Posts Categorized: Inspired Ideas

Inspire(d) Manifesto + Driftless Region Map!

Inspire(d) Driftless Region Map

March 1, 2016. An Inspire(d) Manifesto (of sorts):

Inspire(d) Media started officially in October of 2007, but the idea was planted in my head long before that. I wanted to create a publication that made it easy for people to find inspiration – and not just pie-in-the-sky inspiration; I wanted it to be relatable.

We’ve grown and learned and changed throughout our eight-going-on-nine years running this magazine, but a few things have remained the same: People are good. Community is important. Change is possible.

The theme of this Spring Inspire(d) is “looking forward”. I like to think of that phrase as filled with optimism and hope and determination. So remember that every time you read my editors letters and see that I’ve signed it thusly. Looking forward from there, this very moment, I’m making it a goal for community to be an even bigger mission for Inspire(d). Specifically the Driftless Community. I want us all to get to know each other a little better. I want us to help each other a little better. And I want us all to have fun together!

So here’s what’s happening: We’re going on some info-finding missions. We’re asking mayors and city managers in communities around the Driftless Region what makes their towns special and what are the biggest challenges. And then we’re all going to learn more, see how we can further enjoy the area, and how we can help with some of the issues right in our backyards.

This spring Inspire(d) kicks it off with Postville. It’s a big one. I grew up on a gravel road between Decorah and Postville – I went to school in Postville, and I had a happy time growing up there – cheerleading, marching band, theatre, chorus, student council – I was involved in nearly everything.

When I was in high school, diversity wasn’t something I thought a lot about. It was just starting to happen in Postville, though, with a handful of Russian and Ukrainian students filtering through the halls and a decent number of Mexican and Guatemalans starting to call Postville home. Jewish people were building their sukkahs in the fall and I had friends who worked at the local Jewish deli (now defunct). It was all very novel, to be honest.

Now, Postville Schools clock in at 52 percent minorities. But the special thing about this place is that the diversity isn’t driving a wedge between the students; it’s making them closer. Postville Community School’s best attribute? Diversity. And you can bet I love that.

Check out this story to read more about what’s happening in this neighbor community these days, and what makes the students and faculty of Postville Schools pretty darn amazing.

This little map graphic is a rough estimate of the Inspire(d) readership area. Have you been to all the places here? Do you know anything about the people who live here? I’ll tell you something: We are a kind lot of Midwesterners. I am so happy and lucky to call the Driftless home. Thanks for reading, friends.

Looking forward,


So what exactly are we trying to do here? Here are a few things that go through our minds as we put each Inspire(d) together – we want to inspire our readers in a variety of ways. Readers, heretofore, will be referred to as “you”. (ha!)

We want you to put down the phone and pick up some paper.

We want you to make things with that paper.

We want to you make things. Period.

We want you to go analog some days.

We want you to adventure around our region we call home.

We want you to do something great.

We want you to do something good. Every day.

We want you to cook more.

We want you to support local businesses.

We want you to play with your kids more.

We want YOU to play more.

We want you to take in the beauty and life in nature surrounding us every. minute.

We want you to believe in yourself.

We want you to believe in other people.

We want you to know that there is beauty in everything. Every. Thing. Even those dandelions. Even in the colors that come together in that pile of trash. Even in that (what seems to be) 800th cloudy, cold winter day.

We want you to talk to people. Really talk.

We want you to be kind.

We want you to feel like a unicorn.

We want you to be inspired.

Unicorn Pinata

Remember when we made a unicorn piñata?!? Totally epic.

Things to Do This Valentine’s Day

Food, Crafts, and travel for valentine's day

Things to Do This Valentine’s Day

Whether the Groundhog saw his shadow or not on February 2nd, odds are it will still be cold outside this Valentine’s Day. Good news is, there are plenty of ways to keep warm and have some good hearted fun on the 14th. Here are just a few ways to share the love!


italian meal

Nothing says, “I Love You,” like Italian food. Check out these recipes, courtesy of McCaffrey’s Dolce Vita, for a romantic dine-in.
HotCocoa_TopStay toasty with some Homemade Hot Cocoa. Its easy to make and a jar of this stuff tied up with a red bow makes a great gift!

chocolate cake

Aryn’s Amazing Chocolate Cake isn’t just for birthdays. Grab some heart sprinkles and have a little extra fun decorating!




Make a paper heart garland.


Write an old-fashioned love letter (the cheesier the better)!


Decorate with paper stars!



Looking to take a Day Trip (or, better yet, make it a “Wheekend”)? Inspire(d) has been all over the Driftless Region in the past few years. Check out the great places we’ve been, or create your own adventure. Visit your local winery, see a play, eat out, or attend a V-Day event. There are lots of fun things going on throughout the Driftless this weekend! Happy fun, and happy heart day!

Driftless Valentine’s Day Classes/Events:

Be sure to check out these events ahead of time, many require reservations!

Decorah, IA

February 13th at ArtHaus “Date Night: Printed Totes or T-shirts”

Vesterheim Museum “Band and loom carving and bandweaving, Classes for Couples”

La Crosse, WI

February 13th at 4 Sisters Wine and Tapas Lounge: Book a Valentine’s Dinner with a carriage ride (wine included)!

Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern: La Crosse Symphony Orchestra’s Valentine Ball concert

Monona, IA

February 14th at St. Patrick’s Parish Hall: “Taste of Tuscany Valentine’s Day Supper” fundraiser

Rochester, Zumbrota, & Faribault MN

February 13th at Rochester Civic Theatre: “Almost Maine” play

Rochester International Event Center: “A Singing Valentine” Choral Arts Ensemble concert

Trinity Lutheran Church Rochester: “Send Your Love” by Zumbro Valley Chorus of Sweet Adelines concert

Paradise Center for the Arts: “Two on Tap” Two act, tap and music show

Zumbrota State Theater: “Vee for Valentine” Strings & Things violin and rock-n-roll show

– Compiled by Kristin Anderson, Inspire(d) Luther College J-Term intern

XOXO, Inspired

5 Reasons to Love Winter


Five Science-y Reasons to stop giving winter the side-eye. Love and hate ride such a thin line, right? Let’s embrace it and try to love winter!

1. You can walk on water
When temps get to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, the lakes, streams, and rivers in the area start to freeze. That means that – once the appropriate thickness is achieved – you can walk on water (<– ‘cause it’s ice). How thick does the ice need to be? Well, new, clear, solid ice needs to be four inches thick before you can walk on it, and white ice, sometimes called “snow ice,” is only about half as strong as new clear ice, so the thickness there should be – you got it: eight inches. But many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe, so no matter what, you should always check the ice first – learn how here:

 2. The sky literally falls
Snow is really just clouds falling from the sky. Because clouds are really just floating water. (You can see last winter’s Science You’re Super: SNOW! at for details on snow and how it works).

But do you know just how big snowflakes can get? The largest snowflake recorded in the Guinness World Book of Records fell on January 28, 1887, in Ft. Keogh, Montana. It was 15 inches across and 8 inches thick! The runner up was one that fell in Bratsk, Siberia, almost a hundred years later in 1971 – but it was a mere 8 by 12 inches.

3. The stars are brighter
Well, they SEEM brighter, anyway. From the Northern Hemisphere in the winter we’re looking toward many less more stars than in the summer.

The hazy quality of the summer sky is caused by the combined light of billions of stars in the direction of the Milky Way’s center. In winter, we’re looking less directly into the galaxy, the winter stars tend to be closer to us, and there are also some really big stars located in this direction. So we’re seeing fewer stars, but are looking more deeply into the space beyond the Milky Way, making the winter sky seems sharp and clear compared to a summer sky!


4. You burn more calories
Okay, it’s a negligible amount, and you don’t want to spend your whole day shivering, but if you’re cold enough to shiver you’re actually burning a few extra calories as your body works to keep warm. Unfortunately, exercising in the cold doesn’t really make you max out the burn any more – your body, when it’s worked up during a good jog, ski, hike, does a good job of keeping you warm .

5. Snowmen, Snow forts, Snow angels, Snow balls
Because it stays cold enough for water vapor to freeze and fall, but not always warm enough for it to melt once it hits the ground, we’re able to make fun stuff with all that white stuff! C’mon. Don’t forget just how great it is to get all bundled up and head outside to play in that winter wonderland.