From the Editor

My sister Gwen is a quilter and an elementary music teacher in Michigan. When her school closed in March, she found herself with a fair bit of anxiety and extra time on her hands between recording bi-weekly video lessons for her students. Like many sewers and quilters these last few months, she found solace and a purpose in making masks. She dove into her fabric stash and, after watching a YouTube video or two, assembled six pleated fabric masks with elastic ear loops, which she gifted to a couple of grateful cousins who are nurses. "It's not bad," she said of the mask-making process, "but after six, I think I'm done."

Gwen is very animated, and her video music lessons were quite amusing, so she would send them to my sisters and me for our entertainment. About five videos in, I noticed she had a new backdrop-a beautiful quilt sewn from hundreds of brightly colored fabric strips pieced into blocks. One of us commented on it, and she responded that it was made from the scraps left over from 400 masks-up from six just a few weeks before! She'd been donating them to her local hospital, but they were also available for purchase, and the proceeds from one mask would fund the making of seven masks to donate. Just recently, I saw in a Facebook post that she is now up to 1,200.

The building-block quilt is a great metaphor for our community, pieced together from hundreds of people, all different, all with different tasks and talents, but all working with the intent of keeping our community strong and healthy for all. The pieces represent not just mask-makers-like our own prolific sewers-but everyone who, in ways big and small, has come together in a very tumultuous time to assemble a safety net-a warm, protective quilt-for our community. I'm talking about not just sewers but doctors and nurses, county health department staff, grocery shelf stockers, restaurant servers and farmers. I'm also talking about people who stand up for the rights of Black and brown people in our community, people who stand up to support our libraries and parks and other public spaces, people who work to ensure our schoolkids, teachers and school staff can gather as safely as possible this fall. I'm talking about anyone who goes out of their way, even a bit, to make others in our community feel respected and protected and safe.

In this issue, we are pleased to honor several women who are doing just that. We feature microbiologists, epidemiologists and even an architect working to confront Covid-19. We celebrate organizations like Great Rivers United Way, Couleecap and Southside Moms United, each of which have established themselves as a building block of our community. We remind you to take steps to build up your own health-physically and mentally-in these tenuous times, and we invite you to create a bit of lasting beauty in the midst of chaos and simply plant a tree.

When we take personally the call to help and lift up one another, we all-as a community-rise. Even when our lives feel most tattered, our world most fragmented, we can gather up the scraps, piece them into building blocks and stitch them together into something beautiful.

Betty Christiansen



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What is inside this month's issue:

Building and Rebuilding
Even in chaotic times, we know how to keep our community strong.

Tracking a Pandemic
Local women scientists are critical to coronavirus control.

Healthy Living
Build Up Your Health
Make these daily habits a way of living, not just a part of your to-do list.

Designing Women
Building and Rebuilding in the Health Care Industry
A local architect details changes brought about by Covid-19.

The Ridge Runner
Peek inside the 2019 Parade of Homes People's Choice Award-winning home.

Building Relationships, Building Community
Southside Moms United wields the power of mothers supporting mothers.

A Coordinated Effort
Great Rivers United Way coordinates community support in the face of Covid-19.

Looking Forward with Food
Local food suppliers play a critical role in feeding our communities, now more than ever.

Cornerstones of the Community
Coulee Region schools build up more than children.

Light at End of Tunnel
Couleecap's Financial Assistance Program keeps roofs over families' heads.

Retail Therapy
Put Down Some Roots
Plant a tree, begin a story.


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