December 2019 Calendar!

December! We hope you have a wonderful holiday season! There’s lots of fun to be had! Start your planning with this handy-dandy December 2019 calendar (you can download the pdf here).  Enjoy! XO, Inspire(d)

LOOKING FOR MORE DETAILS ABOUT EVENTS ON THE CALENDARS?
Check out these great December 2019 activities! In chronological order, each event’s number coincides with its number on the calendar!

1. December 1: Helping Services Holiday Lights! Open every evening 5-9pm through Christmas night. Santa visits Thurs-Sun nights 5:30-8pm. www.helpingservices.org

2. December 2: If random facts are your thing, then Toppling Goliath Taproom Trivia is your gig! Every Monday night 6-7:30pm, Decorah. www.tgbrews.com Prizes to winning team!

3. December 7: Local Feast! Sample and shop local foods from IA, WI & MN while you enjoy kids’ activities, cooking demos, interactive art, music and prizes. Rochester, MN; local-feast.org.

4. December 10: “Let’s get ready to BINGO” every Tuesday night from 6-7:30pm at Toppling Goliath. Plus, wheel of fortune and mystery-wrapped prizes!  www.tgbrews.com

5. December 11: Wineglass Painting w/ Lisa Goodwin. Our seasonal wineglass painting series continues with a beautiful winter-themed creation at Heaven Boutique Winery near Fayette, IA. $25 includes all supplies and a glass of wine. Register: 563-362-2240 or heavenwinery.com

6. December 15: Toppling Goliath Brunch Buffet every third Sunday, through May. (Dec. 15, Jan. 19 & Feb. 17) Serving from 10am to 2 pm. Reservations encouraged at events@tgbrews.com. See FB for menu! www.tgbrews.com

7. December 20: Cheers Big Band Holiday Dance at the Concordia. Big band sound, great dance floor. 7-10:30 p.m. Sunday dances weekly, 1-5 p.m. Facebook-Concordia Ballroom La Crosse. www.concordiaballroom.com

What’s Leadership Iowa?!

Inspire(d)’s Benji Nichols participates in 2019-20 Leadership Iowa Class.

It’s not very often that we get to do interviews with each other, so I (Aryn) jumped at the chance to put Benji Nichols in the hot seat! Honestly, even though we work in the same office, it’s kind of tough to catch up with him – that guy is busy! When he’s not out bringing the world the latest Inspire(d) Magazine, or doing his many varied tasks for our business, he’s been on the road to far-flung Iowa locales, learning about different aspects of our great state.

Why, you may ask?

You might have seen some of Benji’s posts on social media talking about a program he’s doing through 2020, Leadership Iowa! We are super proud he was selected to participate, and wanted to share a little more about its purpose.

Leadership Iowa is “Iowa’s premier statewide issues-awareness program for current and emerging Iowa leaders.” Basically, it’s a like a grad program for civic leadership on a state wide level. The program brings together 40 diverse adult professionals for eight monthly sessions across the state, and provides an in-depth look at different topics –economic development, education, government, agriculture, and more. Leadership Iowa exists to educate, inspire, and grow a network of informed leaders and to encourage their ongoing local and statewide involvement to create a better future for Iowans. The program is a part of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry Foundation, now in it’s 38th year, with over 1,000 alumni across the state and beyond.

Check it out, and make sure to follow along here and on social media for more of Benji’s adventures – you know he’s going to have them!  Inspire(d) Facebook  –  Inspire(d) Instagram

To kick off the series, here’s a quick Q&A between Aryn and Benji!

Aryn: Why Leadership Iowa?

Benji: In March of 2019, I had the opportunity to attend the Iowa Rural Economic Development Summit in Grinnell. While there, I connected with a couple of other Leadership Iowa (LI) Alum, including Jenae Jennison, director of external engagement at Central College in Pella. Through conversations it seemed like the LI experience could be a great fit, and I was nominated to apply for the 2019-20 Class. The program accepts only 40 participants from across the state each year, with a full application process and tuition. It truly focuses on giving participants valuable, professional insights into the issues and opportunities that Iowa faces as a state, and that follows through the entire eight-month course.

In terms of why I really wanted to be a part of the program – I feel like now, more than ever, we all need to keep reaching to find the common ground that makes rural America work. The Midwest is a highly misunderstood, and often overlooked place from a national viewpoint. Decorah, and Northeast Iowa hold those same exact traits on a state level (misunderstood and overlooked). We (Aryn and I) have spent the last 12 years building a company that focuses on the positive in the world, and we believe we can make real influences within that, and would like to be a part of the larger picture in our state and the Midwest. It’s an exciting time to be in the midwest – and opportunity abounds!

Aryn: (YES! Love it!!!) … Is Leadership Iowa a political program?

Benji: No, not as such. The program does bring together statewide leaders from a professional, often grassroots level though, and several notable Iowa politicians are alumni. Being sponsored by the Iowa ABI Foundation, obviously the hope is to help continue strengthening the Association of Business and Industry’s ties across the state, but those cross almost every imaginable sector and part of our State’s economy. The program does tend to find access to several state leaders, which provide amazing small group opportunities to engage.

Aryn: How often do you meet? Are you finding it hard to make the time?

Benji: LI meets for 2-3 days each month for eight months, with essentially an optional month thrown in the mix (January… in Iowa!). We meet all over the state, so yes, it is a pretty big commitment, but also a fantastic way to see locations in the state that one might otherwise not. Our first meeting was in Perry. Talk about a town that is working hard to reinvent themselves not only for visitors, for for future generations, and current business owners. Last month’s meetings were in Iowa Falls, focusing on agriculture in Iowa. Central Iowa is definitely home to big ag, but also to some really innovative ag education programs, as well as the heart of Iowa’s booming wind energy sector – which leads directly into agriculture as most windfarms are located on ag land.
Living in the northeast corner of the state, the sessions can be quite a drive – but our class has members from Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Iowa City, and Cedar Rapids. We work to do some carpooling, and luckily I enjoy driving! Being self-employed adds a real challenge to the equation as well. Many full-time employers often encourage participation by employees, and help fund tuition costs, travel, and time off from work. Luckily Inspire(d) is helping me take on the expense, travel, and time to be a part of the program (thanks Aryn!). In just our first two meetings I feel that the program has been completely worth it. The level of connection with other participants, and our access to explore issues across the state is unparalleled.

Aryn: What’s next?

Benji: We’ve had our first two meetings – orientation in September (Perry, IA), and our session on agriculture in Iowa in October (Iowa Falls, IA). I’m headed to Ft. Dodge next week for our session on education, and look forward to breaking down some of the topics in posts here on the Inspire(d) blog! The program runs through June of 2020 for our class, with opportunities to stay engaged through the alumni network – it’s an amazing group of Iowans, and I’m truly grateful for the chance to be a part of the organization.

Look for another post soon with updates on Benji’s experiences with Leadership Iowa!

Read the Fall 2019 Inspire(d) Online!

The Fall 2019 Inspire(d) celebrates our 2019 Community Builders! Inside, you’ll find:

Community Builders – Luke Zahm, Emily Kurash Casey, Julie Shockey Trytten, Amanda Ninneman, Debra Lash – Driftless Mill History, Mid-Wisco Roadtrip, 12 Ways to Show Up for Your Community, Apple Orchards, & More!

A note from Aryn:

12 years! It seems impossible that much time has passed, yet here we are 12 years in on Inspire(d) Magazine, and 12 years in on our mission to make the world a better place, one community at a time.

In fact, it’s through communities that this mission has the best chance to succeed. Building communities is one of the most important things we can do on this planet, whether it’s through a book club or civil leadership or neighborhood networks or… you name it.

To celebrate that, and our 12-year birthday, we’re once again highlighting awesome Community Builders this fall. Congratulations – and a huge thank you – to the 2019 Inspire(d) Community Builders: Luke Zahm (Viroqua, WI), Emily Kurash Casey (Winona, MN), Julie Shockey Trytten (Decorah, IA), Amanda Ninneman (Caledonia, MN), and Debra Lash (La Crosse, WI). We love telling stories of folks out there walking their talks, and these people are doing just that. Check them out starting on page 34.

Anniversaries and birthdays often make us think about what’s important in our lives, what we’ve learned over the past year, and what we want to accomplish in the years ahead. The biggest, most obvious truth that comes to the top of our list every year is that people are what matter, and all people matter. I recently read an article that said, “It’s not self care we need, it’s community care,” and I realized this is the phrase I was missing. Community care! We need to Show Up for each other, in big and small ways, because often when we most need help, self care isn’t a possibility. I put together an infographic with 12 Ways to Care for Your Community – hopefully it inspires you to do some (intentional) acts of kindness in your neck of the woods!

Like every fall, there is A LOT a lot of fun to be had around here. Like heading out to apple orchards! Read about how Al Peake of Peake Orchards got his start 40 years ago in this issue’s Sum of Your Business, and see our list of apple orchards in the region – there are way more than we knew! Will you check one (or three?!) out this fall?!

Speaking of places you can check out, consider putting mills on your list! Benji Nichols explores these historic buildings dotting riverbanks in the area, and the grains they once processed (or might still today).

And in that spirit of getting out and enjoying every last lovely day, we put together a fun Mid-Wisco Road Trip for this issue. Check out what Benji and I did on our adventure from Viroqua to Richland Center to Spring Green and beyond, starting on page 56.

Thank you so much for reading Inspire(d) Magazine all these years, and for being part of this amazing community. You guys are the best. Here’s to creating a bright future together!

Looking forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols

P.S. Please let us know if you’ve got a Community Builder you’d like to nominate for the Fall 2020 Inspire(d) – email me at aryn@iloveinspired.com.

P.P.S. Are you interested in writing for Inspire(d)? Shoot me an email! I’m on the lookout for experienced writers in the Driftless (extra bonus if you live in a place we don’t cover that often – we’d love to keep expanding our coverage).

Click here to read the Fall 2019 Inspire(d) online!