Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: Rhymes With- Season 2! | Rhymes With Decorah


“Rhymes With…” (Decorah!?) is back for another season, featuring stories about communities you love, from people you trust! 


Jump in as Aryn and Benji (that’s me!) shake out how 2022 ended on a high note, and where we’re headed in 2023. Themes, stories, and series ahoy… 



One of the wildest things that happened at the end of 2022 was that we were featured on a national broadcast of Marketplace (Business News) on NPR. The “My Economy” segment features Aryn and Benji telling their story – which aired to a national audience on December 30, 2022. Click here to listen!


Read Aryn’s column “Looking Back / Looking Forward”  (It’s worth it!)


Check out the Iowa Writers Substack.


We have some big plans for the show in the upcoming weeks and months, so keep tabs on upcoming shows wherever you like to listen to podcasts. You can leave a review or rating on iTunes as well, which helps the show get to a larger audience. 

Visit all things Inspire(d) by clicking here!

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD30 Decorah Community Food Pantry – Matt Tapscott & Steven Zittergruen


To close out our first season of “Rhymes With Decorah” we’re featuring a conversation with Decorah Community Food Pantry director Matt Tapscott and President of the DCFP Board Steven Zittergruen. This incredible resource, based in Decorah, is a faith-based, non-profit charity organization, serving thousands of clients who need food and other basic essentials each year in NE Iowa.

Find out how to access the Decorah Food Pantry Here. (Or call 563-202-0872)


Learn how to donate to the Decorah Community Food Pantry by clicking here.
Or Mail a check donation to*:

Decorah Community Food Pantry
PO Box 26
Decorah, IA 52101

(*Monetary donations are by far the most impactful way to support the organization, as they are able to multiply those donations in bulk purchasing, but staple food donations are always welcome, including; Pasta, Peanut Butter, Flour, Cooking Oil, Sugar, Cereal, Butter, etc. Unopened toiletry and sanitary items are also always welcome donations.)

The Decorah Community Food Pantry offers high quality food for clients at no charge, 5 days a week from their location at 110 Railroad Street (on the “back” side of the Spectrum Network building). The volunteer-driven organization operates through the support and structure of more than 20 area faith communities that have combined forces over the years to provide this incredible regional resource.

The organization originally started as a ministry of First Lutheran Church in 1996 and has grown leaps and bounds since through a collective effort. In 2017 the Food Pantry was incorporated as an independent 501C3 non-profit organization, with a full board of directors who share the mission of eradicating hunger and food-access issues in our Community.

We are very grateful not only to Matt and Steven for taking the time for this conversation, but for all of the volunteers, visionaries, and businesses that support this valuable community resource.


“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram @indicative_of_drumming


Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD29 – Winter 2022-23 Inspire(d) w/ Aryn Henning Nichols

“Winter 2022-2023” Inspire(d) – Cover Art by Diane Knight of Whalan, MN.

Aryn Henning Nichols and host Benji Nichols run down the “Winter 2022-2023” issue of Inspire(d) Magazine on this episode of “Rhymes With Decorah”. Join us for a fun half hour highlighting the articles that are keeping us inspired this winter, as well as a few other sidetracks along the way!


From Aryn’s Editor’s Letter in the “Winter” issue:

“Lagom. It’s a Swedish word meaning “just the right amount.” “Not too much, not too little.” “Just enough.” The Swedish proverb “Lagom är bäst” literally means “the right amount is best,” and is also translated as “enough is as good as a feast.” Enough is as good as a feast! Leave it to the Scandinavians to have just the right phrase to encompass my feelings for this winter.
In a time and world where the mantra is so often more, more, more, I encourage you, this season, to say, “Better, not more.” Make choices that count – shop local, show up for your community, be present with your loved ones. Define what’s enough for you.
A lot about defining enough is being creative with your resources.”

Read the whole piece here – as well as the whole “Winter” issue online, or find it at your favorite location across the region. 

We are truly excited to share this issue’s stories with you, and hope that they provide a sense of community and inspiration to you this winter season. 


In this issue, you’ll find: 

The Tlou House: Finding Joy in Decorah

Seamus Schwaba + Sugarloaf Theatre 

Community Builders:

Diane Knight – MN Artist
Shaundel Spivey – Co Founder of BLACK La Crosse
Marnie Hofmeister-Pooley  – Let’s Shine Coffee

Mental Health: Defining Enough + Hierarchy of Needs

Great-horned Owl

Sum Biz: Gabi Masek + Wildcrafted Acupuncture & Herbs

Chinese Winter Wellness Tips 

Dream Boards

Probit: Hazel Grotegut

and more!


Thank You for listening – and thank you for being Inspire(d)!
Want to support our work?
Become a member or give a gift membership to Inspire(d)!


“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram @indicative_of_drumming

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD28 Erika Skogg – Photographer and National Geographic Explorer

Decorah Nordic Dancers, Photo: Erika Skogg

Erika Skogg is a National Geographic Explorer, documenting and sharing culture through the lens of photography. Born and raised in Green Bay (WI), Erika is a recipient of National Geographic’s Early Career Grant which fueled her photography project documenting Scandinavian-American culture.


Through this cultural preservation project, Erika also hopes to encourage others to become more interested in their family’s genealogy and immigration stories, fostering an appreciation for the myriad of unique sub-cultures within the U.S. with renewed understanding and respect of the continued immigration stories of today.

Photo: Erika Skogg

Erika’s early career began with outdoor guiding on the white waters of Colorado, and mountains of Big Sky, Montana as a Ski Instructor. Graduating from Montana State University with a degree in photography, Erika blended her love of the outdoors and guiding with her photography education to join National Geographic Expeditions designing and guiding photography trips around the world. 


Photo: Erika Skogg

She has led photography workshops in Morocco and Cuba with National Geographic Expeditions, on board National Geographic/Lindblad ships through the Arctic and Alaska, and has led National Geographic Student Expeditions through Tanzania, Iceland, Tuscany, Peru, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Ecuador & The Galapagos. 


The “Scandinavian American” exhibit at Vesterheim depicts the lifestyle, celebrations, and traditions of Americans of Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish ancestry in the communities of Decorah, Iowa; Hancock, Michigan; Ephraim, Wisconsin; Pequot Lakes, Minnesota; and Lindsborg, Kansas. The stunning collection of unique and personal photographs captures modern takes on the traditions that have been preserved by generations of families that identify with Scandinavian immigration.

“Tusen Takk” to Erika for making time to talk with us for this show while she was in Decorah in the late fall of 2022. 

See more about the Vesterheim Exhibit here.

Visit www.erikaskogg.com to see more about Erika’s work and international travels.

Erika with Decorah resident and local artist Norma Wangsness

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD27 Ben Krouse-Gagne – Helping Services Holiday Lights!


(If you missed one of our earliest episodes – #5, click here to hear Helping Services Director – Carson Egglang!)


Ben Krouse-Gagne is the Director of Community Engagement with Helping Services, and as part of that work also helps coordinate all of the efforts that equal the annual Holiday Lights! Located at Decorah’s Pulpit Rock Campground, the drive-through show features over 80 displays nightly from Thanksgiving to Christmas night.

Holiday lights is one of the largest fundraising events to support the work of Helping Services, who provide resources to the 8 county area of NE Iowa. Since 1973, the organization has providedd everything from substance and drug use prevention, domestic abuse resources, opportunities for new parents, youth mentoring programs, and much more.


Through the past 18 years, Holiday lights has engaged the region with a special opportunities to help usher in the Holidays. Each year on the night before Thanksgiving, the campground is open to walking traffic only, and also features special entertainment, soup, cookies, hot cocoa, and more. As part of Holiday Lights there is also an annual fireworks show (Friday, Dec. 9 at 6:30pm in 2022!) that takes place near the Decorah High School football stadium. The lights are then open every night from Thanksgiving to Christmas for drive through from 5pm-9pm.

Over 400 volunteers each year help make this community effort come to life in support of Helping Services. Find out more on today’s show – and find out more at www.helpingservices.org or 563-387-1720 for more details!


“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram @indicative_of_drumming

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD26 Christian Myrah – RockFilter Distillery


Christian Myrah comes from deep Spring Grove roots, and while his journey to distilling is anything but typical, his mission in tying together agriculture, community, and business is incredible. Through multiple generations, the Myrah family have been involved in agriculture and the region (just check the Giants of the Earth Heritage Center!). But when Christian returned to Spring Grove in 2006 after several years in the Navy flying fighter jets (and continuing in the Naval Reserves), a new vision appeared for an opportunity in Spring Grove – RockFilter Distillery.


“Planted, Tended, Milled and Distilled” from www.rockfilterdistillery.com

Upon his return, Christian had been working with his family to continue converting their acres to organic certified cropland. Christian also had the curiosity and support to try growing a few things out of the ordinary like open pollinated corn, triticale, barley, and hulless oats.

Map courtesy of www.rockfilterdistillery.com

Along with that, he knew that Schech’s Mill existed near Caledonia (MN’s oldest standing, functioning, water powered grist mill). Combine that with our regions karst topography, which filters groundwater through  limestone, and what you have are the ingredients for making high quality, small batch organic bourbon and whiskey. (There are a – few – other details!)


RockFilter has even forged creative relationships with midwest Artists like Minneapolis based musician and writer Dessa, whom has had a series of bourbons come out in collaboration. 

Join us for this show as we talk about Christian’s journey and all that RockFilter is doing – not only in producing incredible bourbon and whiskey, but helping shine a light on Spring Grove, MN. 


This is the fourth show in a mini-series about Spring Grove, MN. Check out the shows below for more – and thanks for listening: 

> Find the first episode featuring Spring Grove’s Economic Development Director, Courtney Bergey Swanson here

> Find the second episode featuring Bill Fried of Giants of the Earth Heritage Center here

 > Find the third episode featuring Pat and Patrick Longmire of Red’s Hometown Market and Fat Pat’s BBQ here

“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram @indicative_of_drumming

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD25 Pat & Patrick – Reds Hometown Market Spring Grove


(This is the third show in a mini-series featuring the community of Spring Grove, MN – check out the links at the bottom for more!)

The Longmire family have been in the grocery business for many decades, but it was in 1989 that Pat bought a store in Spring Grove (when Patrick was just 2 years old!).

The original store in 1989.

In 2000 they built a brand new 15,000 square foot store from the ground up, offering the region a modern grocery experience without going to a larger city.


Since that time they have pushed the boundaries of what it means to be a “small town” grocery store – whether through community fundraising dinners out of their deli, starting Fat Pat’s BBQ Trailer (2017), adding a modern Coffee House and drive-through with Jo’s (2019), and eventually a brewery (2022) to match up with their now Friday night BBQ offerings. 

Jo’s Coffee House, attached to Red’s.

Patrick (Jr) attributes his 7+ years in Austin, TX, playing and working and touring in the music business, with opening him up to more ideas for Red’s. Whether a Coffee Shop or Texas style BBQ joint – creativity is key to success keeping a small town business relevant, fun, and successful. In fact, Patrick has just purchased another building in downtown Spring Grove where Fat Pat’s BBQ will be opening in 2023. Pat & Patrick are amazing examples of keeping relevant in a rural economy and providing multiple services to not only their town, but our region.

A huge thanks to Pat & Patrick for taking the time to chat with us!



This is the third show in a mini-series about Spring Grove, MN.

> Find the first episode featuring Spring Grove’s Economic Development Director, Courtney Bergey Swanson here

> Find the second episode featuring Bill Fried of Giants of the Earth Heritage Center here


“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram @indicative_of_drumming

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD24 Bill Fried – Giants of the Earth Center – Spring Grove



Welcome to our second show in a mini-series from Spring Grove, MN!

In this episode we visit with Bill Fried from the Giants of the Earth Heritage Center.


Founded in 2009, Giants of the Earth Heritage Center is a nonprofit historical society that is dedicated to honoring, preserving, and interpreting the history and heritage of the people from Spring Grove’s Norwegian Ridge (Minnesota’s oldest Norwegian settlement!) in southeastern Minnesota.


Drawing on a rich cultural history, the Center records and reflects the achievements of indigenous peoples and immigrants to the Spring Grove area, while also providing a gathering place and a sense of community and identity. The framers of Giants of the Earth Heritage Center were inspired by the great author Ole Rølvaag, who’s work described the early pioneers’ trials and tribulations.


The historical structure that houses Giants of the Earth also has a special place in downtown Spring Grove, having had many uses over the years, but originally built in the 1890s as a hotel. The building has undergone an incredible full restoration, including an elevator that services all floors, and is also home to several excellent Sigmund Årseth murals.


A very sincere thanks goes out to our special guest for this episode, Bill Fried. To find out more about the Giants of the Earth Heritage Center, visit:


The Center welcomes visitors year round in downtown Spring Grove, Monday – Saturday 10am-5pm.


This is the second in a series of a four show mini-series from Spring Grove, MN. You can find the first show, featuring Spring Grove Economic Development director Courtney Bergey Swanson at this link.


“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram @indicative_of_drumming

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD 23 Courtney Bergey Swanson – CEDA / Spring Grove Ec. Development

Welcome to the first in a series of shows featuring — (Not Decorah!) — Spring Grove, MN! A huge part of our goal in starting this companion podcast to Inspire(d) has been to have another format that we can help tell the stories of our region. Despite the name “Rhymes With Decorah” (or perhaps because of it!?), the show is not just about Decorah – but all those that work to make our region a great place. And Spring Grove is a Great Place! Join us for the next 4 episodes as we feature profiles from this great SE Minnesota community. First up is Spring Grove’s Economic Development Director – Courtney Bergey Swanson!



Courtney Bergey Swanson grew up on a farm near rural Lanesboro, MN, and returned to Southeast Minnesota after studying Art and Communication Studies at Luther College. Before joining CEDA in 2016, she served as Director of Advancement for Lanesboro Arts. Her position with CEDA (Community and Economic Development Associates) is Vice President of Development and Collaborative Services – which also includes being the Economic Development Director for Spring Grove.


Courtney’s work in SE Minnesota has helped implement several community and economic development projects, including public space improvements, historic renovation, cultural tourism efforts, and strategic planning for community growth.

Courtney is fueled by the belief that rural areas have the potential to advance their narrative, embrace innovation, and make creative pathways towards a sustainable future. She is also a Mom, Wife, fiber and ceramic artist, and enjoys sharing her talents through teaching. 

Join us for our first show in this series featuring the community of Spring Grove!


“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram @indicative_of_drumming

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: RWD22 Happy 15th Birthday Inspire(d) – Aryn Henning Nichols


Join Inspire(d) founder and Editor in Chief Aryn Henning Nichols along with Benji Nichols for this episode of “Rhymes With Decorah”, as they talk about 15 years of Inspire(d), the Fall 2022 issue (#70!), a new website, and so much more.


October 2022 marks 15 years of Inspire(d), which launched with it’s first issue on October 4, 2007 (hear a fun story about that day on the show!).

Through it all Aryn and Benji are so grateful for the support of the readers and advertisers that have made this “experiment in positive news” possible. Thank you!!!

A big shout out to Impact Coffee in downtown Decorah for their early support of “Rhymes With Decorah”. If you would like to learn more about sponsoring this show email Benji @ iloveinspired.com

“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram @indicative_of_drumming


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