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 Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Potluck: Driving for Art - The Mississippi River Valley Art Drive. Billie Davids finds interesting stories every place she turns. For years she focused on people stories — stories about people’s dreams, their regrets, their triumphs.

By Nick Bergus. A review of Wayne A. Wiegand’s Main Street Public Library. Libraries, perhaps more than anything else, embody the American Dream. They are homes to seemingly unlimited founts of knowledge — knowledge free for the taking by the interested. Libraries are the foundation of our American anybody-can-be-anything ideal, deeply ingrained in the culture of the United States. Getting my first library card was a rite of passage.

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. A Small Tour of Europe in Southwest Iowa. Savor the tastes and sights of Europe without airport hassles, jet lag, and language barriers. Travelers can sample four countries in two days on a drive through southwest Iowa. Though close geographically, the communities of Corning, Elk Horn, Manning, and Stanton have retained strong ethnic ties to their French, Danish, German, and Swedish cultures respectively. In the spirit of the European Union, the communities have come together to invite visitors to “eat and tour — tour and eat.” Tour stops allow travelers to see restored buildings and sites as they learn about the utopian community the French Icarians established in 1848, see an authentic 350-year-old German hausbarn (a dwelling housing animals and humans under one roof), tour a 60-foot Danish windmill rescued from Denmark, and delve into Swedish history and artifacts. Each community shares the immigrant experience of those making the journey from their home countries to settle the Iowa frontier in the 1800s. And what is touring without eating? Travelers will enjoy an ever-changing smorgasbord of ethnic delicacies. A pique-nique française (French picnic) including eclairs and fromage in the Icarian dining hall. Swedish spritz cookies, pepparkaka, östkaka with lingonberries, and, of course, coffee in Stanton. German egg salad, pickled beets, sauerkraut salad, and beer and sauerkraut fudge cupcakes with beer frosting in Manning. Danish frikadeller (meatballs), rugbrød (rye bread), and rødkal (a wonderful red cabbage) in Elk Horn.

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Graffiti Night Car Show in Onawa, Iowa - A Blast From the Past. Movies like American Graffiti, songs like “American Pie,” and DJs like Wolfman Jack celebrate America’s mid-20th-century love affair with cars. Iowans can relive that time of tail fins and muscle cars, cruising the strip, and “meetin’ at the drive-in” when car lovers congregate in Onawa in June. “Onawa has been recognized as one of the top 10 cruising venues in the nation,” says Bill Wonder, founding member of the Classics Car Club, which has hosted the Graffiti Night Car Show for 28 years. The event attracts some 300 cars representing all years, makes, and models, including the muscle cars of today, says Wonder. “Onawa has the widest main street in the U.S., and the line of cars when we cruise is seven miles long.”

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Streets Are for Everyone - Cascade, Iowa became the first Iowa community to adopt a Complete Streets policy in 2006. The idea behind Complete Streets is to plan, design, and maintain streets so they’re safe for users of all ages and abilities, whether pedestrians, bicyclists, or public transportation users. “It’s a livability issue,” says Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. “With a larger senior population and an emphasis on healthful living, people want to be able to get out and around.” Many other Iowa communities, including Dubuque, the Quad Cities, Iowa City, the Cedar Rapids area, Johnson County, and Des Moines, have adopted Complete Street policies. There’s no standard approach to achieving user-friendly streets, and Complete Streets is more philosophy than blueprint. “Each community writes its own policy.”

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. The Art & Legacy of Wood & Stone - In the summer of 1932, the Great Depression gripped the world. But in Stone City — just four miles north of Anamosa — Grant Wood joined with others to found the Stone City Art Colony to encourage regional artists. Though the Colony only operated for two summers, the roots of appreciation of regional art remain firmly planted. “Anamosa is an artistic and creative community that cherishes art,” says Michelle Phillips, co-chair of the Grant Wood Art Festival. On June 10, celebrating its 40th year, the Festival remains true to Wood’s vision, providing a showcase for regional artists and many young and old local artists. Authors Trip Evans and John Duggleby will speak about their books on Grant Wood’s life.

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. The James Andrew  Iowa Railway Museum. “My fascination with railroads began as I listened to my grandfather’s tales of his travels on ‘immigrant railcars,’” says James Andrew. The early-1900s version of covered wagons, these modified boxcars provided space for household goods, farm equipment, and livestock, as well as a small living area. When Andrew, now 90 and pictured above riding his inspection car, donated his collection to the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad & Museum, Fenner Stevenson, general manager, knew he’d found a treasure. “It’s a truly unique collection from an industry that made a huge contribution to the development of our state. We look forward to sharing his passion with the public.” 

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Wet, Dirty & Passionate - Project AWARE Cleans Up Iowa Rivers. Inspired by the Living Lands & Waters project on the Mississippi River, the DNR launched Project AWARE (A Watershed Awareness River Expedition). Project AWARE invites volunteers to spend a day or a week each year getting wet and dirty as they clean up a stretch of waterway. The project’s first nine years have inspired 2,152 volunteers to paddle and walk 702 miles of river and collect 181 tons (320 cubic yards) of trash.

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. May is Egg Month. Wherever they’re found, however they’re used, eggs will be celebrated in May during National Egg Month — especially, perhaps, in Iowa. The No. 1 egg-producing state in the nation, Iowa is home to chickens that lay an astounding 14.25 billion eggs each year.

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Going, Going . . . Experts are watching for but are unfortunately not seeing many Poweshiek skipperling butterflies. Common in Iowa prairies as late as a decade ago, the little mothlike butterfly has virtually disappeared, prompting a proposal for its addition to the federal list of threatened or endangered species. It was last spotted in Iowa in tallgrass prairies in Osceola and Cerro Gordo Counties during surveys between 2005 and 2009.

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Iowa Travel Stops on the Glacial Trail Scenic Highway. Jim Hass’s collection has grown to include 3,000–4,000 arrowheads and other Native American artifacts, 200 antique guns (including muskets dating from before the Revolutionary War), Civil War memorabilia, and much more — so many items they more than fill the three stories of what has become Jim’s History Barn in Peterson, Iowa. It is part of along the Glacial Trail Scenic Byway, a 36-mile loop that includes stretches in O’Brien, Clay, Cherokee, and Buena Vista Counties.

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. John H. Howe was one of the original members of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin Fellowship and became known as “the pencil in Frank Lloyd Wright’s hand” for the better part of three decades. But he was a successful architect in his own right for another 30 years. More than 75 of his residential designs were built across the Midwest.

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Rising to the Living Building Challenge (an international performance-based certification program) and incorporating both Building Biology principles and Maharishi Vedic architecture guidelines, the new Sustainable Living Center design introduces such features as the use of naturally hygroscopic materials to self-regulate humidity, the use of natural building materials, and complete water and energy self-sufficiency — the ability to go off the grid.

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. After his Benton Community High School graduation, Anthony Wenndt left Van Horne and spent a summer interviewing Kenyan farmers about harmful insects and productivity on their subsistence farms. He was one of 18 high school students awarded a Borlaug-Ruan Internship to work in an international research facility in 2011.

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Before Europeans settled Iowa, trees shaded nearly 20 percent of the landscape. Today trees grace only about 6 percent of our state. Plant a tree on Arbor Day, April 27, 2012

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Sean Lewis, an award-winning playwright renowned for tackling sensitive social topics, presents his  newest play, Mayberry, exploring the challenges and opportunities that face his own community on the southeast side of Iowa City.

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. European troubadours, Irish pub poets, Japanese partygoers collaborating to write a renga, and beatniks in the 1960s — all operated in the spoken word tradition. Modern-day poets revive that spoken tradition in poetry slams. April is Poetry Month.

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Traveling by Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla is getting easier. Electric vehicle (EV) drivers are finding a growing number of EV charging stations along Iowa’s I-80, more than a dozen at last count. Eight of them are in Elk Horn.

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Mesmerizing. Energetic. Infectious. Exuberant. Joyous. These are just some of the words used to describe the Grammy-winning Soweto Gospel Choir who will perform in Riverside in March, 2012.

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Whodunnit? Drood is not your standard, run-of-the-mill murder mystery. It’s a musical based on an unfinished novel by Charles Dickens.

Algona's Frostbite Olympics is a two-day festival of indoor and outdoor challenges. Get your blood flowing with a game of softball or broomball, snowmobile rides, and more.

Oatmeal is still one of the most popular winter foods in America. Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids has declared January National Oatmeal Month. 

It’s hard to find the good news in last year’s Missouri River flood, but the folks who care for the Bertrand Collection at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge are making the best of a bad situation.

Being the only one can be a great experience. Or a painful one. Black Iowans stories are featured in The Only One, opening this month at the African American Museum (Cedar Rapids) and the Johnson County Historical Society (Coralville).

The hunter knelt beside a massive buffalo he’d brought down with bow and arrow. He dipped two fingers in the bull’s blood and marked streaks on his face, participating in a Native American ceremony honoring the courage of the bull.

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