The Good Life – March-April 2020


On the cover, Than Baardson. Local Hero, US Marine Corps Veteran Wayne Casebeer, Having a Beer with Moorhead Mayor Johnathan Judd and more in Fargo Moorhead's only men's magazine.



Dusting Off the Baby on Board Sticker


For the regular readers of this column (hi Mom and Dad!),

the following announcement will come as no surprise by

the time this edition of “The Good Life” hits the stands.

Nevertheless, I have news: Macklin is getting a baby brother

sometime mid-summer. My apologies to the relatives and

in-laws who are just now finding out… I only had so much

patience for actual phone calls.

That’s right, folks, Mr. Full-Time Dad rides again in 2020!

It’s time to put the crib back together (hopefully just once

this time), dig out the onesies and wash some bottles —

life’s about to hurry up and slow way down, as I make

the transition back to my all-time favorite role as primary


Much has changed since “The Mack and Daddy Show”

debuted during the holiday season of 2015. Mack’s now

in full-time preschool, I’ve come out of early retirement

and we’re in a new house in a new neighborhood full of

unexplored parks and paths. My reaction to the positive

pregnancy test also changed… I did not go mute and there

were no tears of dread. I’m not sure who’s matured more,

me or Mack.

Some things, though, have remained the same in regards

to baby #2. My wife, Emily, and I put in as much, if not more

time contemplating the decision. We’re not ones to rush

into anything. It took us years to convince ourselves we

were ready for parenthood, and my borderline meltdown

of a reaction to the news then shows just how unprepared I

still felt. While I have settled the debate about my parenting

skills (in my mind, at least), deciding to try for a second

presented a whole new batch of questions.

Are we pushing our luck?

Macklin was a great baby. He started sleeping through the

night within weeks, almost never got sick, rarely threw up

and basically put himself to sleep whenever you laid him

down in his crib. As a toddler, he was a delight. His sense

of humor came out quick, he relished spending time with

mom and dad and adapted quickly to whatever changes

came along. Now, as a preschooler, he’s becoming an

absolutely beautiful human being. His vocabulary is rich

(thanks, NPR), his social skills are impressive and his daily

display of empathy is a constant source of pride.

In short, we’ve been blessed. Overwhelmingly so. Naturally,

my inclination towards pessimism constantly shouted

the question in my brain: are we pushing our luck if we

try for two? It’s hard for me to imagine a better parenting

experience than the one Mack has given us… so what’s

going to happen if our second child somehow doesn’t

match up?

I know that’s saying the quiet part out loud and it’s a

horrible thought to have to reckon with, but it’s the truth.

Overcoming that “what if” fear was hard for me, and if I’m

being honest I’m still not completely over it. But fear is a

lousy reason not to try.


Are we getting greedy?

Because of everything I outlined above, I also struggled

with the idea of simply being content and thankful for

what we already have. Being a father to Macklin has

made me a better person. It has brought my wife and

I closer together as a couple. It’s made my extended

family relationships stronger, too. So, as one who is

well aware of his privilege, I wrestled with the idea that

we needed anything more.

But it’s not all about me (shocking). The more Emily and

I pondered this question, the more our conversations

shifted to Macklin. We decided he should get the

opportunity to have a sibling, and selfishly both Emily

and I are more than eager to watch him grow into

his new role as a big brother. When approaching the

decision from that perspective, the choice was easy. And

now, when those fears and doubts re-enter my mind, I

am comforted by future scenes of Mack teaching his

little brother how to play his latest made-up game.

We’re not “trying again”

I really dislike that question: “oh, you’re trying again?”

No, we’re not trying again. Firstborns are not an

experiment, and their siblings are not a redo. While it

may sound like I’m hoping for a Macklin clone, I am

not. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping for another

carefree infant, joyful toddler and kind young man, but

these are the wishes of every expecting parent.

I’m sure there will be comparisons made between

Mack and his brother. It’s inevitable. Human nature is

to judge, and I’m as guilty as the next. Luckily, the most

likely comparison I’ll make will be to decide which kid

has the better sense of humor… I mean, how else would

you suggest I pick my favorite? • / THE GOOD LIFE / 3











Dusting Off the Baby on

Board Sticker
















Local Nonprofit Fights for

the 'Unseen'















Urban Toad Media LLP


Darren Losee


Dawn Siewert


Meghan Feir

Alexandra Floersch

Ben Hanson

Katie Jenison

Jeffrey Miller

Krissy Ness

Alexis Swenson


Darren Losee







The Good Life Men’s Magazine is distributed six times

a year by Urban Toad Media LLP. Material may not be

reproduced without permission. The Good Life Men’s

Magazine accepts no liability for reader dissatisfaction

arising from content in this publication. The opinions

expressed, or advice given, are the views of individual

writers or advertisers and do not necessarily represent

the views or policies of The Good Life Men’s Magazine. / THE GOOD LIFE / 5

The Presence of Trees



The flutter of leaves in a warm summer breeze. Upright sentinels stopping arctic

windblown snow. A snug place for a raccoon to raise her litter. Cool shade at the

lake place. Trees are many different things to different people, but one thing is

certain. We need trees.

Pre-settlement, the landscape around Fargo looked much different. Tall

grass prairie stretched to the horizon. The only trees on the landscape

grew in the riparian zones. Riparian zones are areas around water,

such as lakes, rivers and ponds. Along the Red and Sheyenne

Rivers in particular, a variety of native trees grew to great heights.

Bur oak, cottonwood, American linden, boxelder, American elm,

among others, stood in stark contrast to the prairie grasses that

dominated the landscape.

In the modern day, cropland has replaced much of the prairie,

and towns and cities dot the landscape. Impervious surfaces,

such as concrete and homes, allow for rainwater and snowmelt

to rush towards the rivers and streams, carrying contaminants and

pollutants. In modern urban life, is there any room for conservation?

The answer to that question is a resounding YES! While large-scale

conservation efforts are more obvious, even the smallest of efforts can

have a big impact.

Trees are many different

things to different people,

but one thing is certain.

We need trees.

Urban areas benefit greatly by the presence of trees. Typical turfgrass lawns,

without trees, soak up very little rainfall. Even one mature tree in a yard will use

thousands of gallons of water each year. The graceful arching branches provide

cooling shade for homes and businesses. Particulate matter air pollution can

be reduced by trees growing in urban areas. Some species of trees can even

provide fresh fruit.

Arguably, more importantly, trees provide a touchstone for nature. Beyond the

swirl of traffic, the crush of humanity, and the sterility of turfgrass, trees lend a

glimmer of the natural world. Urban wildlife, from birds to squirrels to microorganisms

and fungus make their home in and on trees. Studies have shown that


homes and businesses with trees and

shrubs are, on average, more appealing

to buyers. A recent study at Australia's

University of Wollongong revealed that

30% or more total green space, that

included tree canopy, was associated

with 31% lower rates of psychological

distress. The natural colors, shapes,

aromas and sounds of a tree or urban

forest provide distraction and relief

from daily stresses. The Japanese even

have a term for it. Shinrin-yoku, or

forest bathing, is the practice of taking

in the forest through our senses. As a

recent study from the Environmental

Protection Agency has shown, the

average American spends 93% of their

time indoors.

Soil Conservation Districts in

North Dakota and Soil and Water

Conservation Districts in Minnesota

sell bare-root conservation-grade trees

and shrub seedlings that are lowcost

alternatives to large landscape

trees. In addition, technical advice

and planning are free. Staff, such as

Programs Manager Tony Peterson at

the Cass County Soil Conservation

District, are trained and experienced in

evaluating each location to determine

the best species of tree to plant. Every

tree species grows best in specific

soils, and it's important to match the

species to the soil. With informed

recommendations and guidance, tree

planting failures can be avoided.

A wide variety of native and introduced

tree and shrubs species can be grown

in Fargo-Moorhead. Species such

as Scotch Pine, Black Hills Spruce,

Nanking Cherry, Ohio Buckeye, and

Silver Maple aren't native species but

grow well in our soils. Native species

such as Bur Oak, Native Cottonwood,

American Linden and Boxelder will

also lend beauty to any property. The

old axiom of "think global, act local"

applies well to trees. Planting just a

few trees provides huge benefits for

everyone. •


or forest bathing, is the

practice of taking in the

forest through our senses. / THE GOOD LIFE / 7


Proves Things Get Better With Time



How this 100-year-old

recipe is taking North

Dakota by storm

With an abundance of existing and

new bars opening in the Fargo-

Moorhead region, it’s hard to believe

North Dakota was a dry state less

than a century ago. Yet, it’s true.

Prohibition began in North Dakota

in 1889, the same year the state

was admitted to the United States.

Though a ban on alcohol was

enacted, it didn’t stop North Dakota

residents from getting their hands

on the alcohol of their choice. Those

close to the border simply crossed

the Red River into Minnesota to

imbibe. Others in central parts of

the state took matters into their

own hands by distilling their own


That’s how North Dakota Sweet

Crude first came to be. It goes by

many names—red-eye, burnt sugar

whiskey, apple pie—but Art Weidner

and his family prefer to call it

wedding whiskey. The 100-year-old

recipe was created by Art’s great

grandfather, Martin Weidner, in Zap,

North Dakota. Since its inception,

the recipe has been handed down

for generations with Martin passing

it on to his son, Albert, and so on.

Each generation of Weidners made

their own tweaks to the recipe, but

for the most part, it’s stayed true to

the original.


It goes by many names


burnt sugar


apple pie –

but Art Weidner and his

family prefer to call it

wedding whiskey. / THE GOOD LIFE / 9

The ultra-smooth liqueur has

a distinct taste of cinnamon

before it mellows with notes of

ginger and lemongrass.

The 75 proof beverage has the look

and feel of whiskey, but is technically

a sweet liqueur. At first sip, the ultrasmooth

liqueur has a distinct taste

of cinnamon before it mellows with

notes of ginger and lemongrass. Art

and his brother Christian learned to

make Martin Weidner’s smokehouse

whiskey from their dad, the Rev.

Arthur Weidner. He taught them

the recipe in the family kitchen,

where they’d make small batches

on the stove. His dad jokes that

Grandpa Albert used to take a shot

every morning before milking the

cows because “it aids in digestion.”

Whether you believe in its digestive

benefits or not, there’s no denying

the recipe has been a big hit.

In addition to enjoying it at family

celebrations, the Weidner brothers

would gift bottles to farmers as a

thank you for letting them hunt on

their land. After receiving many

requests for more bottles each year,

the brothers thought they might be

on to something. Art began putting

things into motion and eventually

launched his company, Doodlebug


But what makes North Dakota

Sweet Crude different from other

liqueurs? Aside from the rich history

behind the product, the ingredients

Art uses make all the difference.

North Dakota Sweet Crude uses

natural ingredients to achieve its

distinct flavor. Most notably is the

use of caramelized sugar, which

comes from beets harvested in the

Red River Valley.

Similar products on the market

use caramelized sugar primarily as

a colorant. In contrast, Doodlebug

Beverages uses it to enhance the

flavor profile of North Dakota Sweet

Crude. In fact, caramelized sugar

is central to its flavor profile. The

ingredient is so crucial that it was

one of the biggest obstacles that Art

faced bringing North Dakota Sweet

Crude to the masses.

To use caramelized sugar in the

recipe, Art had to find a way to

produce it in large quantities. So

the brothers, who graduated from

North Dakota State University with

degrees in Mechanical Engineering,

put their heads together to come up

with a solution. With a plan in place,

the two pitched their idea to NDSU

and were awarded a partial grant

to develop the equipment. After

about three years and a few hiccups

along the way, they perfected the




The next step was finding someone to distill the product.

Art employed the help of Chris Montana, president of

the American Craft Spirit Association and owner of

Minnesota’s Du Nord Craft Spirits. The partnership

has proven to be the dream team Doodlebug Beverages

needed. Art and Montana fine-tuned the process to

ensure North Dakota Sweet Crude is distilled just as

it was over 100 years ago—and it’s safe to say Great

Grandpa Weidner would be proud!

The first batch of North Dakota Sweet Crude hit shelves

in July of 2018 and has quickly become a favorite

among North Dakotans. Almost 500 locations in North

Dakota sell the liqueur, and Art has started expanding

distribution to Minnesota and South Dakota. As for the

best way to drink it, well, that’s up for debate. While

many, including Art, keep it simple by drinking the sweet

brown liqueur on the rocks, others like to get creative.

Some of the most popular drink recipes include the

Dakota sweet lemonade and the Dakota mule, which

can be found on Art’s website,

With the massive success of Doodlebug Beverage’s

flagship product, Art is already looking to the future. In

addition to continuing to expand distribution of North

Dakota Sweet Crude, he has a few new product ideas on

tap. He plans to introduce a new recipe that leads with

notes of citrus. Regardless of what the future holds, Art

will be living his version of the good life: traveling rural

parts of the state and introducing people to a true North

Dakota recipe. • / THE GOOD LIFE / 11


Rx for A Healthy Relationship

(Relax, It’s Not Complicated)

Maintaining healthy relationships

is important not just for our mental

and spiritual health, but also

for our physical health.


Now that Valentine's Day has come and gone, we thought

it'd be a good time to talk about relationships. Sure, you

might be wondering why such valuable advice wasn't doled

out prior to the "most romantic day of the year," and that's

an entirely fair question. Well, guess what? The ol' editorial

calendar can be as perplexing a game as love, so maybe just

be happy with what you get when you get it. Get it?

The truth is it doesn't much matter what time of year it is. All

of us — men and women — could stand to spend a bit more

time thinking, contemplating and acting on the things that

make our relationships thrive, all the while trying to dodge

and weave the inevitable challenges that inevitably spring

up… often with little notice (although, if you never see it

coming, the odds of "it" being your fault are embarrassingly


Maintaining healthy relationships is important not just for

our mental and spiritual health, but also for our physical

health. If you're suffering in a bad relationship, you're quite

literally suffering, and that suffering can manifest itself in

a variety of ways: stress, unhealthy eating and drinking

habits, increased risk for serious health conditions like high

blood pressure, high cholesterol and even heart disease.

The relative health of your romantic relationship in many

ways can be an insightful window into your overall health

and well-being.

Now's probably a good time to clearly state that I am not

a relationship expert, and this piece is in no way intended

to replace a good hour or two on a therapist's couch. In

fact, that bit about avoiding challenges… though it sounds

right… couldn't be more wrong. Let's bring in the doc to help

explain why.

Communication Above All Else

"Mastering communication is huge. It's probably the single

most important indicator of a healthy relationship," says Dr.

Forrest Sauer, founder of Twin Oaks Health Solutions in

Fargo. "If you're in the habit of avoiding conflict, burying

your feelings and not addressing the problem as soon as

it becomes apparent, you're relationship is going to suffer

and never reach its full potential. It's hard to master

communication because it requires so much vulnerability,


but the rewards are well worth the initial discomfort of

opening up fully to your partner."

The benefits of strong communication are plentiful and

mostly obvious, but Dr. Sauer highlighted one perk that

could easily fly under the radar. He says when you're open

and honest with your partner and willing to share what's

on your mind, what's important to you and what support

you may need, it frees you up to enjoy the rest of your life

outside of your romantic relationship… specifically, your

friendships that matter every bit as much to your overall


"If you get your relationship with your significant other

to a point where you understand each other's need for

personal space when needed," Dr. Sauer say "if that

communication is strong enough, then you're going to

have the time and be able to nurture your friendships

outside of your romantic relationship. Most of us are

social creatures to a certain extent, and it's in our best

interest to take care of all of our personal relationships."

Just Pay Attention

I was reminded of the classic "Simpsons" character

Troy McLure and his motivational films, such as "Get

Confident, Stupid!" and "Lead Paint: Delicious But

Deadly," when Dr. Sauer casually mentioned the most

basic first step anyone can take to develop a healthy

relationship… and that is simply to pay attention (stupid).

This particular piece of advice hit close to home with me,

as it perfectly sums up my approach to parenting, another

type of relationship that requires a lot of nurturing. In

both instances, paying attention is really the only way

you'll ever learn how your partner (or friend, coworker,

child, etc.) prefers to communicate. That's not to say

you have to adopt your partner's communication style;

it just means pay attention to the cues they give so you

can respond at the appropriate time with the appropriate

message and appropriate tone.

"Case in point," Dr. Sauer begins. "A couple of weeks ago,

I had been working a lot, didn't have a whole lot of time

to relax and even less time to myself. Because my wife

and I work hard on maintaining open communication

and we've learned how best to speak to each other, it was

easy for me to just ask her if she'd be willing to take the

kids on her errands so I could have an hour or two of

downtime to re-energize. She was more than willing to

accommodate me, as she trusts that when she needs that

time I'll be happy to reciprocate."

So, to recap: pay attention, don't be afraid to confront the

challenges and let yourself be vulnerable enough to say

what needs to be said and ask for what you need. You've

got a year until next Valentine's. Good luck. •

Special thanks to Dr. Forrest Sauer at Twin Oaks Health Solutions,

medical consultant for our Men’s Health section. / THE GOOD LIFE / 13



While most native Midwesterners woefully threaten to

move south due to the long, drawn-out and brutal winters,

the mayor of Moorhead, Minn., is thankful for the cooler

temperatures. Originally from Raleigh, N.C., Johnathan Judd

moved to North Dakota and began attending Fargo North as

a senior in high school to live with his best friend’s family

and experience something new for a year.

It’s been 28 years since he made that decision, and he hasn’t

looked back. With a wife, three kids, friends and a successful

career as mayor and M-State’s new director of equity and

inclusion, it’s clear his roots have grown deep into the

Minnesota soil.

We sat down in Drekker’s Brewhalla for a little chat and a

brew as he told me more about the direction his life has

taken, from poverty to opportunity. Read on to learn more

about Moorhead’s mayor.


Good Life: What have you thought of this area since

moving up here? Obviously, it’s extremely different

climate-wise, the terrain—everything.

Johnathan Judd: The people. When I went to Fargo

North my senior year, the families were awesome and

just welcomed me. I felt like I was home. Obviously, it

took time to adjust, but the people helped build me up

to where I am today. That’s why I stayed. And I hate hot

weather. I’d rather be cold than hot.

GL: Did you ever think you’d get into politics?

JJ: I always thought I’d work in a campaign, like as a

strategist or something, but as the actual candidate, no.

Although my aunt tells me I said at some point that I’d be

governor of North Carolina.

GL: Do you have any surprising talents?

JJ: I was once in an FMCT play. The name of the play was

Sacagawea. I played a character that helped row the

boats for Lewis and Clark.

GL: Has that prompted you to want to hone your

acting skills?

JJ: No. I’ll leave that to my daughter and son. My daughter

is into drama and theatre and music, and my youngest

is involved in theatre now, too. I have three children, and

they’re all finding their own niche and what they want to

get involved in. I didn’t have those opportunities. I was

a poor kid. I wouldn’t say my life was hard, but it wasn’t

easy. My mom had me at a young age and I didn’t get

to see her a lot. My grandparents stepped in as parents.

They are at the foundation of where I am today. I knew

where the next meal was coming from, but we never

had excess.

I work as hard as I do to ensure my children and kids and

families in the community have those opportunities and

the ability to dream and bring their dreams into reality.

GL: How do you think living in poverty has shaped

how you raise your own kids?

JJ: I try to show my kids that you’re only one generation

from poverty. I’m teaching my kids to be humble. It’s

mandatory in our family to volunteer. They volunteer

at church and in the community. I want them to

understand that in the blink of an eye our whole

situation could change. We’re no better than anyone


GL: Of all the places you’ve visited or lived, what’s

your favorite place and why?

JJ: When you’re on vacation, you only see the good in

the places, but I really like the Seattle vibe. I like cities on

water. I like what I see as laid-back, chill environments.

I like that they have diversity and culture. I also like

northern Minnesota. I’d like to have a place up there for

the summers when I retire and a place in North Carolina

for the cold season, so we can go hiking in the woods. / THE GOOD LIFE / 15


GL: If you could make one vegetable go extinct,

which would you choose?

JJ: Probably the radish. What’s the point? I don’t know

why it exists. It has no flavor.

“It’s relaxing to just check out and watch my kids be

great at something, whether in theatre or sports. I

love getting to see them enjoying themselves."

– Mayor Johnathan Judd

GL: Do you have any life quotes?

JJ: Be the change you want to see in the world.

GL: What’s one example of so-called common

sense you wish were more common? For example, I

wish people would use their dang turn signals.

JJ: Oh! Sitting in the left lane on the interstate. The left

lane is a passing lane. It is not a lane to sit. It isn’t safe

and causes traffic issues.

GL: What’s one of your favorite ways to relax?

JJ: Honestly, I need to learn how to relax better, but I

love watching my children. It’s relaxing to just check out

and watch my kids be great at something, whether in

theatre or sports. I love getting to see them enjoying

themselves. It doesn’t get any better than that. It’s what

I wish my mom had the opportunity to do, but she was

always working. I cherish the moments where I can

watch my kids be great and learn. I love being able to

golf with my kids and just hang out with them, too, and I

love when I can go out with my wife and talk over a beer.

That’s a great time.


GL: What’s one thing that’s really important to you

that might not be important to a lot of people?

JJ: What’s really important to me is trust, loyalty and

integrity, but you get so busy in life that you take it for

granted. We live in a world right now where there’s so

much going on. We’re too busy. We have a lot of things

going on. But you need to be able to have somebody

tell you not only when you’re right but when you’re

wrong. You can’t have a friendship or a relationship with

someone unless you have trust, loyalty and integrity.

GL: What does living the good life mean to you?

JJ: Living the good life to me means being in good health

and being able to be around good people who value

you, who you are and what you’re about. It’s being in

an all-around good environment. If you’re around good

people who treat you well and look out for you and

you’re paying attention to people in the same manner,

that’s a good life. •

“What’s really important to me is trust, loyalty

and integrity, but you get so busy in life that you

take it for granted.” – Mayor Johnathan Judd / THE GOOD LIFE / 17



Local Nonprofit Fights for the 'Unseen'



Moments mark our lives. They are chapters that

complete the story we share about ourselves. Some

moments, however, have the power to alter the timeline

and propel the narrative into a completely different

direction. They divide our stories into "before this" and

"after this."

For Than Baardson, one moment in particular left an


Interviewing for a documentary in Mae Sot, Thailand,

the 34-year-old spent a week in prayer and worship

with a group of children who came from poor homes

and had lost one (or even both) of their parents. One

mother owed debt to a man in Bangkok, a common

reality in Thailand. Her 6 and 8-year-old daughters

explained that they were, in fact, the collateral.

Fighting Fires Fueled His Flame

A native to Fargo-Moorhead, Than grew up

traveling overseas, collecting stamps from Japan,

Mexico, and Guatemala on his passport all before

graduating high school. "Growing up with a

constant reminder of our role in the global context

– and the small part we're invited to play to support

others – was a big part of my childhood," he says.

After high school, Than joined the North Dakota

Air National Guard as a firefighter. From tours in

Germany and Italy to teaching classes in Ghana,

Africa, he further got a taste of reality outside the

Midwest – more moments that opened his eyes to

global affairs.

"Going from knowing these kids as just kids in this

amazing, happy home to seeing the devastating effects

of what could have been was really the first time the

curtains came down," Than recalls. "They had two

younger siblings, and a guy was coming for those two

if nothing were to happen."

Hearing this, the anti-trafficking crew Than's team was

working with immediately stopped the interview, took

off to intervene and, ultimately, saved the girls' younger

brother and sister from a future as slaves.

Unfortunately, not every story ends this way.

"We all have that chance – this little window in time

– when our hearts are moved a little bit and you can

either do something … or you can go back to the way

things were," Than explains.

Unlike many others, Than couldn't turn back. / THE GOOD LIFE / 19


As a firefighter, his biggest gig was fighting a 120-

acre wildfire in Florida. What started as a spot fire,

quickly lit a path to destruction in the Everglades'

underbrush. "By the time we got there, 30-foot

flames were hitting our truck," Than says. "It was

pretty exciting."

Eventually, Than saw an opening in Public Affairs

and – with a degree in journalism and minor in film

studies – he knew it'd be the perfect union between

his Guard training and college education. Today,

he's still enrolled with the Air National Guard,

serving as a 16-year veteran with the 119th Happy


'Living in Constant Tension'

Than's global experiences permanently shifted

perspective and further sparked a bigger idea. One

recurring thought propelled him forward: What

if we used all we've been given to help those in

greatest need?

On the heels of a year of research, Than reached

out to Minnesota-native Tanya Martineau – who

was living in Seoul, South Korea – to propose using

her photography talent for good … to co-found a


"In 1998, the U.S. had 3,000 cases of child sexual

abuse material across the nation – and we almost

wiped it out. The FBI knew how to track these guys

down ... and then the internet hit," Than explains.

In the next 20 years, that number would grow to an

astounding 18.4 million cases.

In 2010, Tanya agreed to collaborate and the two

began meeting regularly in early mornings to piece

it all together before heading off to their full-time


"That got us in with some of our early partners

and opened the door for a tremendous amount of

work," Than says. "Tanya went back to Seoul very

quickly. So, Unseen really started in Fargo and

Seoul, South Korea."

Established in 2011, Unseen's mission is to

accelerate the work of anti-trafficking and rootcause

organizations. In the beginning, they served

seven partners in four countries with volunteers

alone. Now the capacity-building nonprofit impacts

3.3 million people in 35 countries and works with

36 partners to grow their organizations 10-times

faster than average. (Today, 46 partners remain on

Unseen's "interested" waitlist).


"We live in constant tension: we celebrate the

incredible work that's being done, but we live in

the reality of how much we have yet to do," Than

says. "We have something that works really well,

and now we just need to do more of it."

Extinguishing Fire at Its Root Cause

In the past decade, Than has personally witnessed

the world's horrifying realities. "Pattaya is known

as the 'Disneyland of Flesh,'" he explains of a small

town in Thailand born as an R&R site during the

Vietnam War. "Then, you look at a place like India:

we have 11 million kids living on the streets in that

country alone."

Every country faces its own challenges, but it's

in these countries that Unseen has the greatest

opportunity to set a new precedence. "There's

brokenness everywhere," Than says. "But the

access and ease in other countries with increased

vulnerabilities makes it that much worse."

Vulnerability is the leading factor that feeds the

fire of human trafficking. "Every story is absolutely

unique, but that's the common thread," Than

explains. "We need a holistic approach: prevention,

protection and prosecution. If you forget one of

those, it's out of whack."


Exposing Unseen Realities (Locally)

The United States is the largest consumer of kids in the

world. Let that sink in.

"Eighty percent of kids in the Philippines right now are

vulnerable to online exploitation," Than explains. "The

number one driver of that is the United States."

Unseen's work lies in what's defined by the "Trafficking in

Persons (TIP) Report" as tier 2 and 3 countries – nations

that are either unequipped (or unwilling) to protect

the vulnerable or combat human trafficking in their


"A good way to look at it is: when a child is trafficked here,

people are going to be up in arms. Newspapers will get

involved, and people are going to get mad," Than says.

"Often in the places we're working, our partners are the

only ones mad about this. They're the last line of defense

between these kids and absolute destruction."

Still, Unseen very much acknowledges vulnerabilities

closer to home. / THE GOOD LIFE / 21



"It's easy to look at places like Thailand, India or the

Philippines and say, 'Oh, how dare you,' while we're

sitting in a country that's leading the consumption of

children," Than admits. "What's our responsibility

as citizens of this country to protect the kids we've


Even with local sheriffs, the FBI and area non-profits

rowing in the same direction, there's still much work

to do. Unseen's role lies in looking for opportunities

to lend a voice, extend their reach and share contacts

and resources to make a local impact.

Partners Illuminate the Unseen

From prosecuting labor traffickers who've been

abusing families for generations to serving as the

only source of girls education in northern Pakistan,

Unseen's partners fulfill needs the organization

simply couldn't on its own.

"Put yourself in their shoes: you're serving kids,

working in hostile environments and probably

underfunded. Now it's the end of the day, and you have

to go raise money to do it all over again. Every day.

Or... these kids will die," Than says. "That's what's at

stake here."

A number of Unseen's partners have grown more than

700 percent since the launch of their partnerships

with the organization. "Who can we go and pour gas

onto their already-lit fire? That's what Unseen is here

to do," Than says.

Than's metaphor is apt, especially given his

firefighting experience. In his eyes, Unseen's partner

organizations start righteous fires that initiate

change. Unlike the wildfires he used to fight, Than's

goal now is to fuel those fires of change.

"When we say 'partner,' this is a partnership," he says.

"We're here to serve, lift up, and accelerate these

incredible organizations that are impacting millions.

That's the only reason we're here."

'This is Not a Practice Life'

Than credits his robust team – who come from

C-suite roles with decades of experience – for the

organization's success. "They're working here every

day because they want to impact the world," he says.

"I think we've all come to this realization that this is

not a 'practice life.' We all have limited time so what

we do with it matters. It's our job to point people to



Than and his team have witnessed

a link between faith and human

trafficking. "When you look at spiritual

health and how that relates to folks

who've come out of trafficking, it turns

out it's insanely important," Than

says. "The way my faith plays out in

the work of Unseen is that I get to see

God working around the world as the

hands and feet of Jesus – and I get this

front-row seat to be witness."

With incredible success, it'd be easy to

get comfortable. But, as Unseen's CEO

and co-founder, Than says that's not

something he's willing to do.

"With 150 million children living

without parents and more than 40

million people living in slavery, the

need for Unseen grows daily," he says.

"This work is never going to be done.

We could stop trafficking tomorrow,

and somebody in power would find

someone to exploit. Addressing

the root causes of why people are

vulnerable in the first place is a huge

part of the puzzle."

While "the good life" is undoubtedly

defined differently for each individual,

for Than, it's all about perspective.

"I have two incredible kids and the

greatest, most supportive, human

being as my wife. The good life is

spending time with your family,

creating and advocating for lives of

purpose and meaning for others, and

pointing people to the light," he says.

"I think this is the best version of life I

can imagine. ” •

"Everybody's welcome to

participate in this work.

There's a huge need and

– if you want to make a

lasting and sustainable

massive impact on this

world – this may be one of

the ways you can do it."

– Than Baardson / THE GOOD LIFE / 23


Barbot Boxing, formerly Red River Golden Gloves, has

been a staple in Fargo-Moorhead for nearly a decade.

Operating as a U.S.A. boxing member Barbot Boxing

strives to train students with no experience up to

seasoned pros.

"We have had three different pro fighters that we have

developed right here," said owner and coach Jesse


While some students join boxing as a competitive sport,

others join for self-defense and exercise; some even box

as a way to train for other sports. Boxing can help with

balance, weight distribution, and conditioning.

"One thing I think people may be surprised to hear is

that it is not an intimidating atmosphere," exclaimed

Barbot. "It is very welcoming."

I visited Barbot Boxing and I have to say it is one of

the cleanest and least threatening gyms I have been to.

Often you find hardcore athletes stalking around the

gym and that can be off-putting, but there is a sense

of calmness and ease when you enter Barbot Boxing.


Everyone is welcome in this gym, as I stated before;

age, gender, or skill level are not a factor when it comes

to training here.

"Female boxing became an Olympic sport [in the

London games in 2012] and our U.S. team has been

incredibly successful; they have all medaled," exclaimed


Now that women can be seen on the Olympic level

boxing it has shown that girls are paying attention and

want to participate in this sport right here in Fargo.

One of the three athletes to turn pro through Barbot

Boxing was a woman named, Kira "The Lioness" Ollila.

She trained with Barbot eight years ago as an amateur

boxer and the progressed and fought professionally for

two years, but even then there weren't as many female


"One thing I think people

may be surprised to

hear is that it is not an

intimidating atmosphere."

– Jesse Barbot

"Now we go to these amateur boxing shows and there is

usually at least one or two female fights on the cards,"

said Barbot. "It seems to be growing now with females."

"As far as girls, the age group I have the most in right

now is 11 to 15 and they do compete," stated Barbot.

However, competing is not the only reason people go to

this gym. / THE GOOD LIFE / 25

"For a lot of people it's different, some are out of shape

and want to get back into it," said Barbot. "It is a great

way to work on your core and to find that explosiveness

in your body."

Many people look to martial arts such as karate or

taekwondo, to learn self-defense and practice discipline,

but many would argue boxing is more applicable.

"Boxing isn't considered a martial art, by the term of it,

but I think it is one of the most effective forms of selfdefense,"

said Barbot. Boxing allows you to be quick on

your feet, keep your eyes on the person you are fighting

and use your arms to protect yourself and fight back.

One of the most notable gifts Barbot Boxing gives to

the public is their at-risk youth program. By working

with the Fargo Police Department this program allows

students and kids to be a part of an activity they are

interested in within the community.

"That resonates with some at-risk students who don't

always enjoy basketball or other mainstream sports,"

noted Barbot.

Parents of students or students themselves interested

in this program can speak with their school's resource

office to get connected with Barbot Boxing's at-risk

youth program. In some cases, scholarships are

awarded for students who cannot afford the classes.

"Boxing is an individual

sport by definition but

we are a team here."

– Jesse Barbot

"Boxing is an individual sport by definition but we are

a team here," said Barbot. By supporting one another

and training as a group pro athletes can work with

younger inexperienced boxers to better their skills.

Barbot expresses that children need to learn selfdefense

at an early age, however at this gym they need

to be at least eight years old.


"You hope kids don't have to use it,"

stated Barbot. "But, it helps the kids

stand a little taller and within a month

or two their demeanor changes and

they become more confident."

Barbot along with three volunteer

coaches, one being his cousin, train

their athletes in classes four times

a week and also offer all-access

memberships to members with

good standings in the gym. It is

very important to Barbot to attend

as many classes as possible to get

to know everyone who attends his

gym. After all, this is a team gym and

everyone is there to cheer each other


If you would like more information on

these classes or to find one of their

fights and see what all the excitement

is about, you can contact Barbot

Boxing through their Facebook page. / THE GOOD LIFE / 27



What is something he says, or an expression he uses that makes you cringe?

Being referred to as "THE WIFE", "THE



A WHILE" as he walks out of the


My husband said, "LONG IN THE

TOOTH." What does that even mean?

Out of all the words, USING GOD'S

NAME IN VAIN makes me cringe the



funny when you were in junior high.


wasting my time and ask it.

Replying with, "WHATEVER" while in an


"BABE" or "BOO" I don't like terms of

endearment used by teenagers.

"MM-HMM." It's clear you aren't paying

attention. Also I can't tell if this means

yes or no.


Saying "IT IS WHAT IT IS" to dismiss an


Unless you want to upset me even

more, don't ever say, "YOU NEED TO



"I'M JUST KIDDING." Don't say this after

making a rude comment.

"YOU LOOK TIRED." This is always

taken as an insult rather than a

comment of concern.

"YOU DO YOU." Okay. I mean, I do that

every day.


just a nice way of saying you don't want

me around.

The saying, "AT THE END OF THE DAY."


want me to smile, do something funny.


MOTHER." Do you have a death wish?


husband doesn't say this, but my

coworker does.

"WELL YES AND NO." You can't have

both obviously.

"I'M NOT LIKE MOST GUYS." If you say

this, then yes you are.

"BY THE WAY." This usually comes

across as condescending.


TOES." Are we on a dance floor?

"YES DEAR." You can't say this without

sounding sarcastic or like you are

agreeing so I will shut up.


YOU LOOK." Of course it is. Otherwise I

would keep looking .


CHANCE." Any quote from the movie

"Dumb and Dumber".

"WHEN I WAS WITH..." (insert name)

Comparing me to his previous girlfriend.


SOMETHING." Oh here we go. Let the

whining begin.

"YOU LOOK FINE." What I'm hearing

is that you are impatient and will say

anything so we can leave. / THE GOOD LIFE / 29




Leading Quietly,

Responsibly, and






Thirty-one-year-old Wayne Casebeer first joined the

United States Marine Corps in part to honor the

family legacy of serving his country and in part due

to his competitive nature.

"I come from a Navy family. My sister and I are very

competitive. She went into the Army and I wanted to

do something a bit more to compete with that, so I

went into the Marine Corps. Ultimately, neither of us

went into the Navy," said Casebeer.

"I come from a Navy family. My sister and

I are very competitive. She went into the

Army and I wanted to do something a bit

more to compete with that, so I went into

the Marine Corps." – Wayne Casebeer

After graduating from high school in Alexandria, MN,

Casebeer enlisted with the US Marine Corps where

he completed 5 years of active duty followed by a

couple of years in the Marine Forces Reserves. He

served in Twentynine Palms, CA, Al Ambar Province

Iraq, the reserve station in New Orleans, LA, and the

reserve station in Minneapolis, MN. During active

duty, Casebeer's role was in Communications and he

was attached to an artillery battalion.

"They were using radios to do communications

between different units in the Marine Corps which

is extremely inefficient. Our goal was to bring the

internet to artillery because we needed a way to

coordinate fire. My five years were spent modernizing

artillery. I went from high school to leading men in

combat and that was pretty cool," said Casebeer.

Aside from the sheer excitement of firing guns,

Casebeer appreciated the incredible amount of things

he learned in a small amount of time. "It wasn't just

working on computers. You have to know how to

fire machine guns, fire artillery, haul artillery, drive

vehicles, how to load things on vehicles, how to eat,

how to feed people, and more," said Casebeer.

Above all else, the people were the most memorable

for Casebeer. "I made a whole family. There were 15

of us that stuck together the whole time. When my

battalion deployed, they split us into mini 15 man

teams and sent us out. We drove around Iraq for 9

months, just 15 of us, it was great. They were from all

walks of life and we're still close today," said Casebeer.

Red River Raiders

Roughly three years ago Casebeer helped to

establish Red River Raiders, a nonprofit organization / THE GOOD LIFE / 31


and charter for the Marine Corps League, a

congressionally recognized organization to serve

Marines. In a similar vein, Red River Raiders has a

mission of providing assistance to fellow Marines or

disabled veterans.

Red River Raiders supports people in a number

of ways including fundraising for Toys for Tots,

providing a small detachment for a Color Guard

hosted by Casebeer, and assisting with fabric and

sewing blankets for Project HART. Project HART is

a transitional housing program that provides basic

needs, case management, and employment services

to homeless veterans to assist them in overcoming

their barriers to permanent housing so they can live

the life that they deserve.

Additionally, Red River Raiders is heavily involved

in assisting with the Homeward Vets program.

Homeward Vets is primarily administered by the

West Fargo VFW while the Marine Corps League

provides the manual labor for the program.

Typically, the Fargo Veteran Affairs Health Care

System identifies a Marine that needs an apartment,

provides funding, and sets the individual up with keys

for the space. The Red River Raiders' goal is that

the day the veteran receives the key, the organization

brings a bed, couch, and other furnishings into the


"Essentially, a person goes from being a disabled

homeless veteran to being a veteran with a home

that is fully furnished - in the same day. We've been

nailing it. We've done very, very well and helped

about 60 veterans last year," said Casebeer.

"Essentially, a person goes from being

a disabled homeless veteran to being a

veteran with a home that is fully furnished

- in the same day." – Wayne Casebeer

Red River Raiders also hosts the Marine Corps Ball

to celebrate their November 10th birthday. "This year

we're hosting the event on November 7th in Fargo.

It's going to be a formal event so we'll get dressed up

in our tuxedos and get the gals nice dresses. It's just

going to be really fun," said Casebeer.


Above: 660 flags were placed by the Marine

Corps League at the new Sanford Hospital to raise

awareness for veteran suicide prevention. The

660 event takes place all across the United States.

Left: A Homeward Vet move that was done by the

Marine Corps League last year in the middle of a



For Casebeer, a favorite part of his volunteer

work is simply working with other veterans.

"It's so easy to work with other veterans. It's

not difficult to work with other people, but the

difference is a language barrier. So, somebody

who might speak broken English - it's not hard

to have a conversation with them, but it's not

going to be as efficient as having a conversation

with somebody you grew up with and that is

family. You have your own lingo and your own

way of working together. With veterans, it's like

working with a family member. You can get mad,

you can get upset, but you're going to accomplish

whatever you're trying to do," said Casebeer.

West Fargo VFW

Casebeer also is a member of Color Guard for

the West Fargo VFW. A sizable group of nearly

40 people are on standby for the group. Casebeer

is currently training to take over the position as

Color Guard Commander where he will step into

greater responsibilities. "It's going to be a lot

more work, but I am looking forward to it. It is a

commitment with my working multiple jobs, but

it should be good," said Casebeer.

Duties of the Commander include coordinating

with funeral homes, the National Cemetery,

and other veterans organizations depending

upon which organization is leading the event.

Furthermore, the Commander serves as the

point of contact in coordinating for Moorhead,

Fargo, and West Fargo ceremonies for various

Veterans holidays. / THE GOOD LIFE / 33



Casebeer was selected by Northern Lights Council, Boy Scouts of America in 2019

to receive the Andrew P. Nelson Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service.

This award recognizes everyday heroes who quietly make a difference in our

community in the way that they work, volunteer, and make life better for others.

For 2020, Casebeer's goal is to help maintain each

organization he's involved with. "It's very hard to

recruit folks into nonprofit organizations. I like

programs that give you immediate gratification

because once folks are in and are able to actually

get that gratification it makes all the difference. If

they're sitting on their hands, they're not going to

want to do it anymore. So, putting veterans to work

for veterans is a goal that I want to maintain. If we

do and are able to attain new membership, that's

what's going to keep them as members. That's my

primary goal for all the organizations I'm a part of

- motivating people enough to stay," said Casebeer.

Life Lately

Casebeer landed in West Fargo, ND to be close to

the USMC Reserve station in Wahpeton, ND after

being given a choice of Wisconsin or North Dakota.

Since Wisconsin was too close to Minneapolis,

Casebeer opted for North Dakota. "North Dakota

worked out really well; the people are fantastic. I've

kind of decided to settle down here," said Casebeer.

Casebeer currently works full time at Blue Cross

Blue Shield of North Dakota on a small team in

cybersecurity and risk management. "Blue Cross

Blue Shield has an excellent volunteer program and

the leadership there is fantastic. Without working

there, I wouldn't be able to do any of the volunteer

work I do. They're awesome. The work is great too.

Our primary role is to do risk management for IT

systems and security systems overall. It's pretty

dynamic and you need to be pretty intelligent to do

it," said Casebeer.

Outside of his full-time job at Blue Cross Blue Shield

and volunteering with various veterans organizations,

Casebeer enjoys spending time with his toddler

daughter. "I have a daughter named Kahlan; she's

great. She's a little redhead. It's miserable outside

now, but in the summer we like to go to parks and

hang out and play," said Casebeer.

In any free time he has left Casebeer trains his

40lb dalmatian puppy, Dan Daly, named after an


infamous Marine. "I love my dalmatian. He's

one of the best animals there is. Dan Daly was a

Sergeant Major in the US Marine Corps and was

awarded two medals of honor. He fought in three

different wars and received medals of honor

from two different wars. It's a fantastic name,"

said Casebeer.

The Good Life

A testament to the type of life Casebeer strives

to live can be seen in how he was selected by

Northern Lights Council, Boy Scouts of America

in 2019 to receive the Andrew P. Nelson Award

for Outstanding Leadership and Service. This

award recognizes everyday heroes who quietly

make a difference in our community in the way

that they work, volunteer, and make life better

for others.

"The good life is mostly helping other people.

That's my driving force for everything. A good

life for me is to be a responsible leader and also

to have people accept me as a leader. Being a

responsible leader is to have a goal, set out to

accomplish that goal, accomplish that goal, and

then be able to measure it. I can see that in the

work that I do - people are waiting on me to tell

them what to do, especially for the Homeward

Vets program. I've got nine people on standby.

We all collaborate and work together; we're all

effective leaders," said Casebeer. •

The good life is mostly helping

other people. That’s my driving

force for everything.

– Wayne Casebeer / THE GOOD LIFE / 35

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