Greens see opportunity in Democrats’ discord

Greens see opportunity in Democrats’ discord

Gazette Column
Two Eastern Iowans are delegates to Green Party Convention in Houston this week PHILADELPHIA — Green Party presumptive presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein is no Ralph Nadar, but Iowans Holly Hart and Wendy Barth also understand this isn’t a typical election year. The two are long-time Green Party members and activists who will travel this week as delegates to the party’s Presidential Nominating Convention in Houston. Barth, of Cedar Rapids, was a Green Party candidate for governor in 2006, after joining the party in 2000. “I became involved as soon as I became aware that Iowa had a Green Party,” she said, noting that she had long been concerned about the environment, which is a key issue for the Greens. [caption id="attachment_458" align="alignleft" width="300"] Green Party members Holly Hart and…
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Iowan, once nation’s youngest grocer, still fighting for rural

Iowan, once nation’s youngest grocer, still fighting for rural

Gazette Column
WICHITA, Kan. — If attendees at the Rural Grocery Summit pulled Bic lighters from their pockets, gave them a flick and held the flame in the air as the owner of three rural Iowa grocery stores gave his keynote address, I wouldn’t have been surprised. It was clear many attending viewed the man as part rock star and part legend. And, for those searching for rural saviors, Nick Graham comes pretty close — even if he is reluctant to embrace the fame. His popularity has little to do with his overall success rate, because he’d be the first to tell you that he has made mistakes. But no one can deny that Graham embodies an attribute that’s become a necessity in rural counties and small towns. Nick Graham, you see,…
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Getting the farm onto the table

Getting the farm onto the table

Gazette Column
WICHITA, Kan. — What does a high-end caterer in a rural area do to give back? If you are Donald Sorby, you volunteer with a statewide program that empowers families at risk of hunger to gain the skills, knowledge and confidence to make healthy and affordable meals. Sorby was one of about 200 people attending a Rural Grocery Summit, and offered his experience as part of Cooking Matters Minnesota as a way food retailers and advocates could promote a healthier lifestyle. The program is partnership between University of Minnesota Extension and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. Participants enroll for a six-week course that meets once a week and covers nutritional information, offers hands-on food preparation and provides strategies for food budgeting and shopping. Participants learn to cook two…
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VIDEO: Cedar Rapids bus riders talk pluses, minuses of system

VIDEO: Cedar Rapids bus riders talk pluses, minuses of system

Gazette Blog
Hoping to provide elected officials with a better understanding of how existing public transit services in Cedar Rapids impact the public, columnist Lynda Waddington recently rode the bus and spoke with other riders. Here are a few of the people she met, and what they think about the service they rely on to get to work, school and elsewhere. Read more about Cedar Rapids bus service in this Q&A piece, in which Lynda answers questions about her time on the city buses. This blog post by Lynda Waddington originally published on The Gazette site on May 23, 2016. Photo credit: Lynda Waddington/The Gazette
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Transit blog, day eight

Transit blog, day eight

Gazette Blog
There is sort of an app for that At the beginning of this series I said that after I used the Cedar Rapids Transit app more, I’d offer a review. Today seems like a good day. The first thing you need to know is that the website — rideCRT.com — and the companion mobile app aren’t homegrown. They are part of a system offered by Utah-based Ride Systems, which reports it works with more than 150 transit agencies in North America — municipal, academic, corporate, airport and resort. I’ve used their site to access a tutorial for the app, and have also embedded that video below. (If you aren’t into new age music, you might want to watch with the sound muted.) I can’t say that I learned anything from…
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Why ’70 Acres in Chicago’ matters in Iowa

Why ’70 Acres in Chicago’ matters in Iowa

Gazette Blog
Documentary screening, discussion planned for Friday night My first introduction to Cabrini Green, a 70-acre housing complex in Chicago, came via sitcom. This was likely your introduction too, even if you didn’t recognize it. The name Cabrini Green was never used in the 1970s sitcom “Good Times,” although the housing project was featured in video during the opening and closing credits. And while some of the challenges of living in poverty within a housing project were part of the scripts, the show barely scratched the surface and provided a warped view of the real people who made a life there. “Good Times” was set in inner-city Chicago, a CBS sitcom spun off the earlier shows “Maude” and “All in the Family.” It featured two families — the Evans and Woods…
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Incentives speed Iowa bill to terminate parental rights of rapists

Incentives speed Iowa bill to terminate parental rights of rapists

Gazette Column
This is the most disgusting example possible of state lawmakers first ignoring and then profiting from a morally abhorrent problem. Back in 2012, when U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., waxed poetic about “legitimate rape,” the nation was yet again embroiled in a debate about abortion rights. Specifically, if abortion was illegal, should a woman’s health or sexual assault warrant exceptions. Akin was widely, and rightfully, chastised for suggesting that rape didn’t exist and, if it did, women couldn’t get pregnant as a result of it. Lost within the fanfare of ignorant comments uttered during an election year were the voices of women who had been raped, did become pregnant and made a choice. Too often those choices were made more difficult by laws that allow accused and convicted attackers to…
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Study shows wisdom of Cedar Rapids’ Hy-Vee incentive

Study shows wisdom of Cedar Rapids’ Hy-Vee incentive

Gazette Column
A decision by Cedar Rapids city leaders to use taxpayer dollars to keep a Hy-Vee neighborhood grocery store drew significant ire, but a new sociology study proves the funds were well spent. There are several similarities between Topeka, Kansas — the focus of the study — and Cedar Rapids. Census figures for 2013 show the cities with a population of roughly 128,000, with a population density of about 2,000 people per square mile. Both cities are predominantly white, although Topeka is more quickly moving toward diversity. Median income levels are similar, as is the percentage of residents living at or below the poverty line. Given the similar demographics and geographic proximity, it shouldn’t be surprising the communities are also wrestling with similar cultural issues. Both are, for instance, searching for…
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Wendell Willkie is a 2016 cautionary tale

Wendell Willkie is a 2016 cautionary tale

Gazette Column
This is what happened in 1940 when Republicans opted for a political outsider National pundits pondering what a Donald Trump nomination means for the Republican Party and the nation have been reading the tea leaves. They’d be better off reading history books. This isn’t the first time party activists have engaged in friendly fire or looked beyond political loyalists for a savior. Seventy-five years ago Repubicans decided a businessman was their best presidential bet. Like Trump, Wendell Willkie, the GOP’s 1940 presidential nominee, once considered himself more left than right. Less than a year before he was named the GOP nominee, Willkie was registered as a Democrat. And he too bucked the establishment. Willkie didn’t run for the nomination, instead taking a stand at the party’s national convention in Philadelphia.…
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Small, determined group can make a difference

Small, determined group can make a difference

Gazette Column
Sometimes, when confronted with big challenges, people freeze. But not always. Brandon Carleton is a resident of the Quad Cities who, last May, attended a conference in California and heard from an organizer of Laundry Love. The project began on the West Coast when a homeless man — Eric, who went by the nickname of T-Bone — was asked what would make a difference in his life. “If I had clean clothes,” Eric responded, “I think people would treat me like a human being.” That was 12 years ago and, in the wake of that conversation, Laundry Love was born. At its most basic level, it provides free laundry services to those in need, but the benefits hardly stop there. When Carleton, who also runs a small church out of…
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