Online Exclusive: Renae Korslien Talks About the ND State Fair Over the Years
Renae Korslien takes a trip down memory lane at the North Dakota State Fair.
Gather at the Table: Readers’ Recipes
Arkansas Green Beans Start to finish: 55 minutes Servings: 15-20 Submitted by: Angela Sabot, Bismarck, ND I found this on nancycreative.com via Pinterest. She found it on allrecipes.com. This recipe is amazing. I first made it for a tailgating get-together, and I got so many compliments on it. One guy actually told me he doesn’t like green beans, but he couldn’t stop eating these. I converted a green bean hater! 5 15-ounce cans green beans, drained (I’ve also substituted a couple cans of wax beans for a little variety in color.) 12 slices bacon, cooked until slightly crispy, then cut into large pieces 2/3 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup butter, melted 7 teaspoons soy sauce (or 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the drained green beans in a 9×13 baking pan. Sprinkle with cooked bacon pieces. Combine the sugar, butter, soy sauce, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Pour over the green beans and bacon. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and serve. (Note: I’ve successfully made these several times in a foil pan on the grill.) Angela is a recipe book collector and shares her favorite recipes on her blog fivefootfoodie.com. We tried it! It only took 55 minutes to make. We saved time using the WowBacon microwave maker (available at Karmin’s Kitchen Table). There was enough time to walk around the block before supper, and the beans were a HUGE hit! Super easy and perfect for potluck meals, barbecues and tailgating. —KKT
Rebuild and They Will Come
Article and Photos by Nicole Thom-Arens In 1981, Paula Bachmeier was one of three women who formed the Burlington Recreation Commission so the children in the small town just west of Minot would have something to do. “(Youth athletics) are a sense of gathering,” Paula says. “In Burlington we’re kind of a bedroom community. We’re seven miles from Minot, so a lot of people just go home, sleep, and come to work in Minot, but at least in the evenings, when we have a t-ball or a softball or a baseball game, it brings people together and they visit and meet new friends and meet new people and get acquainted and acclimated in our community.” In the beginning, the teams played on a rock field at the school, but the commission was able to buy land through charitable gaming and built the city park. “When we built the park, we had hundreds of people helping doing the physical work because we did it by hand ourselves,” Paula recalls. Sports have always been a part of Paula’s life. She coaches volleyball for United Public Schools of Des Lacs and Burlington, and even though her sons long outgrew youth baseball, Paula continued serving the community through the Burlington Recreation Commission, which provides opportunities for t-ball, baseball, and softball for about 600 youth from Burlington and surrounding communities. “Sometimes you’ll have a group of volunteers come forward and they’re really involved when their kids are there, and then they’re gone and things kind of just die,” Paula explains. “There’s a core group of us that even though we don’t have kids in the program, we have just stayed together because we just feel it’s so important to Burlington that we keep that continuity so the rules are the same, the registration is the same. People know what’s going on when they come to join our group.” Paula and the core group continue to organize the games and even serve as umpires for diamond duty, as they call it. Paula’s son Christopher recently moved back to Burlington from Minnesota. He’s now the superintendent of United Public Schools of Des Lacs and Burlington. Family brought him and his wife, Beth, back to the community they loved. “My mom has always instilled in my brother and me that community is important,” Christopher recalls. “Having civic pride is of great importance because we represent not only who we are but where we’re from. We are Des Lacs/Burlington through and through.” Following the devastating 2011 Souris River flood, Paula lost her home and the park. “When I saw the house, I felt like someone punched me in the stomach because it’s just stuff, but when I saw our park was destroyed, I literally cried because that was built—literally built—with our own hands and our kids’ hands and their friends and their parents,” Paula remembers. “The building of the park and seeing it get flooded was harder for me than losing my house because we could rebuild the house, but it just took a whole village to get our park back.” The literal village came together to rebuild the park providing physical labor and the necessary funds. “Always be a part of the ‘they,’” she says. “When people say ‘they’ should do this, be a part of the ‘they.’ If you’re not part of the ‘they,’ you shouldn’t be offering your opinion. I’m happy to say in my life, I’ve been part of the ‘they.’” “She has shown the power of what it is to say ‘yes’ for the community,” Christopher says. “When I tell people who I am, it’s always, ‘Are you Paula’s son?’ That’s been a very prideful thing for me, and I hope that I can grow to be the type of person that somebody can someday say to her, ‘Are you Christopher’s mom?’” Nicole Thom-Arens is a writer and an assistant professor of communication arts at Minot State University where she teaches journalism and communication theory courses and advises the student newspaper the Red & Green.
A Saratoga Way of Life: In the Backstretch
by Carole Hemingway | Submitted Photos Saratoga’s main attraction has always been its world-class thoroughbred race horses. The town’s signature race course opened on August 3, 1863, just a month after the Battle of Gettysburg. The blood on the battlefield was barely dry, and cannon fire still echoed in the hills, a sobering reminder of a conflict that seared and scarred a precious piece of the American landscape. I believe the Saratoga Race Course’s opening day was the first step to healing our country. My first adventure to Saratoga was the last week in August 2010, to see Rachael Alexandra run in the PERSONAL ENSIGN. I met her face to face at dawn on the morning of her race. There’s nothing like a horse’s nose on your shoulders; it’s the best medicine on earth for whatever ails you. When I first laid eyes on the beautiful Rachel Alexandra, the $10 million horse of the year, I was captured by her sheer size and the grace in which she carried her beauty. She is a half a ton of sunshine. Feeling the magical tickle of her nose against my shoulders, the stimulation of her warm breath across my neck was about as good as it gets. After that introduction, I thought to myself, “What could possibly compare with that moment?” I soon found out. The Backstretch. It’s what goes on behind the scenes that brings out those magnificent thoroughbreds to the starting gate. And only a few even get to see it up-close and personal. This was my lucky day. The Backstretch is a dizzying place of activity where six weeks of summer racing season starts the end of July, continues through Labor Day, and finds 800 workers—from many foreign cultures—managing to wrangle 1,800 horses in 91 barns. You’ve got to respect that. These men often only get to see home and their families during the holiday season of winter and send their families money to provide for, among other things, their children’s education. This life is tough and really hard on the men, but it’s the way they have to do their jobs. They often live in dorms on the track grounds. They save their money. It may not be the most comfortable way to live, but somehow it works. Sleep is a valued commodity—the men start waking up the horses at 5 a.m., and typically, the men wake up about 15 minutes before the horses, which barely gives them enough time to roll out of bed, still sleepy-eyed, and walk to their respective barns. The Backstretch Employees Service offers free breakfasts to all workers at Saratoga Springs Backstretch areas. Because many of the workers come from foreign countries and have no form of transportation while working at Saratoga, their food options are limited to what’s served at the track or what can fit on a hot plate. This is their only healthy food option. Candy vending machines are always empty. The idea for the “health food program” came about after a Backstretch worker visited a dentist, who prescribed an antidote that required a full stomach. Much of the time the workers had no food in their dorms, so they were taken by a nonprofit shuttle service to a local grocery store, other local supermarkets, and Walmart twice a week. Then along came volunteers and donations for their own food service, and they were able to offer free hot meals six days a week. The breakfasts extended to lunches and popular dessert options such as pie. All of this has given the men the energy to keep working because they get balanced meals. It is estimated that 5,000 meals are served throughout the racing season. Other services offer a computer center equipped with Skype so workers can communicate with their families back home, whom they likely won’t see again until December. There’s also a free store where workers can pick up clothing and other supplies such as jeans, which are obviously popular, and a health care clinic staffed with doctors. There are Sunday dinners, Bingo nights, and even karaoke nights throughout racing season. As you can tell by reading this, there’s an outpouring of community support creating a Backstretch employee package that surpasses other race tracks. Help and support is why these horse racing events can take place, and as someone famous once said: “It indeed takes a village.” Carole Hemingway is an internationally regarded author, speaker, astrologer, and historical researcher. She lives along the coast of Maine, where she is currently writing three books on Gettysburg. The first volume is ex- pected to be released in November 2018.
A Homeless Project: Faces & Stories
Photos and Article by Moriah Schroeder Editors’ Note: When we heard about Moriah Schroeder’s photography project, we knew we wanted to include it in this issue—it fits so perfectly with the theme “community.” The following is Mo’s explanation of her project, in her own words. Her inspiration, her work, and her goal. What do you think of when you see the number 331? Do you think of an area code? Do you think of money? What if I were to tell you that 311 is the number of homeless people in North Dakota? That’s according to the Missouri Valley Coalition for Homeless People. To put that into perspective, that is the approximate population of the town McVille, North Dakota. A big dream of mine is to travel around the 50 states and photograph homeless people and share their amazing stories. After I visit all 50 states, I would like to open a gallery with many of the photos I have taken throughout my trip. When I attended my last class of my senior year at college, we had to focus on a community based project, also known as macro work within social work. I thought to myself, I could start this dream of mine now in the state of North Dakota. I was able to reach out and network to a few community based organizations throughout Bismarck and ask for their help. Ministry on the Margins was a great help. There, I was able to meet 10 individuals experiencing homelessness. I wanted to make this project very meaningful, so I asked each individual heavy questions and recorded their responses. After this, I was able to photograph each person. I wanted each picture to be a portrait, and I wanted the person being photographed to be comfortable, whether that meant not looking at me or smiling. Once I put my final touches on everything, I was able to hold a gallery showing at Ministry on the Margins. To my surprise, it was well attended, and I was overwhelmed with the response of the community. My main goal of this project was to open the public’s eye to this reality of the homeless situation in Bismarck. Where do you see yourself in three years? "I see myself stable, livin' in an apartment. Working hard. I am an able bodied person. I am able to work. I just need to get the opportunity. That's what I am working toward right now. It's not going to take three years. It's going to take less." What is your biggest fear? "Not being sober and the consequences of all that." How do you think people who are not homeless view people who are homeless? "That's a good question. I thought they would care, but a lot of people don't. They just probably think we're just scuffing around, taking advantage of other people and get a job. We struggle, when you have nowhere to go, you have nowhere to go." What makes you feel safe? "There's a lot of different things. I know what direction I am headed. God makes me feel safe. He knows where I am going to and when my time is up." How much sleep would you say you get a night? "For weeks I was sleeping outside, if I could I would crash at somebody's house. I lived in a storage unit with no lights and sometimes it was too cold to sleep until like three in the morning, but it was miserable. It was cold and uncomfortable." What is the best thing that has happened to you this week? "Probably actually just to hear from my mom. She went through a couple surgeries before and all the surgeries went well." What is your biggest accomplishment? "Um, surviving homelessness." Moriah Schroeder, known by her friends as Mo, graduated from the University of Mary in April with a bachelor’s degree in social work. Mo worked as the head athletic photographer for U-Mary while also running her own photography business on the side. Click here to see more of her work.
Mission: Travel the World
Sunrise after hiking to the top of Mount Batur, Bali By Tracie Bettenhausen Do you have a lifelong dream you have never followed? For Tegan Henke, Wishek, North Dakota native and North Dakota State University graduate, it was world travel. So why did she wait until her late 30s to hop a plane and go? The following is an edited, partial transcript from the podcast “Women Inspired!,” created by April Seifert. April interviewed Tegan about how she made her dream of travel a reality. (The two were roommates at NDSU. Read more about April in the “Look What She Did!” section of this magazine.) April Seifert: I wanted you on the podcast because you have been on a serious adventure. Can you share what you’ve been up to? Tegan Henke: In April 2017, I quit my job and started traveling around the world. I needed to pick places that were more affordable, so I started in southeast Asia, and then went to Central and South America, and then most recently to Italy. I am now back to resuming more real world life. So maybe nine or 10 months of pretty consistent travel. A: People go on vacation, maybe pick a place and take two weeks. But 10 months is a whole other shebang. What made you decide to launch yourself into something this big? T: It’s two-fold. One, I’ve always been interested in international travel, but my work life never really allowed for it (Tegan was working for a state agency focused on mental health policy). In the United States, we get 10 vacation days a year, or maybe two weeks, and that just didn’t feel long enough for me to be able to see all the places I wanted to see. And two, about five years ago I had some things happen in my life that really shook me up and sent me on this path of figuring out the person I want to be in the world. I got divorced. I’m a counselor, so I did some therapy. I was realizing that I was never really open. Whether in my marriage, or in my friendships, I didn’t need anyone. I was always fine, I was always ok. That makes me very self-sufficient, but it also prevents me from having a really full life. I wasn’t taking risks, personally or at work. Things were happening, and I wasn’t necessarily making them happen. A: Travel takes you out of the context that you’re comfortable being in. Was it just repeated unexpected situations that just helped you get to a point where you started to break down the barriers that you discovered you had before? T: I had an airline ticket and then did everything else on the fly. I started in Indonesia, in Bali. When I got to the airport in Dallas, they asked, ‘When are you leaving Bali?’ I told them I didn’t really know. They told me I couldn’t do that; they needed to see a ticket out. So I got on my phone and bought an outgoing ticket from Bali before I even left. Once you’re in these countries, there are so many people who just want to help. If you’re open to the world and things unfolding for you, I think in a lot of ways they can. I mean, you have to be practical and safe, but the travel community is amazing. People want to help and connect. A: How did you decide how long to stay in a certain place? T: Some of it was I needed to stay in a certain place to meet a friend who was coming to meet me. I would have 10 days in Cambodia. So how would I divide up my days in Cambodia so I could meet my friend in Thailand on time? But sometimes if I liked a place, I’d stay longer. Or if I heard good things about a place I hadn’t planned to go, I would reroute. I hadn’t even planned on going to Burma (or Myanmar), but something fell through somewhere else, and so I had extra time. Turns out those were some of my favorite places. A: Do you feel like you have a new outlook on life now? T: I do, but not as a result of the trip. I think it’s a result of everything that led up to the trip. It changed the way I interact with people, the way I take risks. Even if it’s just saying something that I’m not sure if people will like. Or putting a thought out there that I haven’t fully formed. People don’t think of those as being risks, but they are exercises in vulnerability. I feel okay with taking risks and making mistakes. The busy streets of Bangkok The alms giving ceremony in Luang Prabang, Laos where locals give alms (usually rice) to the monks Inexpensive and delicious fruits and vegetables in a street market in Pyin Oo Lwin, Burma (Myanmar) Fishermen paddle with a foot so they can fish with their hands on the Inle Lake, Burma (Myanmar) Beautiful and colorful fabrics sold in the market in markets at Inle Lake, Burma (Myanmar) View of a temple from a temple in Bagan, Burma (Myanmar) where there are said to be around 2,200 temples, pagoda, and monasteries The Elephant Nature Park is a sanctuary and rescue center where tourists can have ethical encounters with elephants Two best friends at the Elephant Nature Park outside Chiang Mai, Thailand Where is Machu Picchu??? Big world, little people. Halong Bay, Vietnam Mr. Hong and Tegan at the start of their six day motorcycle trip. They took mostly backroads, including the Ho Chi Minh Trail from Hoi An to Delat, Vietnam Sunrise from (almost) the top of the Acatenango Volcano A fun goodbye with new friends on the road Cambodian jungle in the Mondulkiri Province Sunrise over Angkor Wat in Cambodia The ocean view from Koh Phi Phi, Thailand The busy streets of Hanoi, Vietnam Tegan Henke Sunset in Ululate, Bali Tegan got in line at 3 a.m. to be some of the first people in the site. She says it was worth it! Rainbow over Machu Picchu Tracie Bettenhausen is a senior staff writer/editor at Basin Electric. She has gener- ously opened her home to two once-foster, now-adopted kitties, Basil and Sweet Pea.
Renae Korslien: Life is Fair
by Jody Kerzman | Photography: Rachael Neva Photo Every summer for nine days, North Dakota State Fair Director Renae Korslien lives at the North Dakota State Fairgrounds. Literally. “I bring my motorhome and park it right over there,” she says as she points out her office window at the State Fair Center. “I’ve done that for 30 years, only because I’m too nosy to go home!” Renae is a self-described people person, and it is the people that first drew her to work at the state fair. She started in the cash room back in 1974. “We were in a little building down by the midway. Our boss was very strict—you didn’t talk, you didn’t play, you counted money. We started at 7 a.m. and we counted cash all day. We counted cash, itty bitty coupons, and tickets. We would sometimes take a break for lunch, I don’t remember, maybe a five-minute break and by midnight we were beat, but we kept working,” recalls Renae. “We did not use a calculator. We had to do our job with a pencil and paper. Can you imagine?” Renae loved every second of those days she worked at the fair. The rest of the year, she worked part-time at a bank and helped out on the farm, a routine she continued until 1988. “It was August, we had just finished the fair and we were all still tired. Fair manager Jerry Iverson called me up and asked me to come see him. He wanted me to come work for the fair full-time and said he had an offer I couldn’t refuse. I remember telling him I didn’t want a full-time job, but I agreed to go talk to him. Well, wouldn’t you know, he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He offered me $12,000 a year. How could I say no to such a grand salary? It was huge.” GROWING THE FAIR Renae became the director of commercial sales, which meant it was her job to bring vendors—commercial spaces, food booths, and farm equipment dealers—to the fair. It was hard work, even for a people person like Renae. “It was a down time in the ag industry and those dealers didn’t want to come to the fair. We had moved them from the shaded area of the fair grounds to the north end on the asphalt. They were mad and said they weren’t coming back,” she recalls. “Even after I’d gotten them to come a couple of times, they still didn’t want to spend time at the fair. They wanted their sales people on the road selling. They didn’t make any sales at the fair. But I told them they needed to do this for the youth. We need to teach our young people about agriculture. They need to see that tractor, touch that combine, understand how important our famers are. So many people today don’t have a touch for agriculture.” But Renae had a touch for sales. Under her leadership, the fair grew to 650 commercial exhibitors, including indoor and outdoor exhibits and food vendors. That number remains steady even today. “That is a lot of vendors, and when I tell that to other fair directors from across the country, they can’t believe it.” Renae says it’s the people that keep those vendors coming back year after year. Each summer, the fair attracts 300,000 people, which Renae says for a state the size of North Dakota, is incredible. And those North Dakotans have always made the vendors feel welcome. “Our vendors love North Dakotans. So many of them say, ‘We don’t make a lot of money here, but this is like a vacation.’ And so they keep coming back, and they bring their kids with them and have a little vacation at our fair.” DREAM JOB For years, Renae not only took charge of commercial sales, she also did all the bookkeeping for the fair. Her boss, Jerry Iverson, would often tell her she couldn’t continue doing both and ask her to pick one. “He would ask me which one I liked the most and I would simply tell him, ‘I like them both the most,’” says Renae. “And it was true. I loved working with the financials because I was nosy. And I loved commercial sales because I loved that challenge and I loved meeting new people. I love people and I got to meet new ones every year.” Looking back, Renae says Jerry saw something in her she never saw in herself. He saw a woman who was made for the job of state fair manager. “I would have never taken a job like this, but I love it.” Still, it wasn’t a job Renae thought she wanted. She says she still misses commercial sales, but remember, that also was a job she didn’t think she wanted. But in 2006 when Jerry Iverson told her he planned to retire at the end of that year, she knew she didn’t want his job as fair manager. He encouraged her to apply, and Renae reluctantly did, but then told the board to hire someone else, someone younger who could do the job for 30 years like Jerry had. But by December 2009, Renae was named director of the North Dakota State Fair. “So, here I am.” She ran her first fair in 2010, and after one year under her belt, was gearing up for the 2011 fair. “It was going to be the best fair ever. We had planned it all out, sales were good, we had great acts lined up, we’d spent all our money on advertising.” CHANGE OF PLANS But the fair of 2011 would never happen. The Mouse River flooded—dikes were built throughout the city of Minot and on the State Fairgrounds—the State Fair Center and the newly constructed grandstand were top priority. Thousands of Minot residents lost their homes to floodwaters, and while the dikes held, the fairgrounds were in no shape for 300,000 visitors. Two weeks before the fair was scheduled to begin, Renae knew she had to cancel it. “It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made,” remembers Renae. “Nobody cancels the fair. But we had no idea the horrible muck that was underneath. We still had water over a lot of the grounds. It was horrible.” WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT But in 2012 Renae and the State Fair bounced back. And Renae hasn’t slowed down yet. As she prepares for this year’s fair, she showers praises on all her staff, calling assistant fair manager Craig Rudland her “rock.” “He makes me look good. He is the rock for me,” Renae says. “The entire staff is very good to me, and together we take pride in what we do all 365 days of the year here on the fairgrounds. But the whole fair is about the people. It’s about the kids, the 4-H and FFA kids. They are our future. It’s up to us to mold them, and I honestly think the fair is a great place for those kids to learn. “I often say the fairgrounds is a community. During the fair, one of my highlights each year is I can look out my office window and these kids are all outside the barn washing their cattle. And you know, it’s hot in July in North Dakota, and they’re on hot asphalt and the hose just happens to slip a few times and before you know it, those kids are shooting water at each other, and they’re having a great big water fight. I want so badly to join them, just once! It’s incredible, and they’re just so happy. We always have a few campers with the livestock people from across the state right down here and at night they pull their chairs around and just sit there and talk and laugh. It just can’t get any better than that.” It is that sense of community that brings Renae so much joy, and what keeps her going on very little sleep for nine long days of the fair each summer. Renae’s family has been a great support to her throughout the years. It is a life she loves, even though she never thought she would, and it is a life she wishes she could continue forever. “I would love to do it forever and ever because that would be my wish but that wouldn’t be fair to the fair. I know there will be an end someday. I can’t talk about it. It’s been my life.” A life that’s been more than fair to Renae Korslien. For a video of Renae showing us some photos of the early years at the North Dakota State Fair, click here. Rachael Neva Photo Rachael Neva Photo Rachael Neva Photo Rachael Neva Photo Rachael Neva Photo Rachael Neva Photo Rachael Neva Photo Rachael Neva Photo
Feeding the Community
Article and Photos by Pam Vukelic I don’t know what story her eyes would have told me if they hadn’t been hidden behind large mirrored sunglasses, but Twila’s smile was beautiful and her demeanor warm. She sat at the communal table suggesting to me she was open to chatting. And she was. Twila recently returned to Bismarck, and while she looks for a job and prepares to go to school to become a social worker, she comes to the Soup Cafe. She comes for food, and she comes for fellowship. Soon Paul sat down beside me and wanted me to know that Mark Meier, director and founder of the Heaven’s Helpers Soup Cafe, and his wife, Mary, are angels. With his voice cracking and his eyes welling up, Paul said the first thing he got the first time he walked into the Soup Cafe was a hug. This was so meaningful to Paul, he told me twice. He got emotional both times. He’s living in his truck now since becoming homeless a few months ago and looks forward to the upcoming changes at the Soup Cafe. Patrons who volunteer will be able to earn Soup Cafe Bucks to use toward showers, laundry facilities, and computer access. Heaven’s Helpers Soup Cafe serves the homeless, the working the poor, the elderly, and anyone else who wants to come. It’s for anyone who needs a hand up, not a hand out. As many as 250 people per day eat soup and sandwiches served by groups of volunteers who work two-hour shifts. High school students who need volunteer hours, retirees who want to feel useful, and groups looking for a service project are all welcome. Another patron at our communal table came from work to have lunch. Rather than go for fast food he eats here and leaves what he would have spent at a restaurant in the donation box. Not that a restaurant experience would be that much different. Once you choose your seat, a waitress comes to take your order. You are welcome to go to the dessert bar where there are numerous sweets and fresh fruits from which to choose. As you leave, you’re welcome to help yourself to bags of bagels, bread, rolls, crackers, and even pizza sauce. The food might have been delivered to the Soup Cafe by the Great Plains Food Bank, picked up from several restaurants, or dropped off by someone who had leftovers after a funeral meal. Dining at The Banquet, another free meal option in Bismarck, gave me a look at our community that I don’t typically see in my routine comings and goings. I stood in line at Trinity Lutheran Church on a Thursday evening waiting for the doors to open. The aroma of roasted chicken filled the air. Some guests came with salon-coifed hair; some came with all their worldly possessions on their backs. Some came on bicycles; some in Cadillacs. Some were old; some were young. Some were physically able; some not so much. Some came with tote bags tucked into their back pockets. Like parts of a smoothly-oiled machine, The Banquet volunteers know just what to do—counting heads to be sure no seats are left empty. The troop of servers goes into action delivering, on this evening, roasted chicken breast, mashed potatoes with gravy, corn, rolls, salad, fruit, cookies, and milk. It was delicious! The crew working this shift came from Corpus Christi Catholic Church. A muti-piece band played familiar melodies. As the guests left, they were welcome to crack out their tote bags and pick up a few items on the “to-go” table. Lots of bread products, fresh fruit, cereal, crackers, cookies, and donuts were available. In addition, “to-go” plates are prepared with any food not served during the meal. There is also a rack where give-away clothing is available. I remember being surprised, in visiting with friends about a year ago, at how many volunteer activities they were involved in. I wasn’t surprised by their generosity but by the need there is in the Bismarck community. These are just two examples of wonderful services and opportunities for social interaction. Regardless of your status in life, you’re welcome at both of these places. Checking them out will enrich your life. Having just retired from more than two decades of teaching, Pam looks forward to having more time to play with grand- children, more time to read and write, and more adventures with her husband, Jim.
Green Spaces and Green Places: Strong and Healthy Communities
Jody’s kids and their summer adventure list By Melanie Carvell What does it mean to be a part of a healthy, thriving community? We know we need good governance and a collaborative culture among our political leaders, along with community engagement and empowerment. We understand the need for walkable neighborhoods and schools that are physically integrated with the populations they serve. Thoughtful planning and development of natural environments for us to be able to connect and thrive is critically important. Gratefully, Bismarck officials have worked with developers to ensure new urban developments provide for neighborhood parks, playgrounds, natural areas, and trails. Time spent in nature is a powerful antidote to stress and a dependable route to better individual health and improved community wellness. After a long, frigid winter, our collective spirit has soared with the chance to get out and enjoy our green spaces, neighborhoods, and yards. Bismarck-Mandan’s combined network of paved trails (109 miles), parks (84 and counting), playgrounds (70), riverfront spaces, ballparks, and golf courses have become a beehive of activity. This time of year, when the land and our spirits are renewed, reminds me of something John Steinbeck said: “What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?” Summer is so sweet in North Dakota. The chance to explore and experience nature doesn’t just provide pleasant views. Even just a few minutes in a green space can improve our mood and lower anxiety and depression. Exposure to natural light increases our vitamin D and boosts our immune system. Absorbing the sounds of nature—the meadowlark’s song, a robin’s tweet, and the encouraging honks of migrating geese—can trigger a relaxation response in our brains, allowing us a break from mental fatigue and a chance to reset, reboot, and restore. Many employers have come to recognize the importance of allowing time outside to help their employees reap the benefits of time spent under the sky. Basin Electric Power Cooperative is an example of a company with a strong worksite wellness program including an onsite, one-mile walking path and an employee garden. Since 2014, over 2,200 pounds of food from the garden has been donated to community pantries, connecting employee physical health with community well-being. Other ways to bring nature to the worksite include encouraging walking meetings and adding outdoor spaces to gather and meet. Indoor atriums with natural light, green plants, and even artwork and nature photography all can add stress-relieving and productivity enhancing value to offices spaces. Busy with the little ones at home this summer? Time in nature allows families a great reason to get away from screens and the web, providing opportunities to experience and stretch themselves in the outdoors. My friend Jody shared a great tool that she and her two grade school children have created. They sit down at the start of summer, and after brainstorming, create a poster of all the adventures they want to tackle. She provides the stickers to add to the poster when they check each “adventure” off the list. Such a list can include tennis lessons, horseback riding, time at the water park, a hike at Ft. Lincoln, a climb up the hill to visit Salem Sue, paddle boarding at McDowell Dam or Harmon Lake. What about setting a goal to get to every park in town before the summer is over? Visit Bismarck Parks and Recreation’s website for a list of playgrounds throughout the city.Getting the little ones out gets us out, too! Now is the time to plan to take advantage of opportunities to connect your mind and body to your community’s natural spaces, reaping health benefits for you and broader benefits for your community. Be inspired by the words of American naturalist and conservationist John Burroughs: “I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put together.” See you on the trails! Melanie lives in Bismarck with her husband, Charles, and her dog, Case. She is an author, health and wellness speaker, and grandmother of six. She loves sharing her fitness enthusiasm with others and hopes to see you in one of her cycling classes soon.
Created for Community
By Beth Anderson While driving across the prairies of North Dakota one winter day, I found myself listening to the voice of forest ecologist Suzanne Simard talking about trees on the “Ted Radio Hour.” Maybe it was the alluring idea of lush green forests in contrast to the barren white landscape whisking past, but I found myself drawn in. Simard and her team had discovered that trees do not simply exist side by side, independently striving to secure the nutrients and sunlight they each need for their own growth, but rather, hidden beneath the forest floor lies a complex system of roots, microbes, and fungi—an information superhighway hundreds of miles long—that allows trees to communicate even across various species. What these trees were saying to one another was fascinating. They were not competing, but collaborating! The trees were actually reaching out to each other, some sending signals of what they needed, others responding! Stronger trees were sending nutrients to weaker trees, even from one variety to another, and in the sharing and the receiving, the entire stand became stronger and healthier. This story led me to reflect on our human communities. The bonds that connect us to one another really are most beautiful and sacred. Human beings are built for connectedness. Of all the animals in the kingdom, humans have the biggest brains relative to size. Why? According to anthropologist Robin Dunbar, the strongest predictor of a species’ brain size is the size of its social group. So get busy and schedule that girls’ night out! It really will be good for your brain. In his book “Social,” Matthew Lieberman reveals that the brain responds to social pain and physical pain in similar ways. When feeling rejected, the part of the brain that processes physical pain lights up with activity. An unkind word or feeling excluded really can send us reeling. Even for the most introverted, too much time alone creates a physical longing for human interaction. (Who remembers Wilson from the movie “Castaway”?) Healthy social interactions, on the other hand, stimulate the brain in positive ways. In fact, connecting with other people can be as good for your health as quitting smoking. And acts of altruism create the most positive benefits. We are happiest when we are helping others. My favorite Biblical image is the Body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12, which conveys the essence of community—all are needed, all have a part to play. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you.” (verse 21) Nor should the ear wish that it were an eye, for if all were eyes, how would the body hear? Rather, the body is not whole unless all parts are present and all parts are sharing their gifts. When one part suffers, the whole body suffers, and when one part rejoices, the whole body rejoices. Just like the trees in Simard’s fascinating forests, individually and collectively, our communities are strongest and healthiest when we reach out to one another. Beth Anderson is a deacon in the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). The joys in her life include her husband Dallas and their two beautiful girls. Beth loves cooking and getting lost in a good novel.
Women of Medora: Sheila Schafer
by Stephanie Fong | Photos courtesy of Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation Women of Medora features inspiring women who have made an impact on the world through their time living and working in Medora. If you’ve spent even just a little time in Medora, North Dakota, chances are you know who Sheila Schafer was. She spent decades working by her husband Harold’s side to restore the history of Medora and transform it into a destination for families from across the Midwest and beyond. Medora became a second home for Sheila, a place where she hosted an endless stream of family and friends each summer, where she took in the Medora Musical practically every other night, a town she loved and unabashedly promoted to anyone she met. Even after Harold’s death in 2001, the “First Lady of Medora” stayed rooted there, dedicated to the cause that had meant the world to both of them. The Schafer story is woven into Medora’s museums, magazines, and magic. The public knew Sheila from her beautiful log cabin home just east of the Medora Catholic Church. She could be found sitting on her porch swing in the shade, hollering a friendly, “Hello, nice person!” to any passerby, for no other reason than to be friendly and show her appreciation for visitors that kept Medora ticking. Visitors to the Medora Musical recognized Sheila from her enthusiastic hollering throughout the show, cheering on her friends in the cast and relishing something she and Harold spent 50 years building together. To those who knew her, worked with her, and enjoyed her friendship, Sheila was more than the widow of Harold Schafer. She was a force of life coming at you from a block away! The woman’s spirits simply soared as she encountered the good things in life. People were drawn to her because she lifted up a room when she entered, and she showed fierce interest in just about anyone she met. Sheila celebrated seeing people succeed. Taking a spring lunch break with volunteers and staff, you would hear her describe her amazement at how wonderful the current year’s Musical cast was, or how sweet some new employees were, or how proud she was of this grandchild or that acquaintance. There was no room for negativity when there were so many things to be joyful about. Summer employees would go out of their way to run errands for Sheila or simply stop in and visit her. She probably benefited from their company, but even more so, many of those employees overcame their own obstacles and grew confident and successful thanks to Sheila’s listening ear and genuine love for them. When her health started failing her in later years, and it was clear she had discomforts, she pushed on living as if to say, “I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself when there are so many amazing things to do today!” In her mid-80s, she still showed up for each employee orientation session held by the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, lipstick applied and notes in hand. She would welcome 300 seasonal employees both old and new to Medora and give them their mission: to be like Harold in their love for Medora. Sheila was—and still is—one of the biggest inspirations in Medora’s history, making an indelible impression on the lives of Medora’s visitors, performers, and employees. Her passion inspired leaders in Medora to keep dreaming bigger dreams for this little town. Her encouraging cheers made the Musical performers sing a little clearer and kick their heels up a little higher. Most importantly, the love she showed for people in her life—no matter how brief the encounter—is something none of us will ever forget. Stephanie (Tinjum) Fong worked in Medora during her college summer breaks and then had the privilege to work as the personnel manager for the Theodore Roo- sevelt Medora Foundation for seven years.
Community Contributor: Community Blessings
“Give freely without begrudging it, and the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do. There will always be some among you who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share your resources freely with the poor and others in need.” –Deuteronomy 15:10-11 You could say that verse is Theresa Stockert’s guide to life. Since 2010, she’s been operating her secondhand store, Community Blessings, full-time and blessing the communities of Bismarck and Mandan on a daily basis. She shares more about the store and her mission. Tell us a little history of Community Blessings. My dream has always been to help people in need, but I used to believe that could only be done overseas. I thought that was how God was calling me, but as I looked around I saw there is so much need right around us in our own community. I may not be able to mend the world, but I can help right here in Bismarck and Mandan. From the very beginning I knew I wanted sell the donations at a reasonable price so that anyone could afford to have beautiful items, no matter their income. How are you different from other organizations like yours? Community Blessings believes that all people deserve nice things. We all deserve to have our practical needs met. Items like a bed, clothes, shoes, dishes, bedding, towels, and soap are items that make life a little easier. We pride ourselves with the best donations and we treat all items with respect and make sure they are cleaned and cared for. We send items to smaller communities. Making lots of money is not the goal, but we do need to pay the bills and that is the goal every week. We are not just a shop for needy families though; all are welcome. We have people from all different incomes. We not only offer material items but also fellowship and kindness. What are your needs right now if someone would like to help? We are always looking for donated items and volunteers. How can people donate or get involved? I have a crew of the best volunteers who help me run the store Wednesday-Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. To donate or volunteer, call me at 701-425-8837 or find us on Facebook. We are located at 312 Bis-Man Ave in Mandan, across from McDonalds. We are always accepting donations. Large furniture and kitchen and bathroom items go quickly.