The Good Life – July-August 2023

Ten years, hundreds of stories, and thousands of lives impacted. Founders of The Good Life reveal the magazine's origin story (and more) to mark its 10th anniversary. Also in this issue, Dad Life on the topic of Helicopter Parents, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office and its fleet of vehicles, Having A Beer with Dawn and Darren from Urban Toad Media and more!

Ten years, hundreds of stories, and thousands of lives impacted. Founders of The Good Life reveal the magazine's origin story (and more) to mark its 10th anniversary.

Also in this issue, Dad Life on the topic of Helicopter Parents, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office and its fleet of vehicles, Having A Beer with Dawn and Darren from Urban Toad Media and more!


Create successful ePaper yourself

Turn your PDF publications into a flip-book with our unique Google optimized e-Paper software.

DAD LIFE<br />

Helicopter Parents :<br />

Ground Control to<br />

Major Chill<br />


AAs a parent, it's natural to want to protect and<br />

nurture our children. However, it's important to<br />

strike a balance between supporting them and<br />

allowing them to develop essential life skills.<br />

In today's world, where helicopter parenting and<br />

excessive coddling have become common practices,<br />

it's crucial to understand the negative consequences<br />

of overprotecting our children. Am I an expert on this<br />

subject? No. But do I have an extensive background<br />

in working with youth that has allowed me to witness<br />

countless cases of coddling? Yep. Am I sometimes<br />

guilty of coddling my child? Oh, absolutely. So, let’s<br />

talk about it. Here are some strategies that I try and<br />

use while raising a miniature version of myself.<br />

Encourage Self-reliance<br />

By avoiding excessive coddling, we empower our<br />

children to become self-reliant individuals. When<br />

we constantly shield them from challenges, we<br />

inadvertently hinder their ability to problem-solve<br />

and adapt to new situations. Does this notion mean<br />

that you should let your child play on train tracks or<br />

be out running the neighborhood at midnight? No.<br />

But, allowing our children to face age-appropriate<br />

obstacles helps them build resilience and learn to rely<br />

on their own abilities. Encouraging self-reliance from<br />

an early age equips them with the skills they'll need to<br />

navigate the complexities of adulthood.<br />

Develop Decision-Making Skills<br />

Coddling children often involves making decisions<br />

for them, whether big or small. However, decisionmaking<br />

is a crucial skill that children need to develop.<br />

By giving our children the opportunity to make<br />

choices and experience the consequences, we teach<br />

them how to evaluate options, think critically, and<br />

take responsibility for their actions. This process<br />

allows them to grow into confident individuals who<br />

can make sound judgments in various aspects of life.<br />

Foster Resilience and Coping Abilities<br />

<strong>Life</strong> is full of ups and downs, and it's essential for<br />

children to learn how to cope with setbacks and<br />

disappointments. This is never more evident than<br />

now, as we are living through what I call an, “everyone<br />

gets a trophy” era. Our children are being rewarded<br />

for just showing up and, sometimes, for outright<br />

failing. Children need to feel what it’s like to win, but,<br />

more importantly, they need to know how to process<br />

and move on from their losses. Not keeping scores at<br />

games and continually lowering testing standards and<br />

metrics for measuring success are just a few examples<br />

of how we are doing our children a disservice.<br />

Not only is this detrimental, but it also shields them<br />

from failure or adversity and denies them the chance<br />

to develop resilience. By allowing our children to<br />

face challenges and experience occasional failures,<br />

we give them the opportunity to learn from their<br />

mistakes, bounce back, and persevere. <strong>The</strong>se skills<br />

will prove invaluable in navigating the inevitable<br />

obstacles they'll encounter throughout their lives.<br />

Encourage Emotional Maturity<br />

Being an over-protective parent can inadvertently<br />

hinder a child's emotional growth. Children need to<br />

experience pain, loss, failure, and hardship in order to<br />

fully develop. When parents excessively protect their<br />


children from experiencing negative emotions, they<br />

miss out on valuable opportunities for emotional<br />

development and growth. Allowing children to<br />

experience a range of emotions and supporting<br />

them in managing those emotions helps build<br />

emotional resilience, empathy, and understanding.<br />

This emotional maturity will benefit them in their<br />

personal relationships, academic pursuits, and<br />

future professional endeavors.<br />

Promote <strong>Life</strong>long Learning and A Sense of<br />

Curiosity<br />

Children are naturally curious and possess an innate<br />

desire to explore the world around them. I’m not<br />

exactly sure how many times my son has asked me,<br />

“why” about something, but we must be nearing the<br />

tens of thousands. And he’s only eleven. I have really<br />

had to work on not responding with, “because,” and<br />

then skipping out on the explanation of why.<br />

When we coddle our children, we risk stifling their<br />

thirst for knowledge and hindering their intellectual<br />

growth. Allowing them the freedom to explore,<br />

make mistakes, and learn from their experiences<br />

fosters a lifelong love of learning. It instills in them<br />

the confidence to take on new challenges, seek<br />

knowledge independently, and develop their unique<br />

talents and interests.<br />

By fostering<br />

independence,<br />

self-reliance,<br />

decision-making<br />

skills, resilience,<br />

emotional maturity,<br />

and a love for<br />

learning, we<br />

equip our<br />

children with the<br />

tools they need to<br />

thrive in an ever-changing<br />

world. As parents, let’s not<br />

be helicopters, hovering<br />

over our children’s every<br />

thought or move. Instead,<br />

let’s be standing by, with<br />

sunscreen, a water bottle, a<br />

bag full of snacks, and all of<br />

the support and guidance<br />

that our children need to<br />

successfully navigate their<br />

world. •<br />

urbantoadmedia.com | 3



<strong>2023</strong><br />

VOLUME 11 | ISSUE 1<br />

02<br />

DAD LIFE - Helicopter Parents:<br />

Ground Control to Major Chill<br />

18<br />

ON THE COVER - 10 Years and<br />

Hundred's of Stories Later<br />

06<br />

By allowing our children to face challenges<br />

and experience occasional failures, we give<br />

them the opportunity to learn from their<br />

mistakes, bounce back, and persevere.<br />

Our Writers<br />

What living <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> means to our<br />

amazing writers<br />

24<br />

28<br />

It’s Not ‘Work’ When You’re Living <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong><br />

<strong>Life</strong><br />

Homeward Animal Shelter<br />

Find your new best friend!<br />


Urban Toad Media<br />

08<br />

Pollinators at Home in Your Yard<br />

Everyone can help provide habitat and food<br />

for pollinators, no matter how large or small!<br />

Founders of <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> reveal the<br />

magazine's origin story (and more) to<br />

mark its 10th anniversary.<br />

14<br />

Cass County Sheriff's Office<br />

Uses Big Scale Technology<br />

Cass County Sheriff’s Office stays ahead of<br />

the curve as police technology advances<br />

34<br />

LOCAL HEROES - Suggestions<br />

Owners Dawn and Darren look back on<br />

a decade of local heroes and what they<br />

mean to our community.<br />



Urban Toad Media LLP<br />

www.urbantoadmedia.com<br />


Dawn Siewert<br />

dawn@urbantoadmedia.com<br />


Darren Losee<br />

darren@urbantoadmedia.com<br />


Paul Hankel<br />

Ben Hanson<br />

Alexandra Jampsa<br />

Jeffrey Miller<br />

Hillary W. Sorenson<br />


Darren Losee<br />

darren@urbantoadmedia.com<br />


yumpu.com/user/thegoodlife<br />


facebook.com/urbantoadmedia<br />


@urbantoadmedia<br />


@urbantoadmedia<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> Men’s Magazine is distributed six times a year by<br />

Urban Toad Media LLP. Material may not be reproduced without<br />

permission. <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> Men’s Magazine accepts no liability for<br />

reader dissatisfaction arising from content in this publication. <strong>The</strong><br />

opinions expressed, or advice given, are the views of individual<br />

writers or advertisers and do not necessarily represent the views or<br />

policies of <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> Men’s Magazine.<br />

urbantoadmedia.com | 5


Thank you to our amazing writers! We appreciate your dedication,<br />

your creativity and inspirational words. We couldn’t do it without you!<br />

What does THE GOOD LIFE mean to you?<br />


To me, <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> means:<br />

Finding humor in everything.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re is humor in most<br />

things. Find it and share it.<br />

Daily. Being passionate about<br />

something. Your community,<br />

your family, your job. Be<br />

passionate about them. Being<br />

from a “flyover,” state, never<br />

once in my many travels have<br />

I ever mentioned that I’m<br />

from Fargo, North Dakota,<br />

and had someone not want<br />

to have a conversation about<br />

it. To the rest of the world, we<br />

North Dakotans are unique,<br />

we are different, and we are<br />

interesting.<br />


For me, living "<strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong>”<br />

consists of time spent with<br />

family and friends laughing<br />

and chatting over coffee, tea,<br />

or a good meal; exploring<br />

and savoring our beautiful<br />

earth; sharing everyday,<br />

simple joys with loved ones;<br />

making things beautiful;<br />

and so many other favorite<br />

aspects of life. But “living<br />

the best life” is authentically<br />

loving and obeying God,<br />

proclaiming the good news,<br />

and demonstrating His love<br />

toward others. I want to live<br />

that out more fully as Jesus<br />

continues working in my<br />

heart and mind.<br />


“<strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong>” is the<br />

opportunity to connect on<br />

the most vulnerable level<br />

<strong>–</strong> one that fundamentally<br />

reminds us we do not travel<br />

this journey alone. I’ve spent<br />

195-plus hours listening to<br />

(and sometimes crying while)<br />

people share their intimate,<br />

and often excruciating,<br />

stories of hardship met<br />

with heroic determination.<br />

Our stories unite us and <strong>–</strong> if<br />

we dig deep enough <strong>–</strong> it’s<br />

possible to seek and find our<br />

own definition of the good<br />

life along the way. We have<br />

to be willing not just to look<br />

… but truly see.<br />

6 | THE GOOD LIFE<br />

past contributors<br />





<strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> is spending<br />

time with my kids and<br />

significant other growing<br />

food, being outdoors and<br />

making memories that we<br />

will cherish forever.<br />


<strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> is the smell of a<br />

soft cashmere amber candle<br />

burning in the background of<br />

my yoga practice while the<br />

sounds of my son’s laughter<br />

fill the home as his daddy<br />

tickles him.<br />


<strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> to me means:<br />

Spending time with my family<br />

and our dogs at my dad‘s<br />

campground; drinking beer,<br />

swimming, and enjoying the<br />

outdoors.<br />


For me, <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> is<br />

hearing my youngest shout<br />


I find joy in self-employment,<br />

and it gives me the flexibility<br />


<strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> to me is<br />

coming home to my pup<br />

"Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" to fully embrace the good Chief, exploring Fargo and<br />

when I walk into daycare things in life. For me, that’s Moorhead with my fiancé<br />

to pick him up at the end of spending time with my and happy hour drinks on a<br />

the day, or when my oldest family, friends and amazing patio with my best friends.<br />

stealthy comes down the grandchildren at the lake<br />

stairs in the morning and and traveling as much as my<br />

plops onto my lap for a quick budget will allow. <strong>Life</strong> is truly<br />

snuggle before we get ready good!<br />

for the day. <strong>Life</strong> is not easy,<br />

but these moments remind<br />

me that life is still good. urbantoadmedia.com | 7


AT HOME<br />



Everyone can help provide habitat and food for<br />

pollinators, no matter how large or small!<br />

IIt’s no secret that pollinating insects have<br />

been struggling. Our environment has<br />

become less appealing to them, with<br />

monoculture lawns, clean farming practices<br />

and a dearth of native flowering plants. All<br />

is not lost, however, as there are many ways<br />

that homeowners can help provide food<br />

and habitat for these important organisms.<br />

Perennial Woody Plants<br />

Woody plants are great pollinators that can also<br />

provide fruit for the table. Before planting any shrub<br />

or tree, first determine the mature size of the plant.<br />

While a bare-root seedling may look small, placing<br />

it too close to a house, garage or street will lead to<br />

problems as it grows.<br />

Black chokeberry, also known as aronia, are compact<br />

fruiting shrubs that burst forth with white flowers in<br />

the late spring. Growing to six feet high by six feet<br />

wide, these native shrubs are as beautiful as they are<br />

productive. In the early fall, the fruit ripens in bunches,<br />

ready for the picking. While they are astringent fresh,<br />

aronia berries make great smoothies, juice and pies.<br />

Another wonderful native shrub that aids in providing<br />

pollinator habitat is the highbush cranberry. While<br />

it’s a viburnum and not a true cranberry, this shrub,<br />

which can reach up to ten feet tall, produces copious<br />

amounts of bright red berries in the fall. During<br />

the summer, the flowers attract a diverse group of<br />

pollinators. <strong>The</strong> flowers are unique in that they have<br />

both sterile and fertile blooms on each flower. <strong>The</strong><br />

fruit sweetens after a few frosts, making it among the<br />

last to be harvested in the fall. Made into jelly, it is<br />

quite delicious. If they aren’t harvested by humans, the<br />

berries provide important food for birds in the dead of<br />

winter. <strong>The</strong> only drawback to highbush cranberry fruit<br />

is that, during cooking, the odor is not unlike that of<br />

sweaty gym socks. Hold your nose and enjoy the jelly!<br />

Perennial Forbs<br />

Non-native and cultivars of forbs and grasses appeal<br />

to human eyes but offer little for pollinating insects.<br />


In fact, some can harm certain<br />

species, as they attract insects<br />

but offer no food value. It would<br />

be the same as if a human ate<br />

nothing but potato chips for their<br />

diet.<br />

Happily, there are a myriad of native<br />

forbs (also known as flowers) that<br />

are not only beautiful but productive<br />

as well. In order to provide three<br />

seasons of food, select forbs and<br />

grasses that bloom in spring, summer<br />

and fall.<br />

Spring Blooming: <strong>The</strong>se are the<br />

first flowers of the year and the most<br />

important. After the long overwintering<br />

period, insects are hungry. Species like<br />

Dry Ragwort, Golden Alexander, Large<br />

Flowered Beardtongue, Prairie Phlox and<br />

Spiderwort provide crucial forage as well as<br />

urbantoadmedia.com | 9

Purple Coneflower<br />

breathtaking beauty. Bloom colors range from yellow to blue<br />

to purple, appealing to any homeowner’s preference.<br />

Summer Blooming: <strong>The</strong> longest bloom period, these<br />

species provide food and beauty during the hot, dog days of<br />

summer. Blanket Flower, Golden Aster, Hoary Vervain, Lead<br />

Plant, Purple Coneflower, Swamp Milkweed, Ironweed,<br />

Bergamot, Black Eyed Susan, Liatris and Showy Sunflower<br />

will brighten up any property.<br />

Autumn Blooming: Helping to provide substance before<br />

migration or wintering, fall blooming plants are the last<br />

chance a pollinator has to feed before winter. Species such<br />

as Heath Aster, Goldenrod, Sky Blue Aster and Maximilian<br />

Sunflower ensure there is eye appeal and forage right up to<br />

the frost.<br />

Sky Blue Aster<br />

Small pollinator plots or native landscaping, with an eye to<br />

pollinators, are best done by planting plugs. Plugs take the<br />

guesswork out of germination and make it so even a novice<br />

gardener can grow beautiful plants. A great local source of<br />

native forbs is the United Prairie Foundation’s greenhouse<br />

in Enderlin, North Dakota. <strong>The</strong>re are also several sources<br />

of plants in Minnesota that can mail your selections right to<br />

your door.<br />

Garden Crops<br />

Many garden crops require pollination by insects, and many<br />

others provide food and habitat for them as well. Some<br />

crops, like okra, are self-pollinating. While they provide little<br />

for insects there add a splash of color to the garden.<br />

Cucumbers depend on pollinators and require insect<br />

pollination from the male flowers to the female flowers.<br />

Other crops, like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, are<br />

mostly wind pollinated. However, bumblebees can improve<br />

fruit set and size as they vibrate the flowers and shake loose<br />

the pollen.<br />

<strong>The</strong> best way to keep pollinators in the garden is by the use<br />

of a cover crop. Cover crops can be planted between rows<br />

and can be given their own little patch in the corner of a<br />

garden. Plants such as buckwheat, mustards, field peas,<br />

crimson clover and hairy vetch not only improve the soil but<br />

attract and feed pollinators as well.<br />

M aximillian Sunflower<br />

Our Hard-Working Pollinators<br />

While native prairie stretching to the horizon is amazingly<br />

diverse, beautiful and productive for pollinators, anyone<br />

with a small patch of land, whether in the city or country, can<br />

be attractive and provide habitat for them as well. Simple,<br />

easy plantings can reap huge rewards for our hard-working<br />

pollinators. •<br />


urbantoadmedia.com | 11


urbantoadmedia.com | 13





<strong>The</strong> Cass County Sheriff’s Office prioritizes providing the<br />

department with top-of-the-line technology and vehicles<br />

that make the public safer. Sheriff Jesse Jahner who has<br />

served as the sheriff since 2019, and was reelected for an<br />

additional term, recognizes the importance of staying upto-date<br />

with the latest advancements.<br />

“Technology is continually changing, and we are constantly<br />

looking for different ways to better serve our citizens,”<br />

he said. “<strong>The</strong>re are several different companies that are<br />

producing and researching law enforcement technology,<br />

and as long as we can remain fiscally responsible, we are<br />

always going to do whatever we can to serve our citizens<br />

in a better and safer way.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> United States has roughly 18 thousand law<br />

enforcement agencies, but only a small percentage have<br />

acquired the tools that make the public safer and more<br />

accessible. Thanks to Sheriff Jahner’s endorsement<br />

and the county commissioner’s openness to new ideas,<br />

Cass County Sheriff’s Office is among the ranks.<br />

“We are very fortunate because we have a really good<br />

working relationship with our commissioners, and<br />

they understand the need for public safety,” he said.<br />

“Typically, if we need resources to better provide public<br />

safety, they are open to listening to what the equipment<br />

needs are.”<br />


<strong>The</strong> first police vehicle was an electric wagon that<br />

dawdled along the streets in Akron, Ohio, in 1899. As<br />

criminals gained access to faster-moving vehicles police<br />

departments had to up the ante, and by the mid-twentieth<br />

century Ford released its first police package that led<br />

to the creation of the Crown Victoria. But the 90s-style<br />

venerable cruiser is a far cry from the only crime-fighting<br />

machine, and when police officers and sheriff deputies<br />

are thrown into less-than-typical emergencies, access to<br />

wheels (or lack thereof) is invaluable.<br />

Patrolling Beyond the Streets<br />

<strong>The</strong> Cass County Sheriff's Office added two airboats to its<br />

fleet in 2011 following the historic 2009 Red River flood.<br />

Airboats are flat-bottomed and propelled by an aircraftlike<br />

propeller. <strong>The</strong> design ingenuity is ideal for floods and<br />

water rescues. “We are certainly very gracious to the U.S.<br />

Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Coast Guard for<br />

coming in and assisting us in 2009 with their airboats<br />

because we did not have the appropriate equipment to<br />

conduct search and rescue missions,” Sheriff Jahner said.<br />

County Sheriff’s Office made a purchase agreement<br />

with the state of North Dakota which included the state<br />

purchasing two airboats for their agency, and in return,<br />

the Cass County Sheriff’s Office would assist anywhere in<br />

the state when other communities flooded.<br />

Rural Rescues on Snow Days<br />

Cass County is 97 percent rural and covers 1,768 square<br />

miles with an average snowfall of 48.0 inches per year.<br />

Due to terrain and potentially adverse weather conditions,<br />

access to vehicles that can handle varying conditions is<br />

imperative. Utility task vehicles (UTVs), all-terrain vehicles<br />

urbantoadmedia.com | 15

(ATVs), and snowmobiles are among the inventory at the<br />

sheriff’s office.<br />

“We currently have two 2020 Ski-Doo Summit 600<br />

snowmobiles, two Polaris 850 ATVs, and then one<br />

Polaris Sportsman 1000 UTV,” Sheriff Jahner said. <strong>The</strong><br />

snowmobiles allow officers to patrol recreational trails in<br />

the winter while the ATVs and UTVs can be used during<br />

special assignments such as the Red River Valley Fair. All<br />

are utilized for search and rescue missions.<br />

Eye in the Sky<br />

Drones are used for real-time information, investigations,<br />

and documentation tasks. <strong>The</strong> military has been deploying<br />

drone technology since the mid-1800s, but they are a<br />

relatively new addition to law enforcement agencies. As<br />

of a few years ago, there were only 343 law enforcement<br />

agencies in the U.S. utilizing drones. <strong>The</strong> Cass County<br />

Sheriff’s Office currently has two drones, and their<br />

purpose is not just singular.<br />

“If we use drones for flooding operations, we might use<br />

them for reconnaissance missions,” Sheriff Jahner said.<br />

“So, if we have to rescue someone that is surrounded by<br />

water, we would fly the drone over the top and see what<br />

might be the best rescue approach with an airboat.”<br />

We are going always to be<br />

progressive and forwardthinking<br />

in looking for different<br />

technological advancements,<br />

different equipment, and<br />

resources to make sure we can<br />

always provide a high level of<br />

public safety to our communities.<br />

<strong>–</strong> Sheriff Jahner<br />

Sheriff Jahner said the drone is also capable of taking large<br />

aerial photos to assess damages to roads or individual<br />

properties. “If Cass County declares a state of emergency<br />

for its residents, we can document the different types of<br />

damages and utilize the documentation to help get funding<br />

from either the state or federal government to help those<br />

individuals out,” he said.<br />

A Sheriff's Favorite<br />

Sheriff Jahner recognizes the benefits of having access to<br />

emerging vehicle technology, but his favorite apparatus<br />


is one of more practical use. “I<br />

probably utilize the winter plow<br />

truck the most,” he said. “Three<br />

years ago, we had a situation<br />

during a winter storm where we<br />

had difficulty getting to a residence<br />

during a domestic violence situation.<br />

We had to rely on our county road<br />

department to come out and plow us<br />

a path, and the whole time that the<br />

situation was unfolding, it was a very<br />

bad feeling knowing that we couldn’t<br />

get to the residence unless we relied<br />

on another governmental entity’s<br />

resources. It was unacceptable in my<br />

opinion because our citizens expect<br />

that if they call 911 for assistance we<br />

are going to have a timely response.<br />

I told myself this can never happen<br />

again we need to be able to respond<br />

to calls for assistance so that led us<br />

to purchase the plow truck that we<br />

have.”<br />

Sheriff Jahner emphasized that<br />

no matter where the emergency<br />

is, the Cass County Sheriff’s<br />

Office will continue to serve and<br />

protect its citizens in the best way<br />

possible. “We are going always to be<br />

progressive and forward-thinking in<br />

looking for different technological<br />

advancements, different equipment,<br />

and resources to make sure we can<br />

always provide a high level of public<br />

safety to our communities. •<br />

urbantoadmedia.com | 17


10 Years and Hundreds of Stories Later<br />

It’s Not ‘Work’ When You’re Living <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong><br />



Sitting across the table from two behind-the-scenes<br />

heroes is not only inspiring, but hilarious. “I did not spill <strong>–</strong><br />

tell them no salsa spilled in the making of this story,” said<br />

Darren Losee, as a chip heaping with salsa just missed his<br />

Drekker white tee. His newlywed bride, Dawn Siewert,<br />

giggles in unison as though this is what working together<br />

looks like. Perhaps, because it is.<br />

But that’s where the story ends <strong>–</strong> for today, at least. <strong>The</strong><br />

good stuff dates back to 1993. “When I met him, he was<br />

painting his motorcycle,” Dawn recalls. (It was either a<br />

shade of root-beer red or midnight wine, depending on<br />

who you ask.)<br />

At the time, Darren worked in manufacturing, while Dawn<br />

continued to build her portfolio as a graphic designer,<br />

working in printing, magazine publishing, for an ad agency<br />

and even as the Marketing Manager for Harley-Davidson®<br />

of Fargo.<br />

“We came to a fork in the road where we had to decide, do<br />

we chase this crazy dream … or get paid on Friday like an<br />

‘adult’?” Darren recalled. <strong>The</strong> two showed up on Sunday<br />

morning, and prayed for a sign which came as a sermon<br />

about following dreams. <strong>The</strong> pastor looked right at them,<br />

then “we looked at each other, and that’s when we knew<br />

what we needed to do.”<br />


In 2013, Urban Toad Media (UTM) was born. Dawn dove<br />

in full-time and the couple chipped in $400 a month for a<br />

tiny office space with an out-of-service A/C and elevator.<br />

As UTM grew, so did their space and team of 18 freelance<br />

writers. “We saw the demand for a men’s magazine,”<br />

Dawn said. “I’ve known good dudes all my life who have<br />

great stories to tell, but unless you talk to them directly,<br />

you may never have the chance to be inspired,” Darren<br />

added.<br />

At its core, <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> magazine operates differently.<br />

Together, Dawn and Darren share the titles of owners,<br />

bookkeepers, editors, salespeople and even distributors.<br />

In fact, they’re so involved with each story they credit<br />

many of their friendships to the magazine. Dawn designs<br />

the entire magazine, while Darren shoots the photos.<br />

“We do everything but write the stories,” he said. Much<br />

different from traditional journalism, “We allow people to<br />

fact check the article and approve before it goes to print.<br />

It’s their story to tell.”<br />

Darren personally delivers magazines to grocery stores,<br />

hospitals, airports, liquor stores and businesses. “I have<br />

a nerdy spreadsheet to dial in and know where the<br />

magazines move and don’t,” he said. “It’s important that<br />

the ads our partners pay for actually get seen. It’s fun to<br />

see who is picking up the magazine. Although we have a<br />

venue to showcase inspirational men, there is something<br />

for everyone in <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong>.”<br />

Like many things in life, we rarely get to see (or hear)<br />

the ripple effect of our actions first-hand … but Dawn<br />

and Darren have. Recognizing a Brady Oberg Legacy<br />

Foundation tee at a concert, Darren introduced himself,<br />

explaining they had shared Brady’s story in the magazine<br />

with hopes it would help someone.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> man said, ‘It did help someone. Without going into<br />

details, I know firsthand that someone did seek help after<br />

reading the magazine,’” Darren shared. “In 10 years, if<br />

we’ve saved even one life, that’s a win. <strong>The</strong>se stories have<br />

the raw emotion and the power to change lives.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> future of <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> looks humble <strong>–</strong> the two aren’t<br />

looking to make millions. In fact, they require just enough<br />

to “pay rent and buy a good beer.” For Dawn, the good<br />

life means “living this crazy life with my husband and best<br />

friend, doing what I love every day and hopefully making a<br />

difference,” she said.<br />

“For me, waking up is a pretty good start. <strong>The</strong> good life<br />

is just being alive,” Darren said. “Laugh. Laugh often. It’s<br />

about recognizing the opportunities, working hard and<br />

finding the blessings.”<br />


www.yumpu.com/user/thegoodlife<br />

<strong>The</strong>ir favorite part? Hand delivering copies to the men<br />

featured in the magazine. “Oftentimes, people cry. It’s an<br />

emotional experience to be able to share your personal<br />

story,” Dawn said. Darren loves “knowing we made a<br />

difference, and that the story meant so much to the<br />

individual.”<br />

“I’ve known good<br />

dudes all my life<br />

who have<br />


to tell, but unless you<br />

talk to them directly,<br />

you may never have<br />

the chance to be<br />

inspired.” <strong>–</strong> Darren<br />

urbantoadmedia.com | 19


Justin Nudell, featured in May-June 2017<br />

Addiction to recovery, homelessness to security, failures to redemption <strong>–</strong> this<br />

local business owner knew a better life existed but wasn’t quite sure how or<br />

where to find it. Fueled with courage and nerves, Justin Nudell shared his story<br />

in 2017 not knowing the impact it would make.<br />

“After the story published, I got several messages, saying ‘Hey man, I’ve been<br />

looking to get my life on track,’ or they’d ask me ‘How did you do it?’ ‘cause they<br />

wanted the same changes in their life,” he said. “It was great to know putting<br />

myself out there in such a vulnerable way <strong>–</strong> maybe it did help someone.”<br />

Prior to getting clean in 2014, Justin made several attempts to start his business<br />

but either fell short or failed completely. In <strong>August</strong> 2020, he revisited the dream,<br />

opening Zoltar Tattoo in Moorhead, Minn. Now with 21 years of tattooing up his<br />

sleeve and <strong>–</strong> even more impressive <strong>–</strong> 9 years clean, this Moorhead native has<br />

made the good life a permanent addition.<br />

It means “constantly growing, working on my dreams and growth within myself<br />

as a father, business owner and in relationships. Just being consistent with all<br />

that stuff is what really matters,” he said. <strong>The</strong> redemption story continues.<br />

Read it here<br />

“It was great to know putting myself out there in such a<br />

vulnerable way <strong>–</strong> maybe it did help someone.”<br />

Matt Cullen, featured November-December 2017<br />

Laced up, taped up, and stick in hand, three-time Stanley Cup champion Matt<br />

Cullen pulled on his forest-green jersey to play for his home state in 2017 <strong>–</strong> just<br />

before wrapping up his NHL career. But even then, he and his wife Bridget, had<br />

bigger dreams for their young boys.<br />

“Quite a bit has changed,” Matt said. “I had some fun years at the end, but now<br />

we’re home in Moorhead, and it’s awesome.” His boys <strong>–</strong> Brooks (16), Wyatt (14)<br />

and Joey (13) <strong>–</strong> all attend Moorhead schools. “This winter, Bridget and I had a<br />

full-circle moment when our oldest played Spuds hockey. It was a proud mom<br />

and dad moment.”<br />

One thing hasn’t changed: Matt’s humble Midwest character and philanthropic<br />

heart. From $1 million in 2017 to more than $7 million in giving today, Cullen<br />

Children’s Foundation approaches 20 years in 2024. “Those are the things that<br />

last <strong>–</strong> more so than how many goals you score. It's what you do with what you've<br />

been given," Matt said.<br />

Read it here<br />

Cullen’s hope to raise their boys in Moorhead <strong>–</strong> where the couple grew up,<br />

attended church together and played sports <strong>–</strong> was once just a dream. “Back then,<br />

I probably thought ‘that’d be nice,’” Matt said. “But now we’re fortunate enough<br />

to be living it!”<br />


THE GOOD LIFE continues ...<br />

A follow up on living <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> and what it means today.<br />

Todd Ruzicka, featured in January-February 2018<br />

Five years later, Todd Ruzicka still follows the beat of his own drum. <strong>The</strong><br />

industrial electronic musician and founder of IMMUNE SYSTEM and SEVEN<br />

FEDERATIONS continues to tune his craft, writing, composing and producing<br />

music that has been featured in video games, business videos, documentaries<br />

and Indie films. All the while, he can’t ignore the impact sharing his story publicly<br />

has had. “Dawn and Darren are doing the Lord's work,” he said. “It was nice to<br />

be acknowledged for creating music that isn't necessarily mainstream. It doesn't<br />

happen often.”<br />

Todd admits not everyone understands the mind of this creative, but “my family<br />

was ever-so-proud of the article and that felt wonderful.”<br />

How’s the good life today? “My definition remains unchanged <strong>–</strong> being surrounded<br />

by family and positivity, while avoiding toxic people, psychic vampires and<br />

Americana jam bands,” he jokes. “And, of course, always being able to create<br />

music.”<br />

Read it here<br />

“It was nice to be acknowledged for creating music that<br />

isn't necessarily mainstream. It doesn't happen often.”<br />

Wil Dort, featured in September-October 2018<br />

As a Haitian native, Wil Dort was born into a life where electricity was nonexistent,<br />

getting to school meant scaling the hilly terrain (both ways) and the<br />

rising sun never came with the promise of another meal. Despite the cards he<br />

was dealt <strong>–</strong> and his run-in with the law <strong>–</strong> Wil pedaled toward a life not even his<br />

dreams could dream of.<br />

Scissors in hand at just eight years old, Wil defied all odds to open Skill Cutz<br />

Barbershop & Salon in the fall of 2008 <strong>–</strong> and later Skill Cutz Barber College<br />

in 2018. Telling his story has not only made an impact but helped grow his<br />

business. “We have clients say the article is how they found out about us, along<br />

with learning more about my life and its impact, which is cool.” Since Wil’s story<br />

hit the stands, Skill Cutz added 10 barbers to the team for a total of 30.<br />

As for the good life, Wil says his definition has remained the same: “Happiness,<br />

peace and contentment. As you journey through life, enjoy the process.”<br />

Read it here<br />

“We have clients say the article is how they found out<br />

about us, along with learning more about my life<br />

and its impact, which is cool.”<br />

urbantoadmedia.com | 21


John Dalziel, featured in <strong>July</strong>-<strong>August</strong> 2019<br />

Overseas, soldiers face extreme conditions <strong>–</strong> including indirect fire, the<br />

anticipation of mortars, and patrolling outside the wire <strong>–</strong> which can all add up<br />

to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a diagnosis 11 to 30 percent of U.S.<br />

veterans face.<br />

<strong>The</strong> U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, 4th Brigade Combat Team deployed<br />

in 2010 and returned home from Afghanistan victorious with all 139 troops.<br />

Though no blood was shed overseas, 14 soldiers (nearly 10% of the troop) took<br />

their own lives after returning home. Infantryman Brady Oberg was one of them.<br />

In 2015, the Brady Oberg Legacy Foundation (BOLF) was born.<br />

Growing BOLF from a Clay County foundation in 2019 to gaining supporters<br />

across the country, Marine veteran and retired FBI agent John Dalziel said,<br />

the exposure has “brought in additional revenue and increased our number of<br />

combat veteran retreats from two in 2018 to seven just last year.” Volunteers like<br />

John help raise awareness for veteran PTSD through the annual ruck march,<br />

while the organization provides access to treatment and education.<br />

Read it here<br />

It was a tall order for just a few pages of words, but Brady’s story was shared,<br />

the community listened. “<strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> has an incredibly positive effect in our<br />

community,” John said. “<strong>The</strong>y devote the magazine to those who are protecting<br />

and serving our community to keep it a great place to live.”<br />

Now 60, John says very few of his core beliefs have changed. “My updated<br />

definition of the good life is short and to the point … ‘be better <strong>–</strong> don’t suck,’” he<br />

said with a smile.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> has an incredibly positive effect in our community. <strong>The</strong>y devote the magazine<br />

to those who are protecting and serving our community to keep it a great place to live.”<br />

Jesse Jahner, featured in January-February 2020<br />

A yellowed photograph snapped in 1977 still sits on an office shelf, showcasing a<br />

little boy dressed in a cowboy hat and homemade sign reading “Sheriff Jahner”.<br />

More than four decades later, Jesse Jahner’s “official” badge reads the same.<br />

Nearing the end of his term, the sheriff is as passionate today as he was when<br />

elected in 2019 <strong>–</strong> and even at just four years old. “With community growth comes<br />

new challenges, but our general mission has stayed the same: to provide a high<br />

level of public safety to our citizens,” he said.<br />

Sheriff Jahner said sharing his story garnered interest for himself and the agency.<br />

“I’ve learned our community has a number of leaders, mentors and role models<br />

who have excellent stories to tell,” he said. “<strong>The</strong> magazine highlights so many in<br />

our community who have worked hard to be successful.”<br />

While much has changed in America’s climate since early 2020, Sheriff Jahner<br />

still stands by his original definition of the good life: “Having the opportunity to<br />

wear this uniform every day, working alongside the men and women of the Cass<br />

County Sheriff’s Office and to serve the greatest citizens in the state of North<br />

Dakota.”<br />

Read it here<br />

“<strong>The</strong> magazine highlights so many in our community<br />

who have worked hard to be successful.”<br />


Denis Otterness, featured in September-October 2022<br />

Going from one of 20 West Fargo officers in 1994 to working undercover for<br />

the DEA across the U.S., West Fargo police chief Denis Otterness and his wife,<br />

Trisha, couldn’t be more proud to raise their kids “back home.”<br />

While police work continues to be a dangerous, complex and challenging career<br />

path, Denis feels “blessed to work in a supportive community that trusts the<br />

difficult work we do,” he said. “It makes an incredible difference for staff morale.”<br />

Chief Otterness has gained infinite wisdom over his 33-year career. “I believe<br />

we all have choices that can impact our own ‘good life.’ Mine is being committed<br />

to a healthy work-life balance which includes physical, mental and spiritual<br />

wellness,” he said, noting none of that would be possible without his wife. “If<br />

you’re not living the good life, it’s not too late to find one that supports your work<br />

and fulfills you. This, in turn, will lead to a good life outside of work.”<br />

"<strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> Magazine is clearly a popular read with<br />

people in our metro area. Being in the magazine was a<br />

great way for people in our community to get to know<br />

me on a more personal level."<br />

Read it here<br />

Mark Bjornstad, featured in September-October 2018<br />

Drekker Brewing Co. president & co-founder Mark Bjornstad has been<br />

collaborating with Urban Toad Media since 2014. “It’s like hanging out<br />

with friends <strong>–</strong> casual, real, honest and fun. Dawn and Darren are great<br />

people,” he said. “On a greater impact, they’ve really served as mentors<br />

and inspirations for me.”<br />

For Mark, the partnership is about more than just “Having a Beer.”<br />

“When you’re working with <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> team, you’re always<br />

reminded of the question <strong>–</strong> ‘what is the good life?’ <strong>–</strong> and you get a<br />

chance to check in with yourself.”<br />

Over the years, Mark’s definition hasn’t changed, but he has.<br />

He’s learned “it’s more important to live the good life than hope<br />

for it,” he said. “<strong>The</strong> horizon is always turning <strong>–</strong> focus on where<br />

you’re at right now and make the most of it.”<br />

Read it here<br />

“When you’re working with <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> team, you’re<br />

always reminded of the question <strong>–</strong> ‘what is the good life?’<br />

<strong>–</strong> and you get a chance to check in with yourself.”<br />

4 Ways to Support Urban Toad Media<br />

1. Submit your story ideas of inspirational men in our community<br />

2. Keep reading <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> and share it with your friends and family<br />

3. Advertise your business in <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> Magazine<br />

4. Remember Urban Toad Media for Graphic Design + Photography<br />

urbantoadmedia.com | 23




<strong>The</strong>se are just a few of the many faces in our care<br />

that are patiently waiting for their forever families<br />

to find them. We know there’s a match out there<br />

for all of them. And for all the rest of their friends<br />

at the shelter and in foster homes that aren’t<br />

pictured here on these pages. Maybe one has<br />

been waiting all this time to rescue YOU... Adopt<br />

a shelter pet today!<br />

At Homeward Animal Shelter, our mission is:<br />

“Rescue. Shelter. Protect. Rehome.” We provide a<br />


second chance at happiness to lost, abandoned,<br />

and owner-surrendered animals; and educate<br />

the community on the proper, loving, and kind<br />

treatment of animals.<br />

Homeward Animal Shelter is committed to<br />

preventing animal overpopulation and spays/<br />

neuters all animals 6 months or older before<br />

adoption. Since its inception in 1966, Homeward<br />

Animal Shelter has placed nearly 41,000 animals<br />

in lifelong homes. •<br />

JANE<br />

Female | 12 years old<br />

Pit Bull Terrier<br />

JUNIOR<br />

Male | 13 years old<br />

Shih Tzu - Maltese Mix<br />

Sweet and loyal bonded senior pair seeking loving<br />

family to spend the rest of their golden years. Must<br />

love lounging around and giving out affection.<br />


Male | Nearly 2 years old<br />

German Shepherd<br />

“I’m not just a dog, I’m a<br />

furry fitness coach. Seeking<br />

a human who’s ready to get<br />

in shape with lots of walks,<br />

runs, and games of fetch.”<br />

FRODO<br />

Male | 7 ½ years old<br />

Grey & White DSH<br />

“Looking for a furry friend<br />

who loves to nap<br />

as much as you do?<br />

Look no further!”<br />


EEYORE<br />

Male | 8 years old<br />

Orange Tabby DMH | FIV+<br />

I’m Eeyore, a big ol'<br />

handsome orange tabby<br />

with a timid nature. I've been<br />

waiting for over a year now<br />

to find my forever home. <strong>Life</strong><br />

hasn’t always been kind to<br />

me, leaving me cautious<br />

around new people. Once I<br />

warm up to you, I’ll become<br />

your lifelong friend.<br />

I get along great with other<br />

cats. My favorite pastimes<br />

involve lounging in the warm<br />

sun, basking in its soothing<br />

rays. It’s in those moments<br />

that I find solace and forget<br />

about the hardships I’ve<br />

endured. Additionally, due to<br />

my lack of teeth, I savor soft<br />

food exclusively. Don’t worry,<br />

though; it doesn’t diminish<br />

my enjoyment of mealtime.<br />

If you’re willing to open your<br />

heart and home to me,<br />

I’ll be a devoted and loyal<br />

companion.<br />

MAGNUS<br />

Male | 8 years old<br />

Boxer - Bulldog Mix<br />

Fun-loving pup seeking a<br />

human to run, play, and<br />

snuggle with. Must love<br />

slobbery kisses and<br />

wagging tails.<br />




Female | 3 ½ years old<br />

Tabby DSH<br />

“I may have a bit of cattitude,<br />

but that just means I know<br />

what I want. And what I<br />

want is a human to call<br />

my own.”<br />

MILES<br />

Male | 1 year old<br />

Australian Cattle Dog<br />

Blue Heeler - Lab Mix<br />

“I’m a dog with a playful wild<br />

streak but I’m also a sucker<br />

for a good belly rub.<br />

Seeking a human who<br />

knows when to let me run<br />

free and when to reel me in<br />

for some snuggles.”<br />

a fundraising event for the shelter animals<br />

For information on adopting,<br />

volunteering or to make a donation, visit:<br />

homewardonline.org<br />

urbantoadmedia.com | 25


<strong>The</strong> Cass County Sheriff’s Office would like to congratulate<br />

everyone who has been associated with Urban Toad Media<br />

during their first decade of exemplary service to our community,<br />

particularly Dawn and Darren and their contributing writers.<br />

<strong>The</strong> combined creativity that Dawn and Darren accomplish in<br />

their work product is nothing short of amazing, as they highlight<br />

26 | THE GOOD LIFE<br />

different stories within the Fargo-Moorhead community. <strong>The</strong>ir<br />

creative illustrations inspire their audience as the reader walks<br />

with them through the story they are showcasing.<br />

If you are looking for an inspirational story of a local hero, the Cass<br />

County Sheriff’s Office would strongly encourage you to pick up<br />

the latest edition of <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> Men’s Magazine!

urbantoadmedia.com | 27




Thanks to a once-in-a-generation convergence of moderate<br />

temps and clear skies during Ribfest, it was a calm Friday<br />

night at Drekker’s Brewhalla. When I arrived to meet up<br />

with the double D's of Urban Toad Media — Dawn Siewert<br />

and Darren Losee, publishers of <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> — I was<br />

unshowered, unshaven and wearing a borrowed polo. Oh,<br />

and I forgot my laptop, too. Aside from that, I was totally<br />

prepared.<br />

Thankfully, I was in good company. I was there to<br />

interview my friends for their 10-year anniversary edition<br />

of <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> Magazine, and I learned early in our<br />

conversation that my inauspicious start to the evening<br />

wasn’t unlike the origin story of the magazine itself. Our<br />

shared “dive right in” attitude is why we work so well<br />

together… and why, even though I now live 225 miles away<br />

(where my laptop sat forgotten), I will always seize the<br />

opportunity to contribute to a publication that makes a<br />

difference in the FM community without taking itself too<br />

seriously.<br />

As we sat down with fresh beers in hand, any remaining<br />

nerves I had settled when it became apparent just how<br />

uncomfortable Darren and Dawn were to be in the<br />

spotlight. <strong>The</strong>y’re usually off to the side, listening in and<br />

taking photos. Now, they were in the hot seat, and I was<br />

given free rein to fire away.<br />

<strong>The</strong> whole idea for this story was forced upon them, a<br />

suggestion from another longtime contributor, friends<br />

and clients who thought it was time the public got a<br />

chance to meet the people behind the pages. And that’s<br />

what this column has always been about — real, relaxed<br />

conversations that highlight personalities more than<br />

professions.<br />


We decided our community<br />

needed something for men.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re are a lot of stories about<br />

men doing great things that<br />

need to be told. <strong>–</strong> Dawn<br />

Dawn, Urban Toad Media’s chief designer and understood<br />

boss of the operation, is soft-spoken yet fiercely driven.<br />

Darren, the photographer and reluctant salesman, is an<br />

elder statesman of modern entrepreneurship. Together,<br />

they’re a Hawaiian pizza — unthinkable at first glance,<br />

undeniable at first bite. <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> is a soulful<br />

outpouring of who they are as humans, and I am thankful<br />

they chose me to help share their story. Enjoy.<br />

Who’s idea was this… this whole venture?<br />

DARREN: Dawn, it was all Dawn.<br />

DAWN: I worked for another magazine that was womanfocused<br />

and there were a lot of inquiries about why there<br />

isn’t a men's magazine. We decided our community needed<br />

something for men. <strong>The</strong>re are a lot of stories about men<br />

doing great things that need to be told.<br />

DARREN: I had been working in the manufacturing<br />

industry and taking photos as a hobby. <strong>The</strong>n one day<br />

someone paid me to do it, and I thought What? Someone<br />

pays you to do things you enjoy? What a great concept.<br />

DAWN: Darren is such a people person, so I said you<br />

can sell ads, I can design it and we can hire the writers.<br />

Sounds easy, right? Let’s do it!<br />

How do you find stories you want to tell? What’s<br />

the process?<br />

DARREN: <strong>The</strong> initial process was me and Jay Thomas<br />

from WDAY radio in his garage enjoying a beer or two<br />

and coming up with brilliant ideas. He was a big advocate<br />

of this plan and knew a lot of people in the community he<br />

could connect us with. So we literally just did stories that<br />

we found interesting and thought the community would<br />

enjoy <strong>–</strong> and still do today.<br />

DAWN: We found inspiration anywhere. We would be<br />

watching TV and think “I would like to chat with that guy,”<br />

or “I wonder what a day in the life of a skydiver is like?” It<br />

urbantoadmedia.com | 29


was more interest-based in the beginning, but we always<br />

had a local hero, always had a story about fathers and<br />

parenting… this Having A Beer With column came along<br />

around 2015.<br />

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned<br />

about the publication business?<br />

DARREN: <strong>The</strong> biggest surprise was how much people<br />

embraced it almost immediately and how much we’ve<br />

gained hearing people's stories.<br />

DAWN: Having enough time in<br />

the day… designing, marketing<br />

and selling ads. It can be hard to<br />

switch from a creative brain to a<br />

sales brain. So I guess the most<br />

surprising thing is even though<br />

we’re crazy busy <strong>–</strong> it’s always fun!<br />

Best ever interview?<br />

DARREN: All the heroes, all the veterans. Every one. We<br />

are honored they share their stories with us. Each of them<br />

has a powerful story. I have other favorites<br />

for different reasons. Because I’m<br />

such a hockey fanatic, working<br />

with Matt Cullen was great. I<br />

got to photograph NHL games<br />

and hang out with the Stanley<br />

Cup for a day.<br />

30 | THE GOOD LIFE<br />

Never build a BMX ramp on<br />

the sidewalk when you’re in<br />

the sixth grade. <strong>The</strong> ramp<br />

will fail. <strong>–</strong> Darren<br />

DAWN: Mine would be Christopher Zimmerman, a<br />

Symphony Orchestra Conductor and Music Director. We<br />

got to spend the day with him, go to the symphony, and<br />

meet a world famous cellist and violoncellist. It was a<br />

fantastic day.<br />

Darren, you shoot photos for lots of events…<br />

What's a favorite memory or favorite event?<br />

DARREN: Concerts are one of my favorites because of the<br />

fast-paced, high energy atmosphere<br />

and all the working components<br />

that go into it. I've been fortunate<br />

to shoot some really cool<br />

shows. But the Minnesota Wild<br />

games were my favorite thing<br />

to shoot ever because of the<br />

professionalism I witnessed. It<br />

was a great experience for me.<br />

<strong>The</strong> hard working behind-thescenes<br />

stuff energizes me.<br />

You two are both positive people… Where does<br />

that come from?<br />

DARREN: That's a great question. Being grateful for the<br />

opportunities we have. Laugh often, be weird and silly.<br />

Grab a beer and laugh. And that thing you’re doing that<br />

you don’t like <strong>–</strong> stop doing that.<br />

DAWN: We surround ourselves with good people <strong>–</strong> people

who are positive. For me, having faith keeps me grounded. Find<br />

a person to grow old with. Darren makes me laugh every day<br />

and that goes back to surrounding yourself with positive people.<br />

He’s always been positive. Happiness is a choice. You can find it<br />

if you look for it.<br />

Who takes longer to get ready in the morning?<br />

DARREN: Dawn. Hands down.<br />

DAWN: Me. I don’t even believe myself when I say I’ll be ready<br />

in five minutes.<br />

DARREN: You can’t do anything in five minutes.<br />

If you were forced to sing the national anthem for some<br />

major event, which event would you want it to be?<br />

DARREN: This is funny because the other day Dawn said<br />

nobody sings the national anthem very well. For me, it would be<br />

at Madison Square Garden for a New York Rangers game.<br />

Dawn: Nobody wants to hear me sing!<br />

How old is too old to ride a crotch rocket?<br />

DARREN: <strong>The</strong> fact that I own a Ducati and I’m 55… I’m going to<br />

go with 54. Actually, you’re never too old. It’s all what you enjoy<br />

and what’s fun for you. Just don’t take on a truck head-on.<br />

If you weren’t running this media company, what<br />

would you be doing?<br />

DAWN: One thing I always wanted to do was to be a food<br />

journalist … travel the world, experience new foods, and write<br />

about it. But honestly, I can’t imagine doing anything else other<br />

than graphic design. I have been doing this for 17 years.<br />

What’s your take on preppers?<br />

DARREN: I know where to go to steal stuff if I need anything. I<br />

have a buddy who is that “you better be ready” guy… he's going<br />

to build a bunker and take on the apocalypse. I think good for<br />

them if it makes them feel safe. For me… no.<br />

DAWN: I have a family member who is a prepper, so yeah, I<br />

know where to go to find food, ammo or shelter.<br />

I’m sorry, I meant peppers. Do you like peppers?<br />

DARREN: <strong>The</strong>y’re spicy. I’m mostly Scandinavian, so peppers<br />

aren’t my best friend.<br />

DAWN: I can’t have peppers. I’m on a low-acidic diet, so I’m not<br />

allowed anything spicy.<br />

What’s the greatest life lesson you’ve ever learned?<br />

DARREN: I’ve got two. Never build a BMX ramp on the sidewalk<br />

when you’re in the sixth grade. <strong>The</strong> ramp will fail. Second, you<br />

should always be learning life lessons.<br />

DAWN: <strong>Life</strong> is short. My mom passed away at a young age, and<br />

it made me realize that I should live life without regrets.<br />

What does the <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> mean to you?<br />

DAWN: Living this crazy life with my husband, my best friend<br />

and my business partner.<br />

DARREN: This, right here is the good life. Not to minimize it, but<br />

waking up is a good life. Sitting here having a good conversation<br />

and laughing. Finding humor in everything. We’re all kind of the<br />

same — everybody poops. •<br />

urbantoadmedia.com | 31


urbantoadmedia.com | 33


Do you know a local hero that deserves recognition?<br />

Local heroes inspire us because they exhibit selflessness,<br />

dedication, and courage in their daily lives. <strong>The</strong>y can be<br />

dads, veterans, community leaders, teachers, healthcare<br />

workers, firefighters, police officers, or volunteers.<br />

<strong>The</strong>se heroes inspire us to be better people. <strong>The</strong>y work<br />

tirelessly and selflessly to ensure that our community is<br />

safe and thriving.<br />

We are grateful for their hard work and dedication, and<br />

we believe it is important to acknowledge and celebrate<br />

their contributions. We want to show our appreciation for<br />

all they do by featuring these brave heroes in <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong><br />

<strong>Life</strong> Magazine.<br />

Local heroes are role models for all of us, showing us<br />

what it means to be a compassionate, hardworking, and<br />

dedicated members of our community. <strong>The</strong>y remind us<br />

that the small actions we take each day can make a big<br />

difference in the lives of others.<br />

So, to all of our local heroes, we say thank you. Thank<br />

you for your service, your sacrifice, and for being an<br />

inspiration to us all. •<br />



34 | THE GOOD LIFE<br />


Submit your suggestions:<br />

info@urbantoadmedia.com<br />

urbantoadmedia.com | 35

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!