For the past four years, our now five-year-old daughter, Roxie, has been going to part-time daycare with Allison and Josh Phillips right here in Decorah. Allison and I (Aryn) have known each other since we were BFFs back in fourth grade in Postville, so it was amazing to have a person I totally trust watching our Most Valuable Person. It was after Roxie started that we realized just how lucky we were, though, because Allison, with her degree in early childhood education, is a truly amazing teacher, and she and Josh, with their passion, values, and goals, are amazing care-givers. They have, without a doubt, contributed greatly to the awesomeness that is Roxie today.
That’s all background for the dream Allison and Josh are about to realize: Opening Little Farmers Preschool and Daycare, just north of Decorah on Highway 52. This farm-based program is all about letting kids be kids, learning from playing and doing and being outdoors. They’ll start teaching kids there this fall, and it’s going to be great!
We want to do everything we can to help this wonderful new facet of the Decorah community find success. We also wanted to find the perfect way to celebrate 10 years of Inspire(d), and 10 years of positive news…so we decided to do something positive! Our 10-year anniversary party, October 21, 1-4 pm, will be a fundraiser for and at Little Farmers Preschool! There will be live music by Viroqua’s Stanton West (check out his Loving here!) and family fun galore! You can read more about the party on page 14, and if you can’t make it, don’t worry – you can still support Little Farmers through their GoFundMe page: www.gofundme.com/littlefarmers. <3
Ed Lemar is one of the most tireless musicians we have ever met. Many in the Driftless have known him as Eddie Danger (or even the Reverend Eddie Danger!), a fearless figure on the independent festival and coffee shop circuit. In an all-or-nothing move this year, Ed changed his stage name to ‘Stanton West’ – a nod to his Grandfather – and released his biggest record to date. Ed had booked Joe Craven years ago on a festival, and the two hit it off. For those who aren’t familiar, Joe Craven is a mastermind percussionist and multi-instrumentalist, most notably spending several years with the David Grisman Quintet, as well as playing with Jerry Garcia, Alison Brown, and David Lindley. Ed and Joe kept up over the years, and Ed cosmically convinced him to produce his new project “Songbird” – a collection of incredible original songs based on the “tales of an injured bird who flees the nest, has many adventures, and comes home transformed”. The album was recorded at Foxtail Sound in California with Joe Craven and Friends in mid May, and is now available across the Driftless. You can catch Stanton West several places in the region as well – he’s often found at Driftless Books & Music in Viroqua helping with open stages and concerts, helping run the Wisconsin Roots Music Co-op, acting as MC Extraordinaire at such events as Boats & Bluegrass as well as the annual Energy Fair, and he’ll be playing with his trio at Inspire(d)’s 10th Anniversary Celebration on October 21, 2017. You can find out more about Stanton West and Songbird at www.stantonwest.com, or follow him on Facebook and Instagram.
Obviously, we love to write around here, so we’re excited when a group of writers come together to share ideas and stories! Such a time is coming up here in Decorah at the Luther College Writers Festival.
“I’m excited for the sheer number of writers gathering in one place to celebrate writing and literature,” says Festival organizer and local writer Keith Lesmeister. “Where else in the world can you talk about those things you love – writing and literature – with like-minded people who love words and sentences and as much you do?”
The Luther College Writers Festival will be held (where else?) on the Luther College campus September 23-24, 2016. The general public can register for the festival for $50 (discounts for Luther faculty and staff, and all students)! The festival schedule includes readings, craft lectures, two keynote addresses, a book fair, and more. Register today!