skills, adventuring with her husband, and being a part of this inspiring driftless community! Instagram: @LindenFern \ Summer 2024 63 driftlessfolkschool Connect with us! Learn skills & knowledge geared toward a more susta inable life in the Driftless bioregion & beyond! Sign up for our c lasses in land stewardship, natural building & woodworking, arts & crafts, organic agriculture, herbalism, wilderness skills, & more.
Featuring products from 200 local farmers and producers. local = 100 mile radius
609 N Main St. Viroqua • open to everyone • viroquafood. coop Photo by Brandie Myhre



Take a lesson from the Swedes and learn how to enjoy and delight in the moment.


Follow poet and essayist Ross Gay through a year of discovering delight and wonder in the world.


THERE MUST BE MORE THAN THAT! by Shinsuke Yoshitake

In an unpredictable world, a child learns the beautiful and often hilarious upside to thinking outside the box.


This collection of poems, essays, and illustrations by over 100 contributors meditate and celebrate on the transformative power of tears


Learn how giving of ourselves and our resources generously can help change the world.


A sweet celebration of the rhythms and scenes from childhood routines.


An instruction manual for resisting the modern-day pressure to be perfect and nding a more purposeful and contented life.


In vibrant illustrations, a visit to Lao Lao’s coastal home teaches our young protagonist about the joy of family, memory, and imagination.


A collection of short entries and illustrations that highlight and celebrate the magic of the everyday.


A wild dog is the unconventional protagonist in this Newberry-Awarded story of joy, heroism, freedom, and friendship.

Decorah Public Library and Inspire(d) are here to keep you
Check out all of these and more at:

Kindness Etiquette

Make your vacations a whole lot more enjoyable by tapping into your compassion as you interact with folks in the service industry this summer. Treat going out or traveling like you’re going over to a friend’s house. You would likely express gratitude, and not overreact to a minor inconvenience, or complain loudly if something wasn’t to your liking. These places are communities – not just experiences – and we’re all just out here, seeking happiness. Your compassion can change the direction of someone’s day, and, in turn, change yours too. The next page shares some tips and reminders about interreacting with others as you head out on your summer adventures. Remember: Being a kind human doesn’t cost a thing! \ Summer 2024 65
30+ REGIONAL MAKERS. 100% WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES! RE-HABBED VINTAGE FURNITURE, HANDMADE HOME DÉCOR, MIDWEST-INSPIRED CLOTHING & ACCESSORIES 309 E Water St. Decorah, Iowa • About the Designer: Allison Thomley just finished her junior year at Luther College studying Visual Communications and Art. Originally from Madison, WI, she loves listening to music and playing Mario Kart in her free time. See more of her work at TEXT BY INSPIRE(D) DESIGN BY ALLISON THOMLEY

Kindn ess Etiquette

Tipping to-do’s

• 15-25 percent of the bill is generally the norm (moving along the range depending on quality of service).

• Cash is king, but a tip on a card is better than no tip!

• A round amount is always nice (vs a pile of change).

Be polite in your communication, and offer courtesy and respect. Please and thank you go a long way, as well as smiles and eye contact. It costs $0 to be a kind human, but the compassion sent out into the world is priceless.

Be Good with Boundarie s

These are real people with families and lives. Respect the boundaries they have set. With small staffs and small communities, hours can shift. Try not to complain about this. Plan ahead and check websites and social media for hours. Maybe even call ahead to confirm, if it’s a long drive. Make reservations if needed. Try to avoid showing up five minutes before close. If you realize you’re cutting it close to closing time, ask if it’s ok if you still order/can still dine in.

Sorry We're
Remember Your Manners Design by Allison Thomley 66

Restaurant Respect



Don’t take your frustrations out on staff and servers who have no control over menu items, what’s in stock, what’s sold out, etc.There are currently many supply issues and shortages, and costs have increased across the board.

“How are you?”


Kindness Meets Kindness

If you have a complaint, be kind and calm as you explain the problem. Don't yell or make a scene as you work to find a solution.

Extend a little compassion - you never know what others are going through. Courtesy works both ways. Treat others how you want to be treated.

In a hurry?

Know what you want to order when you get to the front of the line. Ask for your check right away, and remember to tip. These moments of generosity go a long way for the people behind the bar, counter, or table.


Leave 5 star reviews when you love a place, but take a pause before you leave a review when something goes wrong – try contacting management to resolve the issue first.

Sometimes it’s busy. You’re on an adventure, so take the opportunity to slow down, enjoy your environment, and be patient.


SMILES = FREE 000-111-2222 COMPLIMENTS = FREE 000-111-2222 RESPECT = FREE 000-111-2222 KINDNESS = FREE 000-111-2222 COURTESY = FREE 000-111-2222 1 2
not to make too many menu adjustments while interacting with the people helping you if your kids leave a huge mess Follow the pet policy - unless it’s a service animal GENERAL ETIQUETTE $0 16OZ SMILES 100% FREE
COURTESY = FREE 000-111-2222
Pancake Eggs Small Talk “Have a good day!” Joy Waffles Tips
Practice Patience




Summer 2024 / 68
“‘Tire dip’ photo at the start of the ride.” - Laura Barlament “We jumped into this icy tank (with all our clothes) in Des Moines Waterworks Park.” Laura Barlament “The ride rolling into Kingsley, the first pass-through town on the entire route. Coming into every town was this crowded!” - Laura Barlament “The endless stream of riders on day 2, near Lake View.” / All photos courtesy Laura Barlament.

When you think about Iowa’s claims to fame, what comes to mind? Political caucuses, corn production, Caitlin Clark, Toppling Goliath? There’s a good argument to be made that RAGBRAI, the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, should top the list.

If you have lived in Iowa or if you love road biking, you likely know about RAGBRAI. It is the granddaddy of all non-competitive, multi-day cycling events. Other states have imitated it, but really there’s nothing else quite like it in terms of scope, longevity, and tradition.

And it’s still working its magic, after more than 50 years.


RAGBRAI’s first year was 1973. Two reporters from the Des Moines Register challenged their readers to meet them in Sioux City and spend a week riding their bicycles across the entire state to Davenport.

About 200 people showed up, and it set the template for an annual pedal-powered trek from the Missouri River to the Mississippi, every last week of July. RAGBRAI became enormous, drawing as many as 30,000 registered riders – with many more unregistered riders and support crews adding to the masses. Every year it takes a different route through the state. By 2020, according to the book Iowa Bike Towns, it had rolled through 85 percent of Iowa’s 944 towns.

The ride’s most recent trip through Iowa’s Driftless Area was in 2022, when it ended in Lansing. (For a marvelous chronicle of that year, with a focus on Lansing, check out Shift: The RAGBRAI Documentary.)

I write today from my current home in Decorah, which has served as an overnight town for RAGBRAI three times and once as a pass-through town, and remember my first RAGBRAI experience. I was excited to tackle this legendary event for its 50th anniversary last year (2023), and my friend Gail was pumped to join me. The route took us across the state from Sioux City to Davenport via Storm Lake, Carroll, Ames, Des Moines, Tama-Toledo, and Coralville.

There is something joyful and freeing about traveling by bicycle. You slow your pace and feel the open air. You let go of some of the illusions of control that attend motorized transportation. Cycling is about enjoying the journey and whatever happens along the way. Cycling raises your awareness of your own fragility and need for community. It is a way of being that requires both rapt attention as well as a deep trust in the world. It unlocks your inner child.

RAGBRAI represents the resources of an entire state inviting the world into that kind of relationship with our environment and with each other. And that is extraordinary.


RAGBRAI is a massive event. From the cyclist’s perspective, Iowa’s endless rows of corn appear to have sprouted wheels, donned bright colors, and hopped onto the road. As a rider, when you watch the riders cresting the next hill, it looks like they have come to a \ Summer 2024 69
Writer Laura Barlament (right) with her RAGBRAI riding companion and friend, Gail Mercuri, having lunch in Jefferson, Iowa (corn, of course!). / All photos courtesy Laura Barlament

“Mark, who lives in New Jersey, has done Ragbrai every year for 25 years. He was wearing a special Ragbrai T-shirt from when Decorah was an overnight town in 1999.” - Laura Barlament

standstill – until you crest the hill yourself and realize it was an illusion.

At the same time, RAGBRAI is an experience of personal connections, of creating a community. When you’re on RAGBRAI, although you may have joined the event alone, you’re never alone. Join the line, sit wherever there’s a free seat, ride wherever you can find a lane; wherever you are, you’ll be surrounded by others who are there for connection.

Small Town Bliss, Big Time Views

Getting into a conversation is easy as pie (a signature dish of the RAGBRAI experience) – a truth I discovered on a RAGBRAI charter bus from Davenport to Sioux City. Sliding into the first free seat on an already-crowded bus, I immediately started chatting with my neighbor, a man named Chuck.

Chuck lives in Tampa. He started cycling to lose weight, discovered RAGBRAI, and this was to be his fourth consecutive RAGBRAI. He told me about his family, his work, his bike – what type of bike you’re riding is always a topic of conversation among RAGBRAI cyclists, and a major source of entertainment for participants and spectators. He was excited to tell a newbie things that he loves about RAGBRAI: the US Air Force Cycling Team who help cyclists experiencing any kind of trouble; the Iowa Craft Beer Tent, where he plans to stop enough times to earn a free RAGBRAI T-shirt.

I arrived at the campground in Sioux City before Gail, and was wandering around figuring out where to pitch my tent when a fellow camper said, “Hey there! Do you need any help?” Bob from Summit, New Jersey, introduced himself.

One of Bob’s pals, Mark, has been riding RAGBRAI annually since 1999. He had distinct memories of spending a night in Decorah in 1999, when Day 5 traveled from Waverly all the way up to Decorah. He remembered eating lefse and drinking a lingonberry beverage at Nordic Fest. The next morning, he grabbed me to show me his vintage t-shirt showing off the 1999 route.

Like Chuck and Bob, many RAGBRAI riders come from far away. Many return annually. And some of them return and stay. I met a fellow rider who had moved to Iowa from California after coming to Lansing on RAGBRAI 2022. “If you come to Lansing, just ask for the RAGBRAI people,” she says. “Everyone knows who we are.” That’s why she moved to the Driftless – to join a place of tight-knit community.

Summer 2024 / 70


Beyond the riders, what makes RAGBRAI an unparalleled experience and a national treasure are the thousands of Iowans who participate in it every year – without biking at all. They organize the host towns. They open their shady yards for rider respite. They host riders overnight. They set up cooling stations with sprinklers. They give out water, and beer too. They grill hamburgers in their yard and give them away.

They create a community of support and care that feeds and fuels the mass craziness of hopping on two-wheelers (and related vehicles) and pedaling an average of 468 miles over seven days during the hottest time of the year.

Last year, the longest day of the ride (89 miles), with the most elevation gain (4,218 feet), was Day 5, Des Moines to Tama-Toledo. As if making up for the fact that bridge construction caused us to be rerouted onto a gravel road, the tiny town of Colfax (pop. 2,200) provided extraordinary hospitality. A farm along the way set up a respite station with a Porta-Potty, water, and a shade tent with a fan. Howard Street Christian Church served homemade pie, cinnamon rolls, and ice cream sandwich cookies with their building open for riders to sit in air conditioning and use their bathrooms. A little farther down the street, a historical sign proclaimed the town’s connection to cycling history, with the story of Leo Welker, “Colfax’s Black Cycling Champion.” He was a teenage cycling phenomenon who competed for Grinnell.

Let me be clear: RAGBRAI is tough. Last year it was especially hot, and long, and crowded. I witnessed one scary crash caused by people riding too close together. Amazingly, even the rider who flew off her bicycle asked with concern about the person who had caused the accident. “She took a hard fall, and I know she must feel really bad. Is she ok?”

Toward the end, Gail asked me, “If RAGBRAI was a movie, what kind of movie would it be?” My answer was, “A thriller-horrorcomedy-action-adventure movie all rolled into one.” And we chowed down on free watermelon and danced with a man dressed in a pig costume in Muscatine, before dipping our tires in the Mississippi in Davenport, getting long showers, and treating ourselves to one last ice cream at Whitey’s.



Music in the Park


Farm Stand



JULY 17-21


This project paid for in part by the Iowa Tourism Office.
Corn Days
Allamakee County Fair
Laura Barlament, the executive director of strategic marketing and communications at Luther College, knew she would ride RAGBRAI when she moved to Iowa in 2020. This summer, she’s exploring her home state on the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia (BRAG). She spent many years as an activist for pedestrians and cyclists in New York City through Transportation Alternatives, and she rides her bike to work most days throughout the year. Laura (right) and Gail doing the Mississippi tire dip at the end of RAGBRAI. / All photos courtesy Laura Barlament


Coon Valley is a picture-perfect village nestled in Vernon County, Wisconsin. Just 20 miles from La Crosse, it’s teeming with bluffs, natural beauty, and miles of rural roads perfect for cycling. The bluffs were a huge part of what originally drew Borah Teamwear owner Chris Jackson to the area as a UW La Crosse student in the 1980s, and they would eventually lead him to put down business and life roots in the Valley.


From selling copiers to building a successful independent bicycle rep business to creating Borah Teamwear, Chris has always been driven to be his own boss and climb the next hill in front of him –metaphorically, and on two wheels.

Borah Teamwear, founded in 1998, has now become an iconic brand of active team sports uniforms and clothing – and is, in fact, the only USA manufacturer of Alpine ski racing suits. Through technology advancements in dye sublimation (with all water-based inks), laser cutting technologies, and online team portals, Borah Teamwear leads the way in this industry across the country and beyond. The company is also a major philanthropic force in supporting high school scholastic mountain biking and alpine ski racing and is also a huge part of large cycling events like the Borah “Epic Bike Fest,” which has made major donations to the Cable (Wisconsin) Area Mountain Bike Association as well as the Wisconsin and Minnesota NICA (scholastic) Mountain Biking leagues.

Summer 2024 / 72
DR. PETER J. BLODGETT ï DR. LANA W. MCDERMOTT ï DR. JOHN E. WILMES 563-382-3657 . 108 Fifth Avenue, Decorah, Iowa . WELCOME DR. JANET L. BOYES! SUM
Auny Pole Photography
Borah Teamwear owner Chris Jackson at their facility in Coon Valley, Wisconsin. / Photo by Benji Nichols

In Borah’s day-to-day business, it all comes down to people. Chris credits his employees first and foremost and works to treat them right by creating a work culture that folks want to be a part of. Take the multiple miles of single-track flow trails right outside the office door that employees can spin (on the company fleet of bikes!) during lunch, or the extended breaks that encourage walks during work hours. People matter, culture matters, giving back matters. These are the paths Borah Teamwear has forged in the world-wide active sport uniform industry, all from the rural heart of the Driftless.

Name: Chris Jackson

Business: Borah Teamwear

Year Business was Established: 1998


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

I grew up in the Milwaukee area and ski raced all my young life. I ended up near Atlanta with my mom in the 1980s – had loved skiing– and was a fish out of water. If you had an awesome car, you were super cool, but nobody skied. My older brother got into bicycle racing really early and it was at a peak time in the road racing world – Greg LeMond, Michael King, the 7-11 Team, Jim Ochowicz, Tom Schuler – and I was pretty inspired by that. If I couldn’t ski, I might as well get out and ride.

I ended up coming back to Wisconsin for High School and then came to UW La Crosse in the summer of 1985. I rode all the time – something about the hills and valleys that has always pulled me in, and I really fell in love with the bluffs. I graduated with a sports psychology degree from UW, did some ski coaching in Colorado, and then went to work in Minneapolis selling copy machines for three months. I tried to sell a copy machine to a friend that was managing a bike shop, and he was like, “Dude, what are you doing? You could be selling bike stuff!” \ Summer 2024 73 YOUR INDIE BOOK & GIFT STORE SINCE 1994 they have cats BLUFFSIDE GARDENS Stay. Explore. Grow. Relax at Decorah’s new Beautiful Garden Retreat Book online at blu • 563-880-0445 • • 11 rental units • Small & Large Cabins • Direct bike trail access 1020 Park St. Decorah, IA Algerian & American Cuisine ï Vegetarian & Gluten-free Options Signature Cocktails ï Non-Alcoholic Cocktails ï Craft Beer Natural Wine ï Seasonal Patio Dining ï Full Menu at Elkader, Iowa ï 563-245-1992 ï

Through advancements in dye sublimation, laser cutting technologies, and online team portals, Borah Teamwear leads the way. / Above photo and photo opposite page courtesy Borah Teamwear

I figured out most of the guys doing that were independent reps, and so I discovered the CABDA (Chicago Area Bike Dealers Association) show, literally put on my suit and tie, and on the day of the 1991 Halloween Super Storm (blizzard) drove down to the show from Minneapolis. I got down there and started handing out my resume and kept bugging companies until a couple folks gave me a break. Allsop Softride was one of the first – Sampson fat wrap (handlebar wrap), another helmet line – and I just started driving around the Midwest and calling on shops. In fact, Iowa was always really good to me – Barr Bikes, Bike World, and Rasmussen – all around Des Moines – a lot of those folks were my friends and best customers.

I would attend these annual sales meetings with the companies I was repping, and somehow, I always had it in me that I wanted to do my own thing. And then the category of casual bike wear started to become a thing. I always liked cool sportswear, so I developed a line of casual bicycling wear – baggy mountain biking shorts, which were super new at the time. That was where I really started to leap – 1997 I was producing my line with a seamstress in St. Paul and selling out of my car. Borah came about as I was hanging out with a friend in the Idaho Mountains, and Mt Borah is the highest peak in the state – I just rolled with it!

It was also around this time that I started to get burnt out in Minneapolis and wanted to get closer to riding and outdoor opportunities. I had ridden all over the rural areas around La Crosse and often stopped in Coon Valley on rides – it always just seemed like a cool little town. One thing led to another – I found two sewing companies in the area, one that made cheerleading uniforms, and then four sisters who ran a sewing business out of Portland, Wisconsin (near Cashton). I moved down to Coon Valley in the fall of 1998 – and the folks on the industrial board knew I wasn’t quite

Summer 2024 / 74
DECORAH, IOWA 563-382-8406
Janice Numedahl Mike Kelly Jeanne Gullekson Jayme Folkedahl Keegan Steinlage Gina Smith Trent Ostby WINNESHIEK COUNTY’S #1 AGENCY!
Ron Juve Billy Connor Marcia Madrigal Old meets new in Borah’s showroom./ Photo by Benji Nichols

ready for a commercial building – but one of the guys had a space available in an old grocery store for $350 a month. That was it – the leap moment. I said, “Let’s go for it and commit to Borah.” So we did, I successfully handed off my bike rep business, and went all-in. I had one employee, and we came down and fixed up the space and got to work. It was wild – we’d cut parts by hand, send them up for sewing, and then have big “bagging & tagging” parties at the original space until two in the morning so we could get orders out the next day. It worked.

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

Mostly, you know, it’s all I really know (haha!) – I’ve been my own boss for most of my adult life. I would definitely say the flexibility, setting my own schedule.

How about the worst?

The fact that it’s always there – it’s so hard to leave at the end of the day. You live and breathe it and your business becomes a part of your life. It’s always on your mind.

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

I’ve never thought that – but I do remember one time having the president of a bank we were working with literally look at me and say, “You know, it’s great to have dreams, but you might want to think about going out and doing something else.”

But I think a lot of entrepreneurs – you know, you’re going to tell me I can’t do this, and I’m going to show you how I will. I’ve always had a lot of competitive drive from sports and having an older brother – and I’m the kind of guy that’ll figure out a way around it.

Continued on next page

Memories of a lifetime

Make them here

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

I had a CPA in Viroqua, Marty McEvoy, who became a really great mentor – both in personal and business life – that was really helpful. I also took some courses with Fred Kush in La Crosse who is well known for his organizational leadership work. Bob Proctor, who is now gone, but a lot of big thinking – just believing you can do it.

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

I think I had to do the process the way I did it, running into all the stumbling blocks. Looking back, would you do it the same? No way, but the stumbling blocks, that’s how I learned – the school of hard knocks. I had no apparel experience – just figure it out as I go. I knew nothing about printers, once we got into the whole dye sublimation world –printing and dye sublimation for fabric – we definitely had to learn as we go. For every problem there was a solution, and then for every solution there was always going to be another problem – but you just have to figure them out.

How do you manage your life/work balance?

The bluffs – ha! When we bring people in –industry people or whatever who might not get why we’re here – we’ll go for a ride, and 30 miles later they totally get it. The roads we have here – the bluffs, the natural beauty we can take in on a lunch ride.

Our mission is to create a positive and healthy work environment at Borah. I get a lot of enjoyment raising the bar, and I push pretty hard for employees to be their best. Hopefully we inspired them to live a more positive and healthy life. We also incorporate a lot of

W, Th, F: 10-6 . Sat: 9-5 . Sun: 12-4 . Closed Mon & Tues. 101 College Dr. Decorah, Iowa . 563-382-8209 Your destination for premium, electric pedal-assist bicycles • Casual/Recreation • Commuter-Focused • Cargo/Kid Hauling • Mountain/Gravel Bikes We have electric bikes for everyone! Rentals & Demos Available
In Borah’s day-to-day business, it all comes down to people. Chris credits his employees first and foremost. / Photo courtesy Borah Teamwear

things into our workdays – we have Tai Chi class on Tuesdays, and an extended lunch break if they want to punch in and go outside for a 15-minute walk. So hopefully people are just a little bit happier and healthier because they work here.

I heard once that if you don’t think you have time to go for a run or a bike ride or a walk, then you definitely need to go for another run or a bike ride or a walk. Carving out that time will make you more productive in the rest of your day. You’re too busy not to!

What keeps you inspired?

The biggest advantage and thing that keeps me inspired has been the great people that live in this community that we’ve been able to employ – and they’ve stuck with me. There are so many talented people, and that have an incredibly strong work ethic. They’ve been a big part of the success, and they’ve become family. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the people. The Village of Coon Valley has also been so great to us over the years – working with us on land for our facility, and then land for our trails. Also – the bluffs, and amazing road riding – just go for a ride. \ Summer 2024 77 EXPERIENCE Amazing Brewed Coffee Caramelicious® Cold Brew Wild Berry Smoothie Prickly Pear SCOOOT! Energy Infusion DECORAH, IA | WINONA, MN strength in numbers with a personal touch Tax • Assurance • Bookkeeping • Payroll • Consulting Decorah • Waukon • New Hampton 110 East Water St 563-382-4297 ï order online FAMOUS PIZZA FUN & CASUAL ATMOSPHERE MABE’S PIZZA DELIVERY AVAILABLE! Serving pizza for 70+ years! 563-382-3627 | 106 College Drive | Decorah, IA your property, our priority SINCE 1932
Find out more about Borah Teamwear’s full line of custom bicycling, skiing, and running wear that “performs and inspires” at
The sewing floor at Borah Teamwear. / Photo courtesy Borah Teamwear
Summer 2024 / 78
Rosy Maple Moth / Artwork by Mary Thompson


“All around me in the forests the white moths floated.”
From The Moths, by Mary Oliver

As the sun covers itself with a starry blanket, a fluttering frenzy unfolds. Evening aviators emerge to navigate sweet-scented currents drifting through your yard. Mere molecules of fragrance send them reeling in the shadows. You see, for moths, life is all about odors.

Moths have been wind-scenting forests and wetlands since the dawn of flowering plants. Fossil fragments bearing evidence of “early” moths date back to the Jurassic Period, about 200 million years ago. Did T-rex have moths in its sock drawer? Since the reign of dinosaurs, the ancestral moth has radiated into nearly 160,000 species worldwide, including a staggering variety of shapes and colors.

While our nocturnal friends are typically stigmatized as washed out white, gray, and brown – as dull in coloring as an old sweater – members of the silk moth family take the prize for dazzling. The rosy maple moth, a Driftless denizen, looks like fruity sherbet, bedecked in alternating bands of banana yellow and cotton candy pink. The closely related luna moth is an emerald stunner. The luna is so beautiful, it has the distinction of being the only moth featured on a United States postage stamp, an honor conferred to more than two dozen of its day-flying cousins, the butterflies. Adult luna moths are adorned with large, lime green wings with a maroon trim package. Long tails on hind wings conjure regal images. While beautiful, those trailing tails serve to confuse hungry bats, reducing the moth’s likelihood of ending up a snack.

Yet despite their best efforts at evasion, their sheer abundance makes them a wildlife food staple. Thus, moths play critical roles in nature. For countless baby birds, moth caterpillars are “what’s for dinner.” Adult sphinx moths are preferred prey for night flying Whip-poor-wills. Bats and Common Nighthawks, large, swallow-like birds active during twilight (a crepuscular lifestyle), also eat flying insects, including an abundance of somber-toned moths. \ Summer 2024 79 P H M ww w.po r terhousemu s 401 W Broadway. Decorah • ROCKS. BUGS. BEAUTY. Open Sat/Sun in May & Sept Daily June thru August Tours at 1, 2, and 3 PM 5 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms. Sleeps up to 13. Perfect for gatherings & retreats! Waverly, Iowa • 319-202-1043 • Enter the new health paradigm with Fascial Counterstrain & Quantum Biology. e application of these emerging sciences is the future to optimize health and longevity. Fascial Counterstrain is unique in its ability to impact and treat all of the body's fascial systems including the vascular, visceral, nervous & musculoskeletal systems. It's a therapeutic hands-on, multi-system approach to release spasm that impacts and treats the body. It's pu ing the body in a position of ease to release dysfunction. Gentle, powerful and long-lasting relief, Fascial Counterstrain changes lives, not just symptoms. Quantum Biology is working to reset your circadian rhythm and mitochondria health. Using natural sunlight, limiting nnEMFs, sleep, water, mindfulness, breathwork, fascia, electrons, earthing, Vitamin G and Vitamin D.
Continued on next page

There’s more to moths than landing on the proverbial menu, though. After bees, beetles, and butterflies punch out for the day, moths begin the nightshift to continue the important work of pollination. Their keen sense of smell enables them to find flowers that chemically shout “pick me” by emitting pungent nocturnal scents. Moths navigate the botanical potpourri with antennae specially designed to detect the slightest whiff of flowers. Because they have a metaphorical sweet tooth, it’s possible to attract them for observation by using a fermented concoction of brown sugar and bananas. Mix the ingredients, let the sweet slurry ripen for a couple days, apply it to tree bark with a brush and stand back to watch the late-night extravaganza. Approaching slowly with a flashlight will allow you to illuminate our night-flying neighbors for a better look. Driftless prairies and woodlands provide essential habitat for more than 1,000 species of moths. Your yard has a role to play, too. Even a small native plant garden can support dozens of moth species. Don’t be too fastidious. Dead leaves and old plant stems provide important cover for caterpillars, cocoons, and adults. Eliminating pesticide use will make your yard moth friendly. When possible, turn off outside lights so moths don’t flutter themselves to illuminated exhaustion. This summer, as the full moon rises and stars begin twinkling their ancient morse code, head out and settle in for a glimpse of garden night life. You’ll witness one of earth’s oldest spectacles, an eclipse –the term for a group of moths – of lovely night-flyers, dancing in the dark.

Mary and Craig Thompson live in the bluffs north of La Crosse. They confess to staking out their oriole (jelly) feeder at night to watch for winged cameos from nocturnal neighbors.

Summer 2024 / 80 321 W Water St. Decorah, IA | 563-387-0191 | Contact us for all of your banking needs! Purl Up & Knit for a Spell Hours: Tues–Sat 10am to 4pm • Sun 12 to 4pm 300 W. Water St. Decorah, Iowa Yarn, Knitting & Fiber Art Supplies, Classes, & More! 563-517-1059 • 563-382-4010 • 563-380-5851 Pick up & delivery available We’ll take care of it! 501 MONTGOMERY ST. DECORAH, IA Folkedahl Service
Luna Moth / Artwork by Mary Thompson


Become a member of




Thanks for your support! 81

Jerry Aulwes

Jerry Aulwes has been a friendly face in downtown Decorah for many years. You may see him walking home from errands downtown and visiting with everyone as he strolls down the sidewalks. One of his favorite stops is Decorah Bank and Trust. It was a daily stop for most of his life and he still enjoys stopping in, being greeted by the staff, and visiting with bank employees. Jerry also makes sure to get to coffee at the Landing Market as often as possible so he and the coffee club members can “Solve all of the world’s problems over a cup of coffee.” Jerry has spent many years of his life in Decorah doing all things Decorah… running a small business, raising his family with his wife, JoAnn, volunteering his time on several different boards including Decorah Chamber, Decorah Betterment, Decorah Jaycess (he was one of the Nordic Fest Founders on that board), Decorah City Council, Luren Singers, and Decorah Rotary just to name a few. Decorah was not Jerry’s birthplace, but it is the community that he cherishes, loves, and wants to see thrive.

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Lyle Kelly, a neighbor and friend, told me, “Calm down, live for today and tomorrow will take care of itself.”

What did you want to be when you grew up?

In that time, I knew I had to enlist in the service, and I knew I wanted to be Navy. I thought I would figure the rest out after that.

What do you/ did you do?

Many different things, I was a soda jerk, an usher in a theater, then joined the Navy. After the Navy, I did go to college at Upper Iowa University and the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. After college, I worked as an Assistant Manager at Jack and Jill and then for Altfillisch, Olson, Gray, and Thompson Architects. A job at the Office of Economic Opportunity led to working as a Director for the Chambers of Commerce in Tomah Wisconsin, Wausau, Wisconsin, and Marshall, Minnesota. During those years away, contact was kept with friends in Decorah and, in particular, Leo Teikkpe, the owner of Coast to Coast, who sold us the Hardware store in 1975. I owned the store until 2003 when I sold it to my daughter Julie and her husband Steve. I did help at the hardware store after that for a few years, but one of my favorite jobs came after that when I volunteered for Oneota Food Coop and I got to give food, beer, and wine samples and visit with people. (He also likes to joke that Julie fired him so he had to get the volunteer job…..but to this very day he still stops in at Ace Hardware to oversee that things are still getting done.)

If you were stranded on a desert island what three things would you want with you? Water, food, and company so I would have someone to visit with.

Try to describe yourself in one sentence. Kind of a nice old guy.

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

If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? Black licorice

Name one thing you could not live without. My brain and it’s not the greatest anymore.

Tell us about …

A. Your wedding day to JoAnn: I only really remember being very concerned about not using a movie camera that day because my light bar at my sister’s wedding caused all of the electricity to go out in the whole church and I didn’t want that to happen.

B. Your first job: My first job was being a soda jerk and movie theatre usher, I used to seat the naughty kids at the back of the theatre so that I didn’t have to clean up the jujubes that they threw at the movie screen.

C. Your favorite memory: One that I can remember was when a neighbor, Scott Lang, came over with the new Nordic Fest Brochure, and my granddaughters were on the front cover, that made me especially proud since I was one of the Nordic Fest founders.

Decorah, Iowa 563-382-3603 • Post-hospital rehabilitation following surgery, illness or injury. •Large, private, fully furnished rooms • Private bathrooms/walk-in showers •Therapy and 24/7 assistance • Cable TV & wireless internet • Restful rehab to return home Valley Suites Rehabilitation
PROBITUARY – A NOTICE OF LIFE! Interviewed by daughter Julie Spilde
305 East Water St. Decorah, Iowa • 563-382-4279 • Call us – our doctors are here 24/7 for eye emergencies. 9:00-5:30 MON 7:30-5:30 TUES, WED, THURS 7:30-4:30 FRI 24 HR EMERGENCY CARE Accidents Happen Even on Vacation Welcome OB-GYN Team to the Anthonie Lopez Cortes, M.D.
250 artists. 7 days a week. 1 gallery. 563.382.8786 | 102 West Water Street, Decorah, Iowa | agora arts art - gi s - jewelry

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.