Posts Tagged: luther college

December 2018 Calendar!

December 2018! It’s hard to believe this is the last month of 2018! There’s lots of fun to be had before the year is done – start your planning with this handy-dandy December 2018 calendar (you can download the pdf here). Happy holidays! XO, Inspire(d)

LOOKING FOR MORE DETAILS ABOUT EVENTS ON THE CALENDARS?
Check out these great December 2018 activities! In chronological order, each event’s number coincides with its number on the calendar!

1. December 1: Helping Services Holiday Lights! The Lights are open for drive-through every night through December 25, 5:00 to 9:00pm. Pulpit Rock Campground, Decorah. Freewill donation. helpingservices.org

2. December 7: Ultra Mega Mega! Fall studio open house for Art, Dance, and Theatre for the Visual and Performing Arts Department Luther. 6-9pm in the CFA www.luther.edu

3. December 8-9: Bluff Country Christmas at the Chatfield Center for the Arts. Craft Fair, Cookies with Santa, Brad Boice, Brass Band Concert, HS Art Club Art Auction. www.chatfieldarts.org

4. December 14-15: Pinball ARTcade – 80s Party! Fall youth classes have built cardboard pinball machines Come celebrate! Friday Adults Only 80s Party, 8pm. Saturday Family party, 1pm. www.arthausdecorah.org

5. December 31: Decorah Elks NYE! Guilty Kilts (8:30-10) – Avey/Grouws Band (10pm-1am) $10 advance, $15 door. Tickets Venmo or Paypal aveygrouwsband@gmail.com or Oneota Coop beginning Dec 1. aveygrouwsband.com 

Q&A with Rosanne Cash

rosanne cash

By Aryn Henning Nichols

Music and family. These are the threads that tie Rosanne Cash’s life together.

Not just because her father was the iconic music legend Johnny Cash, or because she works closely with fellow musician, songwriter – and husband of 21 years – John Leventhal, or even because some of her five kids have dabbled in music here and there.

Music lights her soul on fire.

She chats about her 35 years of music-writing and performing from her kitchen in her family’s 1855 brownstone in Chelsea in New York City. The windows look out over a “tiny little postage stamp yard” with a garden filled with hydrangas and hostas.

Cash is currently touring to her three-time Grammy Award-winning latest release, The River and the Thread – a collaboration with her husband, John. The album is about traveling Hwy 61, the “main drag” of the South, and visiting places like the Tallahatchie Bridge and the location where 14-year-old Emmett Till was lynched in 1955, along with trips to the Historic Dyess Colony during the restoration of the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home.

“We were having all these really soulful experiences – it was hard to not write songs,” Cash says. “After we got a couple of songs in, John said, ‘There’s something here, we could write an album with this.’ So we got to work.”

The song, A Feathers Not a Bird, is written about Cash’s friend, Natalie Chanin, who taught Cash how to sew on one of those trips south. Chanin runs a company called Alabama Chanin (alabamachanin.com). They produce hand-sewn heirloom pieces made from 100 percent organic cotton.

“I loved Natalie’s clothes and I loved Natalie,” Cash says of her desire to learn how to sew at this point in her life. “A couple of my friends were [starting to sew] and I wanted to do something without words and with women – I’m with men all the time with my work. I was ready for something else.”

The first thing Cash made was a skirt. Now, she’s got her own sewing circle. Alabama Chanin sells “kits”, materials and threads are all ready for groups to hand-sew.

“It’s me and five other women – we get together regularly,” she says. “It’s been really enriching.”

It’s likely something Cash’s grandmother might have done in her day. Cash remembers her fondly.

“She was the best Southern cook in my life. She and my father were very close,” she says. “She worked so hard, and her work ethic was passed down to all of us.”

With the amazing number of songs and shows under Rosanne Cash’s belt, that much is certainly clear.

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Inspire(d) had a great time talking on the phone with Cash earlier this fall – check out some of that conversation here, then head over to luther.edu to get your tickets to Cash’s Center Stage Series show at Luther College in Decorah November 12!

You’re not only a talented and prolific singer and songwriter, but an author of books and essays and columns – has writing always been a part of your life?

Oh yes, always. Since pre-teen, at least.

Is the creative process totally different when you’re writing words for readers vs. writing songs for listeners?

I mean your toolkit’s a little different and the form is a little different – but it all comes from one source. I write a lot of essays…for Oxford American, the New York Times, Rolling Stone…I enjoy it. It’s kind of refreshing – to free myself up from a rhyme scheme. I like the interplay of written song and prose. I’ll write both out sometimes – from prose to song and back – as I try to work it all out.

You’re the mother of five kids – how did your work change after children?

After you have a baby, there’s basically two years where all you do is raise a baby. There were times where I thought, “am I ever going to write again?” But for me, it made sense to carve out time for a baby. I was lucky it worked out that I could do it.

It made me able to write in short spurts, you know, being interrupted every five minutes. And that was actually really useful – not having the luxury to sit down for eight hours to write was good for me. I’ve learned to write from pretty much anywhere.

see rosanne cash live

Johnny Cash, aka dad… I can’t not mention him, of course.

People always say that. Like they can’t ask about my dad, but you can!

Do you ever get sick of talking about Johnny Cash?

Well, no. I love my dad, and I don’t get sick of talking about him. I do start to wonder whether other people my age still get asked about their parents. Really! Do other people have to talk about their parents all the time?! (laughs)

Over the past several years, you’ve worked with Arkansas State University on the restoration of the Johnny Cash Boyhood home in Historic Dyess Colony (dyesscash.astate.edu). Did this open up some new (or renewed) memories for you?

It was a moving project – to go back to a place where your father was raised. And the things I learned about my grandmother…how tough her life was. I’m a modern woman in New York City; I have every amenity available to me, but then you go two generations back to a family of cotton farmers. They didn’t have electricity – my grandmother worked taking care of seven kids all day and still managed to go out and pick cotton.

And I thought, ‘I couldn’t do that.’ The things she went through – there’s really gotta be some tenacity there. I just hope I inherited some of it.

I adored my grandmother. When I was pregnant with my first baby – I heard horror stories of how labor could go and I asked my grandma, ‘So, Grandma, how do you get through it?’ And she said, ‘Honey, you just endure it.’ And that really stuck with me.

There were so many things she just endured.

What do you miss most about having your dad around?

I miss both my parents. You know, they were my parents, and you miss both your parents. I miss the things all people miss about their parents. I wish I’d taken their advice. I wish had asked for advice. I wish I had asked things about their early lives. You just don’t think about it when you’re young and raising your own kids.

You work with your husband, fellow musician John Leventhal, all the time. What’s the best and worst thing about working with your spouse on projects?

The best thing, I think, is the depth of the conversation you can get to about what you’re doing. The lack of self-consciousness with things that you might not show to anyone else. The honest feedback…

And those are also the worst things. You feel free to criticize. It can turn personal, although I think we’ve learned to avoid that over the years. We still get into arguments over the some things, but generally in service to the song. It’s always for the song.

Do you have a favorite show in memory?

Yeah, well, there are many. It happens unexpectedly. You’ll be in some town in the Midwest in some renovated theatre and you never expect the audience to be so there with you and connected to what you’re doing.

And then there are the shows that you expect to be great, and they live up to those expectations and more. For me, that was Carnegie Hall in February (2016). It felt like a culmination of almost 40 years of work – that I had earned this moment. I felt like our souls were on fire the whole show.

You’re definitely one to stand up for yourself and other artists, even in the political arena – you even testified for the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property in 2014. With everything that’s going on right now in our country, we here at Inspire(d) feel it’s important to stay positive. From your most optimistic side, what is an exciting thing you see coming up for America?

I feel like congress is listening. Sometimes artists have to give up, sometimes because they can’t make enough money at it, and that’s heartbreaking to me. That’s why I advocate for artists rights and intellectual copyrights. We need to protect artists – care for them – and it feels like congress is on board.

And even though there is so much tension and conflict and bad behaviors in this election – that’s the negative part – the good part is that people really care. They are involved in the democratic process. And I hope the voting poll numbers swell this November.

Live Generously: Carolyn Flaskerud

Carolyn FlaskerudCarolyn Flaskerud, director of the First Lutheran Church Food Pantry in Decorah, does not mince words. “It keeps me busy – happy and healthy,” the octogenarian says of her involvement in the expansion of the Food Pantry – it’s gone from supporting seven families per week to sometimes 250. She punctuates her statements with a smile – one that locals came to trust during her years as a customer service officer for what is now Bank of the West.

Carolyn has been boots on the ground for the Pantry since her retirement in 1998, when her involvement with Decorah Public Library’s Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and her service on First Lutheran Church committees revealed a desperate need for food support in the area. “Getting people in the door in dignified ways is hard for any community,” she explains. People who turn up for state-run food assistance are subject to income verification and other eligibility requirements that can delay the receipt of food.

“These are people who are hungry today, not just when they might be approved. It’s families with children – who don’t learn well at all when they’re hungry – and also elders, who sometimes choose between medicines and food – the ‘heating or eating season’ in winter.”

Carolyn’s specialty, it seems, is turning even the smallest leads into working opportunities for the pantry. In 2003, responding to unemployment in the aftermath of a fire that destroyed a turkey plant in Postville, Iowa, she pushed to get the volunteer-run charity, then operating out of a Sunday School storage closet, registered with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. This made the pantry eligible to receive high-volume weekly shipments of groceries that are over-produced or nearing expiration date, for example.

Today, the pantry also receives donations from area businesses: Walmart’s Feeding America program, Kwik Star, and Pizza Hut, for example. Many donations also reduce food waste by institutions, such as Decorah’s Luther College. There, college and community volunteers portion-pack leftover cafeteria foods – many of which feature locally grown ingredients – to be stocked at the pantry as frozen meals.

The pantry also collects nonperishable foods from the college dorms, when students are in transition, and has partnered with Luther foodservice provider, Sodexo, to use donated student dining dollars – discretionary money left on the students’ board plans – to purchase 2,700 pounds of rice, beans, pasta, and other staples. “That was the idea of a local student, Blaise Schaeffer, who grew up right across the street from the church,” Carolyn explains. “He told me to iron out the logistics of ordering through Sodexo, and he hit the dorms, rounding up $2,915.99 in student donations.” Carolyn, ever the precise funds manager, rattles off this figure like it’s as familiar as her favorite loafers.

To keep pace with community needs and reduce the stigma of accepting food help, the pantry is savvy with its cash donations, Carolyn says, funding new outreach and visibility whenever possible. 2015 marked the first year of a voucher program that allowed pantry shoppers to buy subsidized produce, fruit, meat, eggs, and honey from Oneota Community Farmers’ Market vendors in downtown Decorah. “Credit there should be given to [Decorah resident] Barb Dale and others,” Carolyn says. “We just made it work last year, and we do need special funding to run the program again.”

In all, the First Lutheran Food Pantry involves 70 or more dedicated volunteers who unload trucks, stock shelves, and assist families in maximizing their weekly product selections, from frozen venison to pureed baby foods. They accept donations of food, time, and financial support. “You can mail it, drop it off, or goodness knows, we’d come pick it up,” Carolyn says, tireless on the subject of her work. “We’ve certainly done that before, and God willing, we’ll keep at it.” – by Kristine Jepsen

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