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UR Here: That Black Iowa Dirt

It’s a beautiful early spring Saturday, the day before Easter, in fact. The temperature will probably see 70 today, an early gift of the summer to come. The sunshine on my neck is warm, a feeling I’ve missed for many months. As Christians prepare to celebrate the breath of a resurrected spirit promising new life, and as Jews celebrate their people’s new breath of freedom, I work at my personal offices of spring, trying to breathe new air–and re-borning life–into the ground of my home. […]

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UR Here: Small Towns, Big Loss

In my last column, I presented some statistics demonstrating that the majority of Iowans are “urban” by U.S. Census standards and have been since 1950. With fewer farmers, the raison d’être of most small communities in Iowa—servicing the region’s agricultural economy—has disappeared. If the economic foundation of a town disappears, what’s the big deal? Close […]

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UR Here: Hope Localized

January 20 is approaching. The “hope-mongers,” as Barack Obama jokingly called himself at a Northwest Junior High campaign rally in December 2007, cling to visions of revolutionary social transformation. The hardcore liberals are shaking their heads at the President-Elect’s centrist and hawkish Cabinet appointments. To tell you the truth, I’m a little bit of both: […]

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UR Here: Flood Stories

As our community continues to recover from our greatest disaster ever, flood stories are piling up like sandbags near the riverbank. Personal stories of homes destroyed, of the kindness of strangers, of grit and determination, of remarkable generosity, and of watery amazement are all entering the annals of our community experience and history. I’d like […]

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