Posts Tagged: aryn henning nichols

Read the Spring 2018 Inspire(d) Online!

Here’s what you’ve got to get excited about in the Spring 2018 Inspire(d):

Westby Community Feature, National Eagle Center, States of America films – Beth Hoven Rotto, Xong Xiong, Kathy Christenson – Sum of Your Business: K & K Gardens, Happy Earth Day, DIY Mini Mother’s Day Magazines, & More!

Read the whole thing online here!

A note from Aryn:

This land is your land. This land is my land.” That Woodie Guthrie song was on a loop in my brain while I was making this magazine (you’re welcome for that!).

It’s a notion that weaves this whole issue together, from life across generations, to a sense of home, feelings of patriotism, and the important fact that we’ve got to take care of this land below our feet.

This land is your land, this land is my land… and we are all immigrants here together. Benji Nichols put together an amazing Community Feature about Westby, Wisconsin – it’s the story of the Norwegian immigrants who settled the town, and how Westby folks are working hard – together – to connect new opportunities with old traditions. It really gets to the heart of what we all should be doing in our hometowns: Moving forward with positivity (pg. 48).

We’ve got a new writer from Southeast Minnesota this issue: Maggie Sonnek (welcome, Maggie!). She tells us about the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota, and how the town and one non-profit helped to save one of the most important symbols of America – the bald eagle (pg. 14).

Speaking of America, Sara Friedl-Putnam caught up with the filmmakers behind the States of America documentary project (pg. 20) – they’re highlighting one person per US state, and sharing one per month on their website, statesfilm.com. Sara also chatted with the three women featured from our corner of the world – Beth Rotto (Iowa), Kathy Christenson (Minnesota – coming soon to statesfilms.com), and Xong Xiong (Wisconsin).

One of the 10 Most Important Things we learned from our 10 years of making Inspire(d) Magazine (we outlined that in the Fall 2017 Inspire(d) Magazine) was that we’ve gotta take care of this earth. In honor of this, and Earth Day April 22, I put together some earth-loving ideas, plus an infographic on how to do what our family calls “Super Hero Walks” (pg. 32).

There’s nothing that makes me love the earth more than plants, and they’ve got a lot of them at K&K Gardens in Hawkeye, Iowa. Keith and Kelli have been running their garden business for more than two decades – all while working full-time jobs at their chosen professions! We loved interviewing Keith for this issue’s Sum of Your Business (pg. 41)!

Kristine Jepsen fills us in on the history of the Luren Singers as they celebrate their 150th anniversary, and the details on the upcoming Sangerfest (pg. 62).

What other awesome things will you find in this Inspire(d)? If you’re feeling a little Spring Fever, check out page 60 for some ideas to get out of the house this spring, and if you’re out of ideas for Mother’s Day presents, look no further than our Paper Project this issue – it’s a Mini Magazine (pg. 31 – templates coming here SOON)! Plus, our probit is an amazing couple from Wisconsin: Eleanor and Tip Bagstad.

Read the whole thing online here!

Happy Spring, friends! As the world comes back to life, we hope you are inspired in yours.

Looking forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols

 

10 Years of Inspire(d)! Here’s What We’ve Learned:

I had my camera out the other day, and Benji asked me, “What are you shooting?”

“Oh, unicorn stuff,” I replied.

It’s all unicorn stuff to me though, really.

We’ve been making Inspire(d) magazine for 10 years as of October 2017. Something about that extra digit in there blows my mind…10 years! We won’t get to add another digit for another 90 years, so let’s really relish in this moment.

…(Try not to cry, like me)……

Driving around the countryside, delivering magazines – literal stacks of positive news – to the amazing people of the Driftless Region, you get some time to think (don’t get me wrong – Benji Nichols does 97 percent of the Inspire(d) delivery, but I do a few select routes and love to ponder life, love, and, you know…the pursuit of happiness).

This summer, I thought a lot about Inspire(d), what we hope to do going forward, and what a decade of this experiment has taught us. What’s important? What is true? What do we need to do to make the world a better place?

Answers to these questions are seemingly subjective, but there are (at least) 10 things we feel stand out as indisputable truths. See below to read what they are (hint, people and community are at the root of it all)! (Just click the image for a larger view!)

Thank you so much for reading Inspire(d), my friends. Let’s keep sending those ripples of positivity out into the world, one community at a time. XOXO – Aryn

(Originally published in the Fall 2017 Inspire(d) Magazine)

Community Builder: Shannon Dallenbach Durbin

Community Builder: Shannon Dallenbach Durbin: ArtHaus & Creative Community

By Aryn Henning Nichols • Originally published in the Fall 2017 Inspire(d)

“I got this.”

It’s a phrase Shannon Dallenbach Durbin has found herself saying a lot. Usually it’s about a job or a project that will bring artists, kids, and/or creativity together.

“Computers can do so much now. They can replace manual labor and intelligence,” she says. “But creativity can’t be replaced. It’s what humans have… and we don’t nurture it enough.”

Fostering a creative community started early for Shannon.

“I always wished I had that one best friend,” she says, “But instead I had a bunch of friends from a bunch of different groups. And maybe that’s because of my personality – I like almost everyone.”

She grew up in Arlington, Iowa, and went to school at Starmont, where she was active in pretty much every activity possible: musicals, choir, saxophone, piano, art, dance, tae kwon do (she’s got a black belt!), future homemakers, future business leaders, chess, drama, yearbook, quiz bowl… you get the idea.

“I really wanted to experience everything,” she says. “And nothing about that has really changed.”

In high school, she was also on what she called a “LOVE mission.”

“It was my goal to make sure that no one felt unloved,” she says. “I wrote lots of letters to random classmates sharing what I liked about them, I went to graduation parties I was afraid wouldn’t have many attenders, and I bought anonymous gifts for people.”

After an eighth grade trip to the Holocaust Museum, she came across a Dalai Lama quote: “It is not enough to have compassion, you must act.” This became Shannon’s motto, and even drove her college choice, the University of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota, because of the school’s strong emphasis on Social Justice. Shannon got a degree in art education, then moved back to Starmont to teach high school art.

It was a great job, just not quite the right fit.

“I realized I loved organizing curriculum but teaching wasn’t my favorite,” she says.

So Shannon took an ad design job at a newspaper in Elkader, but shortly after she started, most of the folks in her office left to start another newspaper. Shannon stayed on. “This newspaper had been around for decades and I really didn’t want to see it end,” she says. The owners of the newspaper said, “You got this?”

“I had no idea what I was doing, but I still said, ‘Sure! I can do this!’” Shannon started running the place, hiring writers and designers – even her husband, Bryce.

It’s this can-do attitude that has helped Shannon grow creative communities across Northeast Iowa. Shannon and Bryce moved to Elkader in 2008, where they had their two sons, Lincoln and Felix (now 8- and 3-years-old). She ran the newspaper for two and a half years. Next up was a two-year stint with AmeriCorps, then two years running a retail shop in Elkader called Whimsy Market, while also volunteering with the Elkader Main Street Committee, and helping to organize the first Art in the Park in Elkader.

Then she landed a job that brought all her passions to one place: program coordinator for the Clayton County Extension office in Elkader. Her work focused on planning community events and youth programs like a makers’ space, lego robotics, youth after-school clubs, and more.

“I loved that job so much,” Shannon says. It was hard to conceive of leaving, but in 2016 a job opportunity arose: Executive Director at ArtHaus in Decorah.

“I basically said, ‘If you can make this job a lot like my current job, then I’m your gal,’” she says. The board was excited to have Shannon’s background in the arts, business-ownership, kids, and the region as a whole. They offered her the job, and she accepted.

“There is a great group of people on the board, and they give me the flexibility and freedom to do what I think will work best for ArtHaus,” she says.

That means promoting cool classes that are all about community. Folks can come together for a casual night of subversive cross-stitching, or head in for open studio time or join in on a singing or writing workshop.

“I want to make it easier for people to make their own art,” she says. “ And I want to make the arts community accessible for everyone.”

“I think I found my groove,” she says. “I love partnering with other groups to make things happen and reach sustainability,” she says. “ Then it’s my turn to say, ‘You got this.’”