31 December 2010

not an ending, but a beginning.

Last post of the year--I can't believe it.  It's only natural on New Year's Eve to sit here and think about all the ups and downs of 2010, while starting to prepare myself for 2011. It never ceases to amaze me how fast one year can go, and yet life can change so dramatically in such a short time. The opportunities, blessings and obstacles of life are like clay, and I'm the artist trying to mold myself into the person I aspire to be using all the experience and knowledge each day brings.  Although there is plenty we can't control, it is incredible to think what power humanity has over the present and future.   As I sit in the same spot I almost always sit when writing these posts, I look outside the big picture window facing south and see the big elevator among the cold black and white earth bearing the simple word: Windom.  I knew this city had always played a role in shaping who I am today--you know, while growing up here and such, but I would have never imagined it would continue to change my life as it has these past few months.  What a glorious feeling.  So, as I reminisce, while counting my blessings and saying goodbye to 2010, just know that this is only the beginning, Windom.  I've got my 2011 resolutions all over you...

Finding Windom Forever.

29 December 2010

it's the reel deal.

Jackson State Theatre was recently mentioned on the Minnesota 2020 website, which is a good thing for us.  The owner of the Jackson Theatre also owns the Windom State Theatre and for this to be mentioned on this website raises awareness of the trials rural American small businesses face.  It is good to raise awareness of these trials, especially at a state level--it can lead to good things.

Check out the story at: http://mn2020.org/issues-that-matter/economic-development/video-movies-on-main-street

Don't forget to "cheer" for Windom today at http://www.wehearyouamerica.readersdigest.com/!

Remember, you are allowed 10 cheers a day, so use them today and tomorrow and the next, and the day after that...

If we get everyone to use them everyday until February 7th, we could give Windom a great financial opportunity. Tell them why we are great and tell them what we need--they are listening...

I'm casting my votes to help give the Windom State Theatre a face lift,

28 December 2010

i voted. will you?

I normally don't do stuff like this, but it is easy and worth a try...Reader's Digest is offering an awesome opportunity for towns to receive monetaries to help better the community, and Windom needs your vote!  I've signed us up and now it is up to us to "cheer" us on!  The city with the most votes gets the pot! 

What a great blog post that would make if Windom, Minnesota won!!  You can make it happen!

Tell your friends and family!!

Follow the link below and type in Windom, MN or 56101 to vote or "cheer".



Find Windom on a map of a million cities,

25 December 2010

merry christmas.

It has been a while since my last post, I've missed it and apologize.  The past week has brought me such winter luck as I have been ill.  It isn't often I come down with such sickness, but all in due time I guess.  I'm glad I have finally started to feel like myself again for the holidays, especially because I would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas.

Enjoy each moment, believe in the impossible, laugh much, make right, savor each taste, count blessings and have yourself a very merry Christmas.

Continuing to Find Windom together...

16 December 2010

honesty is the best policy.

Since the reason I started writing this blog was to track my journey of creating a more thriving and vibrant community in which to work and play, I don't think I should cheat anyone by not sharing everything.  While trying to remain very positive, as hard as it may be sometimes, I want to update you on some things I've been up to.  I want to start with my efforts to get Jim Austerman's original composition of "The Christmas Bells of Windom," which was written just for us and for our chimes and that I wrote about in a previous post titled "ring on", played on our beautiful courthouse bells.  After doing the research about who runs the bells and how to make this happen, I was unsuccessful for reasons beyond my control.  I cannot change the minds of those not willing to listen.  I knew I would have many hurdles in this journey, I knew I wouldn't be able to get everyone excited about the possibilities in Windom and to grasp its uniqueness. So after mulling it over in my mind and heart, I just have to move on from this project with my head held high knowing I tried and hope that someday this task will happen just as quickly as it was dismissed.  Just know, my friends, this task should have been as easy as the push of a button, I just couldn't get the finger to push it.  There is one thing you should know about me, I don't give up easy, nor do I easily accept the word "no" without a good, logical reason (and it is annoying at times-just ask my husband, I apologize), but I just had to let go of this task for the time being.

Second, I wanted to make a note that I so humbly applied for the EDA Executive position in town.  I was hoping this position would be a chance to really make a difference in the community by giving me an opportunity to use a WHOLE DAY to act upon my ideas for Windom's rural economic growth. Oh what a dream that would have been--for it to be acceptable for me to think about what I already think about day and night, which is ways to see this community flourish beyond its wildest imagination both economically and socially.  I was a little disappointed I wasn't notified by the Authority of their decision to rule me out or that they didn't give me an opportunity to interview as a sixth or third finalist, to share my assets and abilities, ideas and passions, but I will move forward knowing that everything happens for a reason.  There is a place for me to do my work of Finding Windom, I guess it just isn't in that office.

I am looking forward to meeting the gentleman they chose and pray he grasps the uniqueness and importance of our downtown Square by reaching out to prospective small businesses and exsisting business owners alike. I hope he takes into careful consideration where the EDA spends its money, by encouraging the Authority to invest money in reaching out to potential businesses and not in useless, expensive market research.  The community of Windom's voices should be the investment and the research--it's always free and always correct.  I hope he likes the idea of restoration along with new.  New is not always better, both concepts cost money, but only one makes our city more memorable, more distinguished and more desirable to potential tourists, families, and businesses than the next city--it is what sets us apart from the other million cities on the map. I'm am looking forward to meeting the new EDA Director--he will be an important asset to Finding Windom. 

press release.

I'm very excited about the opportunity I have been given recently.  This is just another important step in my process to Find Windom, and I can't wait to get started.  You'll be seeing me out and about promoting this great program for rural Minnesota.  I hope Windom grasps this opportunity as well--the internet is an awesome tool--take it from me *wink, wink*

Watch for this informational press release regarding this opportunity coming soon from yours truly:

Helping Windom Businesses Use the Internet to be More Successful

Mari Harries has teamed up with the University of Minnesota Extension in an eighteen month effort to encourage local businesses to use the internet.  The goal, says Mari, "is to show Windom businesses that there are simple and creative ways to use the internet that they may not be using now, to reach new customers, sell more products and services, and stay connected with their existing customers." Mari will work with Extension and local businesses to coordinate a series of workshops and guidance to resources to be offered to local business people and residents.  These workshops will include introductory topics such as why it is important to be "Doing business on the Internet," how to make sure your customers can find you, "Roadside Advertising in the Digital Age," and using social media (Facebook and Twitter) to improve your business.  These workshops will be taught by Extension Educators who will also offer more advanced workshops and will be available to consult with businesses.  The first workshops will be offered in beginning in March.

"I've just started working with Extension on this project," says Mari, "but I'm really excited.  They've got some wonderful ideas and great workshops.  What we'll be offering will really benefit our local businesses and the community overall." "Using the internet to promote your business does not have to be complex or expensive," says Hans Muessig, Extension's Program Director,"there are simple things almost any business can benefit from that can make a significant difference in their bottom line."

Extension's work in Windom is part of the larger Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) project.  MIRC is a coalition of statewide partners including the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the Minnesota Learning Commons, regional development commissions, and Extension.  MIRC's focus is to bring the full promise of broadband (internet) technologies to rural Minnesota communities, businesses, and people.  The project is funded through an American Recovery and Reinvestment Grant and the Blandin Foundation of Grand Rapids, Minnesota serves as the project administrator.

For more information Mari encourages you to contact her at 507.822.1691 or findingwindom@hotmail.com.

14 December 2010

jealousy issues.

I’m going to go out on a limb and I'm going to really show myself here...ready?  I am going to boldly tell you that, well, I’m jealous.  I'm jealous of the people who get to work and play around the downtown Square all day long while I’m stuck looking at a computer and answering phones.  Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for my job and do like the pace and unpredictability the day presents, but oh, how I wish I could look at that beautiful courthouse all day and those unique historic buildings surrounding its grandeur, while I think up stories of their splendid past.  I could listen to those chimes sing to me on the hour, and I could greet Windom’s guests like Larry’s smile does.  How I would love to attend Chamber coffees every Friday morning and talk about my favorite subject, which is no secret at this point that it’s Windom.  Yup, I’m jealous of all the people who get to be on the Square all day…know that you are blessed.

12 December 2010

frosted windowpanes.

On Friday, I was looking forward to the idea of not being able to go anywhere.  With the weather reports in favor of one of the biggest storms since the Great Halloween Blizzard of '91, the idea of staying home would give me a chance to catch up on chores like cleaning, organizing that room that collects a bunch of misfit items or tackling that list of to-dos that have been piling up. As I woke up on Saturday morning to a whole lot of white and the promises of a blizzard had been fulfilled, I already started to get antsy.  It didn't take long and this whole idea of being able to go nowhere was unsettling--I quickly found out that I don't do well with stuck.  It wasn't even close to noon yet and I was wishing I could get out to go get my morning coffee...yeah, I could have brewed my own, I had some Dunkin' Donuts whole beans, a grinder, a brewer and a holiday coffee mug I got as an office gift last Christmas, but it just wasn't going to satisfy my need of my morning ritual of Super America's Dark Roast with a splurge of Caramel Cafe Latte to top off the last 1/4 cup.  I know, it sounds crazy, but I felt lost.  How was I going to get all the stuff done that needs to get done without my engine starting coffee?  This staying in wasn't as fun as I thought it was going to be.  I couldn't even see the grain elevator bearing in bold the word Windom which is only a few blocks away--heck, I couldn't see the neighbors across the street.  As the day went on and the crisp white snow crept up the screens on the windows, the outside world that I'm so familiar with was drifting away faster than one of my "normal" days-and that is fast. What now?  I looked at Henrik playing on the floor so delightfully and paying no attention to the cold wind blowing around the white burden falling so heavily outside.  I sat on the floor next to him, he gave me a big smile, and he showed me his world all afternoon.  It was simple, we played Patty Cake, he is so close to crawling and wishes he could just run instead, and I encouraged, he showed me his love for "big boy foods" like spaghetti, he showed me his belly laugh that makes me melt when it is paired with that mostly toothless (except for 2!) smile.  I quickly started to forget about all the things I should be doing.  That night, after a full day of being with my family in the home we created together, I noticed the windows were completely covered with white--couldn't see anything but pure snow and the outside world was gone.  All those things I thought I should have been doing that day, all those chores, well, they are still unfinished, still waiting to be done.  The one thing that should never wait are those simple things Henrik showed me while the snow kept us in our warm, peaceful home. 

08 December 2010

an evening on the square.

It was the second and final day of the Finding Windom fundraising event, a Young Writer's Workshop.  To get the kids' creative juices flowing we started with some Mad Libs.  If you aren't familiar with Mad Libs, let me explain: it is a short story in which you ask someone for a word such as a noun, adjective or verbs, etc, but the people providing the words have no idea what the story is about, so it turns out to be quite a wacky and funny story.  The kids absolutely loved to hear what the story would end up sounding like after filling in the words.  Damon created a story titled "An Evening on the Square," and this is what the kids came up with (the kids words are in bold):

It was a weird day and a group of hideous kids decided to run down to the Historic Courthouse Square in Windom.  They all couldn't agree on what to do so they split up.  Tori and Cheyanne wanted to go to the Plum Creek Food Coop to buy some hilarious hair designers. The ladies there said, "you must be angry, we don't sell those here!!"  Halen and Noah thought it would be more fun to see a movie, so they  jumped over the fluffy movie theatre.  The movie was good, but they had to sit next to a golf courseEric and Hannah decided to just scream around the square.  They enjoyed the cute buildings and courthouse and also took their picture with Larry Buhler and a Centerstop!!  At the end of the day everyone met back at the courthouse.  All of the bouncy kids looked at each other and said, "What a jig evil Barb day!!"

Crazy, but oh so much fun!

Thanks kids for making this class a success.  Keep writing!

06 December 2010

sharpen your pencils.

Today Finding Windom held the first day of a fundraising event, a Young Writer's Workshop.  After doing a few writing activities to get their creative juices flowing, which was not hard for those kids, and giving some instruction of helpful tips to selecting a subject and organizing, we gave them an opportunity to start writing a story.  The amount of imagination these kids have was nothing short of amazing.  I was pleasantly surprised they were so eager to write and learn about it as well.  Those two things, imagination and an ability to write, are very powerful and useful tools!  As the room quieted while they started to put their ideas onto paper, I could hear their pencils gliding across the lined paper as quickly as they shouted out ideas.  Every once in awhile some of them would stop to shake out the knots forming in their little hands from moving the pencil so quickly and then just as fast as they dropped the pencils to do this, they would immediately pick it back up and continue where they left off.  It was refreshing to see such excitement come from these youngs hearts and minds for the very thing I get excited about as well--writing.  They absolutely made my day, and I can't wait to do it again on Wednesday.  All these wonderful opportunities Finding Windom has made for me!

05 December 2010


The weeks just keep passing so quickly and Christmas is almost here.  Looking through the Shopper today, it was exciting to see all the great things happening around town.  So much to keep us busy and spend time with family and friends to enjoy the season.  One of my favorite parts of this magical season is the amount of selfless giving happening all around.  On Monday at the old Duebers store, kids will have an opportunity to pick out a gift for their parents or guardians and all money made from this fundraising event will go to the Christmas Cheer Box.  This is just one of the many ways our community has an opportunity to give to those less fortunate.  Today, a friend and I went to Subway with a gently used blanket and received a free sub! These are only a few things going on around the community that makes this the most wonderful time of the year!

Happy Holidays,

02 December 2010

wish you were here.

Dear Courthouse Christmas Lights,

The holiday season is upon us, and I was looking forward to seeing your bright face.  It has been a lovely year, and it seems like so long since I've seen you last.  I was hoping we could see each other this holiday season, but I guess life gets hectic and crazy, so maybe we will just have to wait for another year.  I looked to see if maybe I could catch a glimpse of you tonight, just like old times when you were so reliable, but all I saw was darkness.  It was even difficult to see the beautiful architecture you drape every holiday season against the dark, cloudy night tonight.  It made me sad to see only black in the very spot I used to see you. I wish you could have told me sooner that you wouldn't be making it for the holidays this year, so we could have made other arrangements.  May the spirit of Christmas be bright enough to light our community just as you did for us for so many years.  You will be very missed, Mr. Courthouse Christmas Lights. 

Until we meet again.

Your friend,