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UR Here: Top-down management of Black Hawk Mini Park at odds with park’s original vision

UR Here

In my previous column, I discussed “place-led governance,” in which urban development considers history, cultural meaning and an inclusive understanding of community members’ use. At the core of place-led governance lies the idea of the commons. For most people, the commons means natural resources such as air, water and soils. Absolutely true—but not sufficient. Current […]

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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

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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: Community and all that Jazz

Jazz Fest!

Recently, I wrote about how organizing and attending our local festivals builds social capital. But another dimension of community is the personal bond we form with our place. The stronger our emotional connections, the more we live well in a place. Deep community is affective as much as it’s social, a relationship on par with […]

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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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Mission: Community

April ushers in the vibrant colors of springtime (finally!), but it also sounds the first notes of our community’s festival season. The Mission Creek Festival is here! Highly anticipated for its stellar lineup of musicians and other artists, Mission Creek is always an enjoyable showcase of the cultural vibrancy of our home. Iowa City’s festivals […]

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