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A New Year for South Dakota
Jan 26, 2015
Our magazine readers are a varied group, but united by the belief that South Dakota is a unique place to live. Our beautiful landscapes, independent citizens, and wholesome values make us just a little bit different than other states — and that makes us proud. Since January is a time to set goals and resolutions for the New Year, I think South Dakotans should set goals for the state as well. We love our great state as it is, but what can we do to improve South Dakota in 2015?
I brought the suggestion up at a staff meeting and soon enough I had several good ideas to consider.
Roger Holtzmann, a writer and columnist here for 25 years, was the first to respond. Roger writes a humor column for the magazine, but he has a serious side. "I believe we as a state should strive to overcome our 'us and them' attitude regarding the reservations and Indian people," he wrote. "We put the appalling conditions on the reservations out of mind because they're not 'our' problem. They are."
Jana Lane, our circulation director, advised South Dakotans to be more present, "to appreciate and learn more about the landscape and culture." Jana also asked her husband Jim, a history-lover. He urged South Dakotans to organize old photos and donate them to a museum or archive. "The photos might not mean anything right now but they will in the future," he says. "A picture of you and your friends in the 1950s, someone will appreciate it."
Our special projects coordinator, Rebecca Johnson, recommended reading at least one book by a South Dakota author in 2015. She is planning to read The Commandant of Lubizec by Sioux Falls poet and author Patrick Hicks. She also thinks state residents would benefit from visiting a South Dakota community they have never been to before. Her 2015 goal is to visit the busy Bird Feeder restaurant in tiny Twin Brooks, near Milbank. Although Twin Brooks has fewer than 100 residents, the restaurant does a booming business and reservations must be made weeks in advance.
Heidi Marsh, my co-publisher, proposed hugging a farmer in 2015 — although she clearly has a conflict of interest: her husband Craig is an agronomist. Still, she thinks South Dakotans could benefit from learning more about South Dakota's number one industry. "Let's try harder to be more educated about ranching, markets, row crops, land conservation, and while we're at it, show some extra love for the people who feed our world."
Laura Andrews, our marketing assistant and staff writer, focuses her resolution on the early months of 2015. "When the holidays are over and the darkness and cold descend upon us, there's a tendency among people of my acquaintance to hunker down and hide out until spring. Then summer comes and it's too hot to leave their air-conditioned shelters," Laura wrote. (I’m a bit worried that I might be her "acquaintance.")
In 2015, Laura wants South Dakota residents to bundle up and get outside. "Our state parks have snowshoe hikes and other neat programs in January that help you appreciate our chilly outdoors," she says. "Or, just drive out to a gravel road and go for a walk. It's good exercise and good for the soul, too. There’s something about our vast blue sky that puts problems in perspective."
So take a picture of yourself hugging a farmer while taking a walk on a chilly day and send it to the local museum for posterity's sake. Then let's resolve to shovel the snow off the sidewalks and get ready for springtime in South Dakota.