Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Meet 10 Minnesota bloggers, a contest winner & more January 11, 2012

THEY WRITE FROM EVERY section of the state—from the southwestern Minnesota prairie to up north on the Gunflint Trail and the Iron Range to the heart of the Twin Cities metro area and places in between.

They are your next-door neighbor, the guy in the office, the young mother down the street, the 20-something…just regular folks who write online.

They are bloggers.

Thus, dear readers of Minnesota Prairie Roots, begins a feature package on 10 Minnesota bloggers, plus one (that would be me), just published in the winter issue of Minnesota Moments.

As a writer for this central Minnesota based magazine, I have the opportunity to present story proposals to the editor and then, when approved, pursue those ideas.

In the blogger package, you’ll meet these Minnesota bloggers with distinct voices: Aaron J. Brown, Nina Hedin, Ada Igoe, Beth Johanneck, Laura Karsjens, Gretchen O’Donnell, Gary Sankary, Brenda Score, Michael Wojahn and Emily Zweber. (Click here to read the story online.)

Prior to my search, I’d already been following about half of these writers. Finding the remaining five proved more challenging than I anticipated. Eventually I found them and if you check out their blogs, I think you will agree that they write in a way that’s as comfortable as sharing conversation over a cup of coffee.

MY SECOND MAJOR PROJECT for this issue focused on a contest, “Snapshots of Love,” which I created and curated. Magazine readers were invited to submit vintage black-and-white candid photos on the theme of love and then share what the photos told them about love.

We received some truly impressive images and stories that made selecting a winner difficult. However, in the end, Jeanne Everhart of Erhard was chosen as the winner with a 1948 picture of her and her sister riding the tricycle they shared. Her story will move you. View all of our contest entries by clicking here.

Jeanne Chase hitches a ride from her sister Sylvia in this 1948 photo taken at the sisters' home in Inman Township, Otter Tail County, Minn.

Since I came up with this contest idea, I also had to find prizes for our winner. I didn’t need to look far. Nina Hedin, one of the featured bloggers, also runs an etsy shop, Camp Honeybelle, and agreed to contribute a $25 gift certificate toward the prize package.

Bernie Nordman Wahl, a Duluth native now living in Billings, Montana, graciously created a card-a-month collection of vintage style greeting cards for our winner. Bernie sells her handmade cards on her Budugalee etsy shop. You simply must see her cards; this artist possesses a delightful sense of humor. Be sure also to visit Bernie’s One Mixed Bag blog. If Bernie still lived in Minnesota, she most definitely would have been included in my Minnesota bloggers feature.

But…, Bernie is in this issue. Her story, “A simple wooden plate equals love,” was published in our “moments in time” reader-submitted stories section. It’s a sweet story of family love.

Mary Bruno of St. Joseph-based Bruno Press and the subject of a story in Minnesota Moments’ fall issue, rounded out the prize package by contributing a letterpress, vintage graphics fine art print. If you’ve read my post on the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, you know how much I appreciate vintage printing.

One of the 26 handmade cards with a vintage flair crafted by Bernie Nordman Wahl for contest winner Jeanne Everhart.

VINTAGE COULD ALSO DEFINE the subject of one other story I  wrote for this issue—a “back in the day” piece on The Last Supper Drama which will be presented for the 50th time this Palm Sunday at St. John’s United Church of Christ, Wheeling Township, rural Faribault. Yes, that’s right: 50 consecutive years.

I’ve attended this interpretation of The Last Supper twice and blogged about it. Click here to read that blog post. The photos published in the magazine printed way too dark, so the quality is not what you have come to expect in my photography. Please try to overlook that when you read the story.

A scene from the 2011 Last Supper Drama at St. John's UCC.

FINALLY, THIS CANNOT GO without mentioning. Swanville, Minnesota, native Joanne Fluke, who is a New York Times best-selling author, has a full-page ad on the inside front cover of this issue. She writes the “Hannah Swensen Mystery with Recipes!” series. She was the subject of a feature I wrote several years ago for the magazine. Her “Hannah” stories are set in fictitious Lake Eden, Minnesota.

Anyway, Joanne’s publisher, Kensington Publishing, is sponsoring a contest right now with a chance to win a Joanne Fluke gift basket.

So there, dear readers, you have just one more reason to check out the winter edition of Minnesota Moments.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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17 Responses to “Meet 10 Minnesota bloggers, a contest winner & more”

  1. Mark Ritchie Says:

    This is fantastic, thank you very much.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you so much, Mark.

      Working on this issue of Minnesota Moments was especially enjoyable. I always like showcasing the talents of other Minnesotans (per the blogger feature). And the “Snapshots of Love” contest proved a delight with all of those beautiful images and stories. I love black-and-white photos. And the church drama…

      Well, you can tell that I’m pretty thrilled with this particular issue of the magazine.

  2. htrax107 Says:

    I just read through all the “snapshots of love” stories and looked at all the photos. What a wonderful idea you had and I love how it is presented. So many loving tributes and I am happy to have been included in the piece! And what a wonderful response you had with photos and stories. I can’t wait to go through the rest of the issue.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks, Harriet. I’m so happy you submitted a photo and story. It was an absolute pleasure to view these vintage images and read these stories of love. See why choosing a winner was challenging?

      Our art designer, Amy Stirnkorb, did a fabulous job designing this story, as she did for our blogger package. The print design of the blogger feature differs from the online version.

      All of that said, I’m thrilled that so many Minnesotans are showcased in this issue.

  3. Bernie Says:

    This issue is jam packed with great articles. I already read 3 of your Minnesota bloggers. Who knows if I might discover more.
    The contest was such fun. Once I started making cards, I couldn’t stop. She is going to end up with a healthy set of cards.
    Oh, I love your “Last Supper” piece. What fun!!
    You are the best!

  4. Nice to know that “conservative” isn’t an agenda. Dogwhistle much? Or just believe in pandering to stereotypes about rural Minnesota?

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Sally Jo, thanks for sharing your input. I appreciate and value your comments.

      However, if you reread what I wrote and put it in the context of my post, you will see see that I am not referencing political views here. That was not a consideration and I certainly am not saying all of our readers, nor the featured bloggers, are conservative. I do not for a minute believe that.

      My primary aim was to find down-to-earth, everyday Minnesotans who write about their lives and/or the people, places and events of Minnesota and do that well.

  5. “I wanted to highlight bloggers without an agenda and who would fit our more conservative, outstate Minnesota readership.”

    Wow. I mean, read that sentence slowly. Maybe aloud. Can you see what you did there? I know my 7th grade grammar teacher would have you up at the blackboard for that.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Point taken. Read my reply to Sally Jo’s comment to explain what I did not clearly write in the sentence you reference. I’ve deleted this sentence so as not to continue to confuse and mislead. Thank you for being my grammar coach this morning.

  6. Michele Says:

    Audrey thank you so much for this beautiful Magazine!! I was thrilled to get a copy and see my photo in the “snapshots of love” photo section. You did a wonderful job putting this all together and I am happy to say I will now be a subscriber to the publication. It was fun to see a lot of the bloggers I read featured as well, its nice to put a face with a name. I am really looking forward to what Minnesota Moments does for the next issue! Thank you again for all your hard work and such a lovely magazine!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Michele, thank you so much for your compliments. It’s truly a team effort to pull a magazine together. Our art designer, Amy Stirnkorb, did a fabulous job of designing the contest and blogger packages.

      I loved the photo of you with your dad and dog. Truly, all of the photos and stories were just so heart-warming. Thank you for entering.

      Neither the contest nor the blogger package would have happened without the cooperation of bloggers and those who submitted images and stories.

      I’m glad you’ll be subscribing. I’m not sure yet what I’ll have in our spring issue other than a Main Street in Small Town, Minnesota, project I’ll be working on that with photographer Ryan Ware. It will feature photos from both of us.

  7. I so appreciate the honor of being part of your blogger article! What fun the process has been – and continues to be! Thank you yet again, and I am enjoying the entire issue and look forward to receiving more in the future!

    • OH, and I meant to say too, that I’m really enjoying checking out the other ten bloggers – and, coincidentally, I had “discovered” one yesterday even without the article and then I went and read the magazine and said out loud, “Hey! I just commented on her blog without even knowing she was in this issue!” If I believed in kharma…!!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Gretchen, you deserved to be included in this profile given your talent, your passion for writing, your distinct (and often humorous) voice, integrity, interesting/entertaining/informative content and more.

  8. Just read through all the comments (the good ones, hehe) and I am all misty-eyed now. What a wonderful thing you have done for all of us; the vintage pictures and their stories, the bloggers and their stories, Bernie’s toast plate story – LOVE IT ALL! Thank you so much~

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      You are welcome. I so enjoyed pulling together the blogger feature package. Thank you, Nina, for being a part of it.

      And Bernie’s toast plate story–I have to agree, LOVE IT.


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