Each month, each issue of Voice of the River Valley presents a promise. We put out a call for advertising, events and the fruits of the labor of volunteer columnists and contributors. Without fail, month after month, year after year for 12 years, the result is a fully fledged magazine brimming with ideas that resonate in this place and season.
Marnie Dresser recalls in this month’s “Pedagogy Stew” on p. 10 the declaration by a visiting author that this area must be some kind of vortex — “something regarded as drawing into its powerful current everything that surrounds it,” according to Webster’s. We’ve long felt the force of creative energy in the communities of our nook of the Driftless Area and theorized about its source. One creative figure who helped define the vortex is Mineral Point’s Bruce Howdle, who, having achieved national acclaim as a ceramic muralist, seemed to most enjoy drawing visitors in to his gallery and students to his studio to discover his vision of nature. His sudden death in late August is still incredibly difficult to comprehend. (See cover photo caption below.)
A certain kind of comfort can be found in contributions this month by Vincent Kavaloski and Bazile Booth. Vince’s “Parables & Ponderings” column on p. 8 addresses the opportunity this semester’s college students have to make a life, while Bazile reviews on p. 7 a new book titled, coincidentally, “How to Make a Life.” Meanwhile, Amy M. Pine points us to an agri-tourism tour that in its second year invites us to explore new Hill & Valley points on the map as we venture forth to enjoy Fermentation Fest and the Fall Art Tour (see pp. 3 and 30-31).
Reading through this month’s pages, you might think the writers and editors sat down together as a group over coffee and discussed a central theme. But honestly, our organizing principle often tends toward serendipity — and discovering the theme among each season’s submissions is one of our favorite things about bringing each issue to you. We hope that all of the contents of this month’s Voice of the River Valley serve as a guide for readers seeking to make a life in this vortex that we call home.