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LESSONS LEARNED Words of wisdom and hope from class of 2020 grads

Brickhouse Food & Drink offers a modern take on Midwestern cuisine

PAT FRUCCI 651-470-7807


GAIL GENDLER 651-210-1699

DENISE LARSON 651-271-8560

DANIELLE SAVAGE & LUCIA BORGEN 612-396-1773 | 651-387-6660

JOHN LUDWIGSON 651-285-4939

TOM BECKER 651-402-1398

KEVIN LARSON 651-402-0846

JASON BROWN 612-834-9229


LINDA & RICK GUY 651-247-7895


JIM KRAMER 651-247-7484

JAN NIEMIEC 612-248-4100


BRYAN PELTIER 651-353-0388

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LUKE MICHAUD 651-247-7100


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KATHY & LISA MADORE 651-592-4444 | 651-216-1335

MICHELE KAY 651-808-0983


612-750-1215 | 651-587-7562

LAURA WHITNEY 612-387-3052

DOUG DONOVAN 651-261-5544

DON JOYCE 651-442-4085

DANA & MARK ASHBY 651-287-4040

LINDA POWERS 651-315-4119

TRAVIS PELTIER 612-708-2296



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CONTENTS SEPT/OCT ’20 From poetry to piano to plays—we highlight some delightfully creative souls this month. And read words of wisdom and hope from some class of 2020 graduates.


departments 1 0 SHOPS

Scrumdiddlyumptious It’s sugar, spice and everything nice at SweetLife Lane.


Keys to Recovery

How medical technology and prayers helped a piano virtuoso rebound from coronavirus.

1 4 ARTS

A Dream Deferred

The pandemic delayed local playwright’s musical, but the show will go on in 2021.

features 16

Lessons Learned Words of wisdom and hope from the class of 2020 grads.


The Power of the Poem PAGE


Poet Debbie JohnsonHill pursued her passion, found her voice and lets her ‘heart beat wildly.’



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from the ED ITOR




Community Directory!

ometimes, the old saying goes, people come into our lives for a reason. Debbie Johnson-Hill, whose story you can read about on page 20, came into my life right after we launched White Bear Lake Magazine back in 2012. She emailed me with a story idea. There was something so upbeat, so approachable, so fascinating, in her pitch that caught my attention. Long story short, I ran the story, we had coffee, attended a fashion show together, and she wound up being a freelance writer and gallery photographer for us, then became a highly regarded staff writer for White Bear Lake Magazine and several of our publications. I knew there was something special about Debbie. And now, these many years later, a whole lot of people are learning just how talented and remarkFollow us ! able she is. The Spark Notes version (head to the See what we’re doing behind feature for the whole story) is that she was searchthe scenes and around town! ing for purpose after her last child left for college, whitebearlakemag.com earned her BFA from Hamline, wrote an excepWhite Bear Lake Magazine tional and inspired poetry book that has garnered @whitebearlakemag armloads of national and international awards and @whitebearlakemag whose other award-winners are known worldwide, and has a soon-to-be-published children’s book which she wrote years ago when her children were small and recently found the story in an old, tucked-away notebook. She has become a dear friend and, in the spirit of the student becoming the master, has become a mentor to me. She is now helping me with my children’s book. You never know when a single email, phone call, interaction might lead to something wonderful—and we all need a little of that right now. I hope you and yours are doing well! Stay healthy,

Nancy Eike, guest editor whitebearlakemag@tigeroak.com

See all that your community has to offer. whitebearlakemag.com

ON THE COVER Landson Smith page 16 TATE CARLSON

LESSONS LEARNED Words of wisdom and hope from class of 2020 grads

Brickhouse Food & Drink offers a modern take on Midwestern cuisine




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[ VOL. 9

NO. 5 ]




editor NANCY EIKE managing editor ANGELA JOHNSON associate editor HAILEY ALMSTED digital editor ANTHONY BETTIN copy editor KELLIE DOHERTY staff writers DANA BEDINGFIELD contributing writers


editorial advisory board ASHLEY FILIPP HARNESS, White Bear Area YMCA AMANDA LINDORFER, White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf LAUREN ROBBINS, Wild Tree Psychotherapy MARISA VETTE, White Bear Lake Area Schools

senior design director art directors

COURTNEY NIELSEN SARAH DOVOLOS EMILY HANDY associate art director OLIVIA CURTI junior designer ALLISON NOLDEN lead staff photographer TATE CARLSON staff photographers RACHEL NADEAU CHRIS EMEOTT

c reative services coordinator production director project coordinators



senior account executives BROOKE BEISE KATIE FREEMARK CYNTHIA HAMRE SARA JOHNSON digital marketing manager

credit manager accounting


WEDDINGS WORTH WAITING FOR. We’re taking reservations to host your future special occasion, where an unforgettable experience at

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White Bear Lake Magazine ONE TIGER OAK PLAZA 900 SOUTH THIRD STREET MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55415 612.548.3180

SUBSCRIPTIONS: White Bear Lake Magazine is published 6 times a year. Rates $12 for 6 issues. Back issues $5.95. ©Tiger Oak Media Inc. 2020. All rights reserved.

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The Carlson Clinic and it’s award winning team have donated over $170,000 to White Bear Lake area charities and organizations since it’s founding in 2003. The following list is a sample of organizations we have helped. The Soldiers Memorial Flagpole Project, YoungLife, the Health Science Scholarship for Century College, Bear Power, the Angel Fund/WBL Area Educational Foundation, the WBL Police Department, the Fillebrown House restoration, Make A Wish foundation, plus our Annual food drive for the WBL emergency food shelf, Annual Toy Drives for Ronald Mcdonald House Foundation & the WBL Lions Club, & Annual Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society. Our current charity is the WBL Emergency Food Shelf.

Do you have an injury or symptom you’d like to get evaluated by our award winning doctors? We take most insurances, however in today’s high deductible world, we will perform a complete first day visit for $20 if it’s not covered by your insurance. (Includes consult, digital x-rays, exam and follow up). Your $20 fee will be donated to the WBL Food Shelf, which helps provide $160 of health groceries to families in need.

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Candy Crush

New store invites White Bear Lake residents to enjoy the sweeter things in life.



f you’re finding yourself in need of some charm and chocolate, look no further than SweetLife Lane in downtown White Bear Lake. For those feeling extra indulgent as the temperature cools and the days shorten, the choice is clear: chocolate. The first room of this sweet escape is dedicated to small, hand-crafted products with a purpose, like Simón Coll and Animas Chocolate Company. Simón Coll’s decadent offerings are rooted in Barcelona, Spain, where they have been perfecting the art of chocolate for more than 175 years—pop a piece of their silky chocolate into your mouth, and you’ll become enveloped in melty layers of flavor. The Colorado-based Animas Chocolate Company focuses on highquality chocolate confections, as well as beanto-bar chocolate, meaning they process the

chocolate from the cocoa beans themselves. The store’s second room is dedicated to novelty and nostalgic treats, boasting shelves upon shelves filled to the brim with bright candies of every color—you’ll be excited to find many of your childhood favorites that will take you back to the sweeter moments spent with friends and family. Seacoast Sweets satisfies your craving for a crisp peppermint patty—or enjoy a twist on the original with peanut butter, coconut and even s’mores flavored patties. If you prefer a saltier snack, look for HR Poppin’ Snacks gourmet popcorn, which boasts over 60 different flavors to enjoy. With these offerings and many more, SweetLife Lane has everything you need for that sugar fix. Read more about shop owners Matt and Christi Schreyer, and their sweet story, on page 10. —Vivian Shinall

& SWEETLIFE LANE 2180 Third St. White Bear Lake 651.705.8600 sweetlifelane.com SweetLife Lane @sweetlifelane


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Raise a Glass


Enjoy the taste of fall with some of Big Wood Brewery’s signature brews. Big Wood Brewery, which was established in 2009 and opened a taproom in 2014, is an institution in Minnesota’s brewing industry. Besides crafting specialty brews with personality, they also provide a bustling, welcoming place where the White Bear Lake community can come together to share pints with friends. “I have always said that ‘beer makes friends’ and brings people together,” says president and CEO Jason Medvec. “If you come down to the taproom, you will see a place that is filled most nights with people just sitting chatting with

Black Anvil

The Sun’s Glow

Stephanie Herington captures a fleeting sunset moment on the lake. The evening of June 18, 2019 was a long time coming for Stephanie Herington. The previous summer, her plans to rent a boat with her friends were interrupted by a strong thunderstorm. After a year-long wait, they were finally able to have their evening on the lake together. Upon seeing the sun catch perfectly through the trees, Herington whipped out her iPhone to snap this picture. “I took that picture because the late sun glow was lovely off the water and clouds and silhouetted the

trees nicely,” says Herington. Capturing the setting sun as it filters through the trees, painting the waves below, it’s no surprise that Herington’s photo won second place in the Wildlife & Nature category of the Lens on the Lake photo contest. She had to move quickly to get the shot, as the moment she captured didn’t last long. “The lighting only lasted a few minutes,” Herington says. “So I felt lucky to be in such a lovely spot to grab the snap!” —Vivian Shinall

Morning Wood


Remember to vote for your favorite 2020 Lens on the Lake pics September 9–30 on whitebearlakemag.com!


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SENIOR LIVING one another. That makes us happy.” Below, Medvec offers up a curated list of top-notch beers that are perfect for a fall evening spent with friends. —Vivian Shinall OKTIMBERFEST: A brew that’s just as crisp as the weather outside, this beer is a malt-forward, German-style Oktoberfest. You’ll taste notes of caramel and toffee with a dry finish. • ABV (alcohol by volume): 5.6% • IBUs (international bitterness unit): 21 BLACK ANVIL: Stout drinkers will love this full-bodied, high ABV imperial stout. Brewed with magnum and saaz hops, as well as dark Belgian candy sugar, it has hints of dark chocolate, toffee, graham cracker and raisin. • ABV: 9.5% • IBUs: 77 MORNING WOOD: A fan-favorite, this beer was the 2014 City Pages Best Local Beer Winner and 2011 and 2012 ABR (Autumn Brew Review) Winner for Best Beer. Bragging rights aside, this beer gives you all the warmth and comfort of a cozy morning, without the blaring alarm clock or cumbersome commute. You’ll enjoy strong coffee flavors, slight maltiness, dark chocolate, oatmeal, toffee and earthy notes. • ABV: 5.5% • IBUs: 35

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| D E PA R T M E N T S

Scrumdiddlyumptious It's sugar, spice and everything nice at SweetLife Lane.


WE ALL COULD USE a little sweetness in our lives— especially now! And SweetLife Lane in downtown White Bear Lake is a sugar-filled world where you are surrounded by dazzling smells and a wide variety of chocolatey, crunchy, chewy, gooey, smile-inducing treats. Owned by Christi and Matt Schreyer, this Willy

Wonka-esque shop first opened for business in May of 2019. "[We had] a belief that White Bear Lake, surrounding communities and visitors could benefit from a place where everyone is welcome to peruse, taste, relax, slow down and connect," Matt says. Before opening their store, the two ran a small talent acquisition business in White Bear Lake, but they felt


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SWEETLIFE LANE 2180 Third St., White Bear Lake sweetlifelane.com 651.705.8600 SweetLife Lane @sweetlifelane

something was missing. “We thought for a while about what kind of endeavor would be fun to work at, put a smile on people’s faces and also contribute to the community of our warm neighbors and visitors,” says Matt. And this love for community was a driving factor for SweetLife Lane. Christi, a lifelong resident of White Bear Lake, graduated from White Bear Lake Area High School in 1991, and was even voted as the individual with the most school spirit. “[Christi] loves this community and really shares the passion that everyone is welcome,” Matt says. In that spirit, SweetLife Lane offers candy and favors that everyone can enjoy. The nostalgic flavors bring adults back to when the biggest decision to be made was what type of candy to spend their last few cents on. Not only that, but the store caters to keto, gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan diets as well. And the coronavirus didn't stop Matt and Christi from sharing their sweets with the community and beyond—they quickly launched an online store and added delivery, curbside pickup and shipping. “We’re one of the few shops in White Bear that turned on a dime to make that happen,” says Christi. Some of their bestsellers include melt-in-your-mouth chocolate from Simón Coll and Animas Chocolate Company, rich treats from Mouth Party Caramel, gourmet popcorn from HR Poppin’ Snacks and sweet favorites from Seacoast Sweets. To Matt, it’s impossible to choose his favorite. “There are too many options to have just one,” he says. It’s clear that Matt and Christi have realized their dream of creating a community-centric candy store. “It was always a focus to be more than a candy or chocolate shop by contributing to the White Bear Lake charm and community,” says Matt. “And bringing an experience where everyone can take some time for the ‘SweetLife.’”



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Keys to Recovery How medical technology and prayers helped a piano virtuoso rebound from the coronavirus. AS THE world continues to grapple with the coronavirus threat, musicians everywhere have been looking forward to resuming the live performances that are their lifeblood. “Grateful anticipation” might be a good way to describe the mood of White Bear Lake's most accomplished piano virtuoso, Cuban emigre Nachito Herrera. On the morning of March 28, Herrera was struck down by the disease that has been dominating the headlines. Herrera began experiencing severe symptoms, including disorientation and trouble breathing. His wife Aurora, daughter Mirdalys and son David took him to St. John's Hospital in Maplewood, where doctors unsuccessfully tried to intubate him. With Herrera's oxygen flow at about 35 percent of the normal rate, doctors called for immediate transfer to M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center ICU, an experience Herrera didn't remember and had to be told about later. “The big question was if I would survive the trip from Maplewood to Minneapolis,” says Herrera. “The doctors didn't know if I was going to make it.” Shortly after his arrival, doctors placed him on an ECMO (extra corporeal membrane oxygenation) machine, which acted as his heart and lungs. After almost two weeks, on April 11, he began to regain consciousness. His recovery was surprisingly quick; the next day he started physical therapy, beginning with using a walker to move around the hospital room, still connected to cardiac, oxygen and blood pressure devices. Later that day he began eating and drinking. Herrera says his caregivers “couldn't believe someone could be in a coma for 14 days [and turn around so quickly]; usually people in that condition need




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four to five days before they start to drink liquids and eat.” While recovering, Herrera was fortified when his wife showed him iPad video from musicians “all around the world sending messages.” She also brought him an electric piano; 24 hours after regaining consciousness, he was able to play simple pieces. On April 15, Nachito was eager to be discharged, but had to take two tests for the virus, he was confirmed as virusfree. Through the glass surrounding his room, Herrera saw his people—and a few strangers—celebrating. “A lot of people there knew who I was.” He returned home after 18 days of hospitalization. Regarding his rapid recovery, Herrera credits the prayers of people as far away as Afghanistan, and as close as his own neighborhood. Another morale booster was greetings he received from the Cuban ambassador—who helped set up an ongoing collaboration between the U of M doctors and the Nuclear Institute of Epidemiology in Havana, which has had success in treating the virus—and U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith. As of early June, he was still doing physical therapy twice a day at home and working on the piano a couple of hours per day (not yet ready to resume his eight hours of daily practice) to regain his world class facility. His doctors periodically checked in with him, using Zoom. As he continued to regain strength, Herrera was looking forward to a scheduled performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the White Bear Lake Symphony this fall at Orchestra Hall; the event, which also features the Wayzata Orchestra and conductor Marlene Paoley, has been postponed to February 14, 2021. Looking back at his brush with death, Herrera’s opinion of his adopted home was affirmed. “One of the reasons we love Minnesota—where we've been for almost 20 years—is that, when people need to get together and help, I don't think any other state can compare. Minnesota has something very special.”

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A Dream Deferred


SOMETIMES YOU JUST have to wait. “We were trying to [stage the show] this summer, but COVID just stopped everything,” says Jalai ShelagoHegna, White Bear Lake resident and writer of the new musical Yes, No? Perhaps, Maybe! “We had a reading at the Lakeshore Players Theater with the director Rob Thomas back in December. It was wonderful, and the response was really, really good.” While production has been put on hold for now, Shelago-Hegna says she and her husband have been using the additional time to fine-tune the music. An extra year of waiting may be hard, but Shelago-Hegna has been crafting this story ever since events in 2003 first sparked her interest.

Yes, No? Perhaps, Maybe! begins in February 2003, after the U.S. House of Representatives has issued a series of retaliatory measures in reaction to France’s opposition of the war in Iraq. In the country’s rush to take sides, high school senior Amy Lefler is caught in the fray. She has a pen-pal in France and the opportunity to visit, but her father forbids her from going on her school trip to Paris. “It just started coming to me and I felt strong about the message, about how judging other people based on stereotypes will always lead to failure,” says ShelagoHegna. “I also wanted to memorialize that protest, which was the first coordinated worldwide protest that had ever happened in history.”


The pandemic delayed local playwright's musical, but the show will go on in 2021.


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“It just started coming to me and I felt strong about the message, about how judging other people based on stereotypes will always lead to failure." JALAI SHELAGO-HEGNA

Open for Business. Dreaming of Beaches. February 15th, 2003 marks the date of the first worldwide internet-coordinated protest against the impending Iraq War. “I started writing it after the protest,” Shelago-Hegna says. “It just all kind of came together, and I bounced it off of my friend Christina Graylee [who is IranianAmerican], because we were waitressing together. She started helping me write it.” Shelago-Hegna has another cowriter and advisor, Christopher Russo, who helped her with the French, but this was her first foray into writing for the stage. “I come from a very creative family,” Shelago-Hegna says with a laugh. “I have a lot of creative people in my life but, no, I don’t have any kind of writing degree or anything like that. I was a glass-blower professionally.” When Shelago-Hegna moved to White Bear Lake, she knew she’d found the second setting for the musical she’d had in her heart and her head for years. “I moved here in 2016 and I was recovering from breast cancer. I began to learn more about the town, and I told Christi, ‘You know, this is the perfect place for Amy and her dad in the play.’” While she was recovering, ShelagoHegna volunteered as an usher at the former location of the Lakeshore Players Theater and was taken with the supportive nature of the arts scene. “There’s such a great vibe in the arts district here, and in the town itself," she says. "It’s very nice to write here.” Although the musical won’t hit the stage for another year, Shelago-Hegna’s excitement is still palpable. “Having had this in my heart and mind for so long, and then having other people read the characters and really feel it, it’s very moving as a writer and an artist to actually have it come together.”

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LE SSON S L E AR N ED Words of wisdom and hope from a few class of 2020 grads. BY NANCY EIKE • PHOTOS BY TATE CARLSON

want everything to end quickly, but until it really happened, it was hard to realize what we were missing. I guess we have to live with the classes around us talking about their last time doing things their senior year while we won’t share those memories. What are your plans for the fall? In the fall I will be starting my first academic semester at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Area of study? I will study law.

M O NT E COL L IN S White Bear Lake Area High School What are you most proud of in regard to your academic career? I am my proud in my ability to remain balanced, maintaining academic excellence while involved in sports and extra-curricular activities.

What sports and/or extra-curricular activities were you involved in? I was involved in football, track and field, a member of choir and captain of wrestling. What are your thoughts on missing some of the big events of your senior year? During the school year it was easy to

What have you learned about yourself during this time of Coronavirus? I have learned I have great dependence on outside influences to keep me on track, for instance sports providing me with exercise and schoolwork provides me mental stimulation. I’ve worked to have self-discipline in order to be able to perform such tasks without outside help. Where do you see yourself in five years? I hope to be moved on to graduate school in pursuit of a law degree and continued service to the country. Do you have favorite words of wisdom? “Doubt is the first step to defeat.”


Who is one person who has had a profound impact on your life, and how? My brothers have all fostered different parts of my character, including creativity, open-mindedness and discipline, so I am thankful to all of them.


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LA N DO N SMI TH Liberty Classical Academy Valedictorian What are you most proud of in regard to your academic career? I am most proud of writing, presenting and defending my senior thesis about genetic engineering. It took months of work and research, but completing it made it all worth it. What are your thoughts on missing some of the big events of your senior year? The biggest events I missed were the baseball season, Eagle Brook’s Big City mission trip and prom with my girlfriend. What are your plans for the fall? I will be starting my basic training and technical school for the Air National Guard before attending the University of Minnesota to study chemical engineering—but materials science also interests me, so we’ll see. How have you filled your time during the coronavirus? I did at-home workouts, but quickly got outside to run and enjoy the spring. I also picked up golf and have been working a lot more at Target. What have you learned about yourself during this time of Coronavirus? I have learned that I need structure. At first it was super nice to have an extended spring break, but I quickly realized that it made each day very unfulfilling. Now I know that I need to find things to get done each day so I can have that sense of accomplishment. Where do you see yourself in five years? I hope to be graduating debt-free from the University of Minnesota and commissioning to become an officer in the Air Force. In the future, I’d love to work for a clothing company, specifically Nike or Adidas, to develop new materials to use for their shoes.


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C H RI ST I A N A N D AI DAN GO LI S H Mahtomedi High School What are you most proud of in regard to your academic career? Both Aidan and I graduated with honors; Aidan finished in the top 10 percent of our class and I finished in the top 20 percent. We also found success as two-time leaders of the Mahtomedi Real-World Engineering Team. Our team placed first in the state of Minnesota this year. Although the national competition that usually takes place in Washington DC was moved to an online format, our team was in the national competition. We won the merit award for innovation at nationals. What are your thoughts on missing some of the big events of your senior year? Senior prom, graduation ceremony, the senior class party are all events that are important to the high school experience; it was hard to imagine missing out on them. In the end, I understand the reasons why we were forced to cancel the

events. But it still is disappointing that we won’t be able to participate in any. How have you filled your time during the Coronavirus? We both continued to work at Kowalski’s, and spent time finishing classes for our online school. I spent time getting everything ready for the University of Minnesota next year. What sports and/or extra-curricular activities were you involved in? We both played recreational basketball. We also participated in The Real-World Design Challenge, which was an engineering-based competition that centered around solving real-life challenges using autonomous drones. Faith also played a major role in high school, as we both regularly attended Rock Point Church and weekly youth group. What are your plans for the fall? We are both going to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Although, we won’t be rooming together.

Area of study? I am planning on studying biology and Aidan is studying biomedical engineering. Who is one person who has had a profound impact on your life, and how? Our father Robert Golish has had a profound impact on both of us. He is a civil engineer and definitely helped us in math and science-related classes throughout our time in school. He has also inspired Aidan to go into an engineering field. Where do you see yourself in five years? We hope that in five years we’re graduating from college and have found a job that we enjoy. I also hope I can look back at my senior year and see the positive light to all of the madness. Do you have a favorite quote or words of wisdom? “Control what you can control. Don't lose sleep worrying about things that you don't have control over because, at the end of the day, you still won't have any control over them.” –Cam Newton


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J OS HUA P OW E L L White Bear Lake Area High School What are you most proud of in regard to your academic career? I was able to receive a presidential scholarship to Concordia College. I was also able to receive the Conductor’s Choice scholarship after participating in the MN All-State Choir. What sports and/or extra-curricular activities were you involved in? I was involved in theatre, varsity wrestling and band. I also joined choir after my sophomore year, along with another choir outside of school called Angelica Cantanti Youth Choirs. How have you filled your time during the coronavirus? Working on my music, including singing, practicing piano and composing music. What are your plans for the fall? I will be attending Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. I will be studying psychology and music. Who is one person who has had a profound impact on your life, and how? One person who has had a profound impact on me is my brother Monte. He introduced me to the world of musical theater, which is one of the most important things in my life. Being a part of theater in middle school and high school has boosted my self-confidence and reinforced my love for singing and music in general.

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What have you learned about yourself during this time of Coronavirus? During this time, I have realized just how important human interaction is for me. I do not have nearly as much motivation as I do when I am surrounded by my peers and trusted adults that support me. Where do you see yourself in five years? I hope to have gotten my bachelor’s in psychology, and possibly working towards my master’s. Do you have a favorite quote or words of wisdom? Kindness is key. Edited for space; please head to whitebearlakemag.com for the full responses.

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As frequently happens, the passion of our youth gets lost in the busyness of life. Johnson-Hill married, had children, divorced; poetry and literature were supplanted by children’s books and spelling tests. Then, she met her childhood sweetheart at a coffee shop in Stillwater—he would not lose her again as he had when they were kids. She said ‘yes’ and the two married in September of 2009. Johnson-Hill wondered aloud what to do once they were empty nesters. Bob, her husband, calmly turned to her and asked, “What is your passion?” She pondered for a moment and said, “I don’t know.” She honestly hadn’t given it much thought over the last three-plus decades. Her mission was to find out. “It seemed overwhelming to go back to school at the age of 50,” she says. “But I thought I’d just try.” So, she signed up for a critical reading class. And then more classes. She took on writing projects, including freelance writing and eventually staff writing for White Bear Lake Magazine and other work with

By Nancy Eike


As a young girl, Debbie Johnson-Hill found happiness in books, the words taking her to faraway places, falling into them like Alice into the looking glass. “We used to go to the Boundary Waters, and I would bring a stack of books with me,” Johnson-Hill says. “At home, I’d find a cozy spot and would read for hours.” Page after page, book after book, she ruminated, she dreamed, she questioned and she wondered about the world and the great beyond and her place in it. When she was about 12, saddened when one of her older brothers was preparing to leave home to strike out on his own, she took all her jumbled-up feelings and, with pencil and paper, eked out her first poem. Then she wrote another. And another. Soon, the poems were filling notebooks and helping her cope with the whirlwind of adolescence. “Poetry just became a way for me to comfort myself,” says Johnson-Hill. “To make sense of what was going on around me.”


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Ars Poetica From Homespun Mercies

Untie the dead weight of expectations, fears, facades, and let them slowly drip down your burdened shoulders, a descending pool around weary ankles. Peel the doubt and dread, releasing one arm at a time, until your head is the last to be set free, the moment you panic you just can't breathe. Shimmy out of your imperfections, baggy or skinny, those parts you've contained or hidden, hoping to sidestep judgement. Slip out of the undergarments that cradle those intimate, vulnerable crevasses, not allowing yourself reprieve until the last silky or cotton shred is discarded. Glance down and marvel at that glorious heap on the dull, wooden floor. CONTRIBUTED BY DEBBIE JOHNSON-HILL (OPPOSITE) UNSPLASH.COM/ANNIESPRATT

Only then will I listen to your fears: You haven't accomplished enough, remain afraid of the future, the dark, getting older, or being alone. Expose your innermost self and let your heart beat wildly


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Tiger Oak Publications. And then, about a year in, she took a poetry writing class. “It was like this whole beautiful world opened up,” she says. “And I said, ‘Oh, I know where I’m supposed to be.’”


Debbie completed her basic coursework at Century College in 2014 and quickly enrolled at Hamline University in the BFA program. Working with professors— many distinguished writers and poets— Johnson-Hill flourished under their tutelage, guidance and kindness. She wrote villanelles and sonnets, haikus and limericks. And she once again tapped into her creativity and used it, as all good poets and writers are bound to do, to find the authenticity of her own soul. After graduating summa cum laude— and becoming the student speaker at her 2017 graduation from Hamline—she moved to Colorado. She soon realized that what her husband had told her repeatedly, namely that her Emily Dickinson-like insights into the human soul needed to be


You can purchase Homespun Mercies at djhill-writer.com and on Amazon.


Debbie latest project, Who's That I Hear?, a children's book, will be released in the spring of 2021. "I wrote this teeny, tiny book in the early90s, put it in a folder, and didn't look at it for years," she says. "But found it again and Bob read it and said, 'Why haven't you published this?'" With a series of serendipitous occurrences, including meeting an illustrator at a gallery event and a publisher moving in across the street, the "teeny, tiny book" will soon be shared with the world.

published for the world to enjoy, might be true. So, Debbie took the risk of creating her first book of poetry, Homespun Mercies. Released in 2019, Homespun Mercies explores everything from love to creative blocks and procrastination to sexual assault and female empowerment—she also created the cover art and the collages within the book. It has garnered a Gold designation in the Benjamin Franklin Awards, first place in the CIPA EVVY Book Awards, silver medals from the Nautilus and IPPY Book Awards and was a finalist in the International Book Awards—a huge accomplishment from someone who just years before was on a quest for purpose. And her honesty and vulnerability have resonated deeply with readers, frequently hearing from folks who want to meet to talk about the poetry and how it has affected them. “I think growing up there wasn’t a lot of transparency; when asked, everything was always ‘fine.’ You didn’t share issues with people,” she says. “But the more vulnerable I allowed myself to become, as scary as that was, it opened up so much the opportunity to share with people.” Before the pandemic, she read some of her poems at The Strand, the storied bookstore in the East Village in Manhattan, and had numerous other remote readings; her voice alongside some of the esteemed poets of the day. When asked what she would say to that 12-year-old girl, knowing how far she has come and what she ultimately accomplished, she says, “I would say I’m really proud of you ... I would say that you will spend a lot of your life loving and nurturing others, but you’ll find your way back to yourself; that your story has only just begun.”


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86 N U R E #1 - S U O E M R SE HO T H U E E M D TH C OA R A C T 4 LP -O AL T H


F T 12 P





The pandemic is changing everything. But it’s not stopping the fight against cancer. When you give to the Cancer Kids Fund at Children’s Minnesota, you help local families keep fighting. Your gift supports everything from unique therapies to life-saving research to mortgage and rent relief during a time when more families need your help. Your gift today is more important than ever.

This September, you’re invited to Shine Bright for Cancer Kids by donating online or shopping with participating businesses. childrensMN.org/shinebrightforkids


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Teeth are restored to correct esthetics and function

A local practice with national respect. We are partially open. Our biggest responsibility is protecting the community. Call for an appointment. Family Dentistry • Cosmetic Dentistry • Laser Dentistry • Crowns & Bridges • Veneers • Preventative Care • Children’s Dentistry • Bleaching • TMJ Treatment • Oral Surgery • Root Canals • Dentures & Partials

Scholar Club Member of the Dawson Academy & Faculty Member of the Spear Institute for Dentistry Oak Ridge Business Centre 4801 Hwy 61 Suite 301 White Bear Lake, Minnesota 55110 Call for your Complimentary Consultation 651.762.8474 www.lakeareadentalpa.com Recognized in America’s Top Dentist by Consumers Research Council of America 2003-2020 Minnesota Monthly Top Doctor America’s Best Dentists

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on the Town


In the Spotlight

WBCA gallery show will feature emerging artists of color.



his fall, in both their Ford Family Gallery and online, the White Bear Center for the Arts (WBCA) will highlight emerging artists of color. Gallery director Danielle Cézanne is working alongside artist and guest curator Leslie Barlow, who teaches at the University of Minnesota and Carleton College. Barlow’s own work will appear in WBCA’s Ford Family Gallery alongside the works of other artists of color, including Bris Carbajal, Philipo Dyauli, Sarah Knutson, Jacqueline Nuzzo and Taylan De Johnette. Although the show was originally meant to take place in June, it seems especially pertinent now. “I would like to say this show was just as important before George Floyd’s murder, but maybe now it is needed more,” says Cézanne. One of WBCA’s core values is to “build understanding by connecting people,” and Cézanne says this show is meant to address that mission. “Art is a way to generate healing, as well as thoughtprovoking expression,” she says. “As you see all the public art that has appeared on boarded-up buildings, art becomes a way to process our emotions.” Due to COVID-19, public viewing of WBCA’s online galleries has more than quadrupled. Beyond this exhibit, WBCA also plans to offer other ways for patrons to get involved online, displaying works from their July online Plein Air Contest on their website, and offering art classes for all age groups. —Vivian Shinall


WHITE BEAR CENTER FOR THE ARTS 4971 Long Ave., White Bear Lake whitebeararts.org White Bear Center for the Arts @whitebearcenterforthearts


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ents each and every Friday morning at the White Bear Lake Farmers’ Market. The market will follow precautionary COVID-19 measures to ensure safety and cleanliness, so you can still enjoy your favorite vendors and purchase fresh fruits, veggies, eggs, salmon, cheese, organic dog treats, flowers and more. All ages. Free. 8 a.m.–noon. Downtown White Bear Lake on Clark, between Second and Third streets; whitebearlake.org

2, 9, 16, 23 Nicollet Market

The Nicollet Makers Market is a hub for local artisans. From homemade earrings to candles, you are destined to find a perfect piece of art. All ages. Free. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Nicollet Mall, 651 Nicollet Mall, Mpls.; nicolletmakermarket.com

12 2020 Twin Cities Grilled Cheese and Mac Festival


5–11 9/11 Virtual Climb/ Run/Walk

Help spread awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder through this event that commemorates the first responders who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Run five miles or walk three miles to represent the 110 floors and 2,071 stairs those first responders climbed. All ages. Free. Sept. 5, 8 a.m.–Sept. 12, 11 p.m. 651.207.3945; runsignup.com/races

7 Mystery Book Club

Join the Hennepin County Library for a virtual book club meeting. For September’s meeting, the group will discuss The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey. Participants can request a curbside pickup of the book or access the title through the library’s eBook collections. Those who register will receive a link to the virtual meeting 24 hours

before the meeting takes place. All ages. Free. 6:30–7:30 p.m. hclib.bibliocommons.com/events

10 Accelerated Global Connections (ACG) Talks Live Broadcast

Time in quarantine may have your professional skills feeling a bit rusty. Business owners, sales professionals and entrepreneurs alike can attend this monthly seminar to polish up and learn alongside peers in the business world. All ages. Free. 5–7 p.m. joinagc.com


Fridays through October 30 White Bear Lake Farmers’ Market

Enjoy your favorite fresh local ingredi-

12 Annual Monarch Festival

Celebrate the incredible journey that monarch butterflies travel from Minnesota to Mexico. Enjoy a variety of food, music, activities and plants for sale. There will be plenty of butterflies to see and opportunities to learn about their habitats. All ages. Free. 10 a.m.– 4 p.m. 2401 E. Minnehaha Parkway, Mpls.; 612.724.5652; monarchfestival.org

12 St. Louis Park Art Fair

From jewelry to ceramics, all the artistic decoration your creative heart desires can be found at the St. Louis Park Art Fair. The event includes food trucks, local music and hands-on art events. All ages. Free. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. St. Louis Park Recreation Center, 3700 Monterey Blvd., St. Louis Park; slpafota.org

13 Vintage Market

Looking for a cool new outfit to wear


Due to the fluidity being experienced in the current environment, please note that some events/dates and even some business operations may have changed since these pages went to print. Please visit whitebearlakemag.com for updates.

Get in on the cheesy, gooey and yummy action at this two-in-one event. The Twin Cities Grilled Cheese Festival and the Twin Cities Mac and Cheese Festival are partnering to create the most fabulous day loaded with your favorite carbs. Sample some daring renditions of these traditional cuisines, as well as beer from local breweries. Ages 21 and up. Ticket prices vary. Location to be announced. 12:30–7:30 p.m. info@11creative.co; twincitiesgrilledcheese.com


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APPLES. APPLES. APPLES. out of quarantine? The Minneapolis Vintage Market has you covered with different vendors and styles. Hosted at the Machine Shop, vintage aficionados are destined to find unique styles they’ll love. All ages. Free. Noon–5 p.m. Machine Shop, 300 Second St. SE, Mpls.; mplsvintagemarket.com

13 Wheels of Italy 2020

Apples for everybody! Apples in pies, doughnuts, rollovers, muffins, bread and cider. FUN for the whole family with a corn maze and pick-your-own pumpkins.

C’mon out... This is the place to make you smile.

Pine Tree Apple Orchard

North of White Bear Lake off East Hwy. 96 651.429.7202 | www.pinetreeappleorchard.com See our website for our calendar of events!

Put the pedal to the metal, and get down to the Bde Maka Ska area for this year’s Wheels of Italy car show. Car-enthusiasts will enjoy top-of-the-line Italian cars and motorcycles, as well as great food. All ages. Free. 3033 Excelsior Blvd., Mpls.; 612.385.3111; wheelsofitaly.com

20 Old St. Anthony Fall Bazaar

Explore two levels of handmade goods. This event features apparel, jewelry, skincare, décor and more. All ages. Free. 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Machine Shop, 300 Second St. SE, Mpls.; info@mplscraftmarket.com; mplscraftmarket.com

25–27 Oktoberfest

Waldmann Brewery celebrates Oktober Fest with fresh pretzels, a beer garden, outdoor grilling, live music and more. Tickets are sold at the entrance. All ages. Tickets $2 for attendees ages 5–20 (Free on Sun.), $5 for attendees 21 and up. Friday 5–10 p.m, Saturday noon–10 p.m. and Sunday noon–7 p.m. Waldmann Brewery, 445 Smith Ave. N., St. Paul; 651.222.1857; waldmannbrewery.com

26–27 Stone Arch Festival

Get a taste of the Twin Cities art and culture scene at the Stone Arch Bridge Festival with live music, local food and activities for the family. Stroll through the culinary arts market, and pick up some savory spices, find a vinyl to call your own at the vintage market, and explore the work of 200+ artists. All ages. Free. Saturday 10 a.m.–6 p.m and Sunday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Minneapolis Riverfront, SE Main St., Mpls.; stonearchbridgefestival.com

TO HAVE YOUR EVENT CONSIDERED email whitebearlakemag@tigeroak.com by the 10th of the month three months prior to publication.


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Dynamic Duo

FATHER AND DAUGHTER OPEN BRICKHOUSE FOOD & DRINK, A MODERN TAKE ON MIDWESTERN CUISINE. From country club to coffeehouse to full-blown PHOTOS restaurant, Elizabeth BY TATE Lawin and her dad always CARLSON knew they would work side-by-side. And, after two years of designing and building, the duo opened White Bear Lake’s Brickhouse BY HAILEY ALMSTED

Food & Drink nearly one year ago— however, the road to opening Brickhouse was a little different than most. As a child, Lawin dreamt of working as her father’s golf caddie and, in 2012, after he purchased Dellwood Country Club, that dream started to become reality. “I was able to spend

some time working with him, which is the next best thing to being a caddie for a professional golfer,” owner Elizabeth Lawin says. As their love for hospitality grew, so did their love for food—the deciding factor for opening a business together. After deciding to open a coffeehouse, and even attending barista school, they settled on a building in downtown White Bear Lake. “But when we saw it, we knew it needed to be a restaurant,” she says. They hired Minneapolis-based Shea Design and White Bear Lake architectural firm, Rust Architects, to perfect the ambiance—two years later, their dream restaurant opened. The beautiful two-story eatery features two large bars, an open kitchen, cozy fireplace, a dog-friendly outdoor patio and a rooftop patio. As for the exterior, Rust Architects used photos featuring the original building architecture to restore the building to its original beauty. And though there’s no dress code (meaning you can dine in shorts and a T-shirt!), Lawin explains that the elegant restaurant is designed for a casual lunch, but also for dressing up and special occasions. Executive chef Peter Christenson, brought over from Dellwood Country Club, has a sprawling menu ranging from the Brickhouse burger—two patties sandwiched between cheese, topped with lettuce, grilled onions and a secret sauce—to the cracker-crusted walleye, a classic Minnesota dish with wild rice, mushrooms, crackers and an herb crust. “The best way to describe our food is Midwestern modern cuisine,” says Lawin. “We use as high-quality ingredients as possible, and we source locally when we can. We love using local farmers and vendors when we can to support Minnesota businesses.” The Brickhouse menu changes with the seasons, but a few staple items remain the same, including the aforementioned Brickhouse burger and crack-


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4746 Washington Square White Bear Lake Brickhouse Food & Drink @brickhouse_mn

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ELIZABETH’S PICKS “It’s hard for me to pick a favorite item … but I will narrow it down to three items,” she says. LUNCH: My favorite lunch item, or “feeling healthy” item, is the berry and brie salad. You cannot go wrong with it. Mixed greens, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, candied nuts and a crostini topped with melted brie and a lemon poppy-seed dressing. DINNER: My favorite dinner combination is the sticky ribs, which is a Korean barbecue style rib. Served with our house-made sticky rice, spicy cabbage and pickled watermelon rind. [Also] the Brussels sprouts—they’re crisped to perfection and served with pork belly and Korean barbecue sauce. DRINKS: My favorite drink is the Garden party. It has blueberry hibiscus-infused vodka, lemon juice, Pimms, strawberry syrup and club soda; it’s garnished with mint, strawberries, blueberries and cucumber. It’s a very refreshing summer cocktail, and perfect for sitting on the rooftop patio.

er-crusted walleye, as well as the Brickhouse chicken and sticky ribs. The restaurant also features unique daily specials, a feature that came about during the COVID-19 virus. “This became very popular when we were takeout only,” says Lawin. “We would post our nightly special on Instagram and Facebook, and it was almost always the most popular item that we sold that night.” Some of those daily specials include the popular Skuna Bay salmon (basil, heirloom tomatoes, beurre blanc sauce, asparagus and butter poached with potatoes), barbecue and brisket platters, pasta dishes (including Cajun shrimp pasta, chicken parmesan and bucatini carbonara) and unique desserts. The Brickhouse’s bar program was designed by Jesse Held from Earl Giles and includes

take-home cocktail kits—such as the Lost Lake cocktail (cucumber-lime juice infused with fennel and peppercorn), the Lady Luck cocktail (raspberry, lavender and lemon-infused) or the Summer of ‘69! (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit and pineapple juices). At the bar, their premier cocktail is an old fashioned, but they also serve Brickhouse original drinks, beer on tap and a large wine selection. “Owning and running the Brickhouse has been a great experience,” Lawin says. “It has always been a dream of mine to work together with my dad, and seeing two years of planning come together into a restaurant is beyond words. This year has definitely been a unique year to open a restaurant due to the pandemic, but we are so lucky to have a great community that supports us.”


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White Bear Lake Area Schools

Leading minds to learning, hearts to compassion, and lives to community service. Serving the communities of Birchwood, Gem Lake, Hugo, Lino Lakes, Little Canada, Maplewood, North Oaks, Vadnais Heights, White Bear Lake, and White Bear Township.

our Mission The mission of the White Bear Lake Area School District, the community at the forefront of educational excellence, honoring our legacy and courageously building the future, is to ensure each student realizes their unique talents and abilities, and makes meaningful contributions with local and global impact through a vital system distinguished by: • Students who design and create their own future • A culture that respects diverse people and ideas • Safe, nurturing, and inspiring experiences • Exceptional staff and families committed to student success • Abundant and engaged community partners


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Bird on a Wire

Jessica Person uses charcoal to create thoughtful, inspired piece.


WHITE BEAR LAKE Area High School 2020 graduate Jessica Person gave a nod to the past with her intriguing piece, Carrier Bird, which she created in her art class last year. “I struggled a bit to come up with an idea for this project, but ended up connecting it to how people say ‘on the wire’ to refer to having a telephone conversation,” she says. “Then, I tied it back in with a bird by having the bird

be a carrier pigeon, or a bird meant to send messages, representing old and obsolete forms of communication.” And for Person, her love for art is ongoing. “Art has always been, and always will be, a constant presence in my life,” she says. “It’s something you can always find time for, and it’s so easy to just pick up a pencil and start doodling whatever comes to mind.”


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651-304-0810 • jjremodelers.com 0920WBL_Book.indb 3

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Profile for Tiger Oak Media

White Bear Lake September/October 2020  

From poetry to piano to plays—we highlight some delightfully creative souls this month. And read words of wisdom and hope from some class of...

White Bear Lake September/October 2020  

From poetry to piano to plays—we highlight some delightfully creative souls this month. And read words of wisdom and hope from some class of...

Profile for tigeroak

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