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Spring 2022 Inspire(d)

Spring 2022 Inspire(d) cover

The Spring 2022 Inspire(d) encourages you to look at this season as an opportunity to Restart. Just as the world begins anew, growing out of the muck, so can you. Inside, you’ll find inspiration for restarting your goals, gardens, and more! 

Restart with Spring! Q&A with MN Artist Amy Rice • Circular Economy – Secondhand as a Way of Life • Climate Advocacy – Ayla Boylen & Leslie Smith Sand • Community Builders: Friends of DPL; Renée Bergstrom; Bree Breckel & Eric Weninger • Spring Gardens • Mental Health – Restart Your Goals • Sum of Your Biz: Jamie Gavle of Rendered Unique • Spring Ephemerals • DIY Scratch Notebooks • And More!

Read the whole thing online here!

A note from Aryn:

The first thing we do when something’s not working – a computer, a coffee grinder, a phone – is do a restart.

We power it off. Sometimes we even unplug it, and then we power it back up again, hopefully with its functions restored and ready to restart.

Sidenote: Pretty much every day I get a prompt from my computer: Updates available. Restart  > now; later; remind me tomorrow?

Every time, I click “remind me tomorrow.” Ha! We are all works in progress!

And that’s more than okay. Our mental health writer, Olivia Lynn Schnur, gives us a background on why restarting – a goal, a day, your life – is a worthwhile endeavor (pg 36). She writes: “Each time we restart, our why becomes louder and our why not loses its voice.”

Minnesota-based artist Amy Rice (featured on the cover) made a conscious decision to restart her creative direction more than a decade ago, painting her future, rather than her present or past. Much of her work switched to featuring the flower farm of her future – which is now a reality! Inspire(d) is sponsoring Amy’s upcoming show at Lanesboro Arts, “A Few Steps Ahead: Finding Hope in a Seed Started.” Her work often features reuse of items like old maps, love letters, and stamps – a good way to restart the life of these items, and a perfect fit for this issue (pg 16).

This Restart theme is also a nod to Earth Day. I can’t let an opportunity to love the Earth slip on by; it needs all the love it can get!

Kristine Kopperud met up with two women who are both working to spread that message: Ayla Boylen of Cedar Rapids, and Leslie Smith Sand of Decorah. They have found a way to advocate for climate action on a community level, building their communities up as they go (pg 56).

We have other great Community Builders in this issue as well – read about Decorah’s own Friends of Decorah Public Library; Renée Bergstrom of Lanesboro, Minnesota; and Bree Breckel and Eric Weninger of Cashton, Wisconsin, and how each group, person, or partnership has worked to make their hometowns a better place to live.

Speaking of “re-” words, reuse is the name of the game in our piece about four awesome, women-run secondhand stores in the Driftless (pg 50). Plus, our Sum of your Business features Jamie Gavle and Rendered Unique, home to great rehabbed and vintage furniture, handmade jewelry, Midwest-inspired apparel, and more (pg 42).

Dreaming of restarting my garden is one of the things that gets me through the end of winter. You too? Check out inspiration on page 48. Love plants that don’t require weeding? Conservationist writer Craig Thompson gives us a tour of nature’s spring ephemerals (pg 60). Don’t know that word? I didn’t either. It means: “lasting a very short time.” Which is often the case with the entirety of spring, so let’s soak it up!

Spring can be a time where our dreams from the start of the year have fallen to the wayside. But just as the world is restarting its life outside your doors, peeking out of the earth toward the sunshine, so can you. Press restart today.

Looking forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols

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

Gratitude Garland

Any time is a good time to remember what you’re grateful for, but fall leaves + Thanksgiving makes this a truly perfect time for a Gratitude Garland. Download and print these leaves here, then decorate for the season with this super easy paper project!

Supplies:
Paper leaves / acorn (download here and print on cardstock)
Scissors
Glue or glue stick
String
Marker or Pen

Download and print the leaves & acorn (designed by our awesome summer 2021 intern, Claire Sanderman). I used different colored cardstock for our project – you can decide how you want your Gratitude Garland to look. You could print on white cardstock, or just one color, or do a variety like I did here.

Cut out the leaves.

Ask your family and friends to write things they’re grateful for on the leaves and acorn. You could do this throughout the entire fall, or the month of November if you’re planning to have this as a decoration for Thanksgiving. Or you could do it during your actual Thanksgiving party, as an activity for all in attendance! Here I was getting a preview of how it might look hanging up.

Once at least one of the leaves is filled out, you can put it on your string! Cut the string to your desired length, and then hang it up where you plan to display the garland (over a window, above a fireplace, in an entryway…).

Then take a glue stick and glue the top part of the leaf/acorn stem.

Fold over the string and hold for a few seconds to ensure the glue is sticking (also who DOESN’T love cake and presents?!?)!

Adjust on the string to wherever you’d like that leaf to be, and enjoy putting this gratitude garland together! Happy fall! – Aryn