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A Call for a Community Coloring Book

Our very own graphic designer/copywriter/baking extraordinaire, Alison Raaen, has been selected as one of two recipients of the South Dakota AIGA’s Idea Fund, a grant that helps fund designer-initiated projects that impact the community.

Her goal is to create a Sioux Falls coloring book inspired by the culture, landmarks, and ecology of the Sioux Falls community. Each page will be based on something found in the Sioux Falls area. This may include Falls Park, the Great Plains Zoo, the Butterfly House, farmer’s markets, or local cuisine. Alison has had the idea for a while, but the grant gave her the motivation she needed for the project to come to fruition.

As the designer of this project, she is focused on the “colorability” of the book, or how she can make people sit down and experience Sioux Falls in a brand new way. She wants as many people as possible to be able to share in the community and activity that the City of Sioux Falls brings. Raaen swears that this entire project is a learning process, so the book will evolve as time goes on.

“It’s tricky because I’ve never been formally trained as an artist by any means,” said Raaen. “I’ve just been sitting down and drawing each page off an app on my iPad. I think this also brings a message that this book is for everybody, not just those who are artistically inclined.”

She is focused on using her personality of naturally being a “maker” of doodles and design and channel it into a project. Though anybody can take a picture of a Sioux Falls landmark, Raaen hopes to bring a sense of abstract and vibrancy to the pages through her illustrations.

Raaen has six months to complete the project and will present the completed book at 2018 Sioux Falls Design Week. Beyond that, she is working to find cost-effective printing options with vendors and looking to have local stores carry the coloring book upon completion.

“It’s a mix of exciting yet scary being both the designer and director on this project,” said Raaen. “I’m not usually wearing both hats simultaneously at MJM, just because my projects are dictated by client need and now it’s just me and my imagination.”

As for long-term goals, Raaen said she would consider making a series of these books, one for each season. For now, she is just thankful for a beautiful city for inspiration, monetary support from AIGA, and a sense of community that goes along with Sioux Falls.

“I think it’s great that AIGA wanted to support the community to get people like me who wouldn’t have the time to create something we can share,” said Raaen. “With projects like this, it just gets everybody to care a little more about design.”

Check out the video below to learn more about Alison’s inspiration!

You make the MJM office proud, Alison! We can’t wait to stock up on coloring books come October.


Maintaining Traditions and Exploring the Future of Ophthalmology at ASCRS

It has been at least 20 years since I attended my first conference of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ASCRS) and I haven’t missed a single year since.

What makes it so special? The conference attracts physicians and practice administrators from all over the world who attend to learn the latest advancements in ophthalmic diagnostics and treatments, as well as best practices for delivering care to patients. It also gives us a chance to meet informally with our clients from all over the country.

The team at Matt Jensen Marketing is proud to support many of the industry’s leaders in ophthalmology, helping them to spread awareness of new technology, clinical studies and procedures. This year, several members of the MJM staff (including myself, Matt Jensen and Logan Wang) will be presenting at ASCRS and the joint American Society of Ophthalmic Administrators (ASOA) Conference. Our topics include:

  • Can My Practice Afford Another High-Tech Device?
  • Creating a Winning Culture
  • Measuring What Matters: Create a HIPAA Compliant Patient Satisfaction Survey with Compelling Data
  • Innovating the Patient Experience: Five Ways Private Practices Create Raving Fans

The mission of ASCRS is “to advance the art and science of ophthalmic surgery and the knowledge and skills of ophthalmic surgeons by providing clinical and practice management education and by working with patients, government, and the medical community to promote the delivery and advancement of high-quality eye care.”

Our MJM team is proud to be a part of this organization now and for many years to come.

How Do We Contribute to Our Community?

In light of recent events, such as devastating hurricanes, social unrest, political divisiveness and a mass shooting incident, I’ve been thinking about  community and what it really means.

There are multiple interpretations of the word community. The Business Dictionary defines it as a:

  1. Self-organized network of people with common agenda, cause, or interest, who collaborate by sharing ideas, information, and other resources.
  2. Cluster of common interests that arise from association.

At a time where the country seems to be at odds, how do we come together as a community to bring order, peace and assistance to those in need?

One solution could be recommitting to a community value system. Values have major influence on a person’s behavior and attitude and serve as broad guidelines in our lives.

We’ve witnessed examples of great deeds, where groups or individuals have come to the aid of others suffering from tragedies. I’d like to think that each of us can contribute to the overall good of our communities. There is a higher purpose when we can see beyond our own immediate needs to help others.

In the coming months, I hope we will use these incidents of terror and devastation to find ways that we can contribute, share ideas and build a community value system that honors and defends non-negotiable core principles that recognize all individuals and bring us together. I’ve created a list of things that I can do and I hope you will create your list, too.

How I’m Committing to Serving My Community:

  • Making donations and encourage others to donate resources, food and supplies to hurricane victims.
  • Donating time to a charitable organization that helps in disaster relief or community programs.
  • Becoming proactive to support legislative change.
  • Looking for common ideas and shared values—encouraging people to see what brings us together, rather than what divides us.
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Happy National Coffee Day!

How do you take your coffee? Steaming hot, black, with cream, sweetened, over ice? Whatever your preference, coffee is a powerful and delicious, tool for building relationships.

Sharing a pot of coffee is a morning ritual at the office. We enjoy beans roasted down the road by our friends at The Breaks. So is meeting over a cup at Queen City Bakery or Coffea. We even map out the progression of economic value using coffee beans from their raw, harvested form through a full concierge-like coffee experience.

We think coffee is pretty great, but it’s even better with you (and donuts). Download our original Coffee Coloring Page. Color it in, take a photo, tag us and we might just have to have coffee with you sometime.



Bread and Circus: Serving Up Personality

According to their website, the owners of Bread and Circus Sandwich Kitchen have a “propensity for planning their next meal before the current one is even finished.” I’m hooked already. I have my lunches planned out through the end of October, so I already know this restaurant’s personality is right up my alley.

The aesthetic at Bread and Circus is simple—their menu is written on a large blackboard behind the counter and all of their drink offerings are on display. Their special is listed to the right of the cash register. You order, pay and seat yourself.

Customers placing orders at Bread and Circus

Bread and Circus sources local ingredients as much as they can, and it shows in their food. On my first visit, I ordered the Vietnamese Fried Chicken sandwich. Because it’s literally fried chicken in a sandwich, it was a little difficult to eat. But this lunch was still a home run—the chicken was juicy and the flavors were spot on.

For this outing, however, I chose the Carnitas sandwich with lime and black bean purée, pork, avocados, Oaxacan cheese and pickled radishes on ciabatta bread. There were definitely not enough pickled radishes. I thought these were the highlight of the sandwich and I could have eaten mounds more! The sandwich was a little underwhelming—I wish there had been a sauce or a little bit more flavor in the pork. But it was still quite delicious and everything on it was perfectly paired.

Carnitas sandwich from Bread and Circus

The meal came with chips and we also ordered the sweet corn fritters as an appetizer. To be honest, I could have ordered about three more fritters and eaten them as my meal. They were out-of-this-world amazing. The accompanying green goddess dressing was fantastic and is also great for dipping chips.

Corn Fritters from Bread and Circus

I highly recommend Bread and Circus for lunch, dinner and any meal in-between. The outdoor seating is perfect with enough shady and sunny spots to fit your mood. It’s quick, easy to order and makes for an easy lunch stop, even if you don’t have the full hour. They feature local beer selections for dinner (or lunch if you’re one of those lucky few who get to imbibe on your lunch break).

And the service was excellent. The wait staff was patient, friendly and timely with every piece of our order. I can’t wait to go back and try something else from the menu!


Bros Brasserie: Where Local Art and Food Collide

Located on Phillips Ave, just a short walk from M.B. Haskett, the star of last month’s restaurant review, Bros Brasserie houses local art and takes pride in helping to develop Sioux Falls’ growing art scene. Their patio is one of the largest in downtown Sioux Falls and while it doesn’t boast the great views that Ode to Food does, it offers privacy, occasional live music and a great downtown atmosphere.

Bros is one of my favorite dinner places because of their rotating menu. They keep things simple, fresh and always feature local ingredients and local beers. For lunch, Bros offers a simple staple menu with occasional rotating features. For this outing, we chose patio seating, and I opted for their Chicken and Waffles special.

Chicken and Waffles from Bros Brasserie

I haven’t been to Bros for lunch very often, but I remember a friend ordering this in the past. The waffles on that occasion had been thick, more of a Belgian style, and the presentation was quite different. On this occasion, the waffles were a bit underwhelming and were unfortunately a bit dry. The chicken, however, was outstanding. It was juicy, flavorful and had a lot of delicious fried chicken goodness. I was pretty disappointed that the waffle didn’t pack the same punch.

I ordered the Sweet Chili Tomato Bisque soup on the side, and I could have probably eaten 10 more bowls. The flavor was absolute perfection. It had a little bit of that spicy taste from the chili and was the perfect complement to my meal. Each of my co-workers ordered one of the sandwiches – the fried chicken sandwich and the Bros Burger. While neither felt like it was the best thing they had ever eaten, the food was flavorful, juicy and a good portion for lunch. The dynamite and personalized customer service during our meal was top-notch.

The dynamite and personalized customer service during our meal was top-notch.

Over the lunch hour, I recommend giving yourself the full hour to enjoy your meal. The restaurant wasn’t fully packed, but the dishes definitely require some extra prep time in the kitchen, and if you have to come from 12:00-1:00 pm, you will likely need the whole time.

Bros Brasserie interior

During the summer hours, be sure to check out their patio as it offers both sunny and well-shaded spots and gives you a good feel for downtown Sioux Falls life. I also highly recommend coming back when you’re able to sample their rotating beers and amazing dinner feature menu.

Usually, I end the meal with a dessert, but today the chicken filled me up and we were running a bit short on time. If you’ve sampled some of their desserts, let us know what you think! And follow along with us next month as we continue to explore the downtown Sioux Falls food scene!


M.B. Haskett: The Heart of Downtown

Located on Phillips Avenue, M.B. Haskett sits in the heart of downtown of Sioux Falls. They are known for a rotating menu of flavors and for their locally sourced ingredients. They also feature art from local artists, locally-roasted coffee and a great outdoor patio.

This is the second restaurant review in our series—be sure to read last month’s review of ODE to Food and Drinks.

I haven’t frequented Haskett’s enough to have a go-to dish. I have been to Chef Michael’s rotating prix fixe menu on the weekends and, if your budget allows, I highly recommend this culinary experience. For lunch though, Haskett’s has a decent staple menu and always has something delicious and unique on their feature menu.

Today, I chose the Bánh Mì made with duck paté served on a baguette. I was a bit hesitant at first, as I’ve had the Brie and Prosciutto Baguette at Haskett’s, and the bread was almost too hard to eat for my taste. For this sandwich though, the bread was perfect. It was a little crisp on the top but soft in the center, and the filling was amazing. The carrots were pickled, which added a nice flavor, and the duck paté was well-seasoned and flavorful.

Banh Mi from M.B. Haskett

Each of my co-workers ordered one of the homemade salads on the side. Haskett’s makes their own dressings and they tasted absolutely amazing. While both salads seemed a little heavily dressed, the flavors melded well together and also complemented their main dishes well.

Side salad from M.B. Haskett

Over the lunch hour, I recommend giving yourself the full hour to enjoy your meal. Typically, the restaurant has quite a few occupants at this time, and if you have to come from 12:00-1:00 pm, you’re going to need the whole time. If you’re able to come in a little earlier or a little later, you’re more likely to be able to get out within 45 minutes or so.

During the summer hours, you can enjoy their backyard patio with a mural done by local artist, Shaine Schroeder. M.B. Haskett has a great weekend pub menu and always has something special prepared by Chef Michael for their rotating prix fixe menu.

Crepe from M.B. Haskett

I ended the meal with one of their sweet-style crepes. They offer four flavors, but our server recommended that we mix flavors. I opted for the raspberry/Nutella combination, and it was the perfect way to end a perfect meal. Check out M.B. Haskett and let us know what you think. And follow along with us next month as we continue to explore the culinary delights waiting for you in Sioux Falls!

Other favorites at M.B. Haskett include the Savory Crepe, the Muffaletta and the Brie and Prosciutto Baguette.


ODE to Food and Drinks: Be Adventurous

In the last few years, the food scene in Sioux Falls has exploded. There are a wide variety of options to choose from on a daily basis. And, you can explore almost any international flavor from the comfort of your own community. But to really get the most out of your culinary experience—you need to be adventurous.

Follow me each month on the blog as I explore a few of Sioux Falls’ eateries and give you a quick glimpse into some of my favorites at each spot.

Today’s visit is just a few minutes walk from our office doors—ODE to Food and Drinks. ODE offers a lunch menu with a rotating feature, a patio with an impressive view and some of the best food in the downtown area.

ODE to Food and Drinks exterior

Usually, I choose the Lamb Burger made with local grass-fed lamb and topped with a cherry/walnut compote, romaine lettuce and tomato. It comes on a toasted egg bun, but I always opt for the lettuce wrap (which really isn’t a wrap but turns the dish into a great little salad.) I then either get fries or the sweet potato chips—and I always grab a side of avocado aioli.

Today, however, I opted for the Fancy Grilled Cheese with Jalapeño Bacon. Every once in awhile, it’s good to explore something new at one of your go-to spots. First, this gives you a fuller glimpse into the restaurant’s capabilities. And second, remember to get the most out of your experience, you have to step outside of your normal routine.

Fancy Grilled Cheese at ODE to Food and Drinks

Now, grilled cheese would be classically defined as normal, but I’m glad I opted for it. The cheese was perfectly melted, and the rye bread had a buttery finish to it that was well done. The jalapeño bacon was the right amount of spice and didn’t overwhelm the subtle flavors of the cheese. Plus, it looked great.

Over the lunch hour, I recommend giving yourself the full hour to enjoy your meal. Typically, the restaurant is quite full between 12:00 and 1:00 pm and you’re going to need the whole time. If you’re able to come in a little earlier or later, you may be able to get out within 45 minutes or so.

During the summer, you can enjoy a relaxing view of the Big Sioux from their patio, which offers privacy while still showcasing the beauty of the river. ODE has a great Saturday brunch and a wide range of unique drinks.  And their rotating dinner menu always features something special prepared by Chef Bob.

Chocolate chip cookies at ODE to Food and Drink

Oh, I almost forgot. Today was Cookie Tuesday! Now what could be better than a little nibble of chocolate cookie to end an amazing meal. Check out ODE and let us know what you think. Follow along with us next month as we continue to explore the culinary delights waiting for you in Sioux Falls!

Other favorites at ODE include the Goat Cheese Salad, the Cuban, Ghost Pepper Cheese Sauce and anything on the rotating feature list.


Herbalicious Potluck

Becoming gardeners

Though we tried, we simply couldn’t keep our office plants alive. That all changed with the addition of an office herb garden.

We recently received a hydroponic herb garden as a gift from Beth Jensen. The founder of Glean for Good, Beth aims to provide sustainable and homegrown food sources for Sioux Falls families.

Over the past few weeks, we have watched our little garden grow, and grow it did. Despite our far from expert care, our herbs are still alive. In fact, they even came to need a bit of a haircut. Our solution: we held an herbalicious potluck to make use of our harvest.

Our MJM team brought in gourmet creations to contribute to the meal, and we circled around one great table to share in our family dinner (which actually occurred at lunch).

If you also would like to host an herbalicious potluck, or if you are simply looking for herb inspiration, check out the recipes from our delicious feast.

Our herbalicious potluck spread

Brady’s Pork Carnitas

Kirstie’s Hot Gruyere Skillet Chicken Dip

Tim’s Dill Roasted Potatoes

Jackie’s Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Katie’s Thai Basil Chicken Kebabs (that weren’t kebabs)

Shannan’s Mint Cheesecake With a Chocolate Cookie Crust

Beth’s Dill Dip with Silken Tofu:
1 – 10.5 ounce Firm Silken Tofu
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp dillweed
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Beau Monde Seasoning

Place all ingredients in a blender of food processor. Blend until smooth. Spoon the dip into a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

Finding a family in herbs

This modest herb garden has somehow succeeded in bringing our team together in an unusual and charming way. Our herbs proved to be one more indication of how we are blooming as a team. We may not be gardeners, but we do have an herb garden. And a microwave.


Designing the Future of Downtown Sioux Falls

When you grow up in a place like South Dakota, you grow up with a pervasive belief that if you really want to do “something” with your life, you had better go do it somewhere else.

But what if instead of focusing on all of the things we can’t do in Sioux Falls, we were to focus on all of the things we can do?

Clock in Downtown Sioux Falls

I have lived in Sioux Falls my entire life and I’ve spent most of that life desperately wanting to be anywhere else. But recently—in one of the most difficult and most exhilarating decisions of my life—I’ve made the choice to stay.

One of the most exciting things about living in a small city is that there’s still so much room to grow. Sioux Falls has yet to really figure out who it wants to be in the world. While bemoaning the lack of opportunities in the region, many miss out on the biggest opportunity of all: to shape the future of a city.

Man taking a photo of the Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls has already grown tremendously over the past few decades. I’ve watched with pride as it has developed into a more inclusive and diverse city. Nowhere has this been more apparent than downtown. What used to be one of the more run-down parts of the city has become a vibrant hub for local culture and businesses.

I’ve lived and worked in various parts of the city at various times, but with MJM’s relocation downtown Sioux Falls and my own personal relocation a block away, I’ve had the opportunity to really immerse myself in the ideas that are brewing there and what they might mean for the future of the city.

One of the ideas that energizes me most is walkability. If you have talked to me at all in the last few months, you have probably heard how much I love being able to walk to work. ARUP recently published a pretty thorough report about the domino benefits of designing walkable cities and it’s a great read for those interested in the topic, but my benefit is a simple one: happiness.

“As a fish needs to swim, a bird to fly, a deer to run, we need to walk, not in order to survive, but to be happy.”—Enrique Peñalosa

Even in the bleak South Dakota midwinter, I’m still more excited for a 10-minute walk than a 20-minute drive. We’ve written on the blog before about how instances of human interaction are dwindling and I think the biggest benefit of walking is that it has made me feel more connected to the community and the people in it.

While sitting in your metal box on the highway, it’s easy to forget about all of the other people sitting in their own metal boxes. But it’s a lot harder to ignore someone when they’re walking by you on a sidewalk.

A piece from the Statue Walk in Downtown Sioux Falls

Unfortunately, downtown is one of the few places in Sioux Falls that is pedestrian-friendly. But, there’s still time and space to change that. Will it happen? I don’t know. But I’m excited to find out.

And even if it doesn’t, I’m will continue working toward building a life and a future to be proud of. And I wouldn’t choose to do that anywhere else.