An opportunity this weekend to stand with your neighbors

An opportunity this weekend to stand with your neighbors

Gazette Blog
Area residents should meet at noon on May's Island Four teenage boys — Moussa, Abbas, Yousef and Ali Habhab — arrived in Cedar Rapids in the 1880s. They were the first of many Muslims to settle in the community, many following Christians known from their homeland into Iowa. Like so many immigrants, they found pride and promise in their new home and wanted to fold their own traditions into the existing culture. On a cold February in 1934, the community opened its first official house of worship — a small mosque, which would also serve as a community center. It is now the oldest standing building originally built as a mosque in our nation. The community grew. They fell in love, married and worked hard. They bore children, choosing to…
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Placemaking: Seeking our place to belong

Placemaking: Seeking our place to belong

Gazette Column
Pause for a moment and consider your community or neighborhood. Do you thrive there? Are you attached to it? Do you belong? Those are questions I’ve contemplated since returning from the National Rural Assembly, where I took part in placemaking discussions. While talks there focused on creative planning for rural spaces, I was offered a more urban perspective this week at a Cedar Rapids forum, hosted by the Employee Resource Group Consortium. The event, a diversity forum, featured Katherine Loflin, an internationally known placemaking expert. And, since we’ve been interviewing city council candidates, I’ve been able to add some hyperlocal thoughts to the placemaking mix too. Placemaking involves personal attachment to a place, and strategic leveraging of those attachments. For example, increasing or driving attachment to build shared wealth. [caption…
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No room for hate in our state

No room for hate in our state

Gazette Column
This may be what happens when history is hidden or allowed to fall into the trap of selective memory. Cedar Rapids police believe Tigani Mohamaoud could be the victim of a hate crime. The Iowa City resident has been working since 2013 to refurbish a flood-damaged home in Cedar Rapids as for his family. His latest setback to that goal arrived in the form of vandalism and graffiti death threats. “You will be killed here,” reads the text, scrawled with spray paint on interior walls. Someone doesn’t want Mohamaoud, a 2007 Muslim immigrant from Sudan, to feel welcome. The irony is the area, now known as Time Check, is also home to the oldest standing mosque in North America. Within walking distance of Mohamaoud’s property stands what’s now referred to…
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Eminent domain bill deserves fair hearing

Eminent domain bill deserves fair hearing

Gazette Column
A decade has passed since the U.S. Supreme Court decided private property could be legally seized by the government and handed to a different private property owner under the guise of “economic development.” Kelo vs. New London was met with widespread distaste, earning the public ire of Republicans and Democrats alike. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor spelled out the dangers: “The specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.” As public sentiment toward the decision soured, backlash within the states began. In 2006, the Iowa Legislature passed a bill to restrict the use of eminent domain for economic development. Although the bill was…
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Goodbye, Sunshine

Goodbye, Sunshine

Gazette Column
Hillary Clinton, CR Schools provide murky bookends Few times in history has a time period devoted to awareness of a cause been bookended by two high-profile examples. Yet, that is exactly the case for this year’s Sunshine Week observance. Hillary Clinton’s private email server provided a kickoff gift to the 2015 observance that was simultaneously welcomed (for its ability to raise awareness) and abhorred (for its overt distain of the basic principle of open government). And, even as that national debate raged, Eastern Iowa residents were provided a close-up example of a public body operating in darkness. On Wednesday, the Cedar Rapids Community School District announced Brad Buck, currently the director of the Iowa Department of Education, as its next superintendent. The announcement followed a three-month, closed door search and…
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