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Editorial: With gratitude

by Josh Kramer

I am often asked how I come up with topics and content for this monthly column. Good question.

I may weave in personal stories or life experiences. Or, I relate back to a theme in the magazine or discuss a pressing issue for electric cooperatives or our industry. But at times, I get stuck. Inspiration has yet to present itself and the print deadline nears.

This month, it happened again.

You see, I am not a professional writer. (You are thinking, “Well, that is pretty obvious.”) Since I am not a writing savant, I went to our editor, Cally Peterson. She suggested gratitude might be a good foundation upon which to build. With Thanksgiving approaching and the stories in this month’s magazine, like one family’s journey to adoption, gratitude seemed to fit.

As I continued to dig into this gratitude theme, I couldn’t help but think of our farmers and ranchers.

I try hard to be relatable and upbeat in my columns, but I understand optimism might be a tough sell right now, particularly for those whose livelihoods are dependent on the weather. I stewed for days on this, and frankly, I don’t have any relatable words. But what I can offer to those in agriculture is a reminder that we appreciate and support you.

While I struggled to take my mind off of the frustrating year for so many in agriculture, and knowing my deadline was looming, I had a restless night. I headed to the office a couple hours earlier than normal. As I drove, my radio off, I thought about how to tie this column together.

I made a slight fidget to my car visor near the end of my drive and the funeral program for my friend, Justin, fell onto my lap. Call it what you will – a coincidence or an intervention – but my mind cleared and expressing my gratitude seemed a much easier task.

Earlier this month, my friend, with whom I served in the military, was laid to rest. Justin was one of those people you always wanted by your side when things got tough. His loyalty, friendship and love of country was truly admirable. We celebrated the life of this American hero, whose journey ended far too soon.

This November, and always, let us express gratitude to those who listen, those who contribute to the greater good, and those who, like Justin, make an impact.

Let me start by saying THANK YOU! Thank you to people who make things better. Thank you to folks like the Obans, who fight for dreams and family. Thank you to farmers and ranchers, who grow the food and tend the animals that nourish us all. And thank you to all veterans, like my friend Justin, who were called to serve and protect.

May we be generous in our gratitude, our appreciation and our thanks.

Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of NDAREC. Contact him at