Many think extraordinary measures are needed to solve the dramatic challenges we face in the 21st century, including climate change. Perhaps the opposite is true as well. Perhaps what we first need to do is embrace the mundane. […]
Something happened recently that hasn’t happened to me in 33 years. I began the fall semester without a class to teach. For nearly all of us, at some point in our lives, fall carries an academic connotation. When summer ends, school begins. But due to a chain of circumstances, this semester I did not walk into a classroom full of bright, eager faces of college students, at last some of them ready to learn. […]
It is the best of times, it is the worst of times: the first half of August in Iowa City. For half a month twice a year (also early January), tumbleweeds blow through our deserted streets. Those of us who are left enjoy Iowa City at its best. Those of us who are left suffer Iowa City at its worst.
Our town is at its worst at this time of year because the life has been sucked out of it. The university’s summer session is over, so even that relatively small summer population of intrepid students — the life-force of so much of Iowa City’s energy —
have headed for the beach, for home, for the mountains, wherever. Their professors have packed in their grade books and skipped town for the only two summer vacation weeks available to them. Even the university’s administrative offices are operating on skeleton crews before the onslaught of the fall semester begins. […]
The return is central to the relationship with home. When we fit back into the familiar, we know we are home. A good practice of home expands our perception of the familiar on that return. If you have read this column for any length of time, you may remember that my family and I often […]
“Meet me by the Buddha statue.” If you’re from the Iowa City area, quite a lot of you would know our rendezvous point immediately if I said this to you. “Meet me by the Brain.” If you’re a University of Iowa student and I said this to you, you’d know where to go.
The Buddha and the Brain are two relatively new public sculptures in the Iowa City community, now well-known enough that they’ve become landmarks with even a tradition or two attached to them. Funny thing is, the Buddha and the Brain are actually not those things at all — and yet they are. […]
On an unusually warm but cloudy March day about two weeks before the vernal equinox, I took a group hike in the woods at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center in Hiawatha. Over an hour and half, we traversed about a quarter mile, a half at most. […]
As we look ahead to a world of profound — and often frightening — change, I stand firm in my belief and faith that our best field of action and our best hope is our local community and environment, our place and our home. As I write, this past weekend witnessed a historic national demonstration […]
“Now what?” asks the cover of Little Village’s last issue. The same question resounds across the country and even around the globe. In the wake of an election that was an eruption of deep cultural fissures in our society and that has created perhaps the most uncertain future I have ever known, the often-asked question […]
One of the failures of adults, and even schools, is quashing the creativity of children. Too often, we tell them they’re not good at something — singing, drawing, writing and so forth. That leads to abandonment of natural joys that should be part of all of our lives. Something similar often happens with our relationship […]
This is the hybrid time. Changes of seasons always carry what is passing and what is emerging, but that edge between summer and fall is the one that makes me feel out of sorts. As I write, three weeks of August have passed. One of my activities this week has been a trip to Wilson’s […]
My maternal grandparents and other relatives immigrated to these American shores from Denmark. So I have to admit some sense of pride when the Danes show the rest of the world how to be a good society. Denmark is often atop the list of happiest countries. Their cultural concept of “hygge” — which means something […]
As a typical middle-class grade-schooler in the ’60s, three months of freedom lay before me after the last school bell rang in June. This was a time when many moms stayed home to raise the kids and when summer camps and special classes were few and far between — for many of us, due to […]