Leash on Life steps up support during coronavirus crisis

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IOWA CITY and NORTH LIBERTY — Leash on Life has given back to its communities for 15 years through donations to animal shelters throughout Johnson County. But when the coronavirus crisis hit, it was a “whole new beast,” says owner Laurie Smith. So Leash on Life stepped up its volunteer efforts: it began donating and transporting pet food to not just animal shelters, but also human food pantries, throughout Johnson County. Customers began volunteering to buy bags of pet food for those in need, and have been responsible for the…

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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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Beadology “beadazzles” with masks, fun craft stations, no-touch sanitizer station, more

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“Beadology”-themed face masks that help support women’s and LGBTQ health, crafting stations with fun names, and a no-contact hand sanitizer station are among the new features at Beadology iowa, one of the state’s last remaining bead shops. As part of its ongoing effort to adjust to the coronavirus crisis, Beadology is also ensuring all of its arts, crafts, jewelry-making and beading classes are socially-distanced with work stations six feet or more apart, says co-owner Karen Kubby. Many classes limited to four or six slots. Masks are required of all staff…

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Climate change effects are far-reaching in Iowa

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Iowa is far from the coasts, and far from the polar ice caps. But it is not far from the effects of climate change. Climate change affects Iowa in a very real way, affecting our crops and our personal health.  “Greenhouse gases are warming the atmosphere and the oceans, which means more evaporation.” says David Osterberg, a professor of environmental health at the University of Iowa and the founding director of the Iowa Policy Project. Even an increase of just one degree has a dramatic effect, he explained. That heightened…

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Writers are pushed to write more through NaNoWriMo

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At least 50,000 words written in thirty days. Such is the insanity I undertake every November, along with hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. November was NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and according to NaNoWriMo.org, over 400,000 people participated last year in over 655 regions on six continents. I was one of them. I have participated in NaNoWriMo since November 2015. That first year, I was enormously pregnant with my youngest, who was born eight days after NaNo finished.  But I actually won. I wrote those 50,000…

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Proteus celebrates 40 years serving migrant workers

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DES MOINES — Proteus, a Des Moines-based nonprofit that helps immigrant farmworkers find support to live safely and securely, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Named after the Greek God that transforms to the needs of the people, Proteus focuses on Iowa’s migrant farmworkers, many of whom work sunup ‘til sundown and are therefore rarely seen in their greater communities. The nonprofit estimates it has served 75,000 people since 1979. “Working with the clients and patients we do, these are the most hardworking and grateful individuals I have ever…

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Axe-throwing, inspired by Canada, takes off in Iowa

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One to three pounds of wood and sharpened metal. Lift it slowly behind your head, take a step forward, and thwak. The axe is buried in the wooden target, and cheers sound from behind you. Welcome to axe throwing, a new recreational sport steadily growing in popularity since about 2013. That’s when a young entrepreneur kicked off a franchise in Philadelphia after enjoying the sport in Canada, reports NBC News. “It’s more fun and engaging than darts or bowling,” says Nick Collins, owner of Hatchet Jack’s in Iowa City, which…

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Tips for raising a transgender child

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“When I grow up, I want to be a girl.” Genevieve Carter (not her real name) is, in many ways, a typical nine-year-old third-grader. She loves gymnastics and math, and is the embodiment of childhood enthusiasm. Her thick brown hair falls below her shoulders, and her bright smile frequently lights up her face. She is also transgender. “She used to say she wanted to be a builder,” her mom, Louisa, says. “Then she started saying she wanted to be a girl when she grew up.” This was three years ago,…

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