Thrift Bandit is eastern Iowa’s socially responsible outlaw of recycled fashion

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When they realized they were both wearing “polyester grandpa pants” and cardigan sweaters, Michael and Stef Duncan knew they were destined for each other.  They didn’t realize those grandpa pants would also inspire a business they would co-run. Thrift Bandit is the online vintage venture of Michael (from Burlington in southeast Iowa) and Stef (from Jerico in northeast Iowa), who describe themselves as “nerds running this out of our basement.” Launched in the summer of 2019, Thrift Bandit seeks to provide an alternative to first-hand, mass-produced disposable clothing — and…

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Racial justice events throughout Illinois, Iowa planned in solidarity with Jacob Blake

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At least 19 communities throughout Iowa and Illinois are stepping forth with protests, vigils, rallies or marches in solidarity with Jacob Blake, the Kenosha, Wis., man paralyzed by at least seven police bullets to his back. The gatherings are from Des Moines to Chicago, along the Wisconsin/Illinois line, the Iowa/Illinois line, and the Missouri/Illinois line. Communities hosting events range from larger cities like Chicago and St. Louis, to tiny West Branch, Ia., and Effingham, Ill. Most of the rallies, protests and vigils are hosted by racial justice groups that formed…

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Return to COVID-shaped school year swells the “mental load” of parents, caretakers

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Around the dark cloud of this pandemic has been this big silver lining: my “mental load” got a break. To moms, the phrase “mental load” is familiar: it’s the “mental work, the organizing, list-making and planning, that you do to manage your life, and that of those dependent on you,” writes Leah Ruppaner for ABC News. She also describes the mental load as “like a phantom — felt by many, but, without the language to describe it, very difficult to discuss.” For months, I didn’t have to think about my…

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Davenport attorney leads second protest against police brutality Saturday

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QUAD CITIES — Eric Puryear is not your typical Black Lives Matter activist. He’s a gun rights enthusiast. He’s a libertarian. He disagrees vehemently with socialism. Yet he’s also a pioneer of standing up against inappropriate policing in the Quad Cities and the Chicago area. He’s one of the most active attorneys in the Iowa-Illinois area representing victims of police brutality or helping to share about their cases in writings. Puryear, founder of Puryear Law, is also leading a series of rallies against police brutality in the Quad Cities. The…

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For non-Black people: how to stop perpetuating whiteness and its damage

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Well-meaning, humbled, “ready to serve” white people. They are so newly visible since the May 26 murder of George Floyd, says Goddess Carroll, a specialist in massage and energy healing. And that visibility is imperative, says Carroll. But for Black people like Carroll, well-meaning whites asking “how can I help?” can be exhausting, trigger trauma repeatedly, and perpetuate a generations-old cycle of expecting Black people to do the hard labor. For illustration, Carroll offers the analogy of an abused child. “Say, you were abused from age 1 to age 18,…

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Next stop, Washington: Kesho Scott brings anti-racism memorials to small Iowa towns

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WASHINGTON — Dr. Kesho Scott started bringing George Floyd memorials to her central Iowa hometown of Grinnell, with a small service that ended up attracting about 150 of the town’s 10,000 residents. A woman from Belle Plaine, a town of 2,500 just west of Cedar Rapids, attended the Grinnell event and asked Scott to come to her town, too. Mingo, a town of 300 near Newton, asked next and ended up drawing about 50 people to a gathering in a resident’s backyard. Then Marengo, about a half-hour south of Belle…

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Wingspan: progressive, educational, fun and beautiful

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Wingspan is one of my favorite board games, for almost more reasons than I can mention. This is a game that puts you in the role of a bird enthusiast who is trying to obtain the bird food you need to attract birds to their appropriate habitats. Wingspan helped raise money to fight the Australian wildfires. That’s actually how I learned it was available, after seeing it only on back order for months. For everyone who signed up to receive notice of Wingspan’s “early release” second expansion, called Oceania, Stonemaier Games donated $1…

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August Tarotscope: Take a cue from MTV and the cards, and “get real,” for real

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“It’s time to stop being polite and start getting real…. WITH OURSELVES.” You may recognize this as one of the many key slogans of MTV’s “The Real World”. It’s a phrase that resonates for a reason: because it’s time. Time to hear your own thoughts and connect with your whole, authentic self. Time to cut out external influences. Time to realize that we are all part of something larger than ourselves — and what is happening around each of us right now is bigger than any of us could have…

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Embrace the transformative spirit of Lammas, the “ugly duckling” of pagan holidays

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With all the jokes about baking bread during the pandemic quarantine, you’d think a holiday named after bread would get a little more attention this year. But no. Lammas — “loaf mass” in old English — is still one of the lesser-known ancient holidays from pagan traditions. Happening this weekend, and honoring the harvest season, it is one of the major pagan festivals of the year, marking the end of summer and the coming autumn. Yet, it’s so under-appreciated that blogger Jason Mankey wrote a column titled “Why No One…

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