Arts and Culture

Didriks / Flickr

For many, listening to StoryCorps on Friday mornings has become routine—a few minutes to listen, learn, reflect, and often shed a few tears.

When StoryCorps debuted in 2003, it sounded unlike anything else on public radio.  They were stories not driven by news or cultural events, and they were stories that didn’t feature news-makers. These were stories of normal people sharing their memories. We quickly learned that those normal people were extraordinary, and that we all have stories to share.

Earlier this month, six Iowa veterans told their stories at a live event in Iowa City.  The event was "Roll Call: Veterans Share Their True Stories" presented by Iowa Watch and hosted by Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe.  It took place on November 9th at Old Brick in Iowa City.  In the link above, hear these veterans' stories:

Food Bank of Iowa

About two dozen Des Moines police officers and Iowa State Patrol troopers packaged Thanksgiving meals at the Food Bank of Iowa in Des Moines this morning in an event called “Arrest Hunger”.

It took about 20 minutes for officers to assemble the 150 meal kits that food will be distributed to families in need in all of Iowa’s 99 counties, plus a couple dozen more in Des Moines. Colonel Jeff Ritzman is the Chief of the Iowa State Patrol says it’s their way to help out.

Photo Courtesty of Chris Weaver / Instagram

It's been a big year for Iowans on the NBC reality singing competition "The Voice." Chris Weaver, who attended college in Pella at Central College and lived in Des Moines for the better part of a decade working as a workshop leader for Lutheran Church of Hope, is one of them. During this hour he talks with host Charity Nebbe about how he got started singing, and how he's made a career for himself working as both a workshop leader and as a performer. His drag character is named Nedra Belle. 

Kid's Music Can Actually Be Good

Nov 14, 2017
Camera Eye Photography / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

Stefan Shepherd remembers listening to ABBA and Herb Alpert as a kid; he did not grow up with "kids music." But now he has kids and he started reviewing kid's music on his blog, Zooglobble. In this segment of Talk of Iowa, Shepherd joins host Charity Nebbe to present a few options for good music for kids.

Here are three examples with some thoughts about the music from Shepherd.

Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, "Paletero Man" from the album Out of LA.

The first seven years of Dekow Sagar’s life in Somalia were happy. Rural Somalia was beautiful, he had plenty of brothers, sisters and friends to play with, and the family farm provided what they needed. However, Sagar’s pleasant rural life was shattered by terrible violence and civil war.

Photo submitted

Michelle Droe is the music teacher at Lincoln Elementary in Cedar Falls, Iowa. For a long time her students and colleagues have known that she’s a remarkable teacher, but now she’s receiving national recognition for her work. She’s a semi-finalist for a music educator Grammy award.

One special exercise Droe does involves sixth grade students pretending to be street musicians.  They work with a partner or come up with a performance on their own. 

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

When her husband died, Brenda, an Iowa City resident, struggled to explain the death to her four sons. So she turned to a person who handles death for a living: her husband’s funeral director.

Image courtesy of Gary Kelley

Gary Kelley is an illustrator and painter based in Iowa who works have been published in Time Magazine, the Atlantic Monthly and Rolling Stone. His latest project, illustrating the book Next Year: Hope in the Dust by Ruth Vander Zee, centers around the Dust Bowl, the catastrophic wind storms in the 1930s which displaced native prairie protecting the soil of the Great Plains from wind erosion.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Actors huddle around microphones as foley artists create sound effects with musicians. They are performing a scene about a teenager running away from gunfire in Burundi. This is Pang!, a three-act play presented as radio theater on a stage at CSPS Hall in Cedar Rapids.

Iowan Norman Borlaug, who grew up in Cresco, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for a lifetime of work to feed the world’s hungry people. Borlaug also founded the World Food Prize, the foremost international honor recognizing the achievements of individuals who have improved the quality, quantity, or availability of food worldwide.

Image courtesy of Witching Hour Festival

Iowa City native Dan Perkins, aka Tom Tomorrow, is the creator of This Modern World, a weekly political and satirical cartoon which has been a mainstay of the alternative press for more than two and a half decades. He says that the country's tense political environment lately has been challenging in many ways, and the speed at which news is made is particularly difficult. 

Image by Rob Holysz

Hari Kondabolu, a New Yorker and first-generation American of Indian descent, is an awarded comedian who has a problem with the negative stereotypes of southeast Asians and Indian people in the media. He explores that frustration in his new documentary “The Problem with Apu,” which highlights the effect of the character on his life growing up. 

Image courtesy of Squirrel Cage Jail of Pottawattamie County, Iowa

In 1885, residents of Council Bluffs wanted the city to become a safer community, but did not want to pay more taxes to do so. As a result of this, the Squirrel Cage Jail was implemented, composed of 90,000 pounds of metal standing three stories tall. The design of the jail was a cost-efficient rotary design, where the prisoners were housed in pie-shaped cells that were rotated with a crank and centered around one opening, similar to the design of a "lazy Susan." This design meant that only one jailor was necessary to man each of the three structures, each housing over 90 prisoners.

What Does Patriotism Mean?

Oct 3, 2017
Beverly & Pack / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode

There has been controversy about what it means to respect or disrespect the American flag and the country itself. What does it mean to be patriotic in 2017, and how have our ideas about patriotism changed over time? During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with historian and former Herbert Hoover Library and Museum Director Tim Walch. 

At the end of the program Walch sums up one aspect: that we are able to have such a discussion at all.

Flickr / Jim Forest

Some of the brightest stars from Iowa City’s literary community will give readings at the Englert Theatre on Sunday afternoon to raise money for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and the Virgin Islands.

All money raised will go directly to the American Red Cross. Tickets are by donation, with the suggested level of $10. Readings will be given by more than a dozen writers, including Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson, Iowa’s first poet laureate Marvin Bell and Lan Samantha Chang, who is the director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. 

International Writing Program Turns 50

Sep 20, 2017
Credit Ben Kieffer

The International Writing Program at the University of Iowa is one of the university's signature programs, attracting notable authors from across the world and establishing both the university and Iowa City as paramount to the future of American literature. 

Since 1967, over 1,400 writers from more than 150 countries have come to Iowa. International Writing Program director Christopher Merrill explains how the program came about.

Jon Kerstetter has experienced many "crossings" in his lifefrom a civilian doctor to a medical officer in the Army National Guard, and then, after a career-ending stroke, from a medical provider to a recovering patient.

In this hour of Talk of Iowa, Jon Kerstetter talks with host Charity Nebbe about his life's transformations, detailed in his new book, Crossings: A Doctor-Soldier's Story. 

You may have noticed during this pledge drive that we had some new music beds that we used as we were taking a minute to talk about how wonderful it feels to support Iowa Public Radio financially. If you heard any of those and thought, "huh, I like that, wonder what song it is," we've got your back. 

Bob Dorr and the Blue Band Rocking Iowa on Farewell Tour

Sep 12, 2017
www.theblueband.com

Since 1981, Bob Dorr and the Blue Band have played about 100 gigs per year all around Iowa and the Midwest. Over their 30-plus year run, they have become one of Iowa's most celebrated bands, playing their beloved, self-described brand of blues/soul/rockabilly/reggae/Creole/rhythm music at festivals and venues across eastern Iowa, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Omaha, and Chicago. They have shared the stage with such icons as B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, and Bobby Rush.

Rawbert|K|Photo

Heated conversations—especially political ones can be unsatisfying and emotionally draining.  In this Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with the co-facilitators of a "difficult conversations" workshop organized by the University of Iowa School of Social Work.  Guests are Alison Oliver and Jefri Pallermo from the University of Iowa, and North Liberty based consultant, coach, and speaker Heather Woody joins in for advice for workplace conversations.

Courtesy of StoryCorps

Many Iowans are familiar with detasseling, the process of pulling the tops off corn plants to achieve cross pollination. For Jamie Christie Christensen and her daughter, Jenna Simpson Davidson, detasseling was an annual lesson in persistence and gratitude.

Jamie and Jenna stopped by the StoryCorps booth in Des Moines to talk about the connection they see between those summers in the fields and their time in the classroom.

http://www.mattkuhns.com

The Iowa and Iowa State football rivalry as we know it today only dates back to 1977, but even during the years when the Cyclones never played the Hawkeyes, there was a rivalry between the two schools. And the sports rivalry may pale in comparison to a conflict when Virgil Hancher was the president of the University of Iowa and James Hilton was the President of Iowa State University.  Matt Kuhns has written about those years in the new book Hancher vs. Hilton: Iowa’s Rival University Presidents.

Tony Rinaldo

Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected interviews with more than 400-thousand Americans.  Their goals are to preserve and share stories, build connections between people, and create a more just and compassionate world.

"At StoryCorps we like to say listening is an act of love," says StoryCorps mobile tour site manager Morgan Feigal-Stickles. "It's this idea of coming together with somebody you care about and just sitting down with them and paying attention to them and only them for forty minutes."

Courtesy of StoryCorps

Des Moines resident Gurwinder Singh Kapur moved to the United States in 1987 to study at the University of Kansas. Gurwinder had originally planned to return home to Singapore after finishing his degree, but he fell in love with America and decided to stay.

Courtesy of StoryCorps

Mary Madsen and Nancy Muhs are sisters, but they call themselves best friends. Together they faced the deaths of three of their six brothers due to Hunter Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that only affects boys. The life expectancy of those with Hunter Syndrome is about 10 to 15 years.

Mary and Nancy stopped by the StoryCorps booth in Des Moines recently to share remembrances of their brothers, and to talk about how they dealt with the knowledge that they could have passed Hunter Syndrome on to their own children.

Courtesy of StoryCorps

Mary Campos is a longtime Des Moines community activist. She was the first Latina to serve on the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and to be inducted in the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame.

Mary came to the StoryCorps mobile booth in Des Moines to talk with her cousin, Dawn Martinez Oropeza, who spoke with Mary about her childhood and the incident that led to her longtime involvement in civic engagement and civil rights. 

Story Corps is a national initiative to record and collect stories of everyday people.

Reflections on Resiliency

Aug 25, 2017
Courtesy of StoryCorps

Joann Ray has lived a life of struggle. After growing up on a farm in Temple Hill, Iowa, she went on to face multiple marriages and divorces. She worked three jobs while raising eight children and found time to go back to school and earn a nursing degree.

Earlier this month she stopped by the StoryCorps mobile booth in Des Moines with her son Steve Riley to talk about Steve’s childhood and Joann’s career path.

Story Corps is a national initiative to record and collect stories of everyday people.

Resisting Hate

Aug 24, 2017

The racial violence that occurred in Charlottesville last week has ignited an intense, nationwide discourse about race in America. Many people are unsure how to broach the subject of race, as well as the differences between free speech and hate speech.

Drake University

The Metro Arts Alliance of Greater Des Moines is ending operations after nearly 42 years, citing a lack of grant funding. 

The alliance is perhaps best known for arts education programming and the annual Jazz in July series, which celebrated its 35th year this summer.

Executive Direct Angela Ossian wouldn't say whether the drop in funding was from government or private sources, or both.

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