Posts Tagged: luther college

What We’re Loving: Driftless Winter 2015-16

WhatWereLoving_Logo

A little list of what we think is awesome in the Driftless Region right now…

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Hotel Winneshiek + Fun Events

Have we mentioned how lucky we feel to have the beautiful Hotel Winneshiek operating in our community? It is a seriously amazing anchor to Downtown Decorah – the renovation of the historical property in 2000 brought new life and new businesses to (the already pretty hopping) Water Street, and it’s not too shabby to look at, either.

In more recent years, the Hotel Winneshiek has also been a hub of fun activity. Their new motto is “The Welcome is Real” – they hope folks will think of the terrazzo-floored lobby as the community living room, and the Steyer Opera House as a place to dance and have fun. To drive this notion home, they’ve hosted some pretty cool events – ranging from their “Live in the Lobby” music series to the dead-of-the-winter Winneshiek Music Festival. This whole “why have it if you don’t use it” mentality is one we can get behind. Seriously – get that China out of the cupboard, people! And get those butts off the couch for some of these great events:

Winneshiek Wedding Market, January 24, 2016 – Three floors of wedding fun! We think the idea of strolling all around the Hotel, mimosa in-hand, as you plan your wedding sounds like a lot of fun. Details at hotelwinn.com.

Winneshiek Music Festival, January 29-31, 2016 – There’s a great line-up of local and regional favorites for this year’s fest! Check out the poster on page 18!

Live in the Lobby, Sundays and Tuesdays (schedule starts again in spring, with occasional pop-ups this winter) – Free music performances in the Hotel lobby! Check Hotel Winneshiek Facebook page for details.

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Grown-Up Coloring Books! Sonja Emily, Chuck U, etc.

OK, ok, ok… so you may have already caught the ‘rage’ of coloring books for grown-ups. It’s everywhere! What’s the big deal about coloring? Many psychologists are saying filling in those blank little spaces with color is the next best thing to meditation – that it’s a huge stress-reliever and a great way to relax the mind. It’s become so popular, in fact, that almost half of the best-selling books on Amazon (Dec 2015) are adult coloring books.

Lucky for us, some local and regional artists have jumped on board the coloring train. And we totally love that! Check out this issue’s “Paper Project” from Luther grad / Minneapolis artist Sonja Emily. She currently has coloring gift cards for sale at Milkhouse Candles and Gifts in Decorah, and is rumored to be stocking them up with some coloring books soon, too. We love her fun and whimsical work (you can get more details about Sonja on page 32). One of our other favorite Minneapolis artists, “Chuck U” has also turned several of his incredible – and often totally intricate – works into a totally entertaining coloring book, plus our local Dragonfly Books (you can read more about THEM on page 24) has a great variety of coloring books to choose from too! Hooray for creative outlets for, truly, anyone!

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Neste Valley Reserve / Dry Run Trail

Back in 2013, the Neste Family partnered with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and the Winneshiek County Conservation board to start the process of converting their 170-acre heritage farm into a new park just outside of Decorah. The INHF was able to secure the property from the family and will transfer it to the Winneshiek County Conservation Board once fundraising on the million-dollar project has been completed. The property encompasses an impressive span of land including oak savannas, wetlands, and one mile of the Dry Run Creek, which will all be permanently protected as parkland. It’s the first new park established by WCC in 21 years! Exciting!

The property will also be the link that will allow an 8-mile Dry Run Trail to connect the Trout Run and Prairie Farmer Trails in Calmar via Highway 52. That would make over 43 miles of nonstop trail in Northeast Iowa! We love this vision, and want to encourage our readers to donate to the INHF in the name of this project – they still need $235,000 to make it happen! Getting this park in action would be an amazing gift to pass on to future generations (and a great way to start Living Generously). Find more information at inhf.org/neste-valley-recreation-area.cfm or by contacting Winneshiek County Conservation at www.winneshiekwild.com or 563-534-7145.

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Luren Singers / Dave Judisch to receive The Medal of St. Olav

DaveJudishWe love the Nordic roots that run so very deep in our little Northeast Iowa community, and it would be hard to embody the Decorah/Nordic connection more than the Luren Singing Society has for the past 148+ years. This group lives up to its motto “We Love to Sing” – in Norwegian, to boot. Although the Society has humble roots, as it prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2018, others are taking notice as well. Earlier this fall, the Norwegian Honorary Consul General notified long-time director Dr. David Judisch that he had been awarded The Medal of St. Olav by His Majesty King Harald V of Norway.

The medal is awarded to only a handful of honorees each year in recognition of “outstanding services rendered in connection with the spreading of information about Norway abroad and for strengthening the bonds between expatriate Norwegians and their home country.” It is an award of high-distinction given to non-Norwegian citizens. Judisch has directed the Luren singers for over 40 years, and has been in director-in-chief of the NSAA (Norwegian Singers Association of America) for over 30. During that time he has also helped lead seven tours of male choir singers to Norway to perform and travel. Judisch will be presented the award on February 4, 2016 at the Luther College Convocation in the CFL. Congrats to Dr. Judisch and the Luren Singing Society! For more information and performance schedules, visit: www.lurensingers.com

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All Recipes Are Home

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By Benji Nichols • Above photo by Aryn Henning Nichols

Chocolate chip cookies. Mac and cheese. Betty Crocker. Ten Layer Cake.

Recipes are – in theory ­­– mathematical equations. But in reality, each recipe – tucked in an old box or church cookbook, scribbled to the edges with notes and names – is a story, sometimes handed down from generation to generation, place to place, family to family. Just a whiff of a favorite dish can transport you to another time and place. Home.

SeanHeadshot“Irish Stew,” says Sean Lewis, writer and director of ‘All Recipes are Home.’ “It’s the meal I remember smelling in my grandmother’s house whenever we would visit her.”

But as anyone who has tried to recreate a dish “just like grandma” knows, a recipe will only get you part way there.

“At its simplest a recipe is just measurements and ingredients, but at its best it is like a potion,” says Lewis. “Mundane things that when put together remind of us of who we are and where we came from.” (Photo at right courtesy Sean Lewis.)

Commissioned by Luther College, The University of Iowa, and Grinnell College, “All Recipes Are Home” is a new theatrical piece by Iowa City’s Working Group Theatre. Following a young man’s epic journey across the state, and his sister’s journey to find him, a beautiful story is woven through words and music, including new songs from Iowa City’s own Awful Purdies. The work explores and celebrates the rich ties of food, farming, and recipes to Midwestern culture, and the comforts of “Home.”

“This is our fourth major play in Iowa,” says Lewis, the lead of Working Group Theatre. Founded in 2009 by three MFA graduates from the University of Iowa, Working Group has created more than 30 new plays and theatrical works, many centered around timely social issues. “We have done some heavy material in the past including race and class, the support for caregivers of loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s, cyber bullying, etc. It was clear after coming to Decorah and meeting farmers across the state that this piece would need to be different. This show needed to be joyful. A celebration. We really wanted to make a show that collected this identifying quality of the state, this ‘look at how we are brought together despite our differences.’”

Lewis, an award winning director, actor, and playwright in his own right (including being heard as a commentator on NPR’s This American Life), visited Northeast Iowa extensively in preparation for the production.

Sheep(Photo courtesy Luther College.)

“The local commitment to food is amazing,” he says. “Young people deciding to come back to the farm and living from the land juxtaposed with children leaving the family farm, the shared interests and concerns of farmers who are neighbors but also their differences regarding the type of farm; family vs. commercial; organic vs. non. I loved how excited people were with their work. No one is in farming for the easy money. But there is a true honor in growing something and nurturing it – a joy in providing for others.”

BluePotatoesSpecific stops for Lewis included The Pepperfield Project Farm, Foresight Farms, WW Homestead Dairy, The Seed Saver’s Exchange Heritage Farm, The Oneota Co-op, multiple local vegetable farmers, as well as the Decorah School District and Luther College Kitchens.

“I loved working in the Decorah Middle School cafeteria,” said Lewis. “The food they provide local and fresh prepared is worlds removed from my cafeteria experience. We served purple French fries that day – I served them – and never felt less popular in a middle school!” (Photo at right courtesy Luther College.)

Iowa City-based folk band Awful Purdies also collected stories from around the state and visited Decorah in in preparation for the production.

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(Photo courtesy Seed Savers Exchange.)

“At first the idea of writing songs about food seemed completely lacking in sexiness,” says Katie Roche, the official accordion, xylophone, penny whistle, recorder, and washboard player for the group. “But now that we are deep in this subject, the band has realized that it is dripping with politics, love stories, empowerment, and complete loss.”

They performed at Seed Saver’s Exchange Heritage Farm during their stay in Northeast Iowa, and held story circles to collect personal experiences for the project.

“We could have easily continued to listen through that gourd labeled food and wrote nothing but food songs for the rest of our lives,” says Roche, “Because lyrically, food is really about survival and quality of life. That subject is a ten layer cake.”

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Benji Nichols has long believed that recipes are merely rough guides to follow. Much as in life, the monumental failures and successes are often found by deviation – but finding them again is the real magic!

All Recipes are Home premiers as the final show of the 2014-15 Center Stage Series in Decorah on April 11, with additional performances at Grinnell College April 13, and the University of Iowa / Hancher on April 17-18.

Find out more at:
tickets.luther.edu
luther.edu/recipes
www.workinggrouptheatre.org

The new Awful Purdies album, also entitled “All Recipes Are Home” is available for pre-order now on Maximum Ames Records with a delivery date of Summer 2015. The “physical” album will actually be sent as a packet of Seed Saver’s vegetable Seeds with a download card – plant and play, and eat your way through the summer!
www.awfulpurdies.com
www.maximumamesrecords.com

Free Gardening Classes

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2015 Luther Gardening Classes

We love the series of gardening classes that Luther College’s sustainability department has put together – you can learn about everything from picking out seeds to making your very own hoop house! Classes are free and open to the public – all you have to do is register in advance. Find more information and registration forms at www.luther.edu/sustainability/campus/food/education/classes/gardening/

Questions? Email sustainability@luther.edu

Seed Starting 101
Thursday, March 12, 2015 • 9:45-10:45am • Valders 362
There are many reputable places to buy high quality transplants, but have you ever thought about growing your own? Benefits of growing transplants at home include the ability to choose your favorite varieties, as well as the potential for significant cost savings. Jeff Scott of Driftless Gardens will discuss strategies and techniques to help you learn to grow your own plant starts this year.

How to Build a Raised Bed
Thursday, April 9, 2015 • 9:45-10:45am • Valders 262

There are a myriad of benefits to gardening within a raised bed system. Benefits can include easier weed and pest control, better soil, accessibility and aesthetics. Jeff Scott of Driftless Gardens will discuss key considerations and show plans and budgets for various raised bed systems.

How to Make a Bean Tipi
Thursday, April 30, 2015 • 9:45-10:45am • Valders 362 / Valders Edible Landscape
Bean tipis are an easy way to maximize the use of your garden space while also adding making the garden more topographically interesting. David Cavagnaro of the Pepperfield Project will work alongside participants to build a bean tipi in one of Luther’s edible landscapes.

Container Gardening
Thursday, May 14, 2015 • 9:45-10:45am • Valders 362

Containers can be great places to grow a garden! David Cavagnaro has been photographing container gardens for years and will share his expertise on creating beautiful container gardens with combinations of flowers, plants and herbs. Perry Halse, of Luther’s ground crew has been incorporating edibles into flower pots all across campus. Participants are sure to leave feeling inspired to create container gardens that will be the talk of the neighborhood.

How to Build a Low-cost Hoophouse for Home Production
Thursday, June 11, 2015 • 12-1pm • College Farm – 2132 Pole Line Road, Decorah

Hoop houses can provide shelter for seedlings and early and late season crops. Giles Teslow and Perry Halse have both built multiple low budget hoop houses and will be on hand to provide you with design ideas and tips for constructing your own.

Backyard Chickens
Thursday, July 16, 2015 • 12-1pm • Valders 362

Do you like omelettes and quiche? Have you always dreamed of being able to have fresh eggs for breakfast from a coop right out your back door? Jon Jensen and Rachel Sandhorst have been raising their own broilers and laying hens for years and will share some of what they’ve learned with participants during this session. They will discuss housing, light requirements, seasonal needs, feed and other considerations.

Growing Grapes
Thursday, September 17, 2015 • 9:45-10:45am • Valders 362

Think grapes and Iowa don’t mix? Think again. Join David Cavagnaro for a conversation about growing grapes in this region. David has successfully grown grapes at his farm north of Decorah for years and will share with you some of his best tips and tricks. He will provide recommendations on varieties that do well in your Midwestern home garden.

Saving the Season: Storing Vegetables Through the Winter
Thursday, October 1, 2015 • 9:45-10:45am • Valders 362

You’ve grown bushels of beautiful sweet potatoes, carrots, potatoes, brussels sprouts, leeks, squash and onions. They are still happy in the garden but you know the frost and cold temperatures are imminent. Have no fear. Regardless of whether or not you have a root cellar, there are many creative solutions for storing your homegrown vegetables so that you can enjoy them throughout the winter and spring. Come learn how.