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Divorce manufactures a substantial list of effects on children. When one foundation is crumbling, it’s very important to have another foundation in place ready to take its place. What are the things that your children are going to need most from you as life transitions? Answering and acting on that sentiment will have a great impact on the future. Not all divorces end in bad news stories for kids. “My parents divorced when I was young, but I was brought up in two really loving households. I didn’t have a contentious relationship with my mom or dad.” – Matt Damon, actor The great hope would be that if divorce is going to happen, the story for the kids would end up like Matt’s. Two parents coming together in unison for the greater cause of their shared children and designing a path 2

forward that leads to success for all. The reason this grand hope often fails is because there are real problems why divorce is the solution. There is anger, bitterness, resentment, betrayal, and any number of other negative things standing in the way. Those things are poison to the life of a child. How do we limit them from seeping beyond the marriage itself? It will require serious personal sacrifice and a determined perseverance to turn divorce for your family into a happy ending, but it’s entirely possible. Dealing with the effects on children is step one. Here are 5 things a child of divorce needs from their dad.

The End of Conflict

Even in most wars, eventually, the hostilities stop. A cease-fire is declared and the terms of the settlement are ironed out. Often with divorces, battles rage nonstop—


long after separation. That is deadly to the life of the family. As a leader, a dad needs to find the higher road and stay on it, no matter where the fault lies. It is imperative that a child sees their dad having respect for their mother.

Strong Communication

Your child needs to be absolutely certain you aren’t abandoning them. No matter how you present it, that is going to be their fear because your presence is no longer going to be constant. Children do not know the things we know, and they haven’t been matured by life experiences to be able to understand what an adult does. They do, however, understand fear, and they are going to have it. It requires strong and constant communication, along with proof by action, that you will remain steady in their lives as their father.

Economic Responsibility

Plain and simple. Don’t be the guy under the label: Deadbeat Dads. The Urban Dictionary describes that guy like this: A father who does not provide for a family that he was part of creating. Does not have morals or a responsible enough nature to realize how difficult he is making life for his family. Do the right thing, even if it means financial hardship for you.

Maintain Structure and Discipline

A whole new batch of temptations can come at a man coming out of divorce. Maintaining personal discipline and family structure is vital for not only your children, but for your own happiness moving forward.

Carry the Burden

After the fear of abandonment, the next great worry on the mind of your child will be, What did I do wrong? That idea left to fester in his/her soul could gnaw at them the rest of their lives. Get to that feeling right away, and talk them through the process of why it is all happening. To be successful will require some hard truth that you might not have wanted to share, but they need to know. Spare the gritty details, but make sure the children know this is your burden to carry, not their own. ■

© 2015 All Pro Dad. All Rights Reserved. Family First, All Pro Dad, iMOM, and Family Minute with Mark Merrill are registered trademarks.

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02

FATHERS

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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN

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URBAN FARMING

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PURE PASSION

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WHAT A CHILD OF DIVORCE NEEDS

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER

TALKING URBAN AGRICULTURE WITH PETE NIELSON

PURE PERFORMANCE

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HAVING A BEER WITH...

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YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG (INCORRECTLY)

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LOCAL HERO

THE BISHOP

THINGS WE DO THE STUPID WAY EVERY DAY

BIKE MAN: FINDS CALLING BY PROVIDING BICYCLES TO CHILDREN IN NEED


PUBLISHED BY Urban Toad Media LLP www.urbantoadmedia.com

OWNER | GRAPHIC DESIGNER Dawn Siewert dawn@urbantoadmedia.com OWNER | PHOTOGRAPHER Darren Losee darren@urbantoadmedia.com

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jessica Ballou Meghan Feir Paul Hankel Alicia Underlee Nelson Danielle A. Teigen

ADVERTISING INQUIRIES Michelle Juhnke | 701-361-1760 michelle@urbantoadmedia.com

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The Good Life Men’s Magazine is distributed six times a year by Urban Toad Media LLP. Material may not be reproduced without permission. The Good Life Men’s Magazine accepts no liability for reader dissatisfaction arising from content in this publication. The opinions expressed, or advice given, are the views of individual writers or advertisers and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of The Good Life Men’s Magazine.


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BY: PAUL HANKEL ■ PHOTOS: URBAN TOAD MEDIA

The job of an Air Traffic Controller is an exciting, yet demanding career. Being responsible for air traffic and safety is a big responsibility when thousands of lives are at stake. Consistently ranked in the top ten on multiple “Most Stressful Jobs” lists, the job of an Air Traffic Controller is one where having a off day could have dire consequences. Taylor Williams began his aviation career wanting to be a pilot. After graduating from South High School, Williams attended the University of North Dakota. There, he was on track to become a pilot before switching interest in aviation over to the more technical side of things. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics degree and is now an Air Traffic Controller at Hector International Airport in Fargo. Williams cited the potential for opportunity and the growing number of job openings within the aviation control industry as the reason he chose to become an Air Traffic Controller. Following his graduation, Williams went through a required waiting period, and then attended an advanced training course in Oklahoma before returning to Fargo, where he has been an Air Traffic Controller since. Hector International, while a smaller airport, has seen an increase in the number of flights it services, in recent years. Now servicing around 220 flights per day, Hector International is a busy Midwest hub of transport which Williams and his colleagues oversee.

As an Air Traffic Controller, Williams spends his shift dividing his time between what those in the industry call the “tower,” and, “approach control”. The Tower – Oversees the immediate air space within 5 miles of the airport – Ensures safety of takeoffs and landings While Williams enjoys his time spent in the tower, he says he enjoys working in approach control a little more. “It’s more of a challenge to me because you have a lot more airplanes and you’re working such a large air space, where as the tower is more of a confined air space.” Approach Control – Oversees the air space 5 to 60 miles from the airport, and from the ground up to 10,000 feet in elevation – Monitors air traffic for the following airports: Fargo, Casselton, Kindred, and Hillsboro, in North Dakota; Hawley, and Detroit Lakes, in Minnesota. Approach control has a lot of different responsibilities, according to Williams. “The approach control has a wide function in regards to what they do. A lot of people don’t realize that a lot of the smaller towns have their own airports. On a lot of weekends, people will be out flying around and we have to monitor that.” Commercial flights, along with 7


only work two hours maximum, on position. That’s because they want to give you a break from monitoring traffic.” While on position, Williams will be in active contact with multiple flights, monitor flight speeds, elevations and approaches, weather advisements and many other variables that effect flight trajectories. After a two-hour stint, Williams will take a break, during which he will review weather reports, receive updates, rest or complete other tasks associated with his job. Williams also receives new and updated trainings, as well as recurrent trainings.

private flights, shipping flights and even agricultural flights come in and out of Hector International on an around the clock basis. Hector’s approach control also monitors all of the air traffic coming from the University of North Dakota’s flight school, which boasts a fleet of around 130 airplanes. They also monitor the operations of the Jet Center, located just north of Hector, as well as the flights of private companies that have their own fleet and hanger located at Hector. Flights that are traveling above or further out than Hector’s air space are monitored by the Air Route Traffic Control Center, located in Farmington, Minnesota. According to Williams, “Everything past us is monitored by the Center (Air Route Traffic Control Center). They handle all the stuff that’s flying really high. When you see those air trails in the skies; those high flights are the ones that are talking to the Center.” A Typical Day Williams works eight-hour shifts, with staggered days off. He works a combination of day and night shifts. During those shifts, Williams will work two hours“on position”, meaning he is at a control station and actively monitoring flights.“ We

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Following his downtime, Williams will either return to the tower or switch over to approach control, for a shift. The Aviation Industry Please excuse the pun but - the numbers of career opportunities are “soaring,” within the aviation industry. The Federal Aviation Administration is in constant search of willing candidates to add to its ranks of Air Traffic Controllers and other positions within the field. According to Williams, “A lot of people in this industry are reaching their retirement age, so there are lots of available careers in this industry. Besides being a pilot, you can be an airport manager, an air traffic controller like me, or a person on the technical side. You can also go into Aviation Law, and work for an airline or the Federal Aviation Administration.” When we asked Williams where he would be in five or ten years, he replied, “Right here!” A Fargo-native, Williams seems happy with his exciting, albeit stressful job, close to home. If he wasn’t an Air Traffic Controller, Williams says he would either be coaching somewhere locally, or pursuing one of his other interests, such as being a rally car driver. When he’s not busy keeping our regional skies safe, Williams says he can be found at the lakes, during the summer months.


Finally, we asked Williams what his definition of living the good life was. His answer was one that is shared by many people who have always lived here or whom return home to live in the area:” Living in North Dakota!” ■

– During the flood of 2009, Hector’s Air Traffic Controllers oversaw flights from the US Coast Guard, the North Dakota Air National Guard, local regional and national news crews, and sight seers, as they surveyed the flood damage. – Hector International Airport currently has a staff of around 20 Air Traffic Controllers. – According to a 2013 US Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, the average salary for an Air Traffic Controller was between $118,000 and $122,000.

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Pete Nielson’s passion for fresh, locally sourced food has already launched a successful business. This spring, it will inspire another. Nielson currently operates Dirthead Microgreens, a home-based grow operation that produces 20 to 30 pounds of microgreens a month. Nielson’s greens grace dinner plates at Hotel Donaldson, Proof Artisan Distillers, Blackbird Woodfire, The Toasted Frog and the new BernBaum’s on Roberts Street. They’re also available at Swanson Health Products. Dirthead Microgreens grew out of a lifelong passion for food and was shaped by Nielson’s successful restaurant career. “Just like a lot of people that I know of, I came from the restaurant business. That’s what I did for 15 years,“ Nielson said. “I’ve worked pretty much every position you can work in a restaurant at one time or another. I have a passion for food and I wanted to see better food produced for restaurants.” Nielson didn’t have to look far to find an equally enthusiastic clientele. When his first crop of microgreens was ready (germination to harvest takes between seven and 21 days), Nielson started calling his buddies in kitchens and front offices all over town. Over the last two years, he’s worked with some of the region’s most creative culinary minds and tailored his offerings to suit their preferences. “I deliver to most of the top restaurants in Fargo,” he said, a grin coloring his voice. “I know what’ s going on, who’s making what dish, who’s making the best meals. And that’s what I love.”

Nielson’s business and the vibrant Fargo-Moorhead culinary scene are a direct result of changing attitudes about food. “There was a big local food movement that happened in the 2000s and the late 90s here in Fargo and all throughout the country,” Nielson explained. “People wanted more from their food. They didn’t just want a cheeseburger – they wanted to know where the cheese came from, where the cow was raised, if was it free range beef.” Enterprising chefs responded with creative ideas and freshly prepared dishes. Locally sourced produce, meats and even dairy began appearing on menus. Books like Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly” (“That book made chefs popular; That book cracked open the restaurant industry,” said Nielson.) reached beyond the culinary world to the general public. Michael Pollan’s tomes celebrated healthy food and the people that produced it. That reverence struck a chord in a region with longstanding farming and ranching traditions. 10


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BY: ALICIA UNDERLEE NELSON ■ PHOTOS: URBAN TOAD MEDIA


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Local was cool. Fresh was best. And once diners realized that the folks who supplied their dinner were their neighbors, the concept of sustainable agriculture got a lot more personal. “People are really waking up to wanting to know that farmers are getting a fair dollar and that we’re not destroying our rainforest or resources,” said Nielson. “And if we can grow it locally it helps our economy here in the local community, creating jobs. And it’s a selling point for a local restaurant to say ‘Hey this tomato comes from a farm that’s six blocks away.’” The demand for local produce is prompting Nielson to expand his business to include a second venture, Dirthead Farms, this spring. “The expansion plans are to take in small plots in the F-M area — underutilized spots, backyards, vacant gardens — to supply produce to restaurants,” said Nielson. “I’ll have probably 15 or 16 different items that will be going out to market this year.” He’s actively seeking commercial properties for a wash and pack station and cold storage and launched an online fundraising campaign at gofundme.com/wwwdirtheadfarms to purchase equipment. Nielson has already secured a few plots to grow produce and he’s looking for more. “I’m always interested in looking at other properties,” he said. “Basically, anyone who doesn’t want to take care of a yard during the year, if you’re willing to let me take out your lawn and grow food, we can probably work out a deal.” But even if individuals aren’t interested in swapping their grass for veggies, there are still smart, sustainable ways they can support local food and get more colorful produce onto the table this summer. Nielson recommends cultivating new garden spaces (even if they’re small) or working a plot in a community garden. He’s a big fan and frequent customer of local CSAs (community-supportive agriculture, where individuals pledge to support regional growers and receive produce on a regular basis) and regional farmers markets. Nielson also speaks about sustainable agriculture at Ugly Food of the North events. Producing quality food and getting his hands dirty are central to Nielson’s life. And he loves to tell people about it. “I get to go outside and play in the dirt. I grow food that people appreciate. That teaching element is really awesome,“ Nielson said. “And just doing this stuff for myself, that’s my definition of the good life, being able to sustain myself, and my business. It feels great.” ■ Dirthead Microgreens and Dirthead Farms 701-540-1229 pete@dirtheadfarms.com www.dirtheadfarms.com

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L-R: CHARLIE, HERM, CASEY

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From the moment you walk into Kurt “Herm” Balster and Casey Anderson’s Pure Performance motorcycle shop, you know you’re surrounded by passion for everything motorcycle. Whether it’s the custom built 1981 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead Bobber that adorns the entryway of the shop, or the wide range of bikes that are scattered throughout the shop, Pure Performance is in the business of giving their customers the ultimate motorcycle experience.

THE BIKE BUILDERS

BY: PAUL HANKEL ■ PHOTOS: URBAN TOAD MEDIA

Herm was the previous owner of Fargo Custom Choppers from 2004 to early 2008. During that time he met Anderson, who came into the shop looking for help with his bike, after moving back to the area from California. A friendship formed over the following years and the two opened Pure Performance, now in its sixth season of operation. The team at Pure Performance is small – consisting of just three motorcycle fanatics, and that’s exactly how Herm and Anderson want it. The shop is a three-man operation, consisting of Herm, Anderson, and Charlie McCann, the third mechanic. McCann is also the owner of Top End Dragways, which is located in Glyndon, Minnesota. They describe themselves as being mostly self-taught. “We all have a love for motorcycles and tinkering that goes all the way back to high school,” says Anderson. Both gained their motorcycle acumen the old fashioned way – by working for and with experienced motorcycle mechanics and by immersing themselves in the culture. Kurt “Herm” Balster – Herm taught himself by working on cars and motorcycles while growing up, in Aberdeen, South Dakota. “In high school I was in a car club called the Motorheads. We always used to drag race and work on our cars.” Following high school, Herm went on to serve in the Army for nine years, which is where he says he got his discipline and attention to detail. He also credits the mechanic he previously worked with in Minneapolis as being one of his primary mentors. Casey Anderson – Much like Herm, Anderson grew to love anything mechanical at a young age. “I’m kind of a perfectionist and I feel like I was driven by the need to understand how the mechanical side of things worked.” 15


Both Herm and Anderson remember one of their primary “learning bikes” being a 1973 or 1974 Harley-Davidson Sportster Ironhead. Each had their own. According to Herm it was, ”one of the worst bikes to work on,” mechanically speaking. “In hindsight it was probably a game-changer for both of us. It really put us over the curve and forced us to really understand motorcycle mechanics” says Anderson.

THE SHOP When Herm and Anderson set out to build their shop, they never knew it would grow to the size and scope that it is at now. Pure Performance now takes up an entire 7,500 square foot structure and is located off of 7th Street North in 16

West Fargo. The shop boasts a full-build and customization area, dynamometer machine, and bike storage for their growing number of clientele. Pure Performance is now in its sixth season and business is booming. “Sometimes it’s hard to keep up,” says Anderson, “but we can’t complain and we love what we do!” Pure Performance is more than just a motorcycle shop. According to Herm and Anderson, during the summer months many of their clientele will swing in just to hang out and check out the other bikes. “It’s really a community that we’re lucky to be a part of,” says Herm.

THE BIKES Pure Performance is a full-service bike shop. According to Herm, “We do everything, including some fabrication.” Street bikes, custom choppers, motorized scooters, you name it – Pure Performance can service and store them all. They can work on nearly any type of bike and welcome a challenge. A quick peek in their bike storage area reveals everything from mopeds to completely build custom show bikes, to a race-ready crotch rocket. Pure Performance also offers a storage area where motorcycle owners can store their bikes, during winter months.


THE CUSTOM BUILD PROCESS Customers come to them with vision for a bike and it’s up to Pure Performance to deliver. Requests can range from simple customization projects to full motor rebuilds and design and fabrication. The custom-build process is one that Herm and Anderson thoroughly enjoy, along with its challenges. “It’s like a canvas on two wheels” says Herm, “They give us an idea of what they want and we go from there.” These longterm full build projects are built mainly on two factors: experience and trust. According to Anderson, “Each bike is a new process. The buyer relies on us to have a better idea of what the outcome will be.”

THE INDUSTRY The motorcycle industry in this area is surprisingly strong, considering the motorcycle riding season can be as short as 4 or 5 months. However, according to Herm and Anderson, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing since they opened and they are just fine with that. They see everyone from people who recently purchased their first bike, to die-hard custom bike enthusiasts and are happy to help them all.

THE GOOD LIFE When asked what they consider “the good life,” Herm and Anderson’s answer was, unsurprisingly, the same: working in their shop, being surrounded by other motorcycle fanatics, and riding their bikes in their spare time. More specifically, “An 80-degree Saturday afternoon, no headwind and open highway.” Hell. Yes. ■ 17


BY: JESSICA BALLOU ■ PHOTOS: URBAN TOAD MEDIA TRAVEL PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY: PROJECT WILDNESS 18


N

ate Haugen and Shane Ulven really take the “Minnesota Nice” slogan to heart. Their friendship has spanned more than 20 years since they met back in kindergarten in Hawley, Minn. Now the friends, who currently live in Fargo, found a way to combine their love of traveling with making a difference with Project Wildness.

With Project Wildness, now a tax-exempt non-profit, the friends collect donations and travel across the country giving away that money via random acts of kindness.

Fuel for the soul Last summer they decided to go on a road trip to cover as many states and miles as they could. While they had a few stops in mind to visit friends and family, they didn’t come up with a certain route for their trip west. One day at Junkyard Brewing Company, Haugen decided that he wanted to give away $500 he had saved up through random acts of kindness. Ulven immediately agreed to also give away $500 on their trip. Shortly after this, they set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise more money to give away via random acts of kindness on their travels. Before their trip, they had around 200 followers on their Facebook page, and they set what they thought was a lofty goal of reaching 500-some followers by the end of their trip. Now they have just over 1,700 followers. Whenever the pair would give away money or a note to someone, they would take photos when possible and share some of that person’s story both on their social media accounts and later on projectwildness.com. Haugen said it’s been really neat to connect the people who donated here in Fargo with various faces and names across the country. Whenever someone would donate, Haugen and Ulven would ask where they would like the money to go, and their names were included in the posts on social media and projectwildness.com. They read every single comment on their social media posts and are overwhelmed with all the positivity they see. “When we would read those, that was pushing us to keep doing this,” Ulven said. “That response was fuel for the soul in a way,” Haugen added. “We’d say, ‘That’s why we did this. We’ve gotta keep doing this.’”

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The night’s campsite deep in the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming.

We could do this indefinitely On their trip west last year, they mainly traveled to populous areas in each of the states they reached. They also had to find routes close to national forests so they could camp overnight for free. It was important to them that 100% of the donated funds would go towards random acts of kindness, so they were responsible for all of their operating expenses.

road and make that connection,” Ulven said. “Their money doesn’t get lost in the whole scheme of things.”

This year they will be heading east, and that’s as specific as their plans are for now.

“If we could do that and get enough revenue on that side, we could do this indefinitely,” Ulven said. “We don’t have any trouble raising money to give away. As long as we can keep paying for our expenses, we can keep doing this.”

“The whole idea behind this was to not set ourselves to one group of people, one area, one place, or set out a schedule,” Haugen said. “That’s not our style.” Haugen said this year they plan to reach the states in the lower 48 they didn’t get to last year. “Our goal is to drive across 33 states in whatever amount of time and whatever route we take, south first, east first, who knows,” he said. Ulven said it’s hard to plan too far in advance because they’re staying true to the idea that 100% of what is donated gets passed on to someone else without taking out any funds for personal use or operating expenses. “Our niche or what makes us “us” is that we’re here to serve our donors and connect them with people we meet on the 20

They are exploring various ideas to help cover operating costs for their trip later this summer, including opening an online store with merchandise and seeking corporate sponsorships.

Haugen said they can’t continue to do this with what little money they have of their own, and they’re researching ways to be more sustainable with their plans. “We think it could be a good opportunity for others,” he said. “Hopefully we can figure this out as we move forward.”

‘It’s impossible not to be changed’ Haugen said this trip was a big lesson for the two of them in letting their walls down, letting people in and taking risks they wouldn’t have otherwise. “Walking away from an experience like that, it’s impossible not to be changed,” he said. “I’m definitely more open to wanting to hear someone’s story and paying attention to people’s lives.”


“Anybody could be in any of the situations we found people in, positive or negative,” Ulven added. “To think you’re impervious to that is wrong.” He said he also pays more attention to people in his daily life than he used to, even at Junkyard. He said if he notices someone who may be having a rough time, he’ll reach out. “Sometimes that’s it,” he said. “You don’t need to buy them food or do anything but just be like, ‘Hey, are you alright?’”

Catalyst for that moment to happen One of the most memorable experiences for Ulven was when they were exploring the beach near Portland on Memorial Day. As they walked back to their car, they saw a van with the side door open and a rough-looking guy near it wearing a Vietnam Veteran hat. They both immediately knew they had to talk to him. Ulven wrote a note to say thank you for his service, and they tucked money in an envelope with the note and walked over to the man. After chatting for a bit, they handed him the envelope as his family came back from the beach.

Nate, Andy, and Shane pose on the Oregon coast after striking up a conversation about Andy’s time as a Marine in Vietnam.

“He said thanks and he couldn’t believe it,” Ulven said. “He sat up a little bit more, his eyes were brighter and he let his guard down.” Ulven and Haugen chatted with the family some more, and they learned no one had ever said thank you to him since he returned from Vietnam. Then he grabbed something from the back of the van to give to them: his original Marine-issued knife from Vietnam that he carried with him everywhere.

"We walked away feeling incredible," Ulven said.

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Searching out a campsite during sunset in the El Malpais National Conservation Area in northwest New Mexico.

One of the many memories that stood out to Haugen was from a small donation before they left Fargo. One of his friends said he didn’t have much, but he donated $5 and said he wanted them to give it back to nature.

“Home is everywhere for somebody,” Haugen said. “This is where we grew up and these are our roots, but there is home all across the country and home all across the world. I don’t want to be limited to one spot or feel like I’m doing something wrong for doing things all across the country.”

On the second day of their trip, they were driving through Montana when they stopped at a brewery. People were walking around with a donation bucket for a split-the-pot jackpack for the Montana Conservation Voters. They put in $15, including that $5 donation. They ended up winning the $140 jackpot and decided to donate all of that money back to them. “We wouldn’t have done that probably if he hadn’t given that $5,” Haugen said. “It was a catalyst for that moment to happen, and it turned $5 into a $140 donation.”

Home is everywhere for somebody Upon returning from their trip last summer, they encountered some people who said they could just do random acts of kindness in Fargo and not worry about other areas of the country. “I don’t disagree with that, but our goal isn’t necessarily to just help one place,” Ulven said. “If we can inspire these things across the entire country, not just in one geographic area but a much wider space, that’s our goal.” “People say ‘you can do this back here,’” he added. “And we say, ‘You can, too!’ If you feel inspired by what we do, go do it!”

Checking out the local skate scene at Schneider Skate Park in Durango, CO where we hooked some local kids up with free decks and full setups.


When asked what the good life means to them, Haugen replied: “I think ultimately the good life to me would be impacting other people. Good inspires good, and it’s something I think about every day. If I do something good for this person, hopefully that brightens their day and maybe they’ll do something good for another person. The good life to me is when I feel the best about myself and how I’m living in this world when I’m making other people feel like that and inspired to help others.” Haugen responded: “I’d say the good life is living as a good example for people around you. Living as someone people can look at you and say, ‘I want to live like that.’” ■

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BY: MEGHAN FEIR ■ PHOTOS: URBAN TOAD MEDIA

Rome to Fargo, Bishop John T. Folda has a life full of stories to tell, which is exactly why I sat down with him in Drekker Brewing Company one lovely Saturday afternoon. Originally from Omaha, Neb., Bishop Folda grew up in the “Gateway to the West” with strong ties to his Czech and German heritage. He was the first new bishop appointed by Pope Francis in the United States and has been the Bishop of the Diocese of Fargo since the spring of 2013. He likes to ski and garden and thinks Superman would make a more promising candidate for the seminary than Batman. Read on to learn more about eastern North Dakota’s bishop. Good Life: If you hadn’t gone into the priesthood, what occupation would you have chosen? Bishop Folda: I started studying architecture when I first went to college, but then I switched to engineering before entering the seminary. In my work as a priest, I’ve been involved in some building projects, and I still have a real interest in architecture. GL: Have you ever tripped on your robes during a service? BF: I haven’t tripped and fallen to the ground, but I have stumbled. The robes are a little long, so when I’m going up and down steps, I have to be a little careful. GL: What about your hat? Does that ever feel like it’s going to topple over? BF: It does, sometimes. That was something I laughed about when I was appointed bishop. Everybody who knows me knows I hate wearing hats. So, now as bishop, I’m forced to wear a hat until the end of my life. It’s a part of the job. Every so often, I feel like it’s crooked. One of my priest friends said, “You still haven’t gotten the hang of that, have you?” We’re working on it. GL: Do you ever buy those religious candles from grocery stores? BF: No, I don’t. I think I know what you’re talking about, but no, no, I don’t. GL: Josh Groban or Celine Dion? BF: Oh. Oh, my. Huh. That’s terrible! That’s a terrible question! I like them both – sort of. I mean, I don’t own any albums of either of them, but they’re both good singers.

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GL: Do you have a favorite joke? BF: No. I don’t. I’m terrible at telling jokes, so I don’t even try. GL: I have one for you. BF: Okay. GL: What would you say if you had to get groceries and someone asked you to do something that evening? BF: I don’t know. GL: “I’ll bishopping…” BF: Ohhhhhhh. Ohhh, my goodness. You’ve been waiting this whole time to say that, haven’t you? GL: Yes… BF: Ohhhkay. All right. Don’t give up your day job. GL: If Batman and Superman were going to enter the seminary, who would be the better option? BF: Probably neither, but if I had to choose, I’d go with Superman. Batman is kind of a mysterious character and lives in the shadows. That’s not a good thing for a guy who wants to be a priest. GL: If you had a band, what would your band be called? BF: I’d call us “The White Collars” or “The Men in Black.”

GL: What’s your favorite story in the Bible and why? BF: I don’t know if I can say I have one favorite. I love the story of Peter on the boat with Jesus during the storm. Jesus is walking on the water and Peter says, “If it’s really you, tell me to come out on the water.” Jesus says to come, so Peter walks on the water and starts to sink as soon as he starts to have doubts, but then Jesus takes him by the hand and pulls him up. I think that’s the story of all of our lives. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, on God, then there’s not much we can’t do. As soon as we start to have doubts and look at the wind and the waves around us, we’re going to start to sink. But he’s there to pull us out of the water. 26


BISHOP JOHN T. FOLDA with legendary writer MEGHAN FEIR

GL: What is one of the wisest things anyone has ever told you? BF: The day I was ordained a bishop, the archbishop who ordained me offered his help anytime I needed it. I said to him, “Well, I’ll probably be calling you and needing a lot of help.” He said, “Oh, don’t worry. Just say your prayers and be yourself and you’ll be fine.” I’ve tried to keep that in mind. It was a big step to say yes to being a bishop and taking on that responsibility. I felt very much out of my league, but what he said has been very true. Stay close to God, be who you are, and everything will be okay. GL: What does living THE GOOD LIFE mean to you? BF: First of all, being a man who’s in a relationship with God. I’ve made God the center of my life, so everything flows from that. Also, trying to be a person for others – to be of service to other people. I’ve always found that I’m happiest when I’m spending time with other people or when I’m somehow assisting others. That brings a great deal of joy. I think that’s really what it’s all about. That’s the best life there is. ■ 27


YOU'RE DOING IT

WRONG ( INCORRECTLY )

THINGS WE DO THE STUPID WAY EVERY DAY BY: MEGHAN FEIR

According to monkeys, you’re supposed to peel it from the nonstemmed end. It’s supposed to be a simple, seamless approach, so stupid, even a monkey can do it.

I

t can pain us to be wrong, and sometimes, you love thinking the wrong way is right so much that if being right feels so wrong to you, you don’t want to be right.

There are things we each do incorrectly every day that aren’t sinful but are full of something else – stupidity.

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Day-old advice

Leftovers are delicious. I sometimes love them even more than when the meal was young and we were first introduced. I only hate leftovers when I feel like one – or when I use the microwave, only to have the middle portion of my nourishment left cold, while the outer corners are burning up like the sixth circle in “Dante’s Inferno.” Solution: Dig a hole into the middle of your leftover hotdish and make it a wreath of steaming goodness. The heat will have an easier time spreading evenly.


Illegibly yours

When you’ve written a top-secret note and you need its contents to remain unknown to dangerous outsiders, don’t scribble on your words. Make it all illegible by writing random letters over your message to make it completely unclear to even the nosiest of spies. To make it extra difficult to decipher, use tomato sauce and coffee like Wite-Out.

Bring me the tab

When you're drinking a gut-rotting soda in a cancercausing aluminum can, you need to turn the tab over the watering hole (whatever that’s called…) to put your straw through it. So, the next time you drink acidic, stomach eroding liquid that could also clean your toilet bowl and grimy change, make sure you drink it with style and smarts.

Monkey see, monkey still doesn’t do

I know most of you have heard this one by now, but it’s worth talking about because you’re probably still resisting the truth. Bananas, as appeeling (I spelled that incorrectly for a reason) as they are, have caused some controversy. According to monkeys, you’re supposed to peel it from the non-stemmed end. It’s supposed to be a simple, seamless approach, so stupid, even a monkey can do it. I peeled one in the primitive way the other day in front of a friend. It instantly sparked conversation about the right and wrong approaches. The world will soon be divided into two categories – the monkeys and the misinformed. But I have a confession to make; I still occasionally perform the peeling ways of the old country because I forget the not-so-modern monkey ways and I – well, I hate monkeys.

Wingin’ it

I would explain how incorrectly chicken wings are handled, but it’s a boring subject to discuss without being seated in a booth with a menu in front of your face, so I’d rather not. If you’re dissatisfied with the way you scarf down those wild wings, ask Dawn Siewert or Darren Losee, the editors of this magazine, to explain how it’s done properly.

Bonus Facts

A little known fact is that toilet seats were created with lids, so they can be closed when not in use to preserve freshness, just like a pop bottle or a vat of mayonnaise. Another thing you've been doing incorrectly: You’re not following me on Twitter. Put in your two cents (or more, due to inflation) about these topics. Are you a monkey peeler or a staunch stemmer? Tweet to me @FeirMe. ■

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Finds Calling By Providing Bicycles To Children In Need You’ll realize two important things about Keith Schoon the moment you meet him. He’s a man of faith. He owns a lot of bikes. The “Bike Man” from West Fargo is a 71-year-old gem who discovered a calling from God eight years ago to use his knowledge and skills of bicycle repair to positively impact the lives of children in the area ... and around the world. He gives away hundreds of bicycles each year. And he has no plans to stop. “I say to the Lord, ‘Lord, if you give me the strength I need, I will keep doing this until I’m 105,” Schoon described. “Then I’ll retire.”

BY: DANIELLE A. TEIGEN ■ PHOTOS: URBAN TOAD MEDIA

Schoon has been fixing bicycles since he was a kid growing up on a family farm with five brothers and sisters. His parents couldn’t afford to buy the children bicycles — even used ones — so they would scavenge trash for junkers that still had good parts and just make a new one. His passion became a profession when he took a job at a local bike assembly company in Fargo. “Schwinn and Roadmaster sent me to a bicycle course,” he explained. “It was three weeks long and covered everything you need to know about bikes and how to fix them.” Eight years ago, out of nowhere, Schoon felt a calling. “I wanted to do something for kids, and I thought, ‘Well, kids need bikes, and I know bikes.’” But, starting his bicycle repair business wasn’t going to be easy for the then-63-year-old. So he turned to God. “I said, ‘Lord, if this calling is coming from you, please help me get started,” School said. Then the bikes started to appear. Kids or parents would bring them buy for repair or to see if he’d be interested in buying them. Schoon purchases bikes to resell once they’re refurbished, but he’s not getting rich. He hopes the money he makes from one bike will offset the cost of giving another away to a needy child. That first year, Schoon gave away 42 bicycles. Last year, he gave away 295 to children in the area. He also sent 425 to Kenya and 325 to Ghana to supply the bicycle repair programs in those countries. Schoon said he’s just serving the Lord by helping others. 31


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Schoon spends 6-8 hours taking a bicycle apart, cleaning it up, replacing and greasing parts, and polishing it for its new owner. He used to be out in his shop by 2 a.m., but some health issues have required a bit more rest recently, so he might not make it out there until 4 a.m. The cozy space is festooned with all the accruements needed to repair hundreds of bicycles each year — a sturdy bike stand in the middle (with a bike atop, no doubt), large tool chests, a work bench. You’ll also hear the strains of Christian music from his CD player and notice a beautiful black, leather Bible and other devotionals near the bike stand. For Schoon, no day is complete without Scripture. “I love what I do. I don’t make anything on the bikes I sell. I do all of this for the glory of the Lord,” he said as he gestures to his treasured books. “I start every day with Scripture and prayer.” Schoon’s work is so well-known in the area that he doesn’t need to advertise his services or bikes for sale. “I don’t think there’s anyone in West Fargo who doesn’t know the Bike Man,” he said with a chuckle. But back in 2011, he ended up getting some extensive local press coverage after local media learned Schoon’s business was in danger of being shut down. His expanding business had overtaken his driveway and lawn at his home on a corner in West Fargo. The assistant police chief informed him that he was violating ordinances that govern home businesses, so School would need to install a fence to keep the bikes from being visible from the street or close up shop, according to a Sept. 13, 2011 Forum article. But Schoon’s fixed income didn’t provide for the $3,000 necessary to build the fence. Schoon recalls that other outlets like Valley News Live and WDAY also learned of his predicament and started talking. While Schoon was on the Jay Thomas Show discussing the issue, a woman from Newman Fence called to offer all the materials. Schoon’s friend Brad Conway, a contractor with BWC Solutions, volunteered to install the fence for free. “It’s just phenomenal what he does for the community,” Conway said in the Sept. 14, 2011 Forum article. “If we can just do a tenth of what he does, it’s going to make a huge difference. You can just see the compassion and how much he cares for these kids.”


Bell State Bank & Trust (then State Bank & Trust) stepped in to provide funds from the bank’s “Pay It Forward” program to provide additional tools, supplies, and bike racks to help Schoon operate his business. And Schoon appreciates all of the support he’s been given. He keeps a stack of thank you notes from appreciative recipients in his shop to review from time to time. Hanging on his garage wall is a large photo of a beaming young girl whose neighbor approached Schoon about getting an appropriately sized bike for her. She came by and picked out the bike she wanted; Schoon fixed it up for her 34

and sent her on her way. He charged nothing. Her thank you note is scrawled on the back. The gratitude people feel toward Schoon is a reflection of his own gratitude for his faith. “The Bible says everyone is given a gift from the Holy Spirit,” he explained. “I know I’ve finally found my special gift ... The Lord has blessed me so much.” Schoon’s faith plays a huge role in his work, but so does the quality of what he does. He said customers have decided to only purchase bikes from him and not from a store because his last so long and have fewer issues. “I

love what I do,” he said. “I take a lot of pride in my work.” The work speaks for itself. On that unseasonably warm Sunday back in March, Schoon decided to open the doors to his garage. Within 10 minutes he’s sold his first bike. By the end of the day, he’d sold two more, repaired three, and gave two away. Just another day of work for the Bike Man. “I have a few friends and a couple of brothers who try to talk me into quitting this,” he said. “But I don’t want to slow down.” Schoon knows he won’t be able to do this forever, but it’s not just giving up


his passion that bothers him. “When it gets to the point that I can’t do this any more, what’s going to happen to all of these kids?” He wonders. “They can’t afford to have their bikes fixed at some fancy shop.” In the meantime, Schoon will continue to operate his business. He’ll continue working with schools, churches, and other local agencies to ensure children who need bikes but can’t afford them still have them. And he’ll keep practicing his faith. That’s what the good life means to him after all — living his life for the Lord, he said without hesitation. ■

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The Good Life Men's Magazine - May/June 2016  

Nice Guys Pay It Forward, Urban Farming, Having A Beer With The Bishop, always a Local Hero and more in Fargo Moorhead's only men's magazine...

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