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Are You Ready to Own? 

Altra Federal Credit Union’s loan originators walk you through the key steps toward homeownership.

From the Editor

Shari Hegland, Editor

One thing I love about creating each issue of this magazine is the opportunity to kickstart conversations and create connections between people. These conversations actually begin among our staff long before the printed product hits the streets, and the “Own It” issue now in your hands is no different.

While we choose a series of themes for each year several months in advance, each individual issue kicks off with a story idea meeting that draws together as many of our staff as possible: our marketing account representatives, designers, distributors, photo editor, publisher and me. We noodle over the many ways each theme can manifest (and we intentionally choose themes that lend themselves to multiple angles and approaches).

Of course, with “Own It,” the literal interpretation is easy: owning a home or a building or a business.

But I was especially impressed, as we started our conversation by asking each person in the meeting to consider what “own it” means to them, with how many responses veered from the literal definition centered around possession to a more figurative, emotional definition, in some ways harkening back to our December/January theme “Sense of Self.”

One contributor combined the two concepts, sharing how she has been digging into doing her own home and appliance repairs—empowering her sense of ownership by fixing things herself.

Others revealed that to them “own it” means accepting, embracing and naming things that are a part of them that aren’t always talked about, such as managing anxiety and depression, or struggling with the feeling of not being “enough” during a time as a stay-at-home parent and “owning” the truth that her contributions, while not monetary, were significant to the family and others.

That same range of interpretation of the “Own It” theme can be found throughout these pages, from literal tips on how to approach homeownership to the story of a (very) young woman who made the commitment to investing in herself and her community. 

We talk about business owners who followed their passions: Dr. Nicole Azene, owner of Onalaska Animal Hospital; Tiffany Smith, who has turned owning and preserving historical buildings into her career; and Samantha Oftedahl, who isn’t afraid to jump into a physically demanding landscape. 

And we share stories of owning your identity, whether that comes with complexities such as international adoption or just interests and talents as varied as art and financial planning.

April and May are also great times to think about taking ownership in protecting the environment around us, as the Sustainability Institute does year-round. 

For me, “own it” can be concrete or abstract, serious or verging on the absurd. My husband and I finally pulled the trigger on needed improvements and investments into this home we own as we plan to host family for our son’s upcoming high school graduation—an occasion that has us gently urging him to take ownership in the “what’s next?” decisions for his future. I still own up to the “crazy runner” label many family members stuck on me, despite my current distances being far less crazy than years ago. And our entire family admits wholeheartedly to being owned by the smallest member: an 11-pound cat who dictates when you wake up, how long you will remain sitting on a chair and whether you will actually get to read the newspaper spread out in front of you.

Whether you take the leap into your first big purchase and all that (car/home/business) ownership entails, or you simply embrace that part of your personality that makes you truly unique, spring is a great time to think about renewing your “own it” mentality. And we have just the inspiration to help you do it.

Shari Signature.jpg

What is inside this month's issue:


The Purr-fect Fit - Dr. Nicole Azene finds her calling as owner of Onalaska Animal Hospital.



Juggling Family and Business - Heidi Lydon’s balancing act moves between motherhood, financial advising and art.



Shining a RAE of Hope - Janel Tunison honors her sister with a nonprofit and fundraiser focused on stroke research, awareness and education.



Owning the Complexity of Identity - Sara Docan-Morgan’s book explores the intersection of families in international adoptions.


24 Q&A

Born to Restore - Owning and renovating historic buildings fulfills Tiffany Smith’s dreams.



A New Home for a New Phase of Life - Teri Wildt and Mike Rader create a La Crescent home personalized for their retirement plans.



Inside the Viroqua Food Co+op - This member-owned food cooperative has provided fresh, local fare for nearly 30 years.



Taking Ownership of Our Environment - Carrie Thompson and the Sustainability Institute inspire us to create a healthy environment for today and the future.



Making Dreams in Her Field - Samantha Oftedahl paves the garden path to success with Sam’s Spades Landscape & Gardening.



A Home of Her Own - Chaya Davis proves it’s never too early to accomplish your goals.



Your Signature Look - “Own” your style with one-of-a-kind offerings from local boutiques.

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