From the Editor

I've lived a lot of places in my lifetime. They begin with a farm in a very small town, where I lived in two houses: the original one built on the property, and the one my family built after that first one burned. I lived in countless dorm rooms in Minneapolis and three memorable apartments in St. Paul. I lived in a quirky midcentury apartment in Yonkers, New York, and a duplex in a town at the foot of the Catskill Mountains, where I felt I could have spent the rest of my life.

But I didn't. Instead, I came to the Coulee Region, first to Brownsville, Minnesota, then to La Crosse, and including another farm on a ridge in Houston County, where my family spends much of our time when we aren't in the city.

For as varied as all these places have been-rural, urban; bustling, sleepy; large, small and just right-they have one thing in common. They have been home.

What makes a dwelling more than just four walls and a place to lay your head at night? I've considered this a lot over the years. When I was young, home was my security, the only place I knew. It was where people loved me and cared for me, where I learned freedom and boundaries and where I was made to understand that, no matter what happened to me in the course of my life, I would be welcomed back with open arms. "You will always have a home here," my parents said.

Later, home was a place I created for myself, surrounded by objects that were meaningful to me and décor that, though simple, reflected who I was and what I cared about. A few family heirlooms came my way, adding depth to my story, then bookshelves and more bookshelves, baskets of yarn and a couple of cats. Home was a reflection of myself, and it was a wonderful place to be, though in a different way than my childhood home.

Then people started entering my life, and the definition of home changed again. It became anywhere my husband and I were together, forging life adventures. It was a place to house and raise children, keeping them safe and providing a base for them to return to from their own adventures, whether down the street or into the woods. It is a place where they are loved and cared for, and from which we preach one important point: No matter what happens, you will be welcomed with open arms. You will always have a home here.

This issue of Coulee Region Women is all about that sense of home-the necessity of home and what it takes to make a home a safe and welcoming place. We begin by celebrating women like Caroline Gregerson of the City of La Crosse and local efforts like the Collaborative to End Homelessness, who work to ensure everyone in the region has a safe, affordable home, and that once-struggling neighborhoods become desirable, welcoming places. We'll introduce you to a number of women business owners in the building industry, tell you how to keep your home a safe place and give you lots of ideas for styling it. You'll get a peek inside the 2018 Parade of Homes People's Choice winner and an invitation to visit the 10 homes on the 2019 Parade of Homes roster. If a new Coulee Region home is in your future, you may just find your inspiration here.

No matter where you roam the remainder of this summer-or wherever life takes you-may you always find comfort and satisfaction in coming home. It's that sense of belonging and security that everyone deserves, that place you can return to and always feel welcomed.

Betty Christiansen



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What is inside this month's issue:

Improving Neighborhoods, Improving Lives
Caroline Gregerson and the City of La Crosse build up neighborhoods and those who live there.

Personal & Professional
It's the Little Things
Cheryl Thienes aims to help homeowners with small but necessary projects.

Insulating Intuition
Heather Nokken's family business warms the home and heart.

Designing Women
Here's a practical guide for choosing upholstered furniture that will hold up for years.

Healthy Living
Home Safe Home
Take steps to ensure your home is the safe haven it's meant to be.

A View from the Porch
Take a peek inside the La Crosse Area Builders Association Parade of Homes 2018 winner.

A Lifetime of Homes
As people's needs change, their homes change with them.

Welcome friends to your home for food and fun-we'll show you how.

The Coulee Collaborative to End Homelessness helps house those who need homes the most.

Retail Therapy
Homing in on Contrast
Local merchants offer expertise on combining contrasting elements to create a cohesive space.

Here's how to be a great guest in someone else's home.


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