Wingspan: progressive, educational, fun and beautiful

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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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…

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

“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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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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Choose from dozens of virtual, socially-distanced Pride events this year

In a year when more than 400 Pride parades and events have been forced by the coronavirus crisis to reschedule or cancel, a smorgasbord of digital and socially-distanced Pride events are still happening, both locally and nationally. A few entities, such as the Metro East Pride group in Belleville, Ill., are also still planning on holding physical Pride events sometime this year. Here’s a rundown of how you can celebrate Pride, an LGBTQ tradition built around the Stonewall uprisings in 1969 in response to police brutality: • Wed., June 3:…

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

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…

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The pagan holiday of Beltane holds meaning for everyone

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…

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