The results are in! Browse the winners of Little Village’s 2019 Best of the CRANDIC competition in the Community category, representing voters’ favorite people, places, organizations and innovations in the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City area.
Iowa City Public Library
123 S Linn St — icpl.org
“They’ve got a media lab with Photoshop, a great selection of books, movies, ebooks (with Overdrive), and streaming movies with Kanopy. The whole enchilada.
— Jamie H.
Cedar Rapids Public Library
“Modern feel, quiet and the rooftop area is a hidden bonus!”
— Jessica K.
Coralville Public Library
“So much to do for kids of all ages and they’re always happy and willing to help.”
Marion Public Library
“Engaged staff, flexible collections, and exciting vision for the future!”
— Madeline J.
University of Iowa Museum of Natural History
Macbride Hall, Iowa City
“You can just stroll by and see that sloth or the least weasel or the right whale whenever you want, for free. It’s great for so many ages.
— Rachel S.
A beloved feature of the UI Museum of Natural History for 35 years, Rusty the Giant Sloth is not only an exhibit, but the museum’s designated mascot and “spokessloth.” He may be everyone’s favorite Pleistocene pal, but in truth, he’s a millennial. Rusty is a mid-1980s reproduction of the extinct Ice Age ground sloth Megalonyx jeffersonii, bearing no original parts. His fur? Harvested from cow tails. Still, it made Rusty a redhead, just like the man his species is named for: Thomas Jefferson.
National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library
“Can you believe that we have a national museum right here in Eastern Iowa?! That’s something to be proud of! They manage to bring such a wide range of exhibits and events to our community.”
— Kaitlin S.
Best Historic Building
Old Capitol Building
21 N Clinton St, Iowa City
“Old Capitol Museum/Building has the coolest stairs and the coolest stories.
— Jennifer B.
“As they celebrate their 100-year anniversary, the Cherry Building continues cultivating artists and entrepreneurs.”
— Abby H.
Best Elected Official
Stacey Walker, Linn County Supervisor
“His story is real and he is making a difference.
— John W.
“He sees that we need to legalize, decriminalize and tax cannabis.”
“I have met her several times at the Oakdale prison. And also at the State Capitol when she invited members of the Oakdale Community Choir to sing for the State House of Representatives in session. Mary is an asset to everyone she meets and works for.”
— Harold S.
“She listens, researches and is very thoughtful about her choices.”
— Jean R.
“He’s always smiling and talking to everyone.”
— Anthony S.
“She is passionate about Cedar Rapids and puts her heart and soul into making it a better place. She is who we need in politics!”
— Bridget T.
Best Community Member
“Audrey takes us by bicycle to meet our local farmers, rides with our children to school on bicycle, and keeps our bikes out of the landfill and gives them new life at the Bike Library!
— Krista B.
“Angie is a force in Iowa City’s often overlooked South District. She’s quick to deflect credit, but she’s the center of what feels like a million projects: A huge mural at Pepperwood Place. LED porch light distributions. Community-building. Even a vicious fight against wandering Hy-Vee shopping carts. And she does it all with a smile and an unflappable positivity.”
— Nick B.
“[She] has been advocating for economic justice and a healthy Iowa City environment for DECADES. In her 80s, she is indefatigable.”
— Lauri D.
“He shows outstanding leadership within this community and works every day to better our food security problems.”
— Rachel M.
Best Advocate for Social Justice
“Claire has always gone above and beyond to help people in the community. She has worked as a student and family advocate at the Iowa City Community School District and she currently works to place vets in less restrictive environments. She is heavily involved in union work and making sure that every workers’ voice is heard. There is no better advocate in Iowa City.”
— Sara T.
“Professor at the University of Iowa. Teaching young people to go out into the world and stand up for those without a voice. A leading voice on women’s issues. A solid presence quietly working at local coffee shops.”
— Brett S.
“Social worker out of Iowa City that has been a strong voice for the most vulnerable populations in the area. Both politically active and ‘working the trenches’ in the homes of the families she serves, she more than walks the walk.”
— Kyle H.
“What she’s doing for our community and the state of Iowa around harm reduction is incredible. And she’s running the Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition as CEO while she’s in medical school. Unreal dedication to the needs of our community!”
— Matt T.G.
Best Environmental Advocate
Iowa City Student Climate Strikers
“High schoolers who advocate and do direct action.
— Karen K.
The Rise of a Movement
On Oct. 4, 2019, the Iowa City Student Climate Strike held a rally that featured Greta Thunberg, attracting thousands to downtown Iowa City and making international news. The group that started it all, led by junior high and high school students, had come a long way since March.
Friday, March 15 was an international day of climate protest, with student walkouts planned at schools around the world. Massimo Biggers, then an eighth-grader at South East Junior High, decided it was the right day to launch the weekly climate strike he’d been planning for a month.
“It was freezing cold,” Alex Howe, one of the original strikers, recalled. “We stood outside for the whole day.”
“There was a walkout [of other students] at, I believe, two o’clock. But we had been out there since before school.”
Biggers didn’t want the strike to be a one-time event, like the walkout. He’d been inspired by the example of Thunberg, a Swedish teenager staging climate strikes every Friday.
“I thought that if I do it once in a blue moon, it won’t really affect the city council or the school board,” Biggers said. “So, I thought that if I just keep striking every week it would be a lot more effective.”
“At the beginning, I thought it’d be kind of difficult, but I saw that all the people on the school board and the city council all kind of agreed with us,” Biggers remembered. “They just didn’t want to act. So I thought that if we just pushed them a little, then they’ll finally do it.”
The climate strikers helped convince the school board to pass a resolution addressing climate change, and successfully pushed the city council to declare a climate emergency.
The strikers also attracted the attention of Thunberg through social media. And two days before their scheduled Oct. 4 rally, at which they planned to push the University of Iowa to close its coal-burning power plant, Thunberg contacted the strikers and asked if she could join them. The event grew, attracting more than 3,000 demonstrators and dozens of journalists.
“We teenagers shouldn’t have to take the responsibility,” Thunberg said from the downtown stage, where Biggers, Howe and the other Iowa City strikers stood beside her. “But right now, world leaders are acting like children, and somebody needs to be the adult in the room.”
In his speech, Biggers reflected on the Iowa City Student Climate Strike’s humble beginnings.
“Even though our numbers were small, I knew we were never alone. Greta was striking with us,” he said. “Imagine what can happen when the UI gets on board, when our government gets on board.”
Best Local Nonprofit or Charity
1121 S Gilbert St, Iowa City — builtbycommunity.org
Iowa Farm Sanctuary
“Iowa Farm Sanctuary works tirelessly to rescue animals and give them safe, forever homes in a state where their work is desperately needed.”
— Cadry N.
Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity
“Not only do they rally volunteers to help build homes for our neighbors, but they run the ReStore (primarily by volunteers), providing an economical and environmentally friendly option for building supplies.”
— Genevieve H.
North Liberty Community Pantry
“North Liberty and the surrounding areas are growing most rapidly. Golfview Mobile Home Park was bought out and will leave many homeless. The pantry is doing so much good in that community.”
— Jacob P.
Table to Table
“The amount of food they save and redistribute to people in need is astounding. The work the volunteers do is important and makes a profound difference in many lives.”
— Amanda B.
Hardest Fightin’ Union
AFSCME Council 61
Best Neighborhood on the Rise
“Czech Village bounced back after the flood and is quickly evolving to be more trendy and welcoming.
— Mia S.
“The amount of movement is insane: Rodina, Soko, Lost and Found, Cafe Saint Pio, Moss, all opening within a year. Lion Bridge, Found and Formed and the Museum already there. Emerging cultural power.
— Sam S.
Coralville Old Town
“The neighborhood is changing for the better without selling its soul. It proves you don’t need a McMansion to live in a great neighborhood.”
— Kelly S.
“Most people forget that NewBo is actually contained WITHIN Oakhill Jackson, and the neighborhood is much more than just that. Arguably the most historic neighborhood in Cedar Rapids, OJ is a diverse community full of character and life.”
— Chad C.
South District, Iowa City
“South District has worked really hard to get the word out that it’s a great area to call home.”
— Natasha W.
Best Neighborhood for Families
328 S Clinton St Suite A, Iowa City — vuerooftop-ic.com
“I mean, those sunsets are unreal, and just such a cool view of downtown.
— Jenni H.
“That’s the point! Also, the perspective from up there is just so cool, to be able to see so many surrounding communities from one place. Love it!”
— Dylan N.
Best Tourist Attraction
Czech Village/New Bohemia District
Best Shopping District
Downtown Iowa City
““For anything that’s not on the S&P 500.”
— Andy M.
The Brucemore garden
2160 Linden Dr SE, Cedar Rapids
Best Public Restroom
Iowa City Public Library’s restrooms
Big Grove Brewery
“That’s a tough one… There are so many fine shitters in this area. I give Big Grove Brewery 4.5 stars!! I will poop here again!!!”
— Jeff A.
Old Capitol Museum
“My niece and nephew loved how ‘fancy’ they were.”
— Tyler S.
Terry Trueblood Lodge
“It is so nice to come in to while I’m out on a long run.”
— Liz H.