From the Editor

The theme of connection has been an important one for me this year, in happy ways and sad, with the two often colliding in ways I don't expect. For example, there's nothing like a funeral to illustrate the importance and presence of connection, and I've attended a few so far this year. Two were for family friends, delightful women who touched many lives with their optimism and kindness, their strength as mothers, grandmothers, wives and community members. I left each one struck by the impact each woman had made in her world and longing for the missed opportunity to have known her better. But I also left feeling challenged to make that kind of an impact in my own world. What would people say about me at my funeral? Each woman presented me with the task to live fully and be remembered for the good that I had done.

The third funeral was for my aunt Emma, my mother's older sister. This should have been the saddest event of the three, but somehow, it was not. I loved Emma for her radiant smile, her wholehearted laugh and her generous love. When she walked in the door, she swept warmth and energy and happiness in with her. As with the other women, I regretted that I hadn't kept in closer contact with her over the years-how ironic that in this age of über-connectedness, it's still so hard to make a phone call or jot a note. But I'd gotten to visit her recently, and her funeral was a reunion of once-close cousins I now see only rarely, a good time to catch up, tell stories and promise to keep in better contact. It was as if Emma herself had orchestrated our reconnecting; we all experienced, at one time or another, the sound of her laugh or the expectation of her sweeping into a room, all smiles. Our hearts would drop when we realized that we were mistaken and she was gone-but then we all realized that, really, she wasn't.

These women, like all of us women, were-and are still-part of an intricate web of connection spun over the course of a lifetime. In that web-so delicate looking but really quite strong-we women catch children, our own and others who need love and nurturing. We catch neighbors, always willing to lend them a hand or step up in an emergency. We catch our spouses, our schools, our colleagues, our communities. And then, in the most beautiful of maneuvers, we become woven into the webs of other women, creating a powerful net of friendship in which we hold each other close. In this interconnectedness, we help each other, support each other, hear each other out and love each other.

This issue of Coulee Region Women is all about that web-that net that spans our families and community, keeping each other close and holding each other up. We focus especially on women who have scooped up Coulee Region communities in their web, by heading downtown-building programs, providing services to our community, striving to connect with everyone they meet each day and seeking out and telling their stories.

And while we celebrate this, let me honor a particular group of Coulee Region women who create connections and tell stories like no other: our own Coulee Region Women writers. I have been, with every issue of late, amazed and humbled by an ever-growing cadre of deeply caring and deeply talented women, all of whom have internalized our own dedication to create connections in our community. I am honored to work with you all and delighted that we have found ourselves in each other's webs.

Betty Christiansen



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What is inside this month's issue:

The Mavens of Main Street
Coulee Region Main Street programs vitalize downtowns and create connections.

Personal & Professional
Telling the "People Stories"
Heather Armstrong fosters connections within the community both professionally and personally.

Connecting Women, Connecting Flights
Women make connections at the La Crosse Regional Airport.

Healthy Living
Area nurses celebrate long careers of caring and connecting.

Designing Women
In Touch with the Place You Call Home
When it comes to making connections, Kay Mazza has a style all her own.

Run Like a Woman
Our local governments need leaders like you-here's how to run for office.

A New Home on the Old Family Farm
A Viroqua couple enjoys the home of their dreams.

Honest Food
Local restaurants embrace the farm-to-table movement to delicious acclaim.

Retail Therapy
Summer Must-Haves
Beat the heat with these key summertime essentials.

Beautiful Budapest
This European jewel makes art of history.

10 Ways to Connect in Your Community

Connecting with the Coulee Region
The Coulee Region's outdoor beauty is a natural draw-three businesses show you how to enjoy it.


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