Lois's Fund Update Milestone Met, December 2014
Dear Friends and Family of Lois Swenson,
Thanksgiving Day was Lois’ birthday. How wonderful it is to think of her life with such gratitude
and warmth. Even though we mourn her physical passing, we—friends, family, neighbors, and
coworkers—are determined to keep her vision and work alive. Please join us as we celebrate an
amazing milestone from a seed that was planted at the time of her death. Use this holiday
season to continue her work!
This November, just prior to her birthday, the first sprout poked through the earth. The Lois
Swenson Fund for Peace, Justice, and Sustainable Communities accomplished its goal of collecting
$10,000. The fund is now an endowment and our garden is stirring! Our deepest gratitude goes
to many of you who donated to this fund over the last two years! (60 donors to date)
Having reached this goal, the Lois Fund Advisory Board* met recently to review several community projects, and decided on our
first grant. The first Lois Fund grantee is the Wirth Co-op. Started by a small northside community group, including Lois, the
Wirth Co-op now has over 220 members and working relationships with the City of Minneapolis, local businesses, other food co-
ops, and local food producers. Wirth Co-op also recently received a $500,000 federal grant to construct a building. It can’t be
touched for operating expenses.
At this time, the Wirth Co-op’s challenge is to support the cost of outreach and education to grow the membership and implement
the business plan. Even though this first grant is small, it supports this important effort to provide accessible, affordable and healthy
food to the north Metro. As you know, Lois was about food justice. If she was still with us, she’d be encouraging us to become
members of Wirth Co-op, and reminding us to bring our bodies to the project. Go to: www.wirthcoop.com to learn more.
At first, some of us wondered whether the Lois Fund could become a reality. Lois would be smiling at our lack of faith. She would
tell us to turn the compost (learn more), spread it around (reach out and organize) and celebrate growth together.
Our Advisory Board has a vision to grow the Lois Fund to support more efforts like the Wirth Co-op that will help shift our
communities towards more equity and opportunity. We plan to give out grants twice a year to continue Lois’ work and support her
vision. Please consider a tax deductible gift in honor of Lois this holiday season. Send donations to: InFaith Community
Foundation, 625 Fourth Ave. S. Suite 1500, Minneapolis, MN 55415. Write “The Lois Swenson Fund” on the memo line. Visit
We are grateful for your help to continue Lois’ legacy, by fertilizing this seed of an idea, and helping to promote Lois’ Vision for
peace, justice, and a sustainable world!
The Lois Swenson Fund for Peace, Justice and Sustainable Communities
*Advisory Board: Charlotte Vick, Diane Boushek, Judy Swenson, Lottie Matkovits, Rachel Hefte, Roberta Olson, and Sonya Forseth.
Questions? Contact Co-Chairs: Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org or Roberta at email@example.com
About Lois Swenson: Lois Swenson (1935 -2012), teacher, humanitarian, peace activist, neighbor, and advocate, lived her faith in
many ways. She committed her life to educating children to engage in the community and world around them; to promoting
human rights and neighborhood involvement; to environmental protection and sustainability through organic farming and
community gardening; to promoting self-determination of oppressed people; and to collaborating with church leaders to enact just
policies. She lived and worked in Wisconsin, Minnesota and the world.
Read more about Lois at http://www.loisswenson.com/
Artwork above is copyrighted by InFaith Community Foundation, www.InFaithFound.org
Update on "Lois's Bench at Augsburg", October 2014
Dear Friends and Family of Lois,
Yea! We have received $1720 from all you generous people who have already responded. Thank you so much. We are well on our way to reaching
our $2500 goal so we can have Edward Wohl begin work on Lois’s bench! So
exciting to see this coming together.
Paul and Dean Swenson have already harvested the wood from their farm
and it is drying so it will be ready for use when the funding is complete.
As you see, although we have heard from many people, we still need
$780.00 before we are ready to give the Swensons and Mr. Wohl the go-ahead. I
know many of you are excited about establishing this tribute at Augsburg College
for Lois. If you haven’t donated yet, try to do so as soon as you can so we can
make this wonderful Lois Tribute a reality!
Just a reminder of basic info:
Samples of Mr. Wohl’s work can be seen at www.edwardwohl.com.
Checks should be made payable to “Lois Swenson Bench”. (Please do not add the word “memorial”.)
Questions or concerns may be addressed to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Checks should be mailed to:
Lois Swenson Bench
PO Box 15671
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Thank you all very much.
Janie Johnson and the Lois Circle
A Letter to Family and Friends, September 2014
Dear Family and Friends of Lois Swenson,
I know everyone is still hoping to hear that the investigation into Lois’s tragic deathhas been successful. Unfortunately, two-plus years after her death, no one has beenarrested. The police tell us the investigation continues, but so far, it appears to be at animpasse. though the police say they do have "a person of interest" in the case. We areall still hoping for resolution and closure in this unbelievable crime against a beautifuland caring woman, who was, in many different ways, dear to us all. Lois’s Legacy Meanwhile, we have been discussing what we can do to mark Lois’s passing and tohonor her legacy. We have thought about the fact that one of Lois’s first priorities wasto touch young people, to make sure they had a realistic world view and that theyunderstood the role they could and should play as a citizen of that world. We haveconsidered a number of places for a tribute to Lois, but in light of the fact that on herpassing she left her entire estate to Augsburg College, it seems to be the mostappropriate place. She admired and venerated their school, and especially loved theirCenter for Global Education, which changed dramatically the direction of her life. Lois Swenson Bench Augsburg has expressed its willingness and enthusiasm for allowing her friends andfamily to place a beautiful bench to honor Lois’s legacy in their library, crafted out oforganic hardwoods from the Swenson family farm, milled by Lois’s brothers, and built bya Swenson family friend and artisan, Edward Wohl. You can see samples of his work onhis website at http://edwardwohl.com. Ed knew Lois personally and has said it would bean honor to build this tribute to her. The price for the bench would be $2500, which,considering his reputation as an artisan and builder seems like a small price to pay for abeautiful and lasting legacy. Fundraising has already begun, and $700 has been raised.We are asking that you, her friends and family, contribute whatever you deemappropriate to move us along toward the goal. A dedicated account for these funds has been set up at Wings Financial Credit Union.Checks should be made payable to “Lois Swenson Bench”. (Please do not add the word“memorial”.) Checks should be mailed to: Lois Swenson BenchP.O. Box 15671Minneapolis, MN, 55415. Donations will not be tax deductible. The members of Lois’s family are pleased and comforted by the vision of this tribute toLois being placed at Augsburg College where it will be viewed and used by hundreds ofstudents, and that students will be inspired and empowered by her life as a peaceactivist, environmentalist, humanitarian, and world citizen. Lois’s Inspiration Lois was a unique, endlessly caring person who was a champion of the earth and ofpeople everywhere. She never stopped in her tireless efforts to make the world a betterplace. Please help us make sure Lois Swenson’s amazing story is not forgotten and thather work can go on, raising awareness and inspiring people. We can then all feel that,through our efforts, “Lois Lives!” Questions Questions may be sent to me at email@example.com . Also check for updates on theinvestigation, contributions from friends, and on fundraising progress athttp://www.loisswenson.com/. Thank you very much. Sincerely, Jane Johnson and the Lois Circle: Debbie Andresen Barb VallecilloPat Jordan Toni CollinsSonya Forseth Rachel HeftePatty Guerrero Margaret RudeenRoberta Aitchison Olson Diane BoushekEvie Maanum Lotti MatkovitsPat Eliason Char VickBill Swing Addissee Geneeti
Friends Remembering Lois, September 2014
Compiled by Janie Johnson
“This was Lois - all encompassing, offering beauty, succor, and completion - to all she encountered.” - Toni Collins
“She was 24 hours a day peace and justice. She didn’t spare anybody. She would get in friends’ faces about how they lived their lives. She’d go up to total strangers and talk to them about issues and she just never stopped. She never stopped.” - Joe Hesla
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. It’s about creating yourself.” - Lois Swenson
“Lois was the most loving person. To think she could have died as a result of some kind of injustice is just unbelievable to me. I’ll miss her every day.” - Sonya Forseth
“I saw how her compassion and empathy…..showed up in her life. Her presence was so big and warm and embracing. She enriched my life and I will miss her as long as I have breath.” - Colleen Munn
“A couple of hours spent with Lois, Her quick, delighted laugh,Warm hugs when you arrive and when you leave.The pleasure she showed in just having you there,What a privilege to have had her for a friend,Her house a favorite place to visit in memory.” - Janie Johnson “There was no one else like Lois. One of my relatives said, when she heard of Lois’s death, ‘The world has lost a great warrior.’ “- Pat Eliason
“It is amazing how she spent every waking moment bettering this world of ours.” - Todd Pulvermacher
“She built community wherever she walked and talked. She would often ask a student what they were protesting, rather than what their major was.” - Nicole Hiedeman
“So much have I learned from you, Lois…..mostly through your fine example and obvious concern for the disadvantaged. Thank you, thank you…for who you were, for everything.” - Bill Swing
“Miss Swenson was the first person to teach me about where things that were ‘thrown away’ actually go, and why we should put less of them there.” - Nicole W.
“A pure and beautiful light, one that has guided me and so many others, here and in the world, is now out. I am at a loss for words.” - Roberta Aitchison
“I guess she never had room in her heart for words like greed or anger.” - Daniel
“We should all stop every now and then, and ask ourselves, ‘What would Lois do?’ It really hurts that this amazing woman will never again share a conversation with me, but she lives on in all of us. Lois, I will always be a scroungy dumpster diver.” - Todd Pulvermacher
“Lois, you’ll alway be a strong presence in my life, thanks to the imprint you left on my heart. BUT, I miss you so! I miss your laughter, your sense of humor, your ability to laugh at your own endearing quirks! There will be a huge void from now on.” - Lotti Matkovits
“A brilliant star has fallen from the sky.
The night is darker and the sun less bright.How blessed we were to have had an earthly angel,An agent of change, living in our neighborhood.” - Linda Thomas “…But more than anything, you exuded love, and we are all better persons because you have touched our lives.” - Meredith Sommers
MAY DAY PARADE 2014 - View News Broadcast
See pictures of this event by clicking Here!
Channel 12 Brookland Park
MINNEAPOLIS WCCO NEWS BROADCAST March 10th, 2014
Mpls. Police Just Need A Little More Info To Arrest Suspect In Woman’s Killing. Cick to view broadcast:
MINNEAPOLIS Crime Stoppers, March 3rd, 2014
Read more: Star Tribune Article
HAPPY 78TH BIRTHDAY LOIS! WE MISS YOU!! November 27th, 2013
Dear Friends of Lois Swenson,
We are remembering Lois today as she would have turned 78 if she was still here with us on our little blue planet. Happy Birthday Lois! Sonya wrote a fitting picture of what she'd see Lois doing today:
I like to think of Lois having all the other saints in for a party today. There will be beans and rice, hot tea, cloth napkins and chipped dishes and oh-so much laughter and happiness. No sorrows today or any day, just supreme peacefulness that baffles understanding.
Indeed, Lois was a model of eco-friendly hospitality and she was so generous. How many times did she send you away with something recycled?!? She was our modern day saint and many of us still can't get over that she is gone. But we are comforted with great memories of having tea with Lois, learning together, discussing issues at length, protesting downtown, and even showing up for Thanksgiving and only getting rice! (OK, that doesn't seem so comforting, but that experience really did make a point.).
So today, we are thankful for all the lesson s we learned from Lois. How she nudged each of us to live more simply and work for justice. How she dragged us to hear speakers we weren't sure we wanted to hear. How she brought us on trips to see how others lived--and how we all are richer as a result of these experiences.
We are also thankful for her New Years' gatherings, where we got to meet each other. And how friends of Lois are now coming together, to explore how we can continue her peace and justice work. Many of us feel so blessed as we get to know each other and share stories. We even feel healing comfort, as we grieve, of being with others that are part of the larger Lois' family. (We hope you can join us for a Lois' gathering sometime soon....watch for announcements via email and on her website!)
It is in this spirit of gratitude that members of the Lois' Circle and Lois' family has been exploring how we can "pay it forward" and work on Lois' Vision. The Lois Fund for Peace, Justice, and Sustainable Communities was set up at the Lutheran Community Foundation after Lois' death in June of 2012. The fund continues to grow and we hope to reach our goal of $10,000 by July 2014. (We are getting closer, currently at $6,000, climbing slowly, and hope you can help us reach our goal!)
Just last week, six of us met to brainstorm "What would Lois be doing now (if she was still with us) to be working on peace, justice and sustainable communities?" The key issues that surfaced included 1) food and farming 2) environmental issues 3) human rights and 4) Empowering teens + peace. While Lois worked on many issues and we can't support them all, the themes of learning (by doing) and working with youth stood out. As we work to build the fund, we hope to collaborate with a non-profit in early 2014 to host a Lois Festival to educate on her issues, share Lois' story, and create awareness about the Lois Fund.
To learn more about the Lois Fund, you can visit the website.
If you want to donate you can make a check payable to:
Lutheran Community Foundation
625 Fourth Ave. S., Suite 1500,
Minneapolis, MN 55415
NOTE: please indicate "The Lois Swenson Memorial Fund" in the memo field of the check.
Thanks for remembering Lois with us on her birthday and during this Thanksgiving season.
Blessings to you and your families as you gather for Thanksgiving!
Rachel Hefte and Roberta Olson for...
-The Lois Circle
Channel 9 Fox TV News, May 30th, 2013