Events coming up during the next two weeks

I still don’t have many details about President Barack Obama’s upcoming appearance in Newton on Earth Day (April 22). He plans to speak about energy, and presumably his focus will be on renewable energy and the potential for “green jobs” to boost the economy. Two manufacturers in the wind energy industry have located in Newton since the former Maytag plant shut down.

I will post more details about the president’s visit when they become available. Meanwhile, click “there’s more” to read what else is going on around the state for the next couple of weeks.

As always, post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT if you know of something important I’ve left out.

Monday, April 20:

The UNI Center for Energy & Environmental Education will host this event at 7 pm in the CEEE auditorium in Cedar Falls:

Wes Jackson, president of The Land Institute and an international leader in the sustainable agriculture movement, will discuss “The 50 Year Farm Bill,” looking at key ideas in agriculture as well as environmental studies. Jackson founded The Land Institute in his native Kansas in 1976. He is the author of several books including “New Roots for Agriculture” and “Becoming Native to This Place.” He was a 1990 Pew Conservation Scholar, in 1992 became a MacArthur Fellow, and in 2000 received the Right Livelihood Award (called the “alternative Nobel prize”.)  

From One Iowa:

April 20, 2009 6:30 PM

PFLAG Cedar Rapids

Faith United Methodist Church

1000 30th St., NE.

Nate Silver, the statistician who was once known as “poblano” and blogs at, will give a public lecture at Iowa State University at 8 p.m. The topic is “How Obama Really Won the Election.”

Tuesday, April 21:

Plains Justice founder Carrie La Seur (whom Iowa Senate Republicans just denied a second term on the Iowa Power Fund board) will speak at two events in Iowa City:

Careers in Environmental Justice

What’s it like to have a career working in social justice and environmental law? Find out on April 21, when Carrie La Seur will discuss her experiences as the founder of Plains Justice, a public-interest law center that defends the right to environmental justice and a sustainable economy through community partnerships. The talk will take place from 4 to 5 pm at the University of Iowa in Room 1124 of the University Capitol Centre. This event is free and open to the public. Contact Amy Palace for more information: Campus map:…

Climate Change Lecture

Carrie La Seur, the Founder and President of Plains Justice, will discuss climate change and what can be done about it. Plains Justice is a public-interest law center that was founded in part in response to a now-cancelled proposal to build a new coal-fired power plant near Waterloo, Iowa. Plains Justice works for environmental justice and a sustainable economy through community partnerships. The lecture will be held from 7 to 8 pm at the University of Iowa in Room 1117 of the University Capitol Centre. This event is free and open to the public. Contact Amy Palace for more information: Campus map:…

There’s an Audubon Society event in Des Moines:

“Oneota Flow: A Deep History of Birds and People on the Mississippi Flyway”

By David Faldet

Tuesday, April 21

7 p.m.

David Faldet has spent forty years in the basin of the Upper Iowa River, which winds from the flat farm fields of southern Minnesota through the wooded valleys of northeast Iowa to the Mississippi.

In his book, Oneota Flow, Faldet moves through the history of life along the Upper Iowa, always focusing on the ways people depend on the river, the environment, and the resources of the region. In his talk he will introduce the Upper Iowa, its most characteristic birds, the river basin’s prehistory and history of human interactions with birds, and the way human development of the basin has changed its bird population.

The presentation will reinforce the basic ecological idea that people and birds are interdependent and that the health of the river is best guaranteed by maintaining the biological communities that nurture it. In return, taking care of the Upper Iowa is the best way to take care of our future.  Faldet is Jones Professor of Humanities and chairs the English Department at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.  

This program is sponsored by Des Moines Audubon Society.  Meetings begin at 7 p.m. and are held in the lower level of Westminster Presbyterian Church, which is located at the corner of Beaver and Franklin Avenues in Des Moines. Parking is available on the north and west sides of the church and an elevator can be accessed at the west door. For information about Des Moines Audubon programs, please contact Jane at or 515-223-5047.

From Iowa Interfaith Power and Light’s e-mail newsletter:

A Find-Out Event: Is it feasible to grow a garden at your church?

Churches, non-profit organizations, businesses, and schools that are located on properties with open landscapes are invited to a “find-out” meeting regarding constituent gardening on Tuesday, April 21, at 5:30 p.m.  The meeting will be held at the Black Hawk County Extension office, located at 3420 University Ave., in Waterloo.

Across the nation, churches, businesses and schools are tilling sections of their property to grow vegetables to share garden produce with seniors or with those who may not have the means to grow their own vegetables.

The find-out session will help representatives of Cedar Valley organizations determine the feasibility of such projects in our own area.  The event will be coordinated by Julie Evenson, Extension Horticulturist, and Allen Ricks, Black Hawk County Extension Education Director. Models of community gardens and “how to” suggestions will be shared at the find-out event.

To register please call the Black Hawk County Extension office (319) 234-6811, or e-mail

From the Sierra Club Iowa Topics e-mail list:

“Poisoned Waters” will be aired on the PBS program, FRONTLINE, on April 21.  According to the PBS news release, “More than three decades after the Clean Water Act, two iconic waterways-the great coastal estuaries Puget Sound and the Chesapeake Bay-are in perilous condition. With polluted runoff still flowing in from industry, agriculture, and massive suburban development, scientists fear contamination to the food chain and drinking water for millions of people. A growing list of endangered species is also threatened in both estuaries. As a new president, Congress, and states set new agendas and spending priorities, FRONTLINE correspondent Hedrick Smith examines the rising hazards to human health and the ecosystem, and why it’s so hard to keep our waters clean.”

You can see a promotional trailer for the program at the link below.

Wednesday April 22:

President Obama will speak in Newton, as I mentioned at the top of this post. Renewable energy, global warming and the role of “green jobs” in rebuilding the economy are likely topics in his speech.

From the Iowa Environmental Council e-news:

Earth Day Invasive Species Removal

April 22, Polk County

Grab the family or your co-workers and come help remove invasive species from a local park from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Invasive plants like honey suckle and garlic mustard are taking over our woodlands and degrading the habitat. Please bring gloves and dress according to the weather. Refreshments will be served. Join us in one of the following locations: Brown’s Woods, Easter Lake Park, Shelter #3, Fort Des Moines Park, Shelter #1, Jester Park, Shelter #5.  Contact Polk County Conservation at 515-323-5300 or for more information.

Thursday, April 23:

Benefit Concert for Heritage Trail

April 23, Dubuque

Dubuque County’s Heritage Trail sustained heavy damage in the floods of 2008. A benefit concert April 23 by Jon Stravers and the Big Blue Sky band will help raise money for repairs. Vocalist Kristina Castaneda and alma sub rosa also will perform. The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Mindframe Theaters, 555 JFK Road, in Dubuque. Admission is $10. For more about the trail, visit… For more about the event, call Jennifer Tigges at Tri-State Trail Vision, 563-583-7128.

Saturday, April 25:

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is organizing this important event:

Prairie Rescue-Volunteers Needed

Jones County

Celebrate Earth Day by saving an original Iowa landscape! Volunteers are needed for the Prairie Rescue at Breen Prairie Farm in Jones County, Saturday, April 25, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. This event, hosted by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, is part of the 10th annual statewide Prairie Rescue. Volunteers will use hand tools to remove invasive shrubs and trees from the prairie. Adults and kids over age 7 are welcome – no experience necessary! More information about this and other 2009 prairie rescue events are at, or contact Ann Robinson or Joe McGovern at INHF, 515-288-1846.

There will be another Cool Congregations workshop (see above), this time in Ames:

Saturday, April 25th, 9:00 AM – Noon  (Registration begins at 8:30 AM)

First Christian Church, 611 Clark Ave, Ames, IA 50010

Please pre-register with Kay Scott, (515) 233-1849 or

From the Iowa Environmental Council’s e-mail newsletter:

Earth Day Environmental Learning Fair and Celebration

Please join us at Gullpoint State Park Lodge, on the shore of West Lake Okoboji, in Wahpeton, for our 6th annual Earth Day Environmental Learning Fair and Celebration.  9-4:00 pm: Lectures Series; informational Displays; live animal displays; Kids corner, hikes and food. Join us for this FREE FAMILY FUN DAY! At 5:30-8:00 PM is our “EARTH DAY CELEBRATION.” Bring hors d’ourves to share, your family and friends to our annual Earth Day Celebration! Rich Leopold, Director of the Iowa DNR will kick off our celebration with a keynote Speech.

Monday, April 27:

Reservations are encouraged by this date for the ACLU of Iowa’s annual dinner on May 2 (see below for event details).

From One Iowa:

April 27, 2009 7:00 PM

PFLAG Decorah Meeting

St. Benedict’s Catholic Church

309 W. Main St.

Thursday, April 30:

Iowa Bicycle Coalition Fundraiser in Iowa City:

IBC will host a Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament on April 30 at 7 PM to raise funds for better and safer bicycling in Iowa. 1st place will hopefully pay between $400 – $500 depending on the number of players. Buy in is $30 for 800 chips, with an opitional $20 for a 500 chip add on or rebuy. If you ride your bicycle to the event you will receive an extra 100 chip. All are welcome. Even if you don’t play cards, please stop by — the Legion has food and beverages. Let’s fill the parking lot with bicycles.  Iowa City American Legion, 3016 Muscatine Ave.  For more information, please call 319-330-5587

Friday, May 1:

Iowa Rivers Revival kicks off its fourth annual conference:

IRR’s 4th Annual Conference: Embracing Our Rivers, Webster City, Iowa – MAY 1-3, 2009

Enjoy Boone River Country and celebrate the early days of spring in Webster City, Iowa – IRR’s first River Town of the Year award recipient.  This year’s conference will offer two morning plenary presentations – an inspirational interpretation on the multiple values of rivers by Jon Stravers, followed by an in-depth overview of the Boone River watershed project between The Nature Conservancy, The Iowa Soybean Association and Prairie Rivers RC&D.  Afternoon break-out sessions offer a broad range of river-focused topics including recreation, activism and river events, political influence from the local to state level and economic development interests from the local to state level – additional programs are being developed.

Saturday evening’s Annual Banquet will include the conference keynote speaker (soon to be announced), presentation of the River Town of the Year Award and a live auction in support of IRR’s operational and program initiatives.  Auction items collected so far:  a hand-painted and crafted wooden paddle by Nancy Crowfoot • a Boone River fishing tour facilitated by Brian Stroner • locally-raised grass-fed beef – a combination of ground beef, steaks, and roasts from Jerry Peckumn • hand-crafted piece of furniture by Luke Wright • construction labor from Luke Wright • a Paddle tour/trip facilitated by Nate Hoogeveen • several more items to be added!

Join us for Sunday’s Boone River tour – either by foot, bike or boat (canoe or kayak).  The tour includes highlights along the scenic Boone River trail and will end at Briggs Woods Park for lunch and various demonstrations – depending on river conditions, the Iowa Whitewater Coalition may be able do a whitewater demonstration on the beautiful Baptismal Falls.

Meet new friends or visit old as we unite to celebrate, improve and preserve Iowa’s rivers so we can benefit and use them for years to come.  Registration information: or

Saturday, May 2:

The fourth annual conference of Iowa Rivers Revival continues in Webster City.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa is holding its annual dinner in Iowa City:

Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins will be the featured speaker at the Annual Dinner of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Iowa on May 2nd in Iowa City.  The program will also include the presentation of the 2009 Louise Noun Civil Liberties Award to former State Senator Johnie Hammond of Ames.

The Honorable Justice Wiggins, who along with all his Supreme Court colleagues recently ruled that the state law banning same sex marriage was unconstitutional, will speak about “Judicial Independence” at the event, scheduled to begin at 7 pm at the University Athletic Club on the campus of the University of Iowa.  He was appointed to the bench in 2003 by Governor Tom Vilsack.

Johnie Hammond of Ames, who served in the Iowa legislature for twenty years, will be honored with a civil liberties award named after ACLU of Iowa matriarch Louise Noun of Des Moines.  Hammond, who served on the ACLU of Iowa board for six years, has received numerous honors for her civil rights and civil liberties advocacy, including awards from the Iowa League of Women Voters, the NAACP,  Friends of Iowa Civil Rights, and the Legal Services Corporation.  She served two terms on the National Advisory Council of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.  The native of Mississippi and mother of four was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame in 2005. […]

The dinner costs $40 and is open to the public.  To learn more and purchase tickets, go to the ACLU of Iowa website at   or call 515/243-3576 x 13.  Reservations are requested by Monday, April 27.

About the Author(s)