What is DecorahNow?
DecorahNow is a volunteer-run list of events, classes, community issues, and classified ads for Decorah, Iowa, and the surrounding area.
Everyone is welcome to submit a post. We do not charge for posting, but graciously accept donations for the time needed to manage the site.
How do I remove or edit my post?
If you provided an email address when you created your post, you should have received an email from us with instructions on how to edit or delete your post. Otherwise, try entering your email address in the Help box on in the right column. If all else fails, contact Brad or Liz using the contact page. We'll help you as soon as we have a moment.
Can I get involved?
Absolutely, if the site is valuable to you, spread the word. If you have an idea for the site, talk to us - we thrive on new ideas. Reader suggestions that we have implemented include a classified section. You are always welcome to contact Liz or Brad electronically or otherwise, and we are grateful that you are helping to grow DecorahNow!
Make a Contribution or Complete our Survey
We encourage you to share your thoughts or make a financial contribution using our contribution form
"This is what I always thought the world was supposed to look like!"by Liz
When in 1979 I first entered the valley that holds Decorah, I beheld the many beauties of this place and was instantly, forever connected. "This is what I always thought the world was supposed to look like! This is where I'll spend the rest of my life!" I exclaimed at age 17, before even getting as far as Water Street. It was just like falling in love, and I have never once looked back. I have seen and been part of many trials and triumphs here in the last 31 years, but never doubted that it is a heaven on earth.
The natural beauty here needs no description. The human community is, you could say, like any other place: lots of views and lots of passions, at some times coming together to create perfect harmony, and at other times clashing and crashing. But this place is special to me and to all of us in the same way that our own children or nieces or nephews are special to us: we know them, we have watched them grow, we understand them, and it was given to us to love them. It is so with this place and us. How could we do anything but love and serve it, after once coming to know it?
Back in the early 80's there was a community conflict here over the siting of the first shopping mall, south of town at what eventually became the first Wal-Mart. Having escaped to this place from the Land of Shopping Malls (suburban Twin Cities), I was deeply depressed by this development: I wanted to preserve the small-town charm that I had just discovered. In the coming years Decorah experienced yet more growing pains, and I disagreed with the outcomes on a number of the issues. I cringed at the thought of Decorah becoming Anyplace USA. I had a choice then: to give up on my image of this beloved town, or to use my energy to try to out-do what I thought of as the "bad" stuff. I chose the latter, and so have hundreds of other people, initiating and supporting whatever their version of the "good" stuff is. In the end, I think that's what visitors see when they come to our town: all the passion and creativity that this place inspires in its inhabitants, regardless of their particular view of what the "good" stuff is. What matters is that people care, and that people – not distant corporations – still get to make the choices here.
My friends from the suburbs all wondered, of course, how I could live in such a quiet place, with "nothing going on." I replied, silently, that if they couldn't see it then they were out of luck. But to people passing through town who felt the pang and wanted to stay, I confidently proclaimed: "It's like the new frontier! Yes, there's a lot that doesn't yet exist here, but no matter what it is that you yearn for, you can start it and make it work. Or just wait a little longer and someone else will! There is a critical mass, just the numbers you need. Yes we're happy and content here, but we are also a canvas waiting for your brush, your colors."
In the last 30 years many, many people have come here from elsewhere and added their colors and passions, their own version of the "good stuff." Many people who grow up here come back to stay, or never leave. And the old-timers keep making all their important contributions, rolling with the punches just like the rest of us. You think all these great organizations and events were started decades ago and are run by static and stodgy directors? Just in the last few years all these entities newly exist: ArtHaus, Inspire[d] magazine, the Oneota Film Festival, Sustainable Decorah, the Decorah Human Rights Commission, the recreational trails, the Montessori and Waldorf schools, the digIN! Tour, Winneshiek Energy District, and oh so much more. I won't even begin to list all the new creative grassroots businesses that keep cropping up. And then there's our wonderful public library, which just keeps getting better and better, and the wide world of offerings at Luther College, and of course Nordic Fest and other time-tested events…I could go on and on. I love noticing it all and helping people make connections with the stuff they want to both offer and to take in. That's what this website makes possible: for me to shout it out, and for you to do the same (because you can now make your own postings!)
Call it small-town charm if you like: the only thing I know for sure is that if we want to live in a place that is friendly, peaceful, and creative, we are the ones to make and keep it that way, as so many have done for so long. Thanks for your part in it.
A Look Backby Brad Crawford
DecorahNow entered the world as Decorah Events, when in 2007, Liz Rog created a mailing list to share information about local events, classes, and key issues in the Decorah, Iowa area. Thanks to Liz's hard work, the list was a success and grew quickly in both readership and content. Here's what an early email release looked like:
Decorah Events from April 17, 2008
So much was happening in and around Decorah that Liz was spending hours just adding and managing content for the weekly email (think Control-X, and Control-V). I wanted to help and began building a web application to save Liz time in organizing and managing the email - something that would organize and expire events automatically. I approached Liz with the idea, and together we designed the interface, worked out the kinks, and added shiny new features. (In case you're wondering, DecorahNow.com is written from scratch using Ruby on Rails)
On January 1st, 2009, Liz sent our her first email generated with the help of the new tool. The formatting was far from perfect and a bit hard to read, but it accomplished its goal of saving Liz some time.
Decorah Events from January 1, 2009
A New Website
On April 15, 2009, we opened up DecorahNow.com to the public. Everyone was now able to submit an event or class through the website, and the content from the email was also available on the web.
On November 12, 2009, both DecorahNow.com and the content of Liz's email were overhauled. We focused on improving usability and added three new categories: For Sale/Wanted/Free/Barter, and Help Wanted. This re-energized the DecorahNow community, and today, the free classifieds are a popular resource.
We Aren't Stopping Here.
Each day community members submit events, sell or trade items, host classes, meetings, or workshops, and read about the incredible wealth of the Decorah region. Decorah is a truly incredible place, with people and an environment that foster all kinds of listening, learning, participation, and community building. In a setting like this, DecorahNow can do nothing but continue to grow.