Teachers, Professors make use of Areavoices in the classroom

One of the trends that I’m loving here on Areavoices is our growth in classroom blogs. Having students publish their schoolwork (as part of their schoolwork) is gaining in momentum.

I’m so glad teachers and professors are seeing the value in having students log into their own blog and publish their thoughts and projects.

Not long ago, I told you how Dr. Julie Mach, an associate professor of chemistry at Concordia College in Moorhead is utilizing Areavoices in her Neurochemistry course. Students are required to post their reflections on topics in Neurochemistry in a way that the everyday reader could understand. (Thanks guys!)


It’s been fun to see the students weigh in and publish their own works.

Now Carrie Anne Platt is utilizing the platform for her Gender and Media class at North Dakota State University. The students were required to set up blogs specifically addressing issues concerning media influence on teens and tweens and their work has been really interesting. Here are just three blogs that stand out:


Looking for a speaker for your group?

One of my favorite parts of my job as Digital Content Development Director here at Forum Communications is the chance I get to meet with people in the community and tell them not only about the benefits of blogging on Areavoices, but give them a few tips about social media usage as a whole.

I’ve meet so many nice people (and had many nice complimentary lunches) at Kiwanis clubs, Rotary clubs and the like.

I wanted to let everyone know I’ve put together a new presentation that I’d love to share with your group or organization.

It’s called, “So You’re on Social Media, Now What? – Tips for more effective Areavoices blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting and more.”

I think it will help those of you who’ve gone to the trouble of signing up for all of these platforms but still aren’t quite sure what you should be doing.

Let me know if you’re interested in learning more.

Why is an NDSU student writing blog about Fighting Sioux hockey?

To be fair NDSU junior Bri Gefroh’s blog isn’t just about The Fighting Sioux, it’s about hockey as a whole. And more accurately her love of the sport. She writes:

For the Love of Hockey is a female-run blog about the best sport in the world, hockey. There will be news and analysis of course but also interesting/entertaining things I find from the world of hockey. After all, hockey is a lifestyle.”

She concentrates on covering teams in the Dakotas and Minnesota. She even interns for the Bismarck Bobcats.

It’s an unusual turn for a girl who grew up loving another sport:

“I’ve taken a journey from hoops to puck. I always knew I’d grow up to become a WNBA player… at least until I quit basketball in eighth grade. When I was in elementary school, if you’d have told me that when I got to college, I would fall in love with hockey, I would’ve thought you were on drugs. But nonetheless, here I am.”

She calls herself a UND Fighting Sioux hockey fan “on a campus that bleeds Bison green and yellow.”

She says it can be awkward to wear the Sioux gear to school, but she says it seems to help when she tells people she loves Bison football as well. Maybe that blog is next!I


Real Oilfield Wives and more new blogs!

It’s been awhile since I’ve given you my recommendations for new blogs to check out here on Areavoices. But three new blogs have crossed my path and I felt compelled to share them.

The first is called Real Oilfield Wives. This blog is just getting started but it’s based on an already popular website, Realoilfieldwives.com. It’s written by two women whose husbands work in the oil and gas industry. Melissa and Christy know the life of an oilfield wife isn’t always easy.

They describe in the about section of their site:

“We all know how lonely this life can be… long nights, days on end with no adult conversation, holding down the fort on our own for weeks at a time. Even though sometimes it’s nice to have all that ‘free time’, getting back into a groove together after so long isn’t always fun! Really, it kind of sucks.

So, welcome to ROW. We whipped up this site as a supportive community where women can find advice, friends, support, and maybe a good online sale tip every now and then!”

We’re thrilled that they’ll be sharing just some of their thoughts on our platform and with Forum Communication readers. Please welcome them!


The other two blogs that caught my eye are:

Inner Focus: Melissa Schaff calls her blog, “humorous and insightful messages based on my spiritual, emotional and energetic journey.” She’s a great writer and her blog is attracting a lot of fans already.

Also, be sure to check out our newest faith blog. Unitarian Universalist Church of Fargo Moorhead.


Three Great Teams=Three Great Blogs

Okay, I realize not everyone will agree with me that all three of these teams are great! (Commence the arguing Packer and Viking fans) But the fact is The Minnesota Vikings, The Green Bay Packers and The North Dakota State University Bison all find themselves in post-season play this weekend, so all rivalries aside, one could argue these are pretty awesome teams.

To keep you in the loop, I wanted to recommend three Areavoices blogs that you’ll want to see. They provide in-depth analysis, injury reports and those little details only rabid fans would notice. Check them out:
And finally: Who are you rooting for?


Gregor’s Packer Analysis: Packer news and reports from fan Greg Gillis.
Gillis provides a detailed recap of Packer action from week to week and previews what’s to come.

The Armchair Kicker – The Best Minnesota Vikings Blog in the Western Hemisphere. From the author: “My name is Mark Walters. Originally from Hibbing, Minn. My obsession with Vikings football started when my father took me to the Metrodome for the first time in October 1983. Win or lose, I bleed purple”

And for Bison fans, you need to get plugged into the Bison Media Blog. Forum sportswriter and columnist Jeff Kolpack and WDAY-TV sports director Dom Izzo run down the action (and occasionally each other) in this very popular blog. It usually in our top five most read blogs.


So enjoy the games this weekend everyone. And if you’re writing a Vikings, Packers or Bison blog you think we should feature or would like to start one, for heaven’s sake just email me. I’m happy to get you started. tracy.briggs@forumcomm.com


Looking for the area’s messiest desk!

Packrats everywhere claim that “a clean desk is the sign of a sick mind.” If that’s true we are about to introduce you to some very healthy people.

The Messy Desk is a celebration of the messiest desks in the region. We want your pictures! Share just how bad it’s gotten. Do your co-workers, family, and friends make fun of you, cracking wise about finding Jimmy Hoffa in your desk drawers? This is your chance to show your pride for your desk. If it can’t be cleared off, it might as well be celebrated for being the pinnacle of clutterdom. Just send your pictures to me at tracy.briggs@forumcomm.com and I’ll post them to this blog.

Help might be on the way for the messiest among you!

Consider this story for inspiration. Back in the early ’90’s a co-worker of mine lost his father. His job was to clean out his father’s office. As a college professor, his father was known to have saved a lot of old papers, tests, and documents. But my friend couldn’t imagine just how bad it was. My friend found a memo on his father’s desk from 1974. 20 years old. I know some of you can relate.

So show us your clutter and celebrate MESSYDESKITIS!




Divas on Areavoices!

I love the first few lines on the new Diva Connection blog:

We believe if angels had access to a social network, instead of using their profiles to show off how high they can fly, they would use this connection to ask: What can I GIVE to help you fly? We can all be angels on Earth and together help others fly higher.

That’s the whole idea behind Diva Connection.

“Diva Connection is a non-profit organization that CONNECTS women who aspire to GIVE their Time, Talent and Donations to women who are yearning to RECEIVE the fulfillment they need in the areas of Personal Support, Health Enhancement, and Career Empowerment.”

It’s a matter of helping women connect with other women. As Executive Director Nicole Phillips says, “Diva Connection Foundation empowers women, not by giving a hand out, but by giving a hand up.”

Founder Chris Linnares says its all about helping women to create healthier and more fulfilling lives so they can become leaders of change in their families and communities.

“Sometimes to start GIVING big things to the world, we need to RECEIVE a little help,” Linnares says.

We’re happy to say Diva Connection is now sharing it’s news on Areavoices through its new blog: http://divaconnection.areavoices.com

Read stories of women empowering women and see if you’d like to join in!

Areavoices blogging, baby…

…downtown, Baby.

We’ve seen the ads on TV.

Downtown merchants and residents touting the virtues of downtown Fargo in two simple words…”downtown, baby.”

Hip, cool, happening.

The fact that downtown Fargo has experienced a rebirth is old news. What was once abandoned store fronts and apartments is now trendy clubs,businesses and high-end restaurants and apartments. It’s pretty cool.

But what is news now is that it just got easier to figure out what’s happening in downtown Fargo. Downtown Fargo is now on Areavoices.


We couldn’t be happier to welcome them. The blog is featured on some of our Forum Communications websites already so you’ll be able to read downtown news right alongside the other news of the day.


Welcome downtown Fargo!


Tickled Pink about Livin Up!

I don’t know Roger Sievers very well. He’s a multi-media producer for the Rivertown newspaper group. We’ve chatted a few times for work purposes and met once while he attended a Forum Comm meeting in Fargo. But I know after watching his new video blog, “Livin Up” that I’d like to get to know him better.

I just love what he’s doing with this blog. He’s highlighting fun ideas, activities, and projects for families. And he should know. He’s the oldest of 12 children and a father to three of his own.

This man knows what it means to keep a family busy. But what’s nice is that he shares his ideas in an easy to understand, lighthearted way. Perfect when you think a lot of parents don’t have a lot of time to spend watching video blogs.

So check him out at http://livinup.areavoices.com


We want your Christmas memories and traditions!

What I love about the Areavoices Community is the opportunity it gives for everyone to weigh in.

That’s what I like most about one of our newest blogs, “Traditions of the Season” 

We’re asking everyone who reads it to weigh in and share your favorite holiday memories and traditions, share your pictures as well. I want it to feel like we’re sitting around the Christmas table with coffee (or egg nog)  talking about what makes the holidays so special for us.

I love hearing what others do to make Christmas “the most wonderful time of the year!”

Please share your stories and pictures by emailing them to me at tracy.briggs@forumcomm.com. I’ll look them over and get them published on the Traditions of the Seasons blog.

This Thanksgiving one woman is grateful for North Dakota

I love Rachel Kelly’s author bio on her new Areavoices blog: Meanderings of a Zealous Mom. 

She uses several six word phrases to describe herself:

Always looking for The Grey Area.
Meet my best friend, Amazon Prime.
Graduate degree in Blooming Where Planted.
What does boredom feel like again?
My 3 year-old poops in sandboxes.
Unlikely mix of redneck and liberal.
The Bakken: Home of my heart.
Married to Trees, Affair with Sky.
WRITER, Wife, Mother, Friend, Sister, WRITER.

Blogger Rachel Kelly and her children


And what a writer she is. She’s lived in many places around the United States, but this Thanksgiving she finds herself in the rugged oil patch region of Western North Dakota, The Bakken.

She describes her response as people ask her if she really likes it “up there?” For her, the answer is an unequivocal “yes.” Here is an excerpt:

“Sometimes I feel like I might be living in a dream, like one day I’ll wake up and the adoration I have for this place will have faded like an ill-fated love affair. But the truth is I’ve loved one thing or another about all of the places I have lived, but I have never loved myself in a place more than I love myself here, in North Dakota, where the expanse of land seems endless and unwavering, where rebel dust clouds visit every surface and crevice, where trees, my true love, are as scarce as rainbows, where the biting winds of winter torment my face, forcing me to hide behind layers of clothes. Beneath these clothes which shroud me in protective warmth, I am as free as ever.”

I won’t go on any further. Go to her blog yourself and read what she has to say about her new home. You might find a new appreciation for your own surroundings.



You can’t be too rich or too thin, right?

That’s the famous saying isn’t it?

And at no time during the year do we think this more frequently than the holidays. We spend too much and we eat too much and we’d love to turn it all around.

Two Areavoices bloggers offer inspiration today.


LSS Financial Counseling offers us advice today on how not to overspend during the holidays in its blog Sense and Centisibility. You could save  yourself a lot of money and heartache reading this advice before Black Friday



After the holidays are over, many of us are faced with two depressing things: the bills and the scale. We’ve eaten way too much and our weight backs that up. Celeste Edenloff faced that demon 4 years ago today. She started her blog:

Confessions of a Fat Girl –http://fatgirl.areavoices.com 

Celeste has since turned her life around. You won’t believe her transformation. It’s not just how she looks but her entire lifestyle. Amazing. Inspirational!


And as those blogs get you on the right track toward eating healthy and watching your budget, remember for some people Black Friday is sport. If you’d like to share your Black Friday strategies and memories with us just email me at tracy.briggs@forumcomm.com for publication in our Black Friday blog. http://blackfriday.areavoices.com 

Funny Halloween Costumes for Kids (and we want to see them!)

I was googling “Halloween Costumes for Kids” today. Not because my kids are in need of a costume. Nope. They knew what they were going to be weeks’ ago. Halloween is a very big deal at our house. But Forum Community Content Coordinator Shane Mercer and I were talking about how we’d love to use our websites to share all of the cute kids costumes we’ve seen lately. That’s when I found this article that just cracked me up. As you look at some of these kid’s costumes from Pinterest I think you’ll both be amazed and maybe a little frightened at the creative (or is it disturbed?) genius of some parents.

You’ll notice most of the kids wearing these costumes are far too young to object. Do you really think any kid over the age of 5 would agree to be Dwight Schrute for Halloween? Probably not.

Are you more creative than the parents in this article?  Are your kids more decked out? We’d like to help you find out. If you have Halloween pictures of your kids you think are worth sharing, send them to smercer@forumcomm.com. Then he’ll post them in our Kid Pics community blog. You could see your adorable little ghost, goblin or “The Office” character on our websites.

Think about it and have a fun Halloween!



You asked for it…you got it!

Okay, I hope Toyota doesn’t sue me for that line. But it fits so perfectly here.

I’ve had a few people email me and say they had a hard time finding enough information regarding Areavoices blogging. The information, including frequently asked questions, do’s and don’ts, and tutorials can all be found on this blog. But I understand there was some hoop jumping to find it. We’ve been working on improvements to the Areavoices homepage and I had been tweaking the information found there. Now it’s a done deal.

You’ll now find all of the information I mentioned above and more on the home page at www.areavoices.com under “What is Areavoices?”.

Check it out!


And as always I’m only an email away.


So you want to write about the oil boom….

Well, have I got a deal for you…

Sorry, couldn’t resist that cheesy line.

But it’s the truth. I’ve spoken to a few people with very strong opinions about life in the oil boom of western North Dakota. I’ve encouraged them that instead of keeping their frustrations or excitement to themselves or sharing with friends on Facebook, they should do more. They should write a blog. Why not share your observations about life in the oil patch? People want to know more about it from those living it. The good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.

If you’re unsure what it all entails, you can learn more about it during a free webinar tomorrow and next Wednesday. I’ll go through the specifics of Areavoices blogging and show you how easy it is to set one up. Just leave a comment here or drop me an email at tracy.briggs@fccinteractive.com for information on how to log on. (All that’s required is a phone and a computer).

Hope you can join us!

Does Father Know Best, Least, or Last?

We’ve all been raised to believe the former. At least those of us who grew up watching black and white reruns on TBS. We watched as Ward Cleaver told Wally not to always listen to Eddie Haskell (has there ever been a better TV character than Eddie Haskell?) And what about Robert Young on Father Knows Best? As Midwestern Insurance Executive Jim Anderson he guided Princess, Bud and Kitten through the trials of 1950’s youth. Some have said shows like this idealized family life. Did audiences in the 1950’s think this was the way all families should act? Maybe. But I think we can look back these days and reflect upon the sweetness and the hokiness of the sitcoms. If nothing else we get to enjoy Eddie.

But what’s the real story of fatherhood in 2012? I’m happy to say we have two Areavoices bloggers who sum things up pretty well and they do so with a poke at Young’s old show.


Father Knows Last blogger Jim Lindlauf and wife Sue

Father Knows Last is the story of Grand Forks father and husband Jim Lindlauf. He’s been blogging on Areavoices since 2009 and if anyone knows the fatherhood game, it’s Jim. He’s been married for 27 years and is raising a teenage son.




Father Knows Least

Our second father blogger is in a totally different place, Father Knows Least, is written from the perspective of a brand new dad. Kirby became a dad in December, and writes “from the horror stories of projectile fluids, to the simple joy of a baby giggle, I hope you enjoy the comedy that has become my life.” We do, Kirby.


Happy Father’s Day dads, and whether you know best, least or last, we love you!




A Big Congratulations to this Areavoices blogger!

Local blogger wins national writing award

 Congratulations to Areavoices blogger Julie Holmquist who recently received a national award for her blog, “God Tracks: The Evidence of God in Ordinary Lives,.”Holmquist lives in Wisconsin but her blog is featured in Forum Communication newspaper websites across Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Holmquist’s blog, found at godtracks.areavoices.com, was honored by the 2012 Evangelical Press Association Awards of Excellence. Each year the Evangelical Press Association (EPA) contest honors the best work done by EPA-member publications during the past calendar year.

The award was presented at EPA’s annual convention May 9-11, 2012 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Awards of Excellence honor overall excellence of a publication. Judges in this category evaluate a number of criteria, including writing quality, content choices and design. Holmquist received the Award of Merit in this category and was one of two winning bloggers. The blog posts true stories about people and how Jesus Christ is making a difference in their lives.

Judges commented that the blog was “all-around exceptional” and that “You can count on each post to be thorough, engaging and thought-provoking. The reader is drawn in from the very first sentence.”

“Jesus is working in amazing ways this very moment, and people have stories to tell,” Holmquist said.  “I’m just passing these stories on, hoping to give glory to God and encourage others. Anyone with stories to tell can contact me at god.tracks@yahoo.com. I’d love to hear from them.”


Areavoices Digest #76 – Running, Minnesota Vikings, and Season-Ending TV


I decided for this week’s list of recommended blogs, I’d go with the real HOT TOPICS. What’s making news? What’s the buzz? What are you talking about around the water cooler?

At my office, it’s been a lot of chatter about the upcoming Fargo Marathon, which attracts 20 thousand runners from around the nation. We’re also talking about the newly-passed Viking stadium. And TV talk is always big:  “Who’s going to win American Idol or Dancing with the Stars?”

That being said these Areavoices blogs hit on those topics. Check them out! And if you’re interested in writing your own blog, don’t forget to drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you: tracy.briggs@fccinteractive.com

Fargo Marathon
The official blog of the Fargo Marathon written by race director Mark Knutson. This year’s race is expected to attract 20,000 runners from all over the United States.

Addicted to Running
Running enthusiast Steve Wagner talks about training, nutrition and more.

TV talk from a TV lover. On TV covers the buzz from primetime and beyond.

Life in the Patch
“Life in the Patch” is a Forum Communications blog documenting the good, the bad, the ugly and the pretty in oil-rich Western North Dakota.

Minnesota Sports Shorts
An overview of Minnesota’s often vexing sports scene with Duluth News Tribune copy editor Louie St. George III

Areavoices Digest #70 – A song that might drive WDAY’s Weather Guys Crazy!

Okay, technically “Fargo’s First Radio” isn’t turning 90 until May 22nd, but I’m a firm believer in celebrating milestones as long as possible.

But perhaps more than that, the station’s anniversary is worth mentioning today because of something the fine folks at ‘DAY just started doing. They’re helping us relive history. (I mentioned last week how the Duluth News Tribune is celebrating history in it’s Attic blog, now WDAY is following suit). The station has uncovered some classic old radio clips from the past century – with the voices of Ken Kennedy, Jack Dunn and more. (Trivia: Did you know WDAY radio personality Ken Kennedy discovered singing great Peggy Lee, the former Norma Deloris Egstrom from Jamestown, ND?) What’s even more fun is hearing the old game shows and commercials. Now you can hear these clips from the Golden era of radio on the WDAY Radio Blog.

I have to point out one clip in particular. It’s from a live weather report in 1946. What stands out to me is the weather jingle sung by Lynn Abbott. It is vintage. Really cheesy. But delightful. I’m sure the jingle stopped airing in the 1940’s or 50’s, but it never really went away. I remember a couple of years ago when I worked for WDAY, the studio production crew would pipe this old jingle into the studio as the meteorologists were prepping their forecast. While I think they all appreciated the walk down memory lane, I think it might have driven them a little nuts too. Now you can listen to that song on the WDAY radio blog.

The WDAY radio blog will be sharing these clips with us through the spring and even summer. Please feel free to leave your comments and memories in the comments section of their blog.

Now here is the WDAY radio blog along with the rest of the recommended blogs of the week:

WDAY Radio
Fargo’s first radio celebrates its 90th birthday by uncovering some rare audio and video clips from radio’s golden era.

Marilyn Hagerty
Grand Forks own media darling. The 85-year-old retired Herald columnist has captured the nation’s attention with her
restaurant reviews. What started with a review of The Olive Garden is now taking Marilyn around the world!

Oil Patch Dispatch
Forum Communications reporter Amy Dalrymple brings us news from the oil boom in western North Dakota.

Chew the Fat
A health and fitness blog designed with you in mind.

Real Money
Advice from The Village Financial Resource Center as we hit the heart of tax season.

Should I fake it or get real?

A rose by any other name…

What’s in a name?

Does it really matter if you don’t use your real name when writing your blog? It’s a question a new blogger asked of me awhile back. She was uncertain how much of herself she wanted to put into her new blog. There is no easy black and white answer.

I would say in most cases I would advise using your REAL name, but there are some circumstances where using a pseudonym might make some sense. Here are three reasons to for faking it and three reasons to keep it real:


1) It’s best for your career – Money talks. You might have a desire to share your thoughts and words all over the internet. But certain employers will look down up employees who are “out there” online with opinions that might alienate potential clients and customers. If you still have the desire to write a blog, a pen name isn’t a bad choice. But you run the risk of being found out either by the boss or those clients you might be offending. Will your employer be angry if he/she finds out?

2) A Loss of Privacy – Some people have a lower degree of tolerance for the world knowing their business. Social media doesn’t hide much and a pseudonym gives you some protection from trolls and people who could steal your identity.

3) Freedom – With anonymity comes freedom. Don’t believe me? Just look at any online comment thread. People are pretty free with their thoughts when they don’t have to tell people who they are.  Would some people actually say what they’re saying if they were forced to leave their real names? Would you be so quick to criticize a local anchorwoman on her haircut, if you had to leave your name on that comment? Probably not. Blogging isn’t much different. If you’re a shy person, and can only be free to write if it’s under a made up name, it’s not a bad choice.


1) Credibility: If people know the person behind the words, those words often hold more weight. If I know that Jeff Tiedeman is Chef Jeff, I’m more likely to pay attention to his cooking blog. I know I can trust that content because I know trust and respect the person writing it. In a way, your name becomes your brand. It is valuable.

2) Responsibility: There’s something about standing behind your words. What you say may or may not be popular, but you’re putting it out there. History was not written by anonymous writers. Have faith in what you say. If people, disagree so be it. As Dr. Suess once said, ““Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Trust in yourself. If people disagree it’s not the end of the world.

3) Promotion: The promotional benefits of writing a blog reach far and wide. Talk to any Areavoices blogger writing on behalf of their business. They’ll tell you, it’s a great place to share what you know about a subject. While you’re not overtly advertising your business, you’re setting up a reputation as an expert in a given field. That goes a long way.

In the end, do what you think is right. The best part of online writing is you can always change your mind if you decide you made the wrong choice.