Posts Categorized: Today

Community Builder: Lissa Carlson

Community Builder:
Lissa Carlson / Coulee Parenting Connection

By Aryn Henning Nichols • Photos courtesy Lissa Carlson
Originally published in the Fall 2017 Inspire(d)

When you become a new mom or dad, you automatically join an amazing, yet ever-complicated new group: the parenting community. You’ve got no choice! Once you’re in, you’re in. As they say, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

But a lot of new parents feel like that village up and moved to the next valley… and didn’t leave a note.

Lissa Carlson, founder of Coulee Parenting Connection, wanted to change that.

Lissa was 32 years old when she had her first son, Christopher. Their second, Corbin, came along three years later. But her first “child” – albeit, made of paper – will always be Coulee Parenting Connection (CPC), born in 2001. CPC is a La Crosse-based parenting publication that strives to improve life for families in the Coulee Region.

“I wasn’t a parent yet, but I knew it was a lot to be one, and I was interested in the power of parenthood to change a community. Keeping up with local activities and events, and new or better ways to parent, while raising a child…yeah, it’s a lot,” she says. “I wanted to make it a little easier, and make Coulee Parenting Connection a one stop shop for busy families in the area.”

As a kid, Lissa, armed with a Pippi Longstocking book or the latest in the Boxcar Children series, was drawn to the printed word. Books could come along for the ride as Lissa’s family moved around Wisconsin through her dad’s work with Aflac.

When Lissa landed at UW Milwaukee, her love of writing led to a degree in journalism and mass communication, then landed her a pivotal internship with Metroparent Magazine that fostered her career path.

“I didn’t really daydream about my wedding day, or what my life would be like with my future husband,” she says. “I daydreamed about having kids…about being a mom.”

Lissa and her then-husband, Eric, met in the Navy Reserves during college. After graduation, they moved to the Twin Cities for Eric’s job with the Army Corps of Engineers. Lissa went to work for a really niche publication – Marine Store Merchandising – for two years, but she wanted to get back to something she felt passionate about.

Luckily, Eric’s job brought the couple to La Crosse, and while working at UW La Crosse, Lissa hatched the idea for Coulee Parenting Connection. She was 30 years old, and they didn’t have kids, but Lissa knew she wanted to help bring families together. That was 2001. By the third issue, they were expecting Christopher. Back then, Lissa was doing all the editorial and design work, but now she employs designers, writers, and distributors, creating her own community right within CPC.

“A team has had such an impact on everything,” she says, “and I’m grateful that there were and continue to be people along the way who believe in our mission and help us keep our commitment to families in the Coulee Region.”

Published six times annually, Coulee Parenting Connection is available for free in libraries, schools, shops, and more across Southwest Wisconsin, Southeast Minnesota, and Northern Iowa. From the Family Fun Calendar to kid-friendly stuff to check out to stories about real parents, each issue pulls together family-oriented ideas and helps folks navigate – and join-in on – the local parenting community.

“I like to believe we’ve had an impact on family life in the area,” Lissa says. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily because of Coulee Parenting… but I do know I’ve seen a lot of growth in events and organizations we’ve worked with, and it does my heart good when someone says they did something special with their kids because they read about it in Coulee Parenting.”

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Learn more about Lissa, her team, and Coulee Parenting Connection at www.cpclax.com.

Watch for CPC’s annual Family Fun Expo at the Onalaska Omni Center. 50+ businesses set up to show off their offerings, there’s cool, kid-friendly entertainment, and 3,000-4000 people come to check it out.

 

What We’re Loving: Little Farmers

We’re Loving: Little Farmers Preschool and Daycare

You hear a lot about the brand-new Little Farmers Preschool and Daycare throughout this Fall 2017 issue of Inspire(d), so we figured we’d tell you about this new soon-to-be non-profit and why we love them.

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

What We’re Loving: Stanton West

We’re Loving: Stanton West – Songbird

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.