Wars are fought in distant lands
hard to find on a map
and even harder to understand
they may or may not know someone
who serves or died serving
but again - it is a story
hard to understand.
Strong is how I would describe Kathryn Lavelle. Brought here by an abusive man, ripped from the environment she knew and left here to survive on her own- a single mother escaping the clutches of yet another abusive relationship. In search for a ticket out of here Kathryn found instead a town that embraced her and helped her heal. She found a place that her life’s pain could be used to help others, she found a home. I will let her explain why Bemidji is her town
I was born on September 5th, 1967 from strong-New York born-half Irish-half Italian-church going-Catholic parents at St. Claire’s Hospital in a small New Jersey town called Denville. I lived in NJ until I was 9 years old and then my family moved to Maryland. I grew up in Maryland…Fallston to be exact…until I entered adulthood.I attended Fallston High School, where the majority of my time was mostly spent skulking through enemy territory. Fallston was a lily white, somewhat affluent, mostly conservative community that seemed hell bent on showing me to my place and forcing me to stay in it. Let’s face it, at the time I was not pretty…I was not popular…I was not a cheerleader…I was never what you would call successful in school. I always felt out of place…as if I was supposed to be living somewhere else…some magical town or city where I could just be myself, breathe deep and be appreciated for my strengths and talents. I later attended Harford Community College only to eventually find myself great with child as they sometimes say, and I had to drop out after only half a year. I had become a statistic,
Photography by Julie SaariAshley H. Filming “Common Ground” North East of Bemidji April 2010
Ashley was the one to contact me. She asked me if I would take part in her LPTV show Common Ground. I was so new into my project this prospect made me nervous. We met and discussed the possibility at a downtown coffee shop. When we left I was going to take part in Ashley’s show and she was going to participate in my project. She would be filming me taking pics of someone and I in turn would take pics of her filming someone,a very snake eating it’s own tail tale. What I learned is Ashley is learning to live in the Greater North. Brought here temporarily for a job, she is staying for reasons not listed in the travel brochure.
I was offered a job, I was moving to a new city! Life, as I knew it, was great! I received a packet in the mail from the Bemidji Chamber of Commerce, including ALL the information I needed to know about the city of Bemidji. Sure, the temperature looked colder…. and my friend’s eye’s nearly bugged out their heads when they saw 50 below in all of that information…but, it never really impacted me?
I guess, a naïve Ohio girl had never felt 50 below, so it was no big shake. I was ready!
Read more about Ashley HERE
Photography by Julie Saari
Northeast of Bemidji
I had just finished a meeting downtown. A truck with a trailer pulled up and parked as I crossed the street heading toward my vehicle. The emblem on the side resembled that of a super hero, and maybe Kirby (The Bike Guy) is a super hero, at least in the world of bikers. Kirby grew tired of trying to make a living and decided to try to earn money doing what he liked instead. This decision seems to have served him well. Mobile bike repair with same or next day service is something this town obviously needed. But there is a man behind the business
Water, pine trees, wood smoke and ‘smores, that was the beginning of my personal Bemidji. I guess I am lucky that my parents loved to camp. When I was a kid the word “Bemidji” was magic. I have heard it said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but to an eight year old growing up in the middle of the Red River Valley, the word “Bemidji” conjured up a thousand pictures. Here a few words about my town, you will have to fill in your pictures yourself.
Summer, the camping was in the summer.............
Photography by Julie Saari“Ruby”
Ruby “works” at KD Floral flower shop on the corner of 3rd St. and Minnesota Ave. I find myself returning to this shop time and again not so much for the flowers (which are always fresh and beautiful) but, rather to see Ruby. Always friendly and happy to see you, she greets customers with her caring brown eyes and a wag of her tail. ‘Pet therapy’ is what I call it, what would you call it?
If you haven’t already,
Squirrels, birds, frogs, trails, snow banks, lakes, and creeks. It’s the perfect place for a dog. There’s always something to do where I live. You should see all the forest left to explore! I love to run on the trails that are out by our house. You can run and run and tumble and nothing gets in your way. And in the winter sometimes the snow is so deep my head barely shows above the top. Yea, it’s pretty great living here.I didn’t always live here.......................