Holiday Traditions

Tiersa Dodge
DSGW Architects
Old man winter blew in early this year.  Though Thanksgiving has just past, it already feels like time to start thinking about Christmas.  When I think of Christmas I think of tradition.
Whether you are carrying on passed down traditions from Ma and Pa or creating new ones, it’s something to look forward to.  For some of you it may be moving around the mischievous Elf on the Shelf or making long forgotten treats from your homeland.
We are all familiar with the typical traditions of the U.S., though there are many cultures that celebrate the holiday.  So I’d like to share with you some (seemingly strange) traditions beyond our shores.
Catalan region of Spain
El Tio de Nadal or Christmas Log is a character in Catalan mythology.  The custom is to hollow out a log, add legs and a face, then you must feed it daily starting on December 8th, the Feast of Immaculate Conception, then cover it at night so it doesn’t get cold.    On Christmas one puts it in the fireplace and orders it to defecate, while beating with sticks and singing until it releases candies, fruits, and nuts.  When it’s spent, the final object to drop is a salt herring, garlic bulb, or an onion.  Don’t forget to sing the song, it can only help. – I suggest you look that up for yourself!

Czech Republic
Single women toss their shoe on Christmas Eve to know if they will marry the following year.  They turn their back to the front door and toss the shoe over their shoulder.  If the shoe lands with the heel towards the door, she will stay single for the coming year.  If the front of the shoe faces the door, she will marry and move out from her parent’s home in the next year.  Now, it’s unclear what happens if the shoe is turned 90 degrees.  I guess she’d have to wait until the Christmas.

Slovakia and Ukraine
A most messy tradition of throwing food.  Sure does sound like fun though.  At the start of Christmas Eve dinner, the head of the family starts tossing “Loksa”, a traditional dish of bead, poppyseed filling and water, at the ceiling.  The more Loksa that sticks to the ceiling the better the harvest of crops the next year.  Unfortunately for the women of the household, they get the job of cleaning it up.

Caracas, Venezuela
The morning of Christmas Day the streets of Caracas are closed down to car traffic.  The entire city is encouraged to rollerskate to early morning Christmas Mass.  Later in the evening, instead of caroling, people beat drums until the stroke of midnight.  At midnight everyone shouts “Jesus is born” (in Spanish obviously) and light up the sky with fireworks.

The pickle ornament.  The pickle ornament is the last to be hung on the Christmas tree.  Many times it is past down from generation to generation.  It should be hidden when hung-it is green after all, and the first child to find it receives a gift on the morning of Christmas day and good luck for all of the next year.  Though it seems this tradition has become more of a legend these days.

There are many more strange traditions out there, google will fill you in.
At this stage it our lives it prime time to start your own new traditions and choose which to carry on from the past.
In the spirit of the holiday this year, at our home we are starting the tradition of cutting down our own Christmas tree.  What traditions do you hold dear? 



Brian Nystrom
UMD Athletics

Thanksgiving time is a time for family and friends.  It is time to kick back, relax, and enjoy some down time.  As young professionals it is important to take the time over the Holiday season to recharge the batteries and get ready for the busy Holiday season or to look back and review your accomplishments from the previous year.  

Thanksgiving is a time for laughter, old traditions, and new traditions. This to me is the best part of this Holiday.  Enjoying Mom's green bean casserole and cheesy hash browns as well as watching Thanksgiving football throughout the day.  Whatever your traditions may be, make sure you take it in as the new year will be here before we know it and Thanksgiving time with family in the rear view mirror.  

But before you take off across the State of Hockey or travel between state lines, enjoy this few video clips to get your Thanksgiving started off on the right foot.  

1.  Kissing Family (SNL) (let's hope if you visit your significant other, this isn't how it goes)


5 Winter Hacks for Hacks That Forget How to Do Winter

Rachel Malone

Winter is here! Ugh. As I was scraping off my windshield, this morning, with my Walgreen’s Reward Card, I had a brilliant idea for the next Fuse Duluth blog post: 5 Winter Hacks for Hacks That Forget How to Do Winter. As a native Minnesotan and a “seasoned” Duluthian, below are some tips and tricks that I have picked up over the years.

1. Prevent Icy Windshield with Vinegar
Supplies: Spray bottle, white vinegar, water, and an old rag
Directions: Mix 3 parts vinegar to one part water, in a small water bottle. Spray your windshield with the mixture, liberally. Then wipe off your windshield with the old rag.
In the morning, you will have a frost free (or relatively frost free) windshield! If you’re like me, you hate leaving the comfort of your home, early in the morning, to start your car. This can shave valuable minutes off of your morning prep by eliminating the strenuous scraping!

2. Place Beer (or other liquids) Between Inner and Outer Windows
Supplies: Bent Paddles’ Cold Press Black Ale in cans
Directions: Place the cans in between the inner window pane and the outer window/screen. If you don’t have the old school double window panes, place your beverages in a cooler, outside.
Free up some room in your refrigerator and let nature work for you! Downside- once we hit those double-digit-negative temperatures, bring that beer back inside. Nothing is worse than an exploded beer can in between two window panes.

3. Old Socks on Your Windshield Wipers
Supplies: Old socks
Directions: At night, lift your windshield wipers in their upright position and place old socks over the wipers.
Another time saver! Never lose the rubber wiper to a frozen windshield again! Keeping the wipers warm and cozy will ensure a greater scrape in the morning and reduced risk of breaking the wiper. If only, I would have thought of this last winter before I lost 3 sets of wipers to my frozen windshield.

4. Tinfoil Between the Wall and Your Wall-Mounted Heater
Supplies: Tin-foil and electrical tape
Directions: Place a layer of tin-foil, with electrical tape around the edges, on the wall behind your old school heater.
The tin-foil will reflect the heat back into your apartment/house and save your valuable heat (and money) from absorbing into the wall. Anything that can save you money on those wonderful Duluth heating bills!

5. Dry out Boots with Newspaper
Supplies: wet/soggy boots and old newspaper
Directions: Instead of placing you wet boots by a heater to dry out, stuff them with newspaper.
The newspaper will absorb the moisture quicker and more efficiently than the heat source. You may need to replace the newspaper a few times but it will help keep those valuable Uggs in pristine condition.


Transplanted in Duluth

Joe Jurewicz, PE, LEED AP 
MSA Professional Services, Inc.

Being a Duluthian is a description of choice, one that means a little something different to each and every resident of this historic city on Lake Superior. Some of us are natives and some of us, like myself, are transplants. I reflect on this because as the wind gets crisp, I recall the chuckles that I encounter when I tell people I moved from Miami to Duluth. Sometimes the chuckle is encountered by some other expressions, but the point is made. The question I repeatedly get is “What in the world made you come to Duluth?” 

The answer is – many things. Duluth has its strengths and weaknesses, just like anywhere else. For me, finding reasonable housing was a challenge and showed me one of Duluth’s weaknesses.  Don’t get me wrong, the housing market within the city has character and charm, but it also lacks affordable, updated homes.  Fortunately our city leaders have noticed the necessity to add to the housing available to residents.  Programs have been started that are looking at repurposing vintage properties in Duluth such as the Lester Park Golf Course and developers are building and expanding throughout our great city.  Not to mention programs like Build Up Duluth are available to provide potential homeowners generous incentives to build on vacant lots in the East and Central Hillside neighborhoods. 

I’ve found my home in Duluth. In this city, I can walk from my house to Lester Park and stroll the trails along Amity Creek. Duluth is truly the best outdoor city and the expanding trail network is only making it better for everyone. I can enjoy a beer and watch the port traffic in Canal Park. I spend 10 minutes getting to work in the morning and after work, I can catch up with fellow Fusers at events that take just minutes to get to. Duluth offers great opportunities to those willing to seek them out and I for one feel very privileged to be able to call Duluth my home and revel in all of the strengths our community has to offer. 

So, what makes someone from Miami come to Duluth? I think my native friends have it backwards. What makes someone from Miami not want to come Duluth?


Fall Fun

Brian Nystrom 
Director of Marketing & Corporate Relations
University of Minnesota Duluth Athletics

Summer in Duluth is not only the best time of the year in Northern Minnesota but I would place it up against any other place in the US.  We get to enjoy fantastic weather, outdoor living, the world's largest air conditioner (Lake Superior), and numerous festivals and events.  Having lived through 3 Duluth summers I have tried to take advantage of everything it has to offer.  However, when the Days of August hit and summer rolls into fall, we need a reminder that the weather is still good and the summer fun doesn't have to end.

In the fall, FUSE has some great events to connect young professionals in Duluth.  As we continue to grow our presence in the community, it is important to experience everything Duluth has to offer even outside our small gatherings.  So I wanted to list off top 5 great fall fun events to take part of.  None of these are secret but thought they would be fun to grab some fellow friends and FUSE connections.   So without further ado, here we go!

1. Applefest:  Head over to Bayfield for Applefest and experience Fall in all it's glory!  Oct. 3-5
2. UMD Football Game:  Tailgating, fall weather, beer?  You get it all at a Bulldog Football game with new tailgating and hospitality located in the south end zone. Football is made for the fall and for just $10 you can enjoy the game and have access to great beer, Green Mill Pizza, Cold Stone Ice Cream, and Famous Dave's!
3. Comedy Show at the Zeitgeist (Renegade Improv):  Every Friday and Saturday nights at 10:30pm grab some friends and go catch the stand up comedy show at the Zeitgeist.  Get the best of the old "whose line is it anyways?" show right here in Duluth.
4. Malt Shoppe:  Lake Superior, Ice Cream?  Enough Said.
5. Disc Golf:  Get outside and enjoy the great disc golf courses around Duluth which include UMD, St. Scholastica, Lake Superior College, and the new Spirit Mountain Course! 


The Evolving Duluth: Breaking the Stereotype

Jonathan Ballmer
Project Manager
Kraus-Anderson Construction Company

Approximately one year ago I received a job opportunity which allowed my family to move to Duluth from the Twin Cities.  As I excitedly shared my news with people, half of them said, “Do you know they don’t have summer there?” and the other half said, “That is awesome!  I love Duluth!”  Out of that second half, roughly half of those people then followed up with, “I would love to live in Duluth, but there aren’t any jobs.”  

I thought to myself, “Do these people really believe this?”  I understand the history of Duluth in the early 1980’s.  On the other hand, I am telling them that I just got a job in Duluth, we were just starting to come out of a recession, and I work in the construction industry.  So as I made my way North up Interstate 35, I began to focus on understanding the identity of Duluth.

Through my time here, I have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people throughout the community.  I found an underlying theme in the culture of Duluth; its people are passionate, engaged, and active.  As I look at the City, I see how these values have translated in the form of investment and/or re-investment by many businesses here over the last 5 – 10 years.  As the modern workplace continues to evolve, these values will only help to enhance the appeal of Duluth as people look to establish or grow their organizations.

I now view it as my responsibility to help educate people on the opportunities and possibilities that exist here.  Duluth is not just a great city to visit; it is a great place to live. 


Finding Ways to Advance Your Career

Kristine Jensen
Executive Administrative Assistant

As a woman that has a family, full-time career, and as new grad student at St. Scholastica, I can tell you first hand that my life is busy! I know that there are many people out there that are looking to move forward in your careers and it might not seem like it, but there are many options right here in Duluth.

I made the decision to go back to school because I knew that I could do more and BE more. I realized that, I am the only one that can make the difference in my life, and I decided to do something about it. Having a family, juggling extracurriculars, school and a social life is not going to be easy over the next two years, but the best part is that I can already notice the workings of my brain being retrained and getting back into the mode of writing papers and adhering to deadlines. Not to mention I have already seen my family taking on more responsibility; which is another great perk!  The point is that you need to put yourself out there in order to reap any reward. Without taking even the minimal risk of stepping outside of your comfort zone, how can one ever excel?

One outlet that can be used to enhance your abilities is the Duluth Chamber of Commerce. An opportunity that I personally grew from was the, “Social Media Conference,” that I attended in 2012, held by the Duluth Chamber of Commerce. It gave me expertise in digital networking, social media and a variety of technological ideals. 

Another organization related to the chamber, working to offer young, motivated individuals the opportunity to network and acquire knowledge is the Fuse program. An upcoming opportunity that I feel can be even more rewarding for thriving adults is the, “YPRO to CEO Conference,” on September 25. With such an encouraging atmosphere, engaging speakers and content, I have no doubt that anyone who attends will walk away inspired. 

Going back to school is great, but requires a lot of money and time. Why not be open to new opportunities and check out a Fuse at Five, get on linkedin and join some local business groups that interest you, or visit a Words from the Wise Luncheon, offered by Fuse (this one looks good titled, "Road map to being your own boss!")

I am so excited to be a part of Fuse as it is a new opportunity for me and I look forward to networking with individuals, sharing my story, and being inspired by all of you. 


Beachfront Blues

How about that Beachfront Blues event?!  Definitely in the running for the best attended Fuse event yet!

If you didn’t make it out, allow me to fill you in on what you missed.  The evening was staged on the private beach of the historic Glensheen Mansion, with access to the grounds to explore at your whim.  Kyle Scherz added his own flavor to familiar tunes, keeping the atmosphere upbeat.  There were scrumptious Blackwoods appetizers that kept you coming back for more, and free beer from Bent Paddle to cleanse your palate.  Top that off with lively lawn games, new friends and ideal weather!  Even the Sundew paid us a visit with a honk from the lake.

If you didn’t make it out to this one, be sure to join us at the next event.  Fuse at Five on the rooftop Eagle Harbor Room of the Inn on Lake Superior, sponsored by Verizon Wireless.  At this free event there’s sure to be fabulous prizes, tempting appetizers, and a cash bar.  Hope to see you there!

Tiersa Dodge
Fuse Duluth Leadership Council - Chair
DSGW Architects