Lauren's Story Poet and Spiritual Director

I moved here when my husband got his first call after finishing Seminary to pastor rural Dawson Covenant Church.

I am married, and have 3 boys ages 4, 6, and 8. We ABSOLUETLY love Western Minnesota. Whether that’s from enjoying a day at the pool, hiking in the state parks or catching a movie at a local theater, there is always something unique and exciting to do.

Since moving to Western Minnesota I learned how to milk a goat and make goat cheese! It was a fun summer for our family.

Minnesota is extremely supportive of the arts. There is less competitive environment and lower cost of living. For me that means more freedom as a creative person. I can spend a lot of time exploring, observing, and participating in the world around me without having to worry about being productive. There are also a lot of opportunities. I am trying to learn how to say no--there are many ways to work as a creative person in Western Minnesota, but no one can do everything. I am surprised at how I’ve had to be selective. There are so many things one can do! It really has surpassed my expectations.

I had one of the most surprising weeks of my life recently, it started by performing in a site specific original musical with Place/base productions, attending a “conversation with poets” at SMSU, then connecting with a Micronesian master navigator and Twin cities Professor Vince Diaz, who specializes in traditional canoe building from the Caroline Islands to host a hands-on demonstration in Milan, and finished with teaching a Haiku-inspired micro workshop for my friend’s live recording of his podcast Interesting People Reading Poetry. Celebrated by getting a beer at the local microbrewery Talking Waters. I would have never expected a week like that when I moved here.

A project Lauren worked on in Milan called The Milan Listening House
There is no anonymity in a small town, but also less pressure since most people are recognizable. Everybody knows everyone else so it’s more community oriented and less individualistic. I feel like as a creative person it’s protective of my artistic process. I’m “just” Lauren to everybody in town, and people know I do creative work--but it doesn’t have to define me. I get to be a whole person.h
My favorite spot in Western Minnesota is my porch or Sunday morning at Dawson Covenant Church.

I would tell someone who is thinking of moving to Western Minnesota to be open to what’s possible. Living in a rural town is a lot different than life in a big city and there are some adjustments when it comes to things like restaurants and shopping centers – but what trumps that is living somewhere that offers freedom, community, and spaciousness. I think it’s a pretty rare combination.

Describe Western Minnesota in one word: Unexpected!

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