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Written by By Catherine H. Armstrong

Rochester author and caregiving expert Harriet Hodgson has released two new books with three more in the works. “The Family Caregiver’s Guide” and “Affirmations for Family Caregivers” are the first two books in an anticipated five-book series published by WriteLife Publishing.



Fourth Annual Celebration of Rochester-Area Authors

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Written by By Catherine H. Armstrong

“We saw an untapped need in our community and set out to fill it. Since then, it’s developed into a wonderful exposure opportunity for local authors, and we’re happy to offer it once again this year.” 

A special presentation by local author Mike Kalmbach will take place one hour before the event in Rochester Public Library’s Conference Room C. Kalmbach will discuss the Rochester Writing Group and the local writing community.


Have you ever wanted to try organic pizza dough and gluten-free flatbread that will leave you with a clean conscience as well as a clean plate? What about locally crafted soda made from pure fruit juice and Wisconsin honey? Or perhaps the savory flavors of award-winning barbecue sauces, free-range turkey and spreadable chevre cheeses? 

You can see, sip and stock up on all of these artisan-made products and over 100 more at the second annual “Feast! Local Foods Marketplace” on Friday and Saturday, December 4 and 5 at Mayo Civic Center.


The Quarry Hill Nature Art Show and Sale is a great place to view art with a nature theme. Maybe you are looking for a dash of color to add to your home or a handmade gift.


The 12th Annual Quarry Hill Nature Art Show and Sale will be held December 5 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and December 6 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Quarry Hill Nature Center, 701 Silver Creek Road NE, Rochester, Minnesota. Ten percent of the show’s sales are donated to Friends of Quarry Hill to support Quarry Hill’s nature education programs.



FIBER AS FINE ART: From Functional to Conceptual

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Written by By Debi Neville

The definition of fiber art according to Wikipedia is “fine art whose material consists of natural or synthetic fiber and other components, such as fabric or yarn. It focuses on the materials and on the manual labor on the part of the artist as part of the works’ significance and prioritizes aesthetic value over utility.”

Once thought of only as utilitarian, spinning, knitting and weaving made practical pieces, necessities for day-to-day life. Now fiber art has made the transition from functional to conceptual.

Zumbro River Fiber Arts Guild

“We take our art very seriously,” says Elizabeth Remfert, a founding member of the Zumbro River Fiber Arts Guild. “We are united by our love and appreciation for the various forms of fiber art and its perpetuation.”

The guild was founded 40 years ago by Remfert, Renea Bergstrom and Marge Manthei. Remfert was a newcomer to Rochester at that time, having moved from Champaign, Illinois. 



I am a Beautiful Rochester Woman 2016

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Written by By Jorrie Johnson

For more details, see Page 37 in Rochester Women magazine, September/October 2015 


Information technology is a field where men hold 75 percent of all jobs and nearly 90 percent of the executive positions at Fortune 500 companies. In addition, the percentage of computer science degrees awarded to women has fallen over the decades (Humphrey, 2013)1. Technovation, a global initiative, has set out to change these statistics for girls and inspire their pursuit of education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Through the annual Technovation Challenge, they are working to inspire and educate girls to solve real-world problems through technology and give them the opportunity to build the confidence needed to break into a field dominated by men. 

Bringing the Technovation Challenge to Minnesota

Two years ago, Minnesota joined this exciting endeavor and created Technovation[MN] to bring the challenge to Minnesota girls. Technovation[MN] is still in its infancy but has already brought together more than 90 mentors from the business community, 25 coaches from 22 schools and more than 120 girls to compete on 28 teams. These teams work together for 12 weeks to dream up ideas that solve a community problem and then design, code and promote a mobile solution. 


Five teams were formed from three Rochester Area Math Science Partnership (RAMSP) districts, and approximately 20 professional mentors were recruited, mostly from Mayo Clinic and IBM. The teams came from Rochester’s St. Francis, Friedell and Kellogg schools and Kasson-Mantorville Middle School. The local chapter of the Black Data Processing Associates sponsored a multi-school team at Century High School, which included students from John Marshall and Mayo High Schools.

Kasson-Mantorville Middle School Team Competes in a Global Event

On June 24-25, 2015, 10 teams across the world competed in the Technovation World Pitch event in San Francisco, California. There were nearly 400 mobile apps developed by young women to solve local/community problems from 28 countries. The 10 finalists came to California from Brazil, India, Mexico, Nigeria and the United States. One of the United States teams—The Furst Class Techies—hailed from Kasson-Mantorville and walked away with the Audience Choice Award and an Honorable Mention in the Middle School Division.    

The Furst Class Techies—students Andrea Richard, Rylee Melius and Lydia Mindermann—are coached by Sharie Furst, a STEM teacher at Kasson-Mantorville Middle School, and mentored by Kris Kendall, a software engineer at IBM Rochester. They developed an app called “Mayo Freetime” to help Mayo Clinic patients from outside of Rochester navigate their free time between medical appointments and, more importantly, help them (and their families) to reduce stress, anxiety, boredom, sadness and/or loneliness. 

So how did these local ladies make it to the finals to present to judges from Yahoo, Yelp, Google, Hackbright Academy and the Foundation? It started with a good idea, but it came down to dedication, commitment, teamwork, a strong coach and mentor and supportive local and regional resources. 

Girls in this program gain experience and knowledge in technology design and development, competitive market analysis and planning, branding development and promotion, presentation and “pitch” and comprehensive business planning. Their skillsets far supersede bringing a mobile app to fruition—they become skills to use at any junction in career development.

Southeast Minnesota Region to Develop Core Team

With the success bounding from the first “pilot” year of participation, RAMSP is developing a core leadership team for 2016. They are actively seeking students, coaches and mentors within their 13 K-12 partner schools, Rochester Community and Technical College, University of Minnesota-Rochester, Winona State University-Rochester, the Rochester Workforce Development Center, IBM and Mayo Clinic. Find out what you can do to become involved by contacting Richard Bogovich, executive director of RAMSP This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 507-250-2611.

Jenee M. Cummings is a freelance writer in the Rochester area.

1Humphrey, Katie. (2013, October 1). Still outnumbered, women strive to tap into tech industry. The Star Tribune,



Squash Blossom Farm: Where Farm Life Is as Wholesome as the Food, Art and Music

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Written by By Trish Amundson, Photography by Dawn Sanborn Photography

On summer Sunday afternoons, Roger Nelson and Susan Waughtal welcome visitors to their rural 10 acres of permaculture paradise—an enterprise that’s a sustainable ecosystem. The couple shares their land with tail-wagging dogs, a few cattle, 60 to 70 chickens of different breeds, honeybees and a pond of fish. Moreover, they share fresh food, local music and creative art with the local community.

Learning as They Grow

The couple moved to the property in 2008, despite having no farming background. With shared dreams and expertise—as an architect and artist—the sustainable farmstead known as Squash Blossom Farm began growing, repurposing and flourishing in a variety of ways, opening to the public in 2010.




When Vivian Bearing, an uncompromising professor of seventeenth-century literature, is diagnosed with stage-four metastatic ovarian cancer, she responds with her indomitable wit. 

Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer-winning play “Wit” has been performed at theatres and hospitals nationwide, including Abbott Northwestern Hospital, where Executive Director of the Rochester Civic Theatre Gregory Stavrou worked with Edson during this staged reading of the show. Stavrou hopes that the Rochester community finds this full production enjoyable and an opportunity to increase dialogue about caring for those with life-threatening illnesses. 

Science vs. Medicine 

As artistic director for the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute in the 1990s, Stavrou experienced first-hand the need for kindness in the midst of cancer treatment. In this time of remarkable life-saving innovations, Stavrou says it is crucial for medical professionals to remember why they do this. Though science is undoubtedly important, medicine should respond to the needs of the whole person, not simply their illness.



Local Banned Books: A surefire way to have a book read

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Written by By Catherine H. Armstrong

Each year, the American Library Association (ALA) designates a week in September to highlight awareness of banned and challenged books. This year, Sunday, September 27 through Saturday, October 3 is Banned Book Week.

Banning Books

Banned books can be a conundrum for parents. While parents reserve the right to decide appropriate reading material for their own children, many question whether it’s appropriate to dictate to all children based on the opinions of a few. And there’s no doubt that removing books from library shelves is nothing short of censoring the reading for all.

“When books are removed from school libraries, students lose out on differing opinions and access to information,” says Rochester parent and former elementary school teacher Kathleen Murphy. “That being said, it is a parent’s right to monitor what is right for their own child but not for other people’s children.”


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