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UR Here: The place is what’s Important

UR Here

“If you build it, they will come” is baloney. Perhaps it’s heresy to question a platitude from one of Iowa’s sacred texts. But the ghostly voice from the cornfield seems to be whispering in a lot of ears as major changes loom for Iowa City’s downtown and near-downtown area. We have a new Downtown and […]

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UR Here: Cottages, conflict and control

Iowa City debates historic preservation

Let’s be clear, this column isn’t about the debate over Iowa City’s Dubuque Street Civil War-era workers’ cottages that are being torn down. This is a column about how we talk about it. Acrimony on both sides of the debate has filled our local media, online venues, Planning and Zoning Commission meetings, and City Council […]

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UR Here: Defining Success

I recently came across an article by “writer, entrepreneur, and video game designer” Jonathan Chee called “5 Key Traits Super Successful People Share.” Chee draws examples from four individuals of extraordinary achievement: a professional bodybuilder, a self-made multimillionaire, an orchestral clarinet player and a polyglot who is developing a new language-learning system. What struck me […]

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UR Here: Winter’s journey

Here in Iowa City, we haven’t had the historic cold and snow this winter as we’ve had in recent years. But the early January snowstorm and cold snap brought out the predictable grumblings and the inevitable question: “Why, again, do we live here?” I embrace winter fundamentally because it is part of the nature and […]

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UR Here: Growing a community that gives

UR Here

No matter how much we might rail against the obscene consumerism of the Christmas season, most of us are no doubt purchasing some holiday gifts to present to people we care about. And of course, that’s fine and wonderful. But most of the gifts that we will exchange under the tree, at neighborhood get-togethers and […]

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UR Here: Beyond the feast

Thanksgiving: Beyond the feast

For the moment, let’s assume the story of the “First Thanksgiving” is true. You know, how the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1621 sat down with the Indians and had a feast that set off an annual tradition in the colonies and then the United States? What we actually do know of that autumn feast is […]

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UR Here: Those last few steps

Staircases can be wonders, both in our material lives and in our imaginative expressions. One of the central attractions of our own Old Capitol is the gorgeous, unique reverse-spiral staircase, its elegant swirl providing a journey into Iowa’s past. If you have any notion of the interior of the RMS Titanic, it is most likely […]

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UR Here: Regarding the wolf

UR Here

The wolves have returned to Iowa. Or at least a wolf. In February, a man hunting coyotes shot a gray wolf in northeast Iowa’s Buchanan County. This is the first documented wolf in Iowa since 1925, which reportedly could have been an escaped captive animal. Before that, according to the 2012 Iowa DNR wolf status […]

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UR Here: Spring commencement and life’s new turns

UR Here

My daughter Sylvia’s red polyester gown and graduation announcements lay on a table at home, ready for City High’s commencement later this month. We’ve been commencement-heavy in recent years, first with our son Nathaniel’s high school graduation in 2011, then the commencement ceremony for his instrument repair program in Minnesota last year and now Sylvia’s high school… […]

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UR Here: Helping out

UR Here

One of the good things (yes, I said good things) about the dramatic winter we’ve lived through is a strengthened sense of community that has arisen from this polar vortex. When adversity strikes, people help each other. If there’s overnight snowfall, our next-door neighbor, Steve Spangler, who has the only snow-blower in the proximity of […]

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