The Secret Sauce

Stories of Place

Eddy Nix —Bohemian Rhapsody in Books

Eddy Nix —Bohemian Rhapsody in Books

“Bookstores have always been the most comfortable sort of commercial place. I have a hard time with WalMarts and malls and hyper capitalism and consumerism, so bookstores are kind of an antidote to hyper consumerism where you can be a little relaxed and slow and take your time.”

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Cultivating Will —Zoe Drew-King

Cultivating Will —Zoe Drew-King

I had failed. And as soon as I had accepted this fact, I let go of feeling awful about it. I knew that it was more important for me, in that moment, to learn from this and move forward — to understand what had led me to choose failure and grow from it.

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Just Say No  —Matt Voz

Just Say No —Matt Voz

Saying “no” in a small town is an act of humanity, with all the reward and responsibility that being human entails.

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An Ode to Youth Initiative High School

An Ode to Youth Initiative High School

And so, as our son moves through his final weeks at this lovely, oddball school and our family weathers yet another transition, I feel compelled to pay homage to the place where he, and we as a family, have learned so many valuable lessons —a place that has given us the opportunity to share meaningful work, humble work, love-filled work, with such an incredible community of people —those who have come before us as well as those who will follow.

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An Invitation:

An Invitation:

“A nation is not judged by how well the strongest in its midst can do but by how well it cares for the weakest and most vulnerable in its midst.”
How do you think we can help strengthen the safety net in our communities to further support our most vulnerable members?

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Storytelling: Weaving a Tapestry of Trust

Storytelling: Weaving a Tapestry of Trust

In a time when everyone is plugged into a device, both at home and in public, it is extremely refreshing to sit in a room captivated by a single person telling a true story from their own life. The sense at the end of the night is that we are a closer community, having shared an intimate moment typically reserved for the best of friends.

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Let’s Get Real —with Matt Voz

Let’s Get Real —with Matt Voz

Living with small town gossip is like sleeping under a heavy duvet, occasionally it gets a little too hot but when you’re naked and alone on a cold winter’s night it’s the only thing between you and the soul-death of solitude.

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Liz Rog:  Singing as Breath and Food  —by Annie Zylstra

Liz Rog: Singing as Breath and Food —by Annie Zylstra

What would happen if a whole family, community, or bioregion of people were connected by dozens or even hundreds of the same song patterns? And what if they were shared in daily life as part of the delicious food necessary for growing resilient community?

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The Parrish Family —Community Call and Response

The Parrish Family —Community Call and Response

How does a musically-gifted, racially-mixed family from Chicago make it in a rural Wisconsin town settled by Germans and Norwegians? Ted and Catherine Parrish, along with their two African-American children, weren’t sure it could be done. But they wanted to try.

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We Need More Fruitcake! — Reinette Senum

We Need More Fruitcake! — Reinette Senum

It is hard to deny that [Reinette] cares deeply about her community and the people in it; that every action she takes is an effort to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves —the disenfranchised, the under-served, the animals, the earth.

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Opinion: In Defense of Place—Commitment builds Resilience

Opinion: In Defense of Place—Commitment builds Resilience

At the end of the day, I believe that investments in community are necessary for healing what ails us. The communities that Ms. Roggio applauds are thriving because people have committed to them…They have shown a willingness to stay through challenge and hardship in order to build something a little more lovely —even when it is a painstakingly slow process.

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Editorial: Change the Story

Editorial: Change the Story

“Choice-making beings of many possibilities, we humans live by shared cultural stories. They are the lens through which we view reality. They shape what we most value as a society and the institutions by which we structure power.”

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Pete & Alycann Taylor —Lines of Connection

Pete & Alycann Taylor —Lines of Connection

When you start building things for our youth, you bring everyone on board —parents get involved, schools get involved, and kids find meaning. THAT is what community looks like. When we step outside of our own little tribes and comfort zones to something that is a little bit bigger, when we layer our networks beyond the nucleus— that is where we find the true power of community.

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Finnriver Cidery — Head, Heart and Hands in a New Economy

Finnriver Cidery — Head, Heart and Hands in a New Economy

The story of Finnriver Cidery reads like a good children’s fairytale, chock full of disciplined hard work, challenges overcome, and dreams come true. And if you read through their story, you will find inspired dreams weaving together a rich tale of people, land, food and economics that is both sustainable and fulfilling:

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Truth and Beauty in Death and Dying

Truth and Beauty in Death and Dying

Since that terrible day in May, the way that our small, rural community deals with death and dying has been permanently altered. Many others have crossed over, some before their time. But increasing numbers of people are considering their final wishes, writing them down, and discussing them with kin. Many are choosing to die at home, in the presence of family and friends, and home funerals and green burial are also on the rise.

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Vulnerability as the Birthplace of Innovation.

Vulnerability as the Birthplace of Innovation.

In the end, Rena’s willingness to take the bitter pill —accepting the personal and collective vulnerability that comes with being human and trying to create beauty and meaning from it— is inspiring to us all. But it is my deepest hope that other teenagers —artists or no— can recognize our collective tenderness and feel buoyed by Rena’s example: step forward in your truest self, and do it without regret.

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The Queen Of Win-Win

The Queen Of Win-Win

As we finish up our time together, I find that I am once again inspired at the far-reaching impact “ordinary” people can have on their places. Passion, and a commitment to place really can change the world…one story at a time, and more often than not, the result is a little bit of magic.

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