Posts Categorized: Today

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

Summer 2021 Inspire(d)!

Summer 2021 Inspire(d) Cover

The Summer 2021 Inspire(d) is all about finding ways to make do with what you’ve got on hand – in your fridge and for your summer. Inside, you’ll find fun activities, inspiring people and organizations, and tips for self-care and working with what you’ve got. 

Work With What You’ve Got! Community Hunger Solutions • Little Free Libraries • This American House • Blue Fruit Farm • Mental Health + Self-Care • Hammered Flower Postcards • Community Builders: Lara & Neil Martinsen-Burrell • Driftless Tiny Towns Day Tripper • Sum of Your Biz: Big Driftless & More!

Read the whole thing online here!

A note from Aryn:

After a year that felt stocked to the brim with lemons, it’s time for some lemonade, don’t you think?

Many have been “working with what we’ve got” – i.e. making lemonade out of lemons – for a while, perhaps forever if you’re particularly skilled at that character strength. Others might still be honing those talents.

But either way, we’ve definitely all had some practice. We’ve become better at recognizing our ever-shifting comfort levels in this ever-shifting world, and have found new tools to better Work With What We’ve Got.

So we here at Inspire(d) say it’s time to squeeze the best out this summer! Let’s make some dang lemonade, friends!

This issue is filled with inspiration for just that: Stories of innovative folks who know how to make the most of, well, whatever.

In Sara Walter’s piece about Community Hunger Solutions (pg 16) in Viroqua, Wisconsin, find out how this organization takes seconds and surplus food and produce from farmers, factories, and more – food that would normally be heading for the bin – and gets it on local tables that need it.

Meet Jason Loper and Michael Schrieber – and their house, the Meier House in Monona, Iowa – in my story about their path from Chicago to the Driftless, and their new book about the history of their house, the only Frank Lloyd Wright American System-Built Home in Iowa (pg 22).

Read about the ever-enterprising farmers at Blue Fruit Farm (pg 48) in Winona, Minnesota, using MPR and lasers to keep pests away, plus how they helped to establish organics and a farmers market in their region in a story from new Inspire(d) contributor, Renee Brincks.

For our summer Sum of Your Business, Benji Nichols chats with Cody Whittle of Big Driftless about the ups and downs of running his hand-crafted (and amazing!) gear, pack, and apparel company (pg 54), and Kristine Jepsen features the Martinsen-Burrells – or the MB’s as they’re know around Decorah – in a Community Builder piece that highlights the family’s work with the local OWL program (pg 44).

As for your summer: are you planning some, ahem, smaller travel plans? Erin Dorbin takes readers on a Southeast Minnesota Tiny Town Day Tripper Adventure that’s full of fun, winding you through tiny towns and Driftless backroads (pg 60).

As you travel, keep an eye out for little house-like structures, filled with books and installed around towns across the U.S. These are Little Free Libraries, and they were founded in Hudson, Wisconsin. There are quite a few around the Driftless, and we learn about the history, and some of Decorah’s LFL, in Sara Friedl-Putnam’s story (pg 28).

Finally, make sure you take a stop mid-way through this magazine for the summer Mental Health piece by local mental health counselor Olivia Lynn Schnur. She walks us through tips that will help us Work With What We’ve Got – starting with self care (pg 37) – with an infographic introduction by me (pg 33).

Plus, there are a ton of fun summer things to add to your to-do list: live outdoor music (pg 14), flower pounding postcards (pg 43), and lots of super cool things around the region (pg 9). We hope you make the most of this fleeting season – it’s your summer, after all…and you’ve gotta work with that!

Looking forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols