The Green Room: Dessa, DVIP and the taste of mystery

The Green Room: Dessa

Englert Theatre — Monday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m.

Dessa — photo courtesy of Mission Creek Festival

The third edition of the Green Room opens at 7 p.m. on Monday at the Englert Theatre, with Dessa. The rapper, singer, writer and record executive will be speaking about her life and career.

Dessa became internationally famous during the past year with her track “Congratulations” on the Hamilton Mixtape, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 in December 2016. But Midwest music fans have long known her both for her solo work and as a member of Doomtree, the Minneapolis hip-hop collective to which she has belonged since 2005. Dessa was a headliner at this year’s the Mission Creek Festival, and her first book-length memoir, My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love, will be published later this month.

The Green Room started as a course for University of Iowa undergraduates in 2016. It was designed to encourage students to think of new ways of asking questions about important issues, and help them move from asking those questions to taking constructive action. It’s still a course UI students take for credit, but last year Dave Gould, who created and teaches the course, decided to open the lectures to the public. All the lectures are free, and all are welcome to attend.

In addition to featuring a speaker acknowledged as a leader in his or her field, each Green Room will highlight a nonprofit doing important work in the Iowa City area. The Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP), which provides support and advocacy services for victims and survivors of domestic violence, will be Monday’s nonprofit.

DVIP grew out of an initiative launched by the UI’s Women’s Resource and Action Center in the late 1970s. It opened its first shelter for people threatened by domestic violence in 1980, DVIP now covers eight counties in southeastern Iowa — Johnson, Iowa, Cedar, Des Moines, Henry, Lee, Van Buren and Washington.

As is only fitting for a community lecture series that’s also a university class, the Green Room assigns “community homework” each week. It consists of writing prompts and suggestions for action. The idea is to encourage people to continue to engage with issues discussed in the Green Room after the evening is over.

“They’re meant to be fun. They’re meant to be meaningful. They’re meant to be engaging for everyone,” Gould told Little Village last month. “No one is getting graded. They aren’t mandatory — no one has to worry if they aren’t interested in doing it.”

According to the Green Room’s syllabus, Monday’s assignment is titled, “What does mystery taste like?”

On your next trip to the grocery store, purchase an item from the produce section that you have no idea how to prepare (double points if you have no idea how to pronounce it).

Find a recipe online and incorporate it into one of this week’s meals.

Students will collect the assignments from community members next week, and will share some of them during the Sept. 17 Green Room.