Sense of Community

Our ongoing, 10-part Community Journalism series airs quarterly

From poverty concerns to major policy decisions, this series dives beyond the headlines to provide in-depth coverage of issues facing people and organizations in the Ozarks. KSMU's team of reporters come together to produce 10 stories, four times a year. Past espisodes of our Sense of Community series are available below.

Mike Smith / KSMU

Today we meet, talk, and cook with Yolanda Lorge, who in 1987 with her American husband, moved from Mexico City to Springfield, Missouri, and will share some of the stories behind the table traditions of her youth. Yolanda was born in the northern city of Juarez. But at age 5 following the death of her father, with her pregnant mother and eight brothers and sisters, Yolanda moved to the city of Morelia in central Mexico.

Michele Skalicky

Shishki is a Christmas dish that dates back to Czechoslovakia where Francis and Albert Skalicky’s ancestors are from.  Their mother and father, Albert and Mary, were full-blooded Czech.  Albert’s father came over from Czechoslovakia and his mother's grandparents came over.   It was Mary’s grandparents, who came to the U.S. from Czechoslovakia, and they were part of a Czech community in Polk County in the early 20th Century.

Shishki is made from a potato dough that’s rolled into small pieces and fried, then coated with honey and sprinkled with poppyseeds.

Michele Skalicky

Cornbread dressing has been a staple on Jeannette and Don Erter’s Thanksgiving table for many years.

Jeannette isn’t sure how far back the recipe dates, but she’s pretty sure it can be traced at least to Don’s great-grandmother, Leitha “Leithy” Darby.  It was Leithy’s daughter, Grace, born in 1896, who taught Jeannette to make the dish.  Grace was Don’s grandmother (his mom’s mom), and they called her Granny Cotten.


As our Sense of Community series “Table Traditions” continues, we head into the kitchen of Jane Ann Johnson, of Ozark, who shares her Texan great-grandmother’s cornbread recipe.

“It's probably a recipe that would give a cardiologist a heart attack. But I'm fortunate enough to be married to a cardiologist who loves it, so I get to make it still,” she said.

She uses bacon drippings in the batter and in the cast iron skillet the cornbread is cooked in.

Jennifer Moore / KSMU


Join KSMU this week for our Sense of Community series, "Table Traditions," looking at 10 family recipes handed down through the generations.  

Christine Temple, of Springfield, shared her great-grandmother’s recipe for

Risgrynsgröt, a Swedish rice pudding in which the predominant flavor is cinnamon.

“My great-grandmother was born in Sweden and she came to the United States through Ellis Island in 1912 when she was 16 years old,” Temple said.

“My mom was pregnant with me when she passed away, so I never got to meet her,” Temple said.

Caleb Conaway

To cap off our 10-part Sense of Community series, Take It Outside, we’re hitting the trails at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, just 20 minutes from Springfield. 

Wilson’s Creek is a mix of natural beauty and history, where these lush hills met with the human horror of war. 

According to the National Park Service, the battlefield has five trails off the tour road, and they range from a quarter of a mile to three-quarters of a mile long.   Many of those trails meet up for longer hikes.

Rebecca Dula / Submitted

It’s mid-morning at Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park in west Springfield, which connects to the Ozark Greenways trail.  It’s a beautiful area, with rolling hills, fields of crops, a chicken coop and a large pond. However, one thing that makes this park unique is that it has some extra options for people with disabilities in the form of three very special bicycles. They’re available for anyone to use.

Jessica Balisle / KSMU

In this segment of KSMU’s Sense of Community series “Take It Outside: 10 Unique Spots to Enjoy the Natural Ozarks,” Jess Balisle takes listeners to the top of White Rock Mountain for a weekend of driving dirt roads, swimming and sunset watching.

We've just hit the dirt road on our way to White Rock. I’m so excited to be taking you guys to this very special place that I have grown up going to.

White Rock Mountain is situated in the middle of the Boston Mountains on the west end of the Ozark National Forest in Northwest Arkansas. It’s become my second home over the years.

Jessica Balisle / KSMU

In this segment of KSMU’s Sense of Community series “Take It Outside,” Jess Balisle takes us to Blanchard Springs Caverns, just north of Mountain View, Arkansas.

Michele Skalicky

Branson is known for its wide variety of shows, attractions and shopping opportunities.  But there’s a place west of town where you can get out in nature and take a break from the hustle and bustle.

Michele Skalicky

In this segment of KSMU’s Sense of Community Series, we travel to the Buffalo National River to hike the Center Point Road Trail.   KSMU’s Michele Skalicky first discovered this hiking trail in the 1990s on an Ecotour hosted by the Newton County Resource Council.  A storyteller took a group to Big Bluff and told stories along the way about the people who used to live in the area.

Today we visit Valley Water Mill Park, operated on land leased by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board from the owner, City Utilities of Springfield. Most Springfield-area residents have heard of “Valley Water Mill,” or the county road of the same name, also known as Farm Road 102.

But not everyone seems to know that, since 2010, this nearly 100-acre site just northeast of Springfield, once home to a 19th-century grain mill, has been a public park with hiking and strolling paths and a 13-acre lake. 

Bailey Vassali / KSMU

Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park is a 112-acre property located on South Scenic Avenue in Springfield, across the street from Horton Smith Golf Course. 

Jennifer Moore / KSMU

Our Sense of Community series, "Take It Outside," continues at one of the Ozarks' most iconic water mills: Alley Mill, near Eminence in south-central Missouri, has been featured prominently on scenic calendars, travel magazines and Pinterest.

You can't see the mill from the parking lot; it's hidden by trees a few hundred yards away.  But the path is wheelchair accessible all the way to the mill.   And when you come around a corner, the iconic, towering, bright red building is worth stopping to just gaze at.

Missouri Department of Conservation

  To kick off our Sense of Community series, "Take It Outside: 10 Unique Spots to Enjoy the Natural Ozarks," we’re taking you to the hills of thick oak and pine forest in the Peck Ranch Conservation Area, home to Missouri’s wild elk population.