Friday, December 6, 2013

Hope From Highway 34

Hope from Highway 34
is a 2014 calendar
for sale to benefit the
Rancher Relief Fund
which was set up to provide help to those
with loss of livestock due to the early blizzard on October 4, named Atlas.

You can order yours Saturday, January 11, 2014, on the KBHB Radio Auction 810 AM.
Tune in at 9:00 a.m. for details.
We will sell the remaining calendars 1/11/14,
make our donation of current funds collected to
the Black Hills Area Community Foundation/South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund.
1/11/14 UPDATE: Online Orders have been closed ~ THANK YOU SO MUCH for your support.

This week I was thrilled to hold the proof in my hands,
and have been about to burst with excitement to share.

So, I am giving you a sneak peak at some of the pages... (not all)
and more of the inspiration, workers and support behind the project.

Some key things you will notice about the calendar:
*All photos are scenes on, from, or very near South Dakota Highway 34
from the Hayes area to Bear Butte
*A theme of hope for the future runs throughout the calendar
*A South Dakota atlas found in an 80 year old school book serves as the background
*Honor of land and people  

Late October, a friend of mine from our days at good ol' Sturgis Brown High School
 shared about his friends' music group called Houdek
made up of South Dakotans singing about their home state.
Houdek is actually the name of the South Dakota state soil,
and their album, Return to Houdek, features cover art with roots growing down into the soil.
Depth and roots are a rich part of my identity, 
and over the years, I have become truly rooted in this land.
I made an immediate connection just by seeing their cover.
You can find them and order music here:  Houdek

One of their songs is called HWY 34 (from Hayes to Bear Butte).
Simply reading the title hit home to me.  
I live in the middle of that route and so do many of my friends.
Our community is along that highway.
Highway 34 is one of many things that we all have in common.

I have to give a nod to Eric for referring me to Houdek,
and to the band for doing what they love . . . creating music and words
to remember and honor places of their life.
Artists inspire artists.

After the winter storm Atlas wrecked havoc on much of the western half of our state,
my "rootedness" to the people, the land, and our lifestyle pressed deeper into the soil of my heart.
I wanted to bring help and healing.
And so a few photographs from Highway 34 on a return trip from Pierre, 
a story of one cow named Hope,
a Bible verse about God's plans to give us a future and a hope,
and the title of a song from the group called Houdek,
were seeds scattered in the soil of my heart,
that grew into this project
of Hope from Highway 34.

(I will do a drawing from all calendar orders through December 20 for a free copy of Return to Houdek.)

 When one drives across western South Dakota, loneliness attempts to creep in. 
That vast, expansive prairie makes you feel small,
almost like gazing at the stars on a dark, clear night.
Yet at the same time,
I personally feel the presence of God
 in the epic and intimate,
in the large and small.
Even though there is a sense of emptiness,
there is also a fullness.
 People are there, even if you cannot see them from the highway.
Like a drive across the prairie, people are virtually unseen in these calendar photos,
but they are remembered, honored, and hopefully encouraged
by the words and the beauty.
The land and the people . . . this is my place and my people.

On the back cover of the calendar,
you will read a story of Hope.
It is from a cattlewoman who experienced the full blow of nature.
Yet found faith and hope and courage in a small answered prayer.

A little excerpt is featured in this photo here:

As the seeds began to grow,
a team also grew to create the project.
Melissa Wilcox, the calendar designer, took the photos, words, ideas, thoughts,
read my mind and created the vision.
She did a phenomenal, beautiful job in a short amount of time 
with enthusiasm and heart.  
Jimmie Kammerer shared her story with me.
I will never forget the moment that my husband pushed the button
on our answering machine, our eyes connected,
and the two of us listened to her cracked voice asking me to write her story.
I cried.  I sobbed, in fact, as I listened to her recorded voice.
To be trusted with her personal story . . . there is no greater honor she could have given me.
At a time when I felt so helpless to possibly do anything to help her,
this was something that I could do...record the story of hope.
Dede Long has been my photography buddy for the past few years.
We have ventured to the Black Hills Photo Shootout together
and shared ideas about shooting pictures during branding season, cattle work, and sports.
Those that know her, know that her smile and laugh bring light and encouragement
whenever she enters a room.
She has shared her photos and her encouragement here in the midst of a hard season.
Kerry Frei brought willing hands and heart into this project.
Phone calling and lots of the behind the scenes details that needed to happen...
that has been her work.
She has edited photos, ideas, and written words and 
worked with me on the phone for countless minutes through this process.
The Wink family.  Dean. Joan. Dawn.  The Winks shared photos and editing, and words.
I am grateful to this family for the extras behind the scenes they have contributed.
Bob Bertolotto has talked with me for the past couple of years about creating a calendar.
This cause was the catalyst that finally put a goal and a deadline to the idea.
He has contributed photos and immediate excitement for this project.

Much thanks goes to the following for their support of this project.
Their support has kept costs minimal so that the maximum amount of the $25 per calendar
goes to those in need.

Thank you!

The Mackaben Family
Sabers-Farmers Union Insurance Agency
C M W Mfg.

It is humbling to have so many get behind this project
to give a hand to put some hardworking courageous people
back on their feet.

There have been beautiful words of support and encouragement all along the way.
Thank you for ordering calendars!
We have calendars ordered from coast to coast. Below is a lovely card from rural New York.
We have a limited number of 1000 being printed.
They will begin mailing the week of December 16-20.
Those that order first will get priority on mailing to ensure Christmas delivery.

Thank you Lorraine from dairy cow country in New York for your card.
It reads,
Dear Jodene ~ Greetings from rural New York, dairy cow country.
We have watched the situation of the ranchers and hoped and prayed for them.
Our dairy farmer papers have carried the story
and we did all we could to get national media on it.
In the process, we met many people with great heart and soul.

Thank you Lorraine, and so many others!