“Kindness Queers,” “queerantine kits” brighten LGBTQIA youths’ lives during pandemic

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CHAMPAIGN, ILL. — When Anna Peters and her business partner at the Art Coop began to think about how the pandemic might affect LGBTQIA children, they became worried. And then, inspired. Peters and co-owner Hilary Pope, along with Pope’s art teacher partner, realized they were already equipped to help with the arts resources all around them in the Coop, founded in 1971. The result, quickly, was 250 “queerantine kits” filled with art supplies out the door to “Kindness Queers,” who are LGBTQIA youngsters who may not have access to arts…

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Pet Wellness and patient health go hand in hand at The Project of the Quad Cities

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QUAD CITIES — The pandemic has reminded us that having a pet can be important for one’s mental and physical health. It has also revealed that the financial burden of pet ownership is harder for many. The Project of the Quad Cities is tackling this challenge with a fundraising campaign for its Pet Wellness Program. This nonprofit organization, which advocates for health equity and provides health services to people living with HIV and sexually-transmitted diseases, aims to help more of its clients consider adopting a pet by helping with the…

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Poignant live performance from ’90s dream pop Fishmans re-emerges

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In spite of such a difficult COVID-consumed year for all of us, the universe gave us unexpected gifts along the way. Some are bright and shiny; some are dark and stormy. Some are both. One of those dual-sided gifts for me has been discovering a 42-minute concert film that a commenter on RateYourMusic calls a “post-rock/dream pop/neo-psychedelia epic…. absolutely heavenly.” Known officially as “98.12.28 Otokotachi no Wakare” (“A Men’s Farewell”), this concert is, as video game developer Daulton Nelson writes,  “a mastery in progressive pop and psychedelic pop” and “an…

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Author and comic artist Huda Fahmy confronts Islamophobia with humor, wit

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Life in America can be challenging when you wear a hijab. Huda Fahmy shares her experiences as an obviously Muslim woman in America with humor and wit in her book “Yes, I’m Hot in This.” This comic collection of her experiences reveals the Islamophobia and ignorance that Muslim-Americans have to deal with. One recurring theme in Fahmy’s book is dealing with people who react with instant negativity and hatred when they see a hijab. Her comics show her responding with poise and witty comebacks, but Fahmy said that it’s always…

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National expert on fighting white power movement leads Wednesday webinar for Quad Cities group

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QUAD CITIES — An expert on the rise of hate groups that is also one of the nation’s most sought-after speakers comes virtually Wednesday to the Quad Cities, which has faced a rash of hate-related incidents over the past year including the graffiti-spraying of a Jewish temple just last week. Dr. Kathleen Belew takes to Zoom Wednesday evening to provide a webinar titled “What Is the White Power Movement? Why Should You Care?” Author of a highly-lauded 2018 book on white power, Belew is now one of the nation’s top…

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Iowa City’s WOB rises to challenges of COVID-19, historic bicycling interest

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IOWA CITY — Here and there, silver linings exist during the COVID-19 crisis — and one of those is a burst in bicycling interest across the United States so strong it’s made worldwide news. For Iowa City’s World of Bikes, this phenomenon has meant historic sales levels, more workers who are asked to work less, and getting creative about keeping up with the never-ending demand while staying safe. WOB, for instance, created an outdoor sales kiosk and even now only lets customers inside under limited, controlled circumstances with new disinfection…

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Velvet Lotus kicks off two weeks of fundraising with tattoo session

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The tattooing is over — but the fundraising has just begun. Take a look below at the artists from Velvet Lotus Tattoo, hard at work during Friday’s “Tats for Tots” tattoo session. The staff applied 13 tattoos to donors who entered a raffle to not only receive a tattoo, but also donate at least $50 to “Tats for Tots” and the families and children it benefits. Tats for Tots happens every year at Velvet Lotus; Founded almost eight years ago by social worker Annie Ventullo, the event has been at…

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Velvet Lotus keeps ‘Tats for Tots’ alive despite COVID-19

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Annie Ventullo remembers hearing from a school social worker one year, about a child in an abusive situation whose parents routinely threw away her toys at home. “Could we get her some stuff she can play with while at school?” the social worker asked Ventullo, after hearing that she ran an annual fundraising effort for needy families. The exchange is one example of the wide variety of people Ventullo and Velvet Lotus Tattoos aim to help each year with Tats for Tots. Kicking off today and continuing through Dec. 1,…

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Bartender’s fight against cancer during coronavirus crisis gets a boost Oct. 10

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IOWA CITY – We’ve known for months that bar and restaurant workers are hit especially hard during the coronavirus crisis. But some such workers are getting hit even harder than others. And one of those is Lis Wolf. A long-time bartender in the Iowa City area, Wolf was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in June, after a fast-growing tumor caused her leg to swell up to the point of interfering with her blood circulation. Now undergoing aggressive chemotherapy while still trying to squeeze in a few hours of work each week…

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“Justice for Breonna Taylor” inspires events throughout Iowa, Illinois

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Events are coming together quickly throughout Iowa and Illinois to honor the late Breonna Taylor, the Louisville victim of a police raid shooting earlier this year. Racial justice events are happening tonight in Decatur and Elgin, Ill; tomorrow (Saturday) in Belleville, Ill., and Davenport, Iowa; and next week in West Branch, Davenport and Cedar Rapids in Iowa. The events are organized by many of the social justice groups that have become more familiar since June, Advocates for Social Justice in Cedar Rapids and We FIGHT in Davenport. Online events about racial justice are growing almost daily, and you’ll find several highlighted in the…

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