Winter 2021-22 Inspire(d)

The Winter 2021-22 Inspire(d) talks about the various meanings of wrapping up – a year, in comfort, and as you handle transitions. You’ll find inspiration for indoor and outdoor winter activities, community builders, awesome change-makers, and reminders that rest is productive. 

Wrapping Up! Northeast Iowa Women in Wrestling • Winter Bird Feeding Menu • Community Builders: Amanda Goodenough • Brooke Pfeffer • Marty & Teri Richards • Mental Health – Rest is Productive / Handling Transitions • Sum of Your Biz: Good Dog Center • Flowchart: Should I Stay (Inside) or Should I Go (Outside)? • Paper Gift Bows & More!

Read the whole thing online here!

A note from Aryn:

Wrapping up.

This phrase holds several meanings for me.

Before I (and my cousins) headed off for college, my now-late Grandma Betty would give each of us a blanket that she had carefully crocheted. This way, we could wrap up in something that reminded us of home anytime we wanted, snuggling in a little cocoon of comfort and kindness. My blanket is on the cover of this Inspire(d), and I like to think I put the same love into our magazine that my Grandma put into her afghans.

Wrapping up can also mean finishing out a project, a season, a year. As we enter the winter season, and get ready to wrap up 2021, I think it’s important to remember, “rest is productive,” and a vital part of life. Mental health writer Olivia Lynn Schnur helps us tap into this time of rest and transition in her piece on page 36 (with an introduction/infographic by me on page 33).

We also have three great Community Builders this winter – Amanda Goodenough from La Crosse, Wisconsin (with excellent recommendations on How to be a Better Ally); Brooke Pfeffer from Lanesboro, Minnesota; and Marty and Teri Richards from Richland Center, Wisconsin. We are always so inspired by the people who work to make their communities a better place, year after year, and we are happy there is truly an endless list of these folks. So we’ll keep ‘em coming (and let us know if you’d like to nominate a Community Builder in your area)!

We are inspired by the young change-makers of the world as well. And boy – or I should say – girl, do we have some great ones featured in Kristine Kopperud’s story about Northeast Iowa women in wrestling (pg 40). These young women (and coaches) have worked hard over the years to get more girls on the mats, and it’s working. Girls’ wrestling has grown from 36 girls on Iowa teams in 2014 to 660 in 2021!

In Renee Brincks’s story about Kiva Iowa, the new Cedar Rapids-based local lending opportunity (pg 60), we learn how we can help entrepreneurial change-makers create new businesses in Iowa, and in this issue’s Sum of Your Business, Benji Nichols caught up with Carmen Hurley of The Good Dog Center in Decorah to see how she’s made her business work for more than two decades!

We’ve also got Craig and Mary Thompson sharing their talents and expertise with a Winter Bird Feeding story (pg 52), and great inspiration throughout the whole issue for indoor and outdoor activities to (happily) get you through winter.

Finally, there’s one more meaning of wrapping up for me: Gifts! When I was younger, my mom taught me to make the homemade gift bow we’re doing for this issue’s Paper Project (pg 31). It is a favorite of mine – a version of it actually debuted our Paper Projects back in 2011 (wow!), but as a flower. The bows make perfect present toppers for the holidays, birthdays, or any gift-day, and always amazed friends at parties – “Whoa, you MADE that?!” (In all honesty, it’s really very easy – but you don’t have to tell anyone that!)

To wrap up this letter (what, too much?!), thank you, dear readers, for your support and kindness throughout this year. Here’s to a 2022 filled with forward momentum, positive stories, and lots of love, gratitude, and inspiration.

Happy Holidays, New Year, and Winter, friends!

Looking forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols

P.S. Check out the awesome PJs my mom gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago in the pic above! Hello, cozy winter!

 

DIY Paper Gift Bow

What better paper project for a “Wrapping Up” magazine theme than a DIY Paper Gift Bow?! It’s a lovely present-topper for holidays, birthdays, or any gift-day! All you need are a few scraps of paper, tape, and scissors!

When I was younger, my mom taught me to make this homemade gift bow. It is a favorite of mine – a version of it actually debuted our Paper Projects back in 2011 (wow!), but as a flower. These bows always amazed friends at parties – “Whoa, you MADE that?!” (In all honesty, it’s really very easy – but you don’t have to tell anyone that!)

Supplies:
Wrapping paper (or any paper)
Scissors
tape

Choose your wrapping paper. You can make your bow multi-patterened (like I did), or go with one pattern or color to make it more uniform. It’s up to you! You’ll need to make three different sized bow sections (you could do more, if you want to make a giant bow!), so start by folding one corner of your paper up into a triangle. If it’s not an even triangle, trim the edges (so the paper scrap is square-ish in shape).

But keep it as a triangle! And fold the corners together to make a smaller triangle.

And more more time to make an even smaller triangle (it’s the same set-up as making a paper snowflake to start). One you’ve got your smaller, tri-folded triangle, trim up the wide end to be rounded.

It should look like this at this point:

There are three folds on one side…

And one on the other.

We want to cut along these folds, but MAKE SURE NOT TO CUT ALL THE WAY TO THE TIP! It will all fall apart if you do that. Leave a bit uncut at the tip on each fold. Do the three folds, then the one fold on the other side.

Open it up. It should look something like this now!

Grab one “petal,” and sort of roll the sides into itself. This will be your first bow point.

Flip it over and tape the petal you’ve folded at the back.

Repeat until you’ve taped all the bow points.

It should look like this when you’re done with this part (as you can see, my cuts weren’t perfect, but it still totally looks fine in the end!):

Next, decide if you want your next bow section to be larger or smaller than the first section you made. I went with larger, so I needed to make a larger square for my second bow section. To do this, just fold a piece of wrapper paper corner over, but put it more to make it larger!

Repeat the above steps to this section. Now you have your section bow part!

They looked like this together. You can now decide if you want to add another section, and what size you want it to be.

I decided I wanted one bow section in between these two, so I sized the square appropriately and repeated the steps again for my third section (steps not pictured – I added a pink section!).

Now it’s time to assemble them! Make a tape loop.

And put it in the center of your bottom bow section.

Press your next section down on top of the loop, securing it in place.

Repeat with your remaining sections.

Once you’ve taped the sections together, flip the bow over and put a tape loop on the bottom.

Press it on to your wrapped present.

Now cut a small strip of paper for the finishing loop! You can decide which paper you want to use – I went with the same green as the top bow section.

Tape it so it makes a paper ring. Then add a tape loop to the bottom of it (haha, is that enough loops?!), and press it in place in the middle of the bow.

And you’re done! This is sure to impress all your friends and loved ones! I know it did mine! Happy gifting! <3 – Aryn

Fall 2021 Inspire(d)!

The Fall 2021 Inspire(d) – our 14th anniversary issue! – is all about the idea that change (even hard change!) is GOOD! Inside, you’ll find community builders, fun fall activities, and tips for embracing (or creating) change in our lives. 

Change is Good! Decorah Community Prairie • Community Builders: Craig & Sara Neuzil • Melissa Wray • Josh Hertel • Nancy Martinson • Mental Health + Change is a Good Thing • On the Virtues of Dead Wood • Artist Steven Maeck • Cider Round-Up • Gratitude Garland • Sum of Your Biz: Agora Arts • Cool New Driftless Spots & More!

Read the whole thing online here!

A note from Aryn:

Another year of Inspire(d) has somehow whooshed by (kind of like deadlines, haha). And that means we’ve been making Inspire(d) for 14 years now, you guys!!!!

I kind of can’t believe it.

We’ve changed some over the years (see the cover pics on pg 5!). I believe those changes have made us a better publication for our readers and region.

Of course, not all changes feel good. (Hello, on-going pandemic.) But even changes for the worse teach us about ourselves, and where we want to be. It’s the spirit of this – of growth, of embracing change – that leads us through this anniversary issue of Inspire(d).

We’re not the only ones celebrating anniversaries. The idea for the Decorah Community Prairie was seeded 20 years ago – read about it in Renee Brincks’ story on page 16 – and this coming spring Agora Arts in Decorah will be celebrating 30 years in business! See what inspires and motivates owner Gail Bolson-Magnuson in our fall Sum of Your Business (pg. 57), and make sure to check out the many awesome local artists she represents at her store. Also mark your calendars for upcoming Art Tours around the region.

Some things that haven’t changed about Inspire(d). Community Builders are still a cornerstone of our mission. We believe building community is the most important thing we can do on this planet. You can build community in a neighborhood, city, region, state, nation… world, at any level. It doesn’t have to be big to have a big impact. Connecting with others helps us connect with our humanity, and realize we’re all in this together.

The Community Builders in this issue are Craig and Sara Neuzil of PIVO Brewery & Blepta Studios in Calmar, Iowa; Melissa Wray of Mainspring in Caledonia, Minnesota; Josh Hertel of Coulee Con in La Crosse, Wisconsin; and Nancy Martinson of Lanesboro, Minnesota. We say a hearty thanks to these – and all – community builders across the region and world, working to bring us together. You are a vital part of positive change!

Change can also be tough. Mental health writer Olivia Lynn Schnur shares ideas for dealing with and embracing change, with an infographic introduction by me (pg. 33).

Oh, and have you been to Burr Oak, Iowa, recently? Artist Steven Maeck’s work is hard to miss, if you have (pg. 42). Sara Friedl-Putnam’s story highlights how his sculptures are all about changing one thing into another.

And make sure to read our fabulous conservationist writer Craig Thompson’s piece about…dead trees! Yep, he shares his wealth of information about the invaluable resources of decaying trees (pg. 54 – we loved it)! Accompanying his words is the lovely work of Mary Thompson, who makes and teaches art in Wisconsin.

Speaking of art, our awesome remote summer intern, Claire Sanderman, created the cool design for our Change is Good cover (learn more about her on pg. 5), and we used her leaf and acorn design to create the Gratitude Garland Paper Project on page 47). No matter what we’re going through, it’s always a good idea to make a tally of what we’re grateful for, and this project helps you decorate for the season, to boot!

One of the biggest things we’re grateful for is YOU! Thank you for being with us these last 14 years, and allowing us to create this publication in your hands. We appreciate you more than you could ever know!

As always, looking forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols