Website and podcast aim to be hubs for community information.
In an area where the water separates people, Natalie Webster is working to bring them back together. Webster is the mastermind behind tonkatalk.com, a website and podcast, which can be found on all major streaming services and is recorded in Spring Park. Both are devoted to keeping tabs on all the wonderful events happening in the area and all the fascinating people that call this place home.
It’s Webster’s way of giving back to a community that long ago opened its arms to a stranger from Hawaii. “This community embraced us,” Webster says about her move to Minnesota. And for that, she will be forever grateful.
Webster realized just how fortunate she was when COVID-19 hit, and she found herself alone and bummed on Thanksgiving. The Realtor started thinking about all the connections she had made in the Lake Minnetonka community. She decided she wanted to give back, so she tapped into the relationships she had developed in the local area to put together surprise spa packages for frontline workers.
Those efforts continued for a while, but as the pandemic waned, Webster realized she wanted to continue fostering those relationships in the community. So, she transitioned to a website and later a podcast, focused on sharing positive news and events. She dubbed them Tonka Talk. “The goal was to be a hub for information,” Webster says.
Tonka Talk features a blog, videos and a calendar, along with the podcast, all focused on the Lake Minnetonka area. Webster says her aim is to add fresh content weekly to help people feel more connected to the people and events around them.
“Community and connection do exist,” Webster says. “The more we talk about it and share about it, the more it exists.”
Webster loves sharing stories from the community. She has covered everything from snow kiting to paragliding, goat cuddling to electric boats and fun runs to fundraisers. “I’m fascinated by how people make connections, their stories and where they come from,” she says. “I have an underlying passion to tell these stories.”
Among Webster’s favorite stories she has shared on Tonka Talk is that of Kelly Olsen and the restoration of an 1858 Victorian Italianate that become The Guest House in Excelsior. Webster says she was inspired by Olsen’s tale of wanting to create a place where people could “slow down and spend time with the people they care about.”
Webster says she also loved profiling Gary Marquardt, known for playing “Taps” at sunset most nights at Casco Point on Spring Park Bay. He decided to take up the bugle after going to a veteran’s funeral and seeing someone hiding behind a tree, playing a taped recording of “Taps” because there was no one available to play it live. “We can all have such an impact,” Webster says. “Hearing these stories inspires me.”