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The Women Shaping Our Spaces


Engineers, ecologists and more are among the professionals guiding design decisions at ISG.

From the Editor

Shari Hegland, Editor

Maybe it is simply having been born an introvert. Maybe it is the product of growing up in a small family in the middle of an extremely rural area where neighbors were miles away over hills with few signs of human influence.


Either way, I like my space.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m as happy as anyone to spend some time with good friends sharing stories and laughs, and I enjoy meeting new people and learning their stories. That is why journalism has always attracted me. But when the stories have been told and the laughter (or tears) fade away, I’m ready again for space.


Sometimes that means simply retreating to my own space in my home, where working from home is a great fit for me—especially when my husband and son are off at their own jobs and school, and it’s just me and the cat sleeping in the window.
Other times, I seek out big, empty spaces. The kinds of places that are central to several of the stories in this issue. Having grown up in the Sandhills region of Nebraska, a place where schools could be dozens of miles away, where I would have to drive an hour or two to find a stoplight or McDonald’s or movie theater, and where trees were limited to small clumps of willows or cottonwoods near lakes and old homesteads, I am comfortable in emptiness. I’ve read the stories of early immigrants who homesteaded on the Great Plains being driven to near madness by the endless miles of wind and grass with nothing breaking the monotony, but for me, it can feel like home.

I also love the woods, and I relate completely to the thoughts shared by Faye Ellis in our Healthy Living story about the forest being a place where she finds “the space to simply be.” The trees and grass and deer don’t judge us. (That sassy squirrel? He’s a different story.)

The stories Linda and RJ Miller shared with me about their months of traveling the western states, visiting some of the most immense vistas and isolated locations left in the lower 48 states, left me longing to hit the road the way they did, taking it all in. In all that space, however, they still found connection, meeting others who love nature and scenery the way they do and developing friendships that have continued across the time and miles. 

Our exploration of “A Sense of Space” is as much about connection as it is emptiness. Creating space for people to connect is the driving force behind The Motherhood Collective, developed by Emily Sustar to provide women with support surrounding the birth experience—before, during and after—so they understand that they are not alone in their experience.

Safe Families for Children creates connections between volunteers and families in need to create a space where children can thrive despite challenging circumstances. 

Engineers, architects and other professionals profiled in our cover story use what they know about how we, as individuals and as a society, connect to the spaces around us to design the streets, green spaces, schools, businesses and more, seen and unseen, that provide a backdrop to our everyday lives.

As you move in and out of many different spaces each day, I encourage you to find the one that just feels right to you and take time to appreciate it. May it be a space where you can simply be.

Shari Signature.jpg

What is inside this month's issue:


   Stars in Her Eyes - A childhood love of nature leads physics professor Shauna Sallmen on  a journey through space.

   Finding a Space in Flight School - Holmen graduate Samantha Chapman is set to join an elite group of naval aviators.

   A Safe Space for Birth and Motherhood - 
The Motherhood Collective and local midwives create supportive community for mothers at all stages.

   Explore New Spaces - ORA Trails spreads miles of smiles along its trails to health and happiness.

   Global Inspiration, Local Comfort - Nicole Elliot parks The Damn Tasty on La Crosse’s North Side.

   Freeing Up Space - Professional organizers help  homeowners to overcome clutter.

33 Designing Women
    Creation Space - Explore your creativity and meet makers at the La Crosse Public Library.

   Practicing “Radical Hospitality” - Safe Families For Children connects volunteers to those who need them.

   Delivering Community - Mail carrier Doris Coyle makes her route a friendly, safe space to live and work.

   She’s Hooked on Fly Fishing - Donna and P.J. Smith operate fly fishing classes and a guide service in rural Westby.

   Compose Your Space - Local artists, makers and merchants help you create a space that is all your own.

   Wide-Open Spaces - Linda and RJ Miller experience the expanse of the American West while traveling “van life” style—only smaller.

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