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

wob cover

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…

Read More

Velvet Lotus kicks off two weeks of fundraising with tattoo session

velvet lotus cover

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…

Read More

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

tats for tots.

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,…

Read More

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

liz cover

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…

Read More

Wingspan: progressive, educational, fun and beautiful

wingspan review 2 scaled

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…

Read More

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

lammas scaled

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

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

IMG 2517 scaled e1594980996861

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

everybodys pride 4

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

Leather weekend, more pride events cancelled because of COVID-19

iowa leather cancelled scaled

Des Moines’ Iowa Leather Weekend in October is the latest LGBTQ-identified event to call off this year’s festivities in light of the ongoing coronavirus crisis and growing questions about why and how the virus is so contagious. Three other Pride events have also rescheduled: — CR PrideFest, originally scheduled for July 11 in Cedar Rapids — Capital City Pride, originally postponed from June 12 to July 11, and now cancelled altogether this year, and — Pride South Side, a Chicago festival for queer people of color, held for the first…

Read More

The pagan holiday of Beltane holds meaning for everyone

beltane 2

In this time of coronavirus, money can be tight. More than ever, as a modern world, we are focusing on the things we purchase, collect and forage (can you say toilet paper) to fulfill our own personal needs and desires. But amid this frenzy, we can still find rituals that help us recognize things like the hope in the busy work of the bees, the budding trees, and the songs of the birds.  Paganism and wicca are filled with these kinds of rituals, that guide us to honor the Earth…

Read More