Posts Tagged: inspire(d) magazine

Paper Project: Heart Mobile!

Our friend Evelyn (and her sister Hazel along with Roxie) helped make this paper project for the Summer Inspire(d). It’s fun because you get to forage for the perfect sticks first, then put the rest of the project together. Check out our how-to here, and have fun!

Supplies:

• Paper of whatever color you’d like
• Paper trimmer (optional – it works great for even sized strips of paper)
• Foraged sticks (cut down to size for the mobile size you’d like)
• Branch cutter for cutting said sticks (the big one was the best for this)
• Stapler
• Scissors
• Yarn, string, or similar

Cut your paper into strips – I had 12 x 12 paper, but you could use 8.5 x 11, and just cut the strips the long way. I cut mine into 1.5-inch strips. The smaller you cut your strips, the smaller your hearts can be.

Once you’ve cut a good number of strips, fold them directly in half, and cut on the fold. (The pieces at the top of the paper trimmer have been cut, the bottom papers have not been cut.)

Now it’s time to make your hearts! Take one of your cut strips, and fold it in half.

Round the top parts and bring the two edges together to form the heart.

Grab the bottom of the heart, and make a good crease. Open the top, rounded part of the heart, and put a piece of string in the middle, and hold that part again. (Evelyn and I discovered it’s best to cut your strings long enough to tie to the mobile, but not too long that it’s hard to know which string is which. The length of the string will depend on your mobile size.)

The goal is to staple the heart so the staple also holds the string in place.

Slide the inside top of the heart out (while the string is still in place) to staple.

Once it’s stapled, roll it back into a heart form. You can adjust the heart a fair amount to your liking.

It should look like the above photo!

Now it’s time to set up your mobile! Play with your sticks ’til it looks how you want it to. Make sure you have enough hearts to balance the mobile out. Tie the top string on with a loop so you can hang the mobile.

Tie the rest of the strings to attach the sticks to each other and form the mobile base.

Lay out the hearts and play with how you’d like them to look. (See what we mean about the strings being too long? Next time we’d trim them while they’re on the ground.)

Hang the mobile up so you can start balancing your hearts. We clipped ours to the bottom of our deck! It might take some doing to get it balanced – move the hearts from the inside to the outside of the sticks, or make the strings shorter, etc, to get the balance just right.

Here it is before we trimmed the strings!

And here it is all done! Thanks to Evelyn, Hazel, and Roxie for the help on this! Hang yours up to twirl slightly in the breeze, or in the window to brighten a gloomy day! Enjoy!

Earth Paper Seed Hearts

Looking for a fun way to celebrate Earth Day (April 22) and look forward to spring? Make these adorable earth paper seed hearts!

Supplies:

Silicone heart mold – you can also make round earths that you shape by hand if you don’t have a heart mold
Seeds – we used some I saved from last fall – mostly marigolds
Construction paper – we went with blue and green to look like earths, but you could use any colors you want
Bowls (as many as you have colors)
Sieve
Food Processor (a blender would probably work too)

First, rip the paper into bits. We used about 16 pieces of paper total (a few more blue than green since we have more water than land on earth) for the 24 earth hearts. Keep the colors in separate bowls to keep the colors separate when they go into the molds. Do a few extra pieces if you want to make some round earths too!

Fill the bowls with water to cover the paper – mush them a bit to get the paper bits separated.

Let soak for at least two hours – overnight works too!

Time for the food processor!

We found that less is better with this (I’d put a few less pieces of paper in the processor than the photo shows), and make sure to have about an inch of water at the bottom. If the processor is not happy, take some paper out and add a little more water!

It will look like this.

And then like this.

Then move the paper clumps to the sieve. Squeeze out as much water as you can!

Repeat with all your colors!

We found it got a little messy, but hopefully our mistakes can be your gains!

Once you’ve processed your paper and squished the water out, it’s time to put them in the molds! You can piece bits in to look like little earths like we did. Fill the mold to about half, and push in the center to make a little divot for the seeds. Put a few seeds in the divot. Try to keep the seeds away from the edges.

Next push paper bits on top of the seeds, paying attention to connect the edges to the bottom section especially.

Once you’ve covered all the seeds, press down on each heart with a paper towel to squeeze out even more water.

We dried these over a heat vent – they took a couple of days to be completely dry. Once they are dry, carefully pop them out of the molds. I had a couple fall apart, but most were good.

Gift them to friends on Earth Day or anyway to plant this spring!

P.S. Roxie also made a round earth with this project, putting seeds in the center the same way! See below for inspiration! Enjoy!

Walk Your Talk: Women Mayors

How women are changing the political scene: Conversations with four female mayors in the Driftless Region

By Maggie Sonnek • Originally published in the Winter 2018-29 Inspire(d)

On a warm, sunny August afternoon in Wabasha, Minnesota, mayoral candidate Emily Durand sits in a lawn chair at the local Farmer’s Market. She sips on an iced chai she purchased at one of the stands and nibbles on a homemade cookie bought at another, and she chats with folks as they pass – locals and tourists alike – sharing her vision for the charming Mississippi River town. But more powerful than anything Emily could say, is how she listens. The joys, the frustrations, the worries – she hears them all, and she ensures her neighbors and friends that if she’s elected mayor, she’ll always keep an open ear, and an open mind.

Fast-forward four months to November 6, 2018. Election Day, the day Emily joined a wave of female candidates breaking barriers in this year’s mid-term elections. Candidates like Ilhan Omar from Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, who, along with Rashida Tlaib from Michigan, became two of the first Muslim women elected to Congress. 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York’s 14th District, became the youngest woman elected to Congress. Abby Finkenauer, another 29-year-old, defeated incumbent Rod Blum to represent Iowa’s 1st District, and Cindy Axne was elected to represent Iowa’s 3rd District. They will be the first women from Iowa elected to the House of Representatives…ever.

On an even more local level, women here in the Driftless are lacing up their boots (or sneakers) and striking out to lead their communities as mayors. We walked and talked with four such women – some the first to hold the office in their town’s history – to learn why they’ve decided to take up the mayoral mantel, and what they hope to achieve. One thing is clear: In addition to making their voices heard, they want to hear yours too.

Emily Durand, Mayor-Elect in Wabasha, Minnesota, says whether she won or lost the race this fall was beyond the point. She wanted to show her nine-year-old daughter, Thea, that having a voice is important.

“We, as women, have to get comfortable feeling uncomfortable. We have to learn to ignore the doubts and negative voices,” Emily says. “Sometimes politics can feel like an old boys’ network. I hope that instead of shutting women down, this inspires them to find their own way into leadership.”

An expert in the realm of research and project management, Emily toyed with the idea of running for office while she and her husband, Scott, were living in the Twin Cities. But when Scott became part owner of a dental practice in Wabasha, the couple and their young daughter moved the 60 miles south, and political plans took a backseat while they settled in.

This year, though, six years after the move, the timing was right. Emily ran for Mayor of the town of 2,500 – and won. She’ll be the first female mayor in Wabasha. Her plate is full: She plans to continue working as a project manager, and she and Scott have two children now – their daughter, Thea, and now four-year-old son, Heller. But moving away from the idea that life needs to look a certain way is freeing, she says.

“Women get asked the question, ‘How will you do it all perfectly?’ And the answer is, you will not,” she says. “And that is totally fine. Once you realize that perfection is not the goal – and it’s actually not healthy for it to be the goal – you can start moving forward.”

Lorraine Borowski, former director of Decorah’s Public Library System, was definitely qualified to run for Mayor in Decorah, Iowa. But she was scared, she says. And uncomfortable. She hated door-knocking. So she added a talking point: Bright red New Balance tennis shoes.

“I was confident in my ideas and what I had to say, but I was terrified at the thought of actually doing it,” Lorraine says of campaigning door-to-door. “But once I put on my red shoes and got out there and just did it, I was fine.”

Lorraine suspects other women leaders feel the same way. Like her, they have the skills and passion to lead, mobilize others, and make decisions, but they sometimes let fear take over. To combat these doubts, Lorraine found a mentor, a retired teacher who is active in state and local politics.

And once she was elected in 2017 as the town’s first-ever female mayor, she continued to surround herself with knowledgeable people, who made sure that even if she didn’t know the answers, they would.

Her favorite part of the job? Listening to her community (there’s a trend here).

“I love having open discussions,” she says. “I love allowing people to talk and creating space to listen.”

When Karen Mischel returned home to Viroqua, Wisconsin, after being away for 17 years, she jumped right into local government. The former Merchant Marine was proud to be from the small (population 4,500) Wisconsin community – and excited to be back. But she knew the progressive town, bordering the Ocooch Mountains and nestled in one of the best organic farming regions in the U.S., needed a change. Karen was ready to disrupt the status quo in a race against the incumbent mayor, who had held the position for two decades. This past spring, she did just that: She won the election and became Viroqua’s first female mayor.

“The former Mayor had a reputation for just going through the motions,” Karen says. “He didn’t show up for community events. He didn’t want to make waves or cause anyone, including himself, to feel uncomfortable.”

Karen knew Viroqua, with its historic downtown complete with unique shops and award-winning restaurants, deserved a leader who would move the community forward.

“How can we do that if our mayor doesn’t even show up?” Karen asks.

She cut through the white noise by holding listening sessions, and, simply enough, answering her phone. These people just really wanted to be heard, she says.

Her full-time job as an organic farm inspector gave her further opportunities to connect with the people of Viroqua. Vernon County, which encompasses Viroqua, has the highest concentration of organic farms per capita in the country.

“These farmers and their families are so devoted to their work,” she says. “Even though each farm operates differently, they’re all working toward the same goal. That’s how I’d like to see our town work too.”

Northwest of there, in Spring Grove, Minnesota, it was an argument that led Sarah Schroeder to politics. She got into it with the city administrator about proposed admission prices for the town’s new swim center. At the end of their conversation, the city administrator suggested she run for mayor. She initially laughed it off. But, after some thought, she decided to run. Sara jokes that she did most of her campaigning from her mother’s beauty shop.

“I think it all comes down to who is willing,” Sarah says. “Who is willing to hustle? Who is willing to have discussions? Who is willing to listen?”

Sara, who works as a graphic designer at Gunderson Lutheran in La Crosse, is clearly willing to jump in and do the work. She serves on the board of the Ye Olde Opera House in Spring Grove, and sits on the town’s economic development authority, planning and zoning commission, and fireman’s relief association board.

She ran for mayor in 2015, when she was just 33 years old, and won. She was re-elected this fall.

“I would get asked, ‘Aren’t you too young to be mayor?’” she says. “By continuing to break down barriers, as women – young women – we are proving that we have a voice. We have ideas. And we can move communities forward.”

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Maggie Sonnek is navigating life in the slow lane. A transplant from Minneapolis, she loves living in the Driftless Region where she can hike in the bluffs and swim (not in the winter!) in Lake Pepin. She’s a wife to Eric, mom to three kids and writer.