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

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…

Read More

Iowa, Illinois show poorly for women, people of color

Living in Iowa or Illinois can be an economic challenge if you’re a person of color or a woman, recent studies show. Zippia declared Iowa the “second-worst state to be black,” with Illinois coming in at the 11th-worst spot. In addition, 24/7 Wall St. has five Illinois cities in its list of the 15 worst cities to live if you’re black. And Iowa’s Waterloo/Cedar Falls is considered the country’s third-worst place to live if you’re black, after topping the list for several years. In addition, Iowa is among the states…

Read More

‘Coming out’ again: The Real MainStream brighter, better, and reinvented

Read about how The Real MainStream is reworking itself to better serve Iowa and Illinois. Whenever I run across one of my keepsake copies of the first 13 editions of The Real MainStream, published before the current worldwide pandemic, I feel awash in memories and sensations. “We’ll never give up the handshake!” joked a customer and I in early March. Mere days later, he and dozens of others in our circulation area announced they were saying “no” to not only handshakes, but all in-store traffic for a few months.  Back…

Read More

Shakespeare’s focuses on coming through with comfort food during coronavirus

Building on its historic strength of providing comfort food at an affordable price has been the focus of Iowa City’s Shakespeare’s Pub & Grill since mid-March when the coronavirus crisis first began. Throughout an unpredictable four months that included 11 weeks of being shut down to in-restaurant dining, Shakespeare’s has found ways to expand on its specialty of fun food. It was among the first restaurants in Iowa City to begin offering no-touch curbside service, and has bolstered its marketing of delivery through Chomp. Shakespeare’s also offers daily specials every…

Read More

Fairfield store stands proud with LGBTQ Pride, Black Lives Matter message

FAIRFIELD — A few years ago, Paul Praither saw a headline that wrenched his heart: a teenager that worked for him at Everybody’s Whole Foods, who was undergoing a transition from one gender to another, had chosen to end his life. “He was a really nice kid. I wish he would have said something. I wish I would have said something,” Praither said. The tragedy inspired Praither to lead an LGBTQ renaissance at Everybody’s — a visual explosion of acceptance, equality and diversity that has blossomed this summer into a…

Read More

Juneteenth celebrations blossom online and throughout Iowa, Illinois

A three-day virtual festival, comedy nights, protests, family-friendly gatherings, concerts, and online events of all kinds are honoring Juneteenth like never before this year. The annual June 19 celebration, which honors the date that slavery was abolished, is receiving long overdue nationwide focus in light of the recent rash of police killings of black men. The entire state of Illinois will lower its flags to half-staff in honor of the holiday. More than 70 Chicago restaurants have joined to offer Juneteenth specials, writes Chicago Eater. Many cities, including Chicago, have…

Read More

Iowa City, Quad Cities, Capital City, Cedar Rapids amp up Pride plans

Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Iowa City and the Quad Cities have all expanded their Pride Month offerings, with more virtual fun, chances to join in from your home or yard, and special guests. Capital City Pride in Des Moines decided just a few weeks ago to cancel this year’s event, which had initially been delayed from June to July. Quickly, the group has come up with a new slate of events that includes parades and special guests the Iowa Phoenix women’s football team. Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and the Quad…

Read More

Des Moines’ history of systemic racism said to be built around housing restrictions

The city of Des Moines intentionally undertook policies in the 1930s and 1960s to limit housing options for Black residents, writes a University of Iowa student. In addition, writes Ross Clowser, the city’s failure to clean up areas deemed by the EPA to be contaminated with toxins have hit Des Moines’ Black residents harder than the general population. As a result, living in Des Moines can be as hard for a Black person as living in some of the nation’s most segregated communities, Clowser writes in a 2018 paper he…

Read More

“The Negro Artist,” award-winning poet, opens up at 8 pm virtual reading tonight

While many of his fellow young Black men joined protests after the killing of George Floyd, Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey had different reactions: he felt paralyzed, catatonic, isolated, foolish and arrogant. Paralyzed and catatonic, because he felt stuck in 2011, when Eric Garner’s death by police choking was captured on video and first propelled Rainey to devote himself to improving Black lives. Isolated, because Floyd’s death made him feel as though society didn’t value his life or those of other Black men. And foolish and arrogant, because Rainey had…

Read More

Iowa City protesters issue 15 demands

The protesters who have been standing off with the Iowa City Police Department and Iowa State Patrol last week have presented a list of 15 demands that extend beyond those two agencies to at least four other government entities. Now known as the Iowa Freedom Riders, the group that repeatedly converged on Interstate 80 last week is asking through its Instagram account for legal and policy changes that go beyond ending police brutality. The demands extend into how the School Board is elected, how students air grievances, city budgeting decisions,…

Read More