Posted: September 28th, 2010 | Author: Julie | Filed under: Diamond Point Park, Lake Bemidji | 12 Comments »
Photography by Julie Saari
Professional Salon Academy
“Is Ms. Michelle here?”, I ask at the reception desk .
Every time I get my hair done at the Professional Salon Academy I ask for Ms. Michelle. She chooses my color, style, and length. It is not because I can’t make these decisions, rather it is because she gets it right every time, and I leave feeling fabulous. Throughout the years of going to the Professional Salon Academy and spending time in the chair I have gotten to know Michelle. A fiercely caring mother, a wife, a professional, a Christian, with a sense of humor and ability to bond with and lead her students through their schooling with respect and admiration. I love “Ms. Michelle”, I am betting you will too.
My husband, two children, and I found out we were packing up and moving to Bemidji March2, 2006. At the time, it was quite possibly the worst thing that I thought could happen to us. I had a successful business, renting a chair in a salon, I had a great clientele, and I had my church family. My kids had their lives all set in Detroit Lakes. My daughter had a friend with cancer that she needed to be a support system for! How could this be happening? My husband was being transferred with his job. I kicked (literally), and screamed (at least inside my head). I came up with every conceivable option to not uproot my children, and save my business. I spoke to a close friend of mine, who clued me in that our former pastor was now residing and ministering full-time in Bemidji. He gave me his number.
We booked a hotel for the weekend, and my husband and I made the trip up to “scout” things out. We spent an afternoon with our pastor and friend. He prayed with us, and let us know that this was God’s plan. He introduced us to some of the members of the church, and told me to contact one in particular who would become my employer and close friend.
I went from being angry to losing control of my future in such a good way. I ended up with what is now my dream job. I am a full-time instructor at Professional Salon Academy. I discovered with that position, my mission in life. I feel I was meant to do what I am doing right now. All of the years before this were a means to an end. My husband had told me that maybe the move wasn’t about him this time, just maybe it was about me.
My children came out better for this move. I had prayed that my daughter would not have to watch her friend pass away. What I was praying for was recovery for her friend. God always answers our prayers, sometimes just not the way we want. My daughter did not have to watch her friend pass away. We moved the weekend hospice care was called in. She passed away one month later. My daughter didn’t have to see her friend suffer. I feel moving to Bemidji helped my children to become who they are now.
I am an artist, mentor, wife, and mom. This is my town, (and I’m not moving!).
Written by: Michele Peterson
Click Here To View A Slideshow of Michelle’s Photo Shoot
pics by Julie Saari
Posted: September 17th, 2010 | Author: Julie | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
- South of Bemidji
South of Bemidji
Photography by Julie Saari
I found David quite by accident. I knew I wanted a logger to be part of my project. But, how does one find a logger? After all they work in the woods. I happened across a site, took a chance and scrawled a note on a piece of paper and stuck it on the truck at the site. I was praying he didn’t think me crazy. Instead, he called me. He was excited. See, David knows he has a story, and he was ready to tell it. To me this is the best kind of story; one of a life well lived, and lived simply.
The day I took David’s pictures it was his 63rd birthday. He was ready to go and had everything planned to make my experience easier. What he may not have known is I loved being out in the woods. I could have stayed all day; the trees, the smells, the quiet taken over by one lone chainsaw.
David has a story, here it is:
I grew up on a farm near Guthrie. My first involvement with the timber industry was my brother and I cutting aspen off our family farm to sell to the Nu Ply plant in Bemidji. We used our Ford farm tractor and a two wheel trailer loading and unloading all the wood by hand. After we had stacked the cut pulpwood in a place a truck could reach we hired a logger who had a truck to haul it to NuPly.
After graduating from high school I continued to log some in the same way and also to work for loggers who had more specialized equipment. Until I graduated from the University of Minnesota, Forestry school, spring 1970; I worked weekends and breaks logging for myself or for loggers to pay my way through school. By the time I graduated I knew I really enjoyed logging. The development of rubber tired skidders and hydraulic log loaders had taken the backbreaking labor out of the process and made it possible to log more difficult terrain. However, before I could start logging full time I had a military obligation to fulfill.
The four years I spent in the Air Force strongly reinforced my desire to choose my own work and the place I would live. I logged whenever I got leave and I did purchase a used skidder while I was still in the Air Force. As April 18, 1975 approached I was eager to get back to Minnesota to:
Be close to family.
Do work that I enjoyed where I could see the results of my efforts.
Be outdoors every day.
“Be my own boss”!
In April 1975, I started logging full time mostly working as a one man crew. I followed the same model of operation we used as kids on the farm, do the work to get the wood to roadside and then hire the trucking. This is still the way I do things and it has permitted me to do the work I really enjoy.
In March 1980, I married another person involved in the timber industry, Barbara Lundmark. Barbara worked in her father Roy Lundmark’s timber dealership. I had sold Roy wood since 1967 and had known Barbara since I returned from the Air Force. We moved to a location halfway between our previous homes when we got married and my address became Bemidji as hers had been. Barbara continued to run the business for her parents until April 2001, when she and I became co-owners. We continue to operate the business though at a very reduced size due to the loss of mills in our area.
My logging operation is on the opposite end of the spectrum from the heavily mechanized crews that have become the norm. One man with a small grapple skidder, a pickup and several chainsaws comprise the entire operation. Felling, delimbing and cutting into the various products is accomplished with chainsaws. Building roads, skidding the wood from the woods to the landing, sorting into various products and piling for truck pickup is accomplished with the grapple skidder. The pickup carries fuel for the skidder, chainsaws and of course the crew.
In the last fifteen years I have cut mostly private timber combining my forestry education and my logging to help landowners develop a long term plan for their timber and then implement that plan. It is very rewarding to be able to see the results of the work we have done and to be able to share the increase in value that the work has created.
I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to live in an area I love, to do work that I love.
Written by David Horn
To see a slideshow of David’s photo shoot click here
pics by Julie Saari
Posted: September 14th, 2010 | Author: Julie | Filed under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »
Photography by Julie Saari
Back Alley Downtown Bemidji
What if someone never leaves their hometown? Do you consider them stuck? Or are they blessed to have been born into the town they were meant to live in?
Lisa W. is one of the first people I see on my days in town. A quick stop into Harmony Co-op for my Certified Organic Free Trade $1 cup of coffee serves more as a recharge of the spirit than a hot beverage. Seeing Lisa there stocking the fruits and vegetables is a kind of comfort to me. The contentment of her face made me want to know her story, maybe you will find it interesting also. Do you think she got stuck?
This is Lisa:
Bemidji’s my hometown. I was born in the nursing home right off Bemidji Avenue which used to be the area’s main hospital. I graduated from Bemidji Middle School, Bemidji High School and Bemidji State University, got married (and divorced, and married again, ahem) in the Bemidji courthouse, had a baby in the “new” Bemidji Hospital, and landed a job in downtown Bemidji at a our only community owned grocery store. You get the gist. I’m one of those: a local. Not a seventh-generation indigenous local or a third generation Scandinavian-settler local, but the kind of local that was simply born here and feels Bemidji in her blood.
The question most hometown people get, from my experience, is ‘why didn’t you ever leave? Or ‘what made you stay?’ as if it was a one time decision made at a vulnerable moment rather than a complex string of choices made around a central…..vision, perhaps, or set of values. In this hyper-mobile world, it is rare when one stays put; much less by choice.
But being a hometown gal means that basically many, if not most of my ‘firsts’ happened here. That gives some major psychic influence to a place. It’s like a familiar smell that brings you back to your grandmother’s bathroom; this geographical space within which complex patterns of memory neurons form. For instance, the Chief Theater was where I saw my first “R” rated movie, Excalibur, with a boy I liked so much I almost peed my pants at the thought of us eating out of the same popcorn tub. (We didn’t.) It was also the place I acted on stage for the first time when it became home to the Paul Bunyan Playhouse. (More firsts: my first case of pathological stage fright; my first ceilingless high at successfully delivering a line.)
My first case of swimmers itch happened when I was ten, swimming with my sister in Lake Bemidji (she was 14 months older; she toweled off). My first job was at T’Juans which afforded me my first car, the first boy who would ever break my heart, and, ironically…years later, the first guy who would ever figure out how to mend it. (Different guys, same restaurant.)
But regardless of my own personal ‘psychic influences’ that anchor me to this little rural village in northern Minnesota, Bemidji is a place in it’s own right; not just the place I had my first meeting with life, but a place that exudes a certain quality of life. Not ‘quality of life’ kind of quality; that term is used very broadly these days. Rather, more a felt-sense of ‘living’ that is able to happen here, between these lakes, inset along this river, amongst the meeting of cultures and traditions, under these forests, within these habitats, and withstanding this very extreme climate. This is the reason so many of us stay here, or come here, or return here; this indescribable magnetism that a certain number of us feel…in our blood.
Perhaps it is as simple as the natural beauty of the landscape, though I think the harsh winters would deter the average aesthetic-minded traveler from settling here. Perhaps it is the university; the odd placement of academia within a hard-working rural farming and logging community. Perhaps it is the collective memory of the pre-settlement culture which keeps alive the spirit of the place in art, and dance, and story. And even, perhaps, it’s the sense of cultural woundedness and historic oppression that hangs in the air as an invisible invitation for healing.
But more likely, it’s all of these things, plus.
What exact thing it is for me, I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s been a choice made between this place and me. Bemidji calls forth the values I hold on family, on beauty, on hardiness and complexity, health, determination, resilience, history, and community. I guess I answer this call by keeping it alive in story, by choosing to stay and work and build and flourish in the community I’m called to, and by realizing that the big, wide world exists right where I open my eyes.
Written by Lisa Weiskopf
To see a slideshow of Lisa’s photo shoot click here
pics by Julie Saari
Posted: September 12th, 2010 | Author: Julie | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Photography by Julie Saari
Your Mom’s Tattoo Atelier
I walked into Mike’s business, a cold call. I had nothing but an idea. I nervously explained how I wanted to collect the stories of people who live in Bemidji; people who loved living here. Because, everyone has a story, I want to know what they are- don’t you?
Mike listened, smiled, and agreed. He agreed to the project. I had no site, I didn’t even have my camera with me. Just off the street. I came into his shoppe and was made right at home. A man gifted in his work using few words, rather speaking through his inks. An artist.
You have a story, everyone walking the streets of Bemidji has a story, so does he.
What is it?
Join me, Julie Saari as we find out.
A hometown boy who left, only to return to the very town that had once stifled him. Leaving showed Mike who he was. Returning allowed him to become that person. This is the story of Michael Wiltse:
I am originally from Bemidji, MN. I was born in the mid-seventies and grew up in the downtown region of Bemidji. As a child I never really liked Bemidji that much, I suppose it was because of youth dreams of other places. As I went through High School my desire to leave this town was at it’s peak. I was eager to travel on and see what else the world would offer. As I moved away there was a sense of relief that finally I was free to fill my life with new experiences. All of which I had in my mind to someday tell my childhood friends, not understanding that I would have to return in order to tell them. After a stint in the service, heavy romances, tattoo apprenticeship, mixed with a bit trouble, I finally came home to be married to a beautiful Finnish girl named Erja Taskinen. I have come full circle to move home, to start a family, and a business. I reached an event horizon in my life and began to see my hometown with a mature light. I find Bemidji is filled with the comforts of my past and the past of my peers. I looked at the town as a whole family of different types of people. All of us trying to make a living in one of the coldest places in the United States I can truly say that I am honored to be a part of the heritage of Bemidji. We may not like each other sometimes, but we won’t let you down in times of need.
I would like to bring to Bemidji the time honored American Style of tattooing, as well as a progressive movement in the arts for the region. Bemidji is filled with artists and it’s wonderful to see more culture in the region. With all the worries that people have it is nice to know that Bemidjians can express themselves in a more positive manner. Since tattoos have become mainstream Bemidji has become home to three tattoo shops. During my years of tattooing, I decided that when I would open my tattoo shop it would be in Bemidji. I figured the home field advantage would be a good place to start a business. After tattooing in Ireland for a year, I met my future wife Erja. When I moved home I began to get my business on the start, so that when Erja arrived we could get married. My business was named Your Mom’s Tattoo Atelier. I thought of the name while working in Duluth at Tats by Zap, and I figured it would be perfect for the town of Bemidji. People love their mom, I love my mom, and so I named it after everyone’s mom. Plus you can tell people you received a tattoo at Your Mom’s. So hopefully I will make in the annals of Bemidji, MN as the guy that brought progressive art scene to Bemidji. You Never Know.
Written by Michael Wiltse
Mike’s Time Line:
Ireland — 2005 where he met his future bride
Return to Bemidji –2007
Opened shop Jan. ’08
To see a slide show of Mike’s photo shoot click here
pics by Julie Saari