30 August 2010

our parks can beat up your parks.

Okay, our parks may not be able to beat yours up, but we sure as heck may have yours out numbered.  Quick Windom fact: Windom is home to nearly 14 so-called parks.  14!  We have Tegels Park on Cottonwood Lake, Mayflower Park (one of my favorites), Island Park, Abby Park, Kastle Kingdom, Legion Park, a freakin' Skate Park funded by the Tony Hawk Foundation and numerous other generous donors, Jen's Park, two school owned parks, Dynamite Park (a county park in town), Ken Witt Park, Obie Knutson Park located on Fish Lake and nothing says Minnesota like hanging out next to a lake on a hot summer day and we have lots of those too--lakes and hot days.  I know I'm missing a few too.  Each park features its own personality and offers lots of opportunity for playing hard. 

On Sunday I tried to hit up each park and get a feel for all the great splendors they offered.  Tegels Park on Cottonwood Lake was my first stop and it was beautiful.  The hot sun and prairie wind made for a heavenly combination.  The one thing I would like to do for this park: add more garbage cans.  Unfortunately while I was there I spent most of my time picking up trash near the banks of the lake's waves.  I only found a few garbage cans (all in the same place near the shelter) in the whole park.  The south side of the park, where I picked up the trash, had not one in sight.  Unfortuneately, no one was ambitious enough to walk across the park to throw away their trash, which I don't think is unusual these days.  All in all, Tegels Park was perfect.  I'd be happy to waste a day there any day (weather permiting). 

Mayflower Park is one of my favorites.  It is set back from the main streets of Windom with a perfect location just along the Des Moines River, and it is home to a great frisbee golf course.  It's quiet, cozy and inviting.  Just across the river you are pleasantly surprised by a big corn field swaying in the wind so proudly under the smiling blue sky. 

Numerous parks offer great equipment for children--a haven of jungle gyms, swings and monkey bars to keep the kiddos entertained the good 'ol fashioned way.  You don't need to look far to find these kinds of parks in town. It was good to see people out using them on such a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Frisbee Golf at Mayflower Park
Not only are there parks in town, but Windom is surrounded by parks as well.  Forgive me if I've missed one, but there is Pat's Grove, Red Rock Ridge, and the resevoir (I can't think of the official name of this park, but it is near Red Rock Ridge), and the Jeffer's Petroglyphs are close too. There are great places to camp like Talcot Lake, Graham Lake and Mukaweegee.  Now I'm getting farther out, but still rather close to this great town.

I could go on and on about how wonderful our parks are in town and the great parks close to our town, but I think you get the point.  Just another reason Windom could be a rural hotspot and tourist   destination. You should check them all out sometime!

29 August 2010

Larry finally plays for a Minnesota team!

Good news, our man Larry Buhler has found a new, and local, team to play for and he is sporting his new jersey!  If it's good enough for Larry, it should be good enough for you, so play on Larry's team.   All you have to do is buy your very own new, clean white tee bearing your favorite hometown team, Finding Windom.  For only 12 George Washington's ($12), you will not only be supporting your community and your favorite rural city in southwestern Minnesota, but you'll look good doing it.  You can find them at Frank's Shoe Repair or the Windom Chamber of Commerce (after Monday).  You can also get them through any Finding Windom cabinet member--just ask. 

All proceeds will go directly into beautifying our lovely city.  We appreciate your support and keep reading to find out more ways that you can contribute your hands, minds and talents to Finding Windom's passionate cause.  Thanks for your wonderful support, it is appreciated beyond measure!

26 August 2010

convincing the impossible.

A short 3 years ago in a small town called Mountain Lake, I met my husband.  Yes, you are reading this right, this Windom girl married a Mountain Lake boy.  I'm still wondering how this happened myself.  Although we met in Mountain Lake during the craziness of Mountain Lake's Pow Wow celebration, we both lived in Windom at the time and ultimately decided to stay as well (this is where he worked and still works).  So we are now both working our 9-5s, we will be paying for our old house for the next 30 years, and we are raising our son all in this lovely town along the river.

So it is here that this story really starts, for the last 3 years I've been competing with that small town a close 10 miles away.  If you know a Mountain Laker, you know his undying passion for nothing else but Mountain Lake.  I'm not saying there is anything wrong with it, in fact I think it is great. But for this Windom girl, it has been hard to convince a Mountain Laker that Windom is even compariable to his former home--home of the almighty Pow Wow.  You can only imagine the look I got when I told him I started this blog.  Of course he was supportive like any wonderful husband would be, but it was pretty hard for him to see the visions I have for this town. 

A few posts ago (post titled "say cheese") I posted some pictures that my husband and I took on our somewhat daily walk.  We started talking more about Windom and its potential. Up until this point, this very moment of capturing some of Windom's points of interest, we had never actually had a good conversation about the subject.  You can imagine the one ended conversations I had been having with him, a Mountain Lake man by heart, regarding Finding Windom.  I think it was more like me talking to myself with an occasional nod and supportive "yeah" from the quiet person across from me who was patiently listening and watching t.v. at the same time.   I asked him if he knew about all the parks in town like Mayflower or the trails by Wolf Lake.  He didn't, so I took him to these two places--we only had daylight left for a couple, which he was probably delighted by knowing he wouldn't get a whole day's worth tour.  He was amazed that such neat things existed in Windom of all places.  I think I may have done the impossible, folks, I may have made a believer out of a Mountain Laker. To tell you the truth, at first I was kind of disappointed he had no idea about Windom's small splendors despite he has been living here for almost 5 years, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn't his undeniable passion for the next town over that kept him from truly knowing Windom.  All this time I thought it was Mountain Lake that I was up against when in turn it was Windom itself.

It was pointed out to me not too long ago that our highway, which blesses us with thousands of travelers in a week, has no signs to point our guests to these points of interest.  A person can drive right through and not even know Cottonwood Lake is a mere 2 blocks to the east or that we have numerous parks for a family to stop and stretch. Where can a person go to know all these great things exist in Windom?  We don't even have a sign to guide travelers to information at our Chamber and Visitor's Bureau. 

So the moral of the story is: Something as easy as a simple sign would make it a lot easier for a Mountain Laker, our guests and travelers to find Windom.

25 August 2010

an undeniable passion when she starts posting on her lunch break...


by Stephen Dunn

After the paintings
of David Ahlsted

We have lived in this town,
have disappeared
on this prairie. The church

always was smaller
than the grain elevator,
though we pretended otherwise.
The houses were similar

because few of us wanted
to be different
or estranged. And the sky
would never forgive us,
no matter how many times
we guessed upwards
in the dark.

The sky was the prairie's
double, immense,
kaleidoscopic, cold.
The town was where
and how we huddled
against such forces,
and the old abandoned

pickup on the edge
of town was how we knew
we had gone too far,
or had returned.

People? Now we can see them,
invisible in their houses
or in their stores.

Except for one man
lounging on his porch,
they are part of the buildings,

they have determined
every stubborn shape, the size
of each room. The trailer home
with the broken window

is somebody's life.
One thing always is
more important than another,

this empty street, this vanishing
point. The good eye knows
no democracy. Shadows follow

sunlight as they should,
as none of us can prevent.
Everything is conspicuous
and is not.

"Midwest" by Stephen Dunn, from Landscape at the End of the Century. © W.W. Norton, 1991

23 August 2010

say cheese!

During a beautiful summer's evening, just before the sun slowly let the moon take its nightly work shift, my husband and I decided to take a walk and take some pictures of Windom's beauty and potential.  Man, this city is most photogenic, a smile in so many places both seen and unseen (unless you take a real close look). Some people always say "if walls could talk", well, to me, these walls do talk.  There are stories this town is telling everyday in the whispers of the prairie wind.  Each pattern in the brick, each railroad tie layed, each train that elevator has filled with the gifts of God's unpredictable earth tells the story of pride and passion.  I couldn't help but share these beautiful pictures of our beautiful city.  Of course, this is just a tiny glimpse of the plethora of objects ready to say cheese.

22 August 2010

a cabinet is formed.

It's Finding Windom's 1 month birthday today! With all the excitement and hubub going on right now with Finding Windom, I decided it would be in my best interest to formally (as much as it can be formal at this point) create a cabinet of members of Finding Windom.  Finding Windom is getting a little big for my small two hands, which is a great problem to have, something I would have never imagined would happen a short four weeks after the birth of "my $.02: Finding Windom."  Not only am I blessed to have some of the nicest and most genuine people on earth help me, but all of these brillant people bring their own sets of skills whether it be creativity, organization, or research, these so called "members" are amazing people.

So here it is folks, a cabinet is formed and we, the members of Finding Windom, are at your service:

Mari Harries--President, Treasurer
Damon Weinandt--Vice President
Sara Barfknetch--Secretary
Andy Harries--Minion
Cory Barfknetch--Minion
Rylan Caseman--Minion
Cara Caseman--Minion

Thank you for your dedication and commitment to this project and believing it can be done. 
...8,9,10. Ready or not, here we come!  We are going to find you, Windom!

21 August 2010

dear mari,

I wanted to share a few excerpts from some emails I've received at findingwindom@hotmail.com.  I didn't include any names or personal information as far as who wrote them,  I just want to give all my readers a glimpse of the inspiration and support all around us.  Keep 'em coming!

--I've been following your blogspot since it's inception and I'd love to offer any help I can. I'm a laid off architectural designer and I've long had an interest helping Windom rediscover not only it's many assets but how to take full advantage of those assets so that they work for the community at large...sadly, it's tough to do from a distance. I've been poking around to try to find information that may be helpful in breaking down this giant of a job into more identifiable and manageable tasks.
I've also contacted some old colleagues of mine to see if they could help point you in the right direction to some of the resources for guidance.

--Just wanted to let you know I've enjoyed reading your blogs. I can feel your enthusiasm! My husband has worked in Windom for 5 years now, commuting almost 100 miles a day. I, too, can see that Windom has a hidden potential and would like to help you.

--I saw your letter in the citizen. I really liked what I read and it led me to read your entire blog, and I just listened to your KDOM interview this morning. I have been living here for 2 years and I still remember my first few days driving around the town. It is such a cool set up with the main square and having such old buildings still intact with the courthouse standing tall in the middle of it all. I just wanted to let you know I really like what your working on and I'd like to help however I can.

--I enjoyed what you wrote, and think you’ve got an excellent cause going. Windom definitely could use some promoting, keep it up. I will try to pass the word on to others. Good luck.

--Are you the person that dropped off the flower and business card? Interested in your website and views, we would like to see Windom survive these economic times.

--I was born and raised in Windom between 1940 and 1958. I went away to college never to return as a resident. My dad moved to Windom in 1935 and has told me many times that it was the best move he ever made. He died the Sogge Home in 2006. I am proud of what the people of Windom have done to make them what they are today.
Here are some things that I think are "positives" about Windom.
The CCHS staff and exhibits are extraordinary.
BARC has turned a "tear-down" into a relative jewel.
The Court House should be on anyone's "must see" list.
I've not attended the CC Fair in years, but the description of this year's seems to be fantastic.
The areas around Windom are a naturalist's, particularly "birders", dream, from Wolf Lake to Pat's Grove to Heron Lake to String Lakes to the Jeffers Petroglyphs to Rat Lake. The list goes on.
I don't know many people still living in Windom. If they are anything like the "greatest generation" that raised and educated me, Windom needs to take pride in its people.

These are all reasons I wanted to start this project.  Windom is a special place to many people and deserves our utmost attention and love. I appreciate everyone's memories, visions and support.  Opening findingwindom@hotmail.com is like opening presents on Christmas morning, except I get to do it everyday.  Thank you!

19 August 2010

quiet noise.

It's dark, quiet and late for my eyes and mind. The dining table where my computer sits is no where to be found under the piles of paper, lists, stamps, postcards, thank you notes, newspapers, business cards, the phone book, magazines, oh, and I can't forget to mention baby toys.  All but the toys are pieces of Finding Windom. Inspirations and ideas in an organized mess on the biggest flat surface in my house.  I like to refer to this quiet noise as Finding Windom's job security. There is just so much potential (have I said that enough yet?) and great things we can do to make our city a destination city and rural hotspot and most importantly, a community of pride and passion.  Tomorrow more minds will come together to help me.  We will organize and we will start at the most logical place to start: the beginning.  I'm looking forward to another beginning. 

When I go back and read my first posts, I would have never believed my dining room table would look the way it does now.  I would have never believed I would need to hold meetings with supporters who have committed themselves to this project as well.  I would have never imagined the intensity and enormity of this project as it is now.  We are stepping beyond just building awareness at this point because it is officially time to get our hands dirty in order to find our beautiful city. 

Thank you everyone for all your support and encouragement.  I cannot and have not done this alone.

18 August 2010

can it be done?

Well folks, I never imagined this day would ever come, especially so soon, but the Conventions and Visitors Bureau here in Windom, Minnesota has so generously offered Finding Windom a cash donation in order to get our fundraising wheels turning and our promotional products circulating.  I met with the organization yesterday morning to spread the word about this project and my plans to revive our community by using my hands and mind and the genuine, willing hands and minds of volunteers (you know who you are and I love all of you) to simply promote and instill pride in our community.  All my readers know that Finding Windom has started doing small things like pick up trash and pull weeds and motivating others to do these small things as well--you know, the free stuff that makes our town glisten and sparkle like the Mr. Clean commercials on television.  Well, this is starting to turn into something so wonderful and huge that we now would like to use some funds to really get our hands dirty.  I know, sounds weird, right?  The more projects we get involved with the more Finding Windom needs things like trash bags and paint to not only make Windom shine, but to go the extra mile with only a small amount of necessities.  We are starting to uncover more and more of Windom's hidden potential and true beauty that she is begging for more! Were not talking multi-million dollar projects here, we are talking the small price of simple TLC.  Things like more flowers and the pots to put them in or some seasonal decor in bare spots wishing to greet passer-byers.  The little things that make people think something is a little different and a little more inviting, but can't quite put their finger on the positive change.  It is those small things that make our community warm and inviting.  Think of these things as a smile where a Windom local might not be at that moment to give one herself.   I guess what I'm getting at it is every cent of our profits will go straight back into our fair city, our river city.

So you are probably asking how we are planning to start our fundraising efforts.  Well, not only do we want to encourage you to buy a Finding Windom t-shirt with our inspiring logo to help us raise money to put back into our town, but to help raise awareness of our community and our project by bearing these simple two words across your heart: Finding Windom.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, folks.  Be the first!  This is your chance to truly support your city, truly find your community and truly inspire pride.  Finding Windom shirts will be available by the end of the month, so watch for details about how to purchase yours because its coming, my friends, Finding Windom's house of t-shirts. But we won't stop here, why ruin a good thing?  You just wait for more great fundraisers and community programs provided by yours truly, Findng Windom. 

Thanks to the Windom CVB for their generous donation and for believing in these efforts.  We won't let you down!

17 August 2010

chalk is my new best friend.

I'd have to say on my evening walk around Windom tonight I would have never imagined stumbling upon one of the neatest things I've seen around the downtown square in a long time: sidewalk chalk. I'd have to admit it wasn't just the bright colors boldy covering the concrete below my feet that caught my eye, but it was what the bold colors spelled out. There in front of one the greatest stores "located in beautiful downtown Windom," as Frank always says on his radio shoe store commercials, was the most creative and genuine thing I have ever seen written in sidewalk chalk. Refer to the picture and see for yourself; it is Finding Windom support at its finest! Thank you Frank's Shoe Repair for believing in this project, for your support and creativity, and for being one of the most friendly and beautiful stores in downtown Windom. You make the square look so nice and inviting. We appreciate you and so do our feet.

16 August 2010

flower power.

It couldn't have been a better day to take a fat stack of Finding Windom cards in my right hand and lets say more than a couple dozen bright, beautiful carnations nestled in my left arm to complete a Finding Windom mission.  Today after work I took a stroll downtown to deliver a flower, a smile, and a thank you to local businesses for being, well, a business in Windom.  I guess I was hoping to spread the word about Finding Windom as well.  Some people looked at me as if I was absolutely crazy and I don't blame them, I probably did, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear some people had heard about it already and some where very intrigued by the gesture and blog itself.  I would have to say it was rather fun saying hello to all the businesses.  I look forward to working with you!

She asked for no publicity, but it has to be done; it was just so awesome of her. This mission today was possible with the generous carnation donation provided by the Hillside Greenhouse.  Those thoughtful little donations are something really big in my Finding Windom world.  Thanks Erin!

Finding Windom's short update with no poetic words what so ever:
**Tomorrow I will be meeting with the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
**We have found the first business willing to step up to the plate and see what Finding Windom has to offer.  We look forward to working with you!  Keep reading for more details about the business and what we are doing to make our community a little better.

15 August 2010

128 miles from hope.

This weekend my husband and I celebrated two years of married bliss (insert a sweet *awww* here) in a quaint little city in Minnesota called Northfield.  If you haven't had the pleasure of touring Northfield, I highly suggest it; it was a short trip and could easily be done in one day if you live around here.  It is filled with just plain charm.  The main street's historic buildings are restored and revived to their fullest potential, even the buildings waiting for the perfect person with the perfect idea fit right in next to its filled neighbor.  Those empty buildings had cute little puppy-dog eyes just waiting for a loving owner.   Little gift shops, clothing stores for men and women, antiques, taverns and coffee shops lined the welcoming sidewalks and inspiring river walk.  We walked Northfield's main street about twenty times trying to take it all in. We had coffee, we had food and we had beers, all between shopping and our self-guided walking tour.  I'm hoping to describe Windom with these same words someday. 

When dusk arrived we decided to sit on one of the many outdoor patios available in this city of 17,000 and we shared a pitcher.  The patio was behind a neat little pub and of course there was live music, just a little jam band playing familiar tunes under a white tarp and rope lights.  The tables around us seemed to know eachother.  I felt at home by their genuine greetings and common intentions for a carefree night.  The lightning in the distance didn't stop them from dancing under the small amount of stars still left to be seen by the crawling clouds and city lights.  I thought to myself how wonderful it was to see such simple things like atmosphere and music make for such a good time. I didn't feel like I was only a short 128 miles from home, it felt like a different world. 

Attached to the historic hotel where we laid our heads on Saturday night, The Archer House, was a cute Scandinavian store full of remnants of our proud roots.  I asked the cashier in that store about a picture I noticed hanging on the wall above the Norweigan gnomes and modern Scandinavian printed runners.  It was a painting of the Northfield Train Depot.  "Is that train depot still here?" I asked.  Her initial reply was a sigh followed by "yes." She began to tell me how the city and people of Northfield have been trying to obtain the depot in order for it to be restored.  With no such luck of getting the owner, the railroad, to budge on allowing the Northfield citizens to touch it, Northfied started a save the depot organization.  She said with such passion, "we want to do something with it, anything, an information station, even a public restroom, we just don't want to see it go to waste." I was in awe.  I thought it was the neatest thing that she said "the city and people of Northfield..."  I couldn't help but think to replace the word "Northfield" in that statement with "Windom" and it's many charms.  The city and people of Windom don't want to see it go to waste.  Is it possible?  It was possible for Northfield, Minnesota, which give me such high hopes for my own community.  Well, I told her how much I had enjoyed Northfield and that we would definately be back.

While driving home, my head was filled with ideas and inspirations from the night we had spent in Northfield.  I think my husband was tired of hearing the words "Finding Windom" by this time, but he was a good sport and we bounced ideas off eachother even though we were supposed to "be away" for the weekend.  So here I sit, back in Windom, and approximately 128 miles away from hope.

12 August 2010

making waves.

NEWS ALERT!!!  Tomorrow at 10:10am everyone's radio's must be tuned into 94.3 FM (if you get it), good 'ol KDOM.  Finding Windom will be featured!  I recorded an interview with Dirk today and it will be played on KDOM on Friday, August 13th at 10:10am.  No other words to say than a generic HOLY CRAP! Finding Windom is making waves on the airwaves.
And speaking of making waves, tonight I met with an amazing organization called the Women of Today.  They were officially the first organized group I've met with to promote Finding Windom, and it couldn't have gone any better.  I was just expecting to give a little pep talk, get some support and build awareness of Finding Windom and its cause, but instead--a whole two hours later--I walked out the door with a little pep in my step.  This was Finding Windom in its element. This is why I wanted to start this project.  I wanted to bring people together, get them excited about working together to make this community what it has the potential to be.  Ideas were flying, minds were working together and thinking alike, it got loud in that room!  You know, I'm always hoping that people will understand where I am coming from just a teeny-tiny bit, but this was spectacular, beyond anything my little mind could imagine actually happening. You know how you get these ideas about things, a vision of what things could be like, well this was it, exactly it.  We have hit the ground running, the Women of Today are supporting Finding Windom, and it is a good feeling. 

I would like to personally thank the Women of Today for taking the time to listen and for your efforts to help Finding Windom.  They have offered to help Finding Windom start a website--a real website of our very own.  I look forward to working with the Women of Today and keep doing what you do best, making this community that much better. 

For those of you who don't know: Women of Today is a non profit, community service organization helping our community when and where they can.  In fact, they have been involved in many community activities. They are currently promoting the charming child and precious pet photo contest.  Voting will take place at the Cottonwood County Fair. The Women of Today are always looking for generous people to become a member of their team and its easy to become a member.  There are no requirments (they'll even consider men) and there is a $35 membership fee.  They meet every 2nd Thursday of the month, and I'm telling you, there was food--good food.  They meet at either someone's house or at a local establishment.  Just show up or get more info from a current member.  The next meeting will be held at the Eagles Club on the nice outdoor patio on Thursday, September 9th at 7pm.  I encourage ambitious women to join because, well, what an awesome group!

11 August 2010

the real deal.

I now hold in my hands a business card.  Not your typical business card.  It doesn't have a name, address, fax number, phone number or email on it. Nope, this one has Finding Windom written across the top, a beautiful sketch of the Cottonwood County Courthouse drawn by Marget Floyd (which she so nicely gave me permission to use), and http://mari2cents.blogspot.com/ stretching across the bottom.  You may say I have gone too far, I have officially lost it, or as my husband would say "my cheese has fell off my cracker."  But to me, my friends, it has become the real deal.  I have permanently put this logo, my logo, on paper, on a card. A logo I would like every person in Windom to recognize as the Finding Windom, a representation of passion, pride and community.  Take a look.  Tell your friends. It's out there and you don't have to look far to find one because this is the real deal.

10 August 2010

postmarked 2010.

So in case you were wondering, a Lover's Lane actually did exist in Windom's small world.  Yes, it is a real postcard postmarked 1915.  It belongs to a passionate Windom postcard collector, but I would say most of the passion is written on the back of these black and white photographs.  The black ink flowing over the cardstock so gently.  A genuine "Dear Friend" begins a friendly statement, followed by the question "How are you" or "when will you be back?"  To think people would wait days, weeks, or sometimes more to hear a simple reply is amazing in itself, especially hard to imagine in our technological world.  The address is a proper name, their city and state.  The postmark is a determined stamped circle bearing the city and date so proudly.  The stamp is as beautiful as the graceful penmanship next to it. What passion in that little postcard.  The pictures are full of pride.  A city, a booming city, with life shown in the small 3 by 5 rectangle.  Its residents taking pride in their accomplishments of buildings, their surrounding roads and trees, their resourceful river.   It can all be felt in the tiny pictures that the postal service would so diligently deliver, keeping people together even when a short 20 miles would seperate them.

Maybe we should all buy a Windom postcard, address it, stamp it and send it to our out-of-town friends and family, show them our pride again-just like the good 'ol days when a keyboard was out of sight and out of mind. I think I'm going to do that this week.  Something unexpected, genuine and different.  Maybe then it would make it a little easier for our friends and family to find Windom on a map of a million cities.

09 August 2010

wish i had been born a hundred years ago.

the whirlwind of life has gotten the best of me.
wake up.
go to sleep.
what is in between a mere blink.
the days are as quick as that.
the stillness of the night,
the trees resting their ambitious leaves,
remind me to slow down.
baby henrik asleep in my arms.
i hear his sweet whispers of dreams.
he used to fit so snug in my arms,
his chubby legs stretching over my lap,
remind me to slow down.
goodnight sweet, sweet windom.
until tomorrow,

08 August 2010




If original cannot be found, how about finding a new one?  Just a thought.

07 August 2010

courtesy of Finding Windom

Last night there was a meeting of the minds.  There was a place, a time, and a notebook.  There were 3 new minds to guide mine.  I can't tell you how good it felt to be surrounded by dedicated supporters of Finding Windom.  People with the same optimism, vision and ideas of this fair city.  To know that I am not alone is a sweet, sweet feeling.  I could see ripples leading to the waves of change last night around that table. The night started by organizing our thoughts and ideas, putting them down on paper, planning courses of action.   As we got more and more excited about our plans and Windom, I couldn't help but think about the time I spent at McDonald's with the local coffee crew (refer to post "have we met?").  I remember the atmosphere at McDonald's was this genuine passion for river city. A lifetime of memories being spewed among friends around a table.  This was what was happening at this moment, at a place, a time, and with a notebook.  It was fellowship at its best.  We were Windom natives with a common ground purpose.  We shared stories about growing up here, we laughed at memories, and we wanted to make more memories.  Last night, this meeting of the minds became a night to remember all courtesy of Finding Windom.

Our job site today.
After last nights meeting I felt I needed to get some small course of action rolling, so I decided it would be a good day to do a big small thing: pick up trash.  Everytime I walk to my parent's house, I pass the railroad tracks on 10th street and everytime I pass those tracks I have noticed the great amount of trash laying among the tall weeds and tall dried grass.  I decided today was the day I was going to clean it up and a friend so generously offered help.  Henrik and I soaked ourselves with his SPF 50 baby sunscreen, I grabbed 2 trash bags, a pair of gloves and set out to our destination.  In the short amount of time we were there, we managed to pick up 4 bags of trash (my friend brought 2 bags with as well) between the blocks of 10th and 9th street.  We were pretty proud of what we accomplished under the 86 degree sun today.  So, when you go over the railroad tracks on 10th or 9th street in the near future, the cleanliness is courtesy of Finding Windom.

Every little bit helps.  We were only there today for a little over an hour and accomplished quite a task.  I encourage everyone to do their part. I'm not asking you to part the Red Sea.  Just keep it simple, even if it means picking up around your yard or street. Let's keep the city clean.  It doesn't take much time or effort, it just takes a bend of the knees. 

05 August 2010

annoyingly optimistic.

Today I stumbled upon something rare.  A purpose. I've always believed in purpose, never quite knowing my own.  Something many seek for a whole lifetime.  But I have been blessed with a realization today that everything happening in this short time, a blog, supporters, opportunities, will become something great--something beyond what my two hands and mind can accomplish.  The beginning of change. It may take awhile to get to the ultimate goal, but I believe with all my heart the path that has led me to this inspiring day, with my thoughts and ideas tumbling through my mind, is the beginning of something wonderful.  The support is the beginning of something wonderful.  I feel this is my purpose.  To write, inspire, volunteer, and uplift my community. I know I will eventually run into road blocks and walls of disappointment, and I'm trying to prepare myself for these things, but too many things are just falling into place.  It's impossible to ignore such things. I'm going to open the door that opportunity is knocking so loudly on right now for this small city in rural Southwest Minnesota.  Can you hear it?  Can you hear that opportunity calling our name, Windom? 

Let me tell you why I think I found my purpose.  It makes me want to jump out of my skin I'm so excited. Today, I had two great contacts.  Contacts that will lead me farther down this path of goals for this community.  Contacts that will provide more opportunity for me to fulfill my dreams of finding Windom.  I may be annoying optimistic right now, but I can't help it. Doors are being opened, and this is what I need to help this community become what it has the potential to be.  So for you, Windom, I'm going to take these small, yet oh so big, opportunities and run with them.  We are on our way!

I thank all my readers and supporters who have helped get my foot in the door to good things that will help me and my city during this crazy journey.  I am truly blessed.  I thank you for your belief and optimism.  It is indeed contagious, so spread it around!

"And ever those, who would enjoyment gain
Must find it in the purpose they pursue."
--Sarah Josepha Hale

Finding Windom.

Happy times,

04 August 2010

Another one bites the dust.

Shopping locally: I've been meaning to write about this subject for some time, but like I've said in the past, everything happens for a reason. A friend turned me on to a website called the 3/50 project today, irony I swear.  It is a website dedicated to helping small businesses stay afloat by encouraging communities to shop locally.  I encourage everyone to check it out because the cold hard facts are there.  To check it out simply click on the icon titled the 3/50 project to the right of my blog page.  We need money to stay in our community.  We need our local businesses to stay open, supply us with jobs and keep our history and city alive.

I anticipated this Wednesday more than others after hearing the news on Monday about our local grocery stores; I wanted to read Wednesday edition of the Citizen.  I wanted the facts and I wanted a good reason.  On Monday, August 2nd, 2010, history has once again graced us with its presence, but this is not the history I like to hear about.  Sunshine Foods and HyVee announced the news of a buy out.  A buy out that scares me to death, although I love HyVee.  The idea that scares me to death is that in mid September Windom will have yet another empty building, empty parking lot and empty potential--this will make 3 in a row along the highway.  This may also leave the hearts of both stores' employees empty.  I pray this doesn't happen.

The Citizen's first line of the article, titled "Grocers on the move," states, "For the first time in more than 100 years, Windom will have just one grocery store."  Folks, do you realize the effect this will have on our city unless we do something about it?  We will have only one grocery store.  There is no more competition of prices and no more competition to keep business. We will lose job opportunities.  And let's face it, our business turnaround isn't so hot.  We need to make a change in this city to encourage more businesses to open and stay and create local revenue.

The reasons for the buy out seemed to be laid out clear for our residents in this article, but to me things seem a little confusing.  Sunshine states they are moving on to focus on another market, one of a rural area.  Aren't we a rural area?  I think for the first time, I'm a little speechless.  I don't have a plan on how to fix this.  I have no great idea, except to try change our city into a business haven full of eager local shoppers and eager money-spending tourists. I admit I feel worthless on this one--one that I feel so passionately about.  Here I wanted to encourage you to stay local, buy local, but in this case it was not a hurting business because we were buying and surrounding city residents were buying.  A very helpless feeling for me, my empty pockets and grand ideas. 

Finding Windom under a dark cloud.

03 August 2010


As I got home from a busy day at work, I noticed some new magazines sitting on the dining room table.  I had never seen these magazines before, nor was I familiar with the title of the magazines, The Minnesota Preservationist.  My husband said they were laying inside the porch when he got home from work.  Attached to the four magazines was a note written on some whimsical, flowery note paper bearing these words: "Mari-I thought that you might like to read these..." Signed "neighbor."  I couldn't have been more tickled by the gesture.  I started to page through the thin magazine, I couldn't believe the amount of information packed into it.  There are an absolute plethora of resources just within this magazine.  There were websites, councils, grassroots membership organizations, historical preservation groups, the list goes on...they are all out there and we must use them to our full advantage!  I felt like someone left a pot of gold at my front door!

As I started to think about restoration and preservation, I couldn't help but think of my travels to Europe.  Europe has managed to keep alive thousands of years of history, yet we have a hard time keeping hundreds of years of history not only alive, but standing.  Here in Windom, we are having a hard time keeping a only little over a hundreds years standing. Why?  Why is it that we think new is better?  Is this the easy way out by tearing down and building new? We need to teach the generations coming how to take care of what we have and what they have--to respect.  It has become so easy to demolish and abuse something because we can throw it out and replace it at the drop of a hat, or for better terms of today, the slide of a credit card.  We have spit in the faces of our founders.  It has become such a way of life that there is now a published magazine trying "to preserve, protect, and promote Minnesota's historic resources."  I apologize, I didn't want this to become the holier-than-thou environmental message, but I guess I'm just trying to find some justification for our actions. 

Protect Endangered Historic Places--this, my friends, needs to be on a bumper sticker on the back of all the hybrid cars in the world (and yours too).

But back to these numerous resources.  Did I mention how many there are?  It's incredible.  Right at our fingertips. If you open magazines, resources.  Internet search engines, resources. Groups, councils, organizations, all resources and all over the state of Minnesota. We even have resources in our own small city.  It's overwhelming just how many resources we have all around us.  Now we need to get our hands dirty.  We need these things to guide us in the right direction, mentor us.  We need to learn from them. Don't tell me things aren't possible.  Don't tell me "that sounds great, but.." Don't tell me Windom can never be a destination city, when we are surrounded by thriving rural, destination cities. All of which have things just like we do, but they use them to their advantage.  They take pride.  They have a vision.  Just check it out on http://www.exploreminnesota.com/.  These things have been around all this time and Windom, with all its potential, has been the lonely kid sitting at a table by himself in the lunchroom of Minnesota.

Finding Windom.

Happy times,

02 August 2010

Larry among friends.

Nite to Unite, Windom Courthouse Lawn
Tonight young met with old and  families gathered while their innocent children were blessed with activities of various sorts. Tonight, Windom School students stood proud for their extra cirricular activities and stood proud in hopes for their bus to be filled with supplies for teachers and students.  All of this happened among the bronzed statue of Larry Buhler, which graces the grounds of the courthouse square.  I don't think Larry is among a crowd of friends like the one tonight very often.  I can tell by his sturdy smile he is pleased by the pedestrians passing him by from time to time, but tonight he saw a good, lively crowd.  A crowd of support.  You know, I could even feel a little bit of that word I've been writing about so often: community. 

So after thinking about Larry among friends tonight, I decided to do a little research on the 8 foot statue placed on the downtown property.  I found an article online that was published in the Daily Globe not all that long ago and found some interesting information on how this statue made its way onto the courthouse lawn. Here are the facts:  Larry was a 1935 graduate of Windom Area High School and played football for the Minnesota Gophers and then played a three-year-run with the Green Bay Packers. He returned to Windom with his wife after retiring from the game (after a car accident), lead a pretty quiet life and passed in 1990 at 73 years old.  After continuing to read the article it wasn't all these facts and stories of Larry Buhler's life that stood out to me so much, but it was how a community came together to donate money to put that bronzed football player there, on that lawn, with a football and helmet in hands. 

I was surprised to see that through mostly community donations the $26,000 statue was revealed during Riverfest in 1993.  Man, I remember that day.  I was 11 years old, and of course among my 11 year old friends at the annual Riverfest celebration, and this giant thing standing so tall and mighty next to an 11 year old was covered with what looked like black tarp.  I was pretty excited to see what was under all that tape and plastic, and I can still feel my excitement and anticipation.  As the cover slowly came off, and I mean slowly, there it was, Mr. Larry Buhler, a smiling football player.  Just a smiling football player. I'd have to admit, his helmet and football gave it away that he was such.  Now forgive me if I wasn't more excited, remember, I was only eleven and among other 11 year old friends.   But thinking about it today, I guess I didn't know what to expect.

The smiley football player.
Well, Larry got me excited after my so called "research" tonight, there is more hope around the corner.  I was pleased to read a little more about this man that stands so proud on our courthouse lawn, but even more pleased to hear that my community would donate $26,000 to put a bronzed smiley football player downtown.  Although Windom could use an inexpensive facelift of paint and cleaning, I couldn't help but think of all the things we could do to our humble town with $26,000...we could give Larry something to really smile about.

Finding Windom.

Happy times.
**photo of Larry Buhler statue from Worthington Daily Globe.

01 August 2010

tossing and turning.

I was going to write about an experience I had yesterday in downtown Windom, but I think I'm going to save it for another time.  It's a great thing that Windom has offered such excitement for me to write about in the last week and a half, but to be completely honest, I'm exhusted.  I'm exhausted from all these thoughts and ideas bursting at the seams of my mind.  I'm exhausted from trying to figure out how these thoughts and ideas will come to life, if some of these ideas are possible and if anyone is willing to get their hands dirty with me.  It has only been a little over a week and I've lost sleep, tossing and turning with a head full of dreams.  I'm dreaming with my eyes wide open.  Aren't you suppose to dream with them shut? 

I think I've been circling the "Finding Windom" airport for some time now, and I'm ready to bring this plane in.  So, tomorrow I'll be downtown enjoying the annual ice cream social, nite to unite, get on the bus fundraiser and student auction all held on the square.  I hope to see all of you there.  I'll be there spreading the word, finding more followers, and most important, finding people willing to offer their elbow grease.  My next course of action will be to host a get together for all interested in helping find Windom.  Watch for it.  I need you.  Windom needs you.  Our community needs you more than ever to find a sense of pride and to clean up our city.  I'm asking my readers to keep the enthusiasm alive, keep talking and keep reading.  I can't do this by myself (and those words don't leave my lips often).  I seem to be getting a positive vibe from my fellow community members about my journey, we all seem to agree Windom needs a face lift, but now we need to walk the talk.  I'm ready.  Are you?  I'm ready more than ever.  Help me get some sleep!  Watch for an upcoming date to meet, trade ideas and hopes, and finally FIND WINDOM. 

Happy times,