Events coming up this week

It’s been a week since same-sex marriage became legal in Iowa, and I’m happy to report that my hetero marriage has not yet collapsed under the strain of sharing rights with gays and lesbians.

Click “there’s more” to read about events coming up this week. As always, post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT if you know of something I’ve left out.

Advance warning: May 11-15 is Bike to Work week.

Registration is FREE. Over 500 Bike to Work Socks have been ordered from the Sock Guy. This year’s socks are green. Socks will be available at events throughout the week on a first come, first serve basis. (One pair per pre-registered rider.) Everyone who registers and takes the pledge is eligible for $1,000 in Bike Bucks for use in any sponsoring bike shop and many other prizes! Registration closes at Noon on Thursday May 14th. Questions? Check out Bike to Work Week events and businesses around Iowa at

Monday, May 4:

From 1000 Friends of Iowa:

Public Radio International teamed with Iowa Public Radio’s Rob Dillard and 1000 Friends’ Craig and LaVon Griffieon as part of a series to document a year on the Griffieon Family Farm. The Five Farms documentary series will air on IPR’s news-exclusive networks (WOI-AM, KTPR, KWOI, KOWI, KSUI) Monday May 4th through Friday May 8th at 7:00 PM, as well as five consecutive Sundays beginning May 3 through May 31st at 8:00 PM.

The Five Farms series offers listeners a unique glimpse into the lives and work of five farm families across the United States throughout one full cycle of seasons. From daily chores to debates on best farming practices, the documentaries allow a real inside look at life on a farm.

The families featured in this series include the Hager Brothers Farm in Massachusetts, the Wise Family Farm in North Carolina, the Griffieon Family Farm in Iowa, the HOPI farm in Arizona, and the Good Humus Farm in California. The Five Farms website has information about the project and the families, numerous pictures and photo essays, additional stories from the families, and web extras.

Visit the Five Farms website at Additional information can be found at and a teaser for the documentary series is available on YouTube. Click here to watch it, or visit YouTube and search for “Five Farms”.

1000 Friends of Iowa is proud to sponsor the airing of this documentary. We encourage you to tune in and enjoy this educational and entertaining series. Pass this along to your friends across the U.S. and tell them to check local listings for broadcast dates and times on their local public radio station.

I am fortunate to know LaVon Griffieon, an inspiring woman, and I look forward to listening to the Five Farms series.

I’M for Iowa is bringing Alexander Robinson with the National Black Justice Coalition to Iowa this week, and he will attend a reception at the Des Moines Social Club, 1408 Locust, at 7 pm on May 4. I’M for Iowa provided this biographical information:

We are honored to host Alexander Robinson’s visit to Iowa next week. As a gay African-American who heads the National Black Justice Coalition, Alexander will share his story and dialogue with Iowans about civil-marriage equality. With the help of a great list of coalition partners (see below), we’ve organized events for Alexander in Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Waterloo, Iowa City, Dubuque, Clinton, Davenport and Cedar Rapids. Complete details are in the EVENTS section of this update.

Alexander was a former CPA and corporate executive who also sports a long history as a public policy analyst and commentator. He spent three years as an independent political strategist and communications specialist serving a wide variety of public interest groups including the NAACP, National Council of LaRaza, National Urban League Policy Institute, and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

Alexander’s activism began in the late 197 0s. He served on the board of the Stonewall Democrats, was a member of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade & Celebration Committee, served on the Host Committee for the 1984 Democratic National Convention, and helped with the March for Lesbian/Gay Rights. President Clinton appointed Alexander to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, where he chaired the Sub-committee of Prevention and Education.

He also worked with the Breakthrough Foundation’s Youth-at-Risk Program, the Washington Area Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and was a member of Obama for America’s National LGBT Steering Committee. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including most recently the Andrew Goodman Freedom Prize.

A writer and political commentator, his coming out story is chronicled in the recently released book, Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing up Gay in America. Alexander’s writings have appeared in The New York Times,,, The Advocate, The Washington Blade and numerous other local and national journals.

Alexander and his partner Gregory Satorie were married in San Francisco in October of last year, and he has one son from his previous marriage. Alexander and Gregory make their home in Baltimore, Maryland.

Tuesday, May 5:

Alexander Robinson will continue to dialogue with Iowans about marriage equality:

Fort Dodge:  9:00 a.m., Citizens Central, Fort Dodge Senior Center, 617 Central Ave

Waterloo: 12:00, The Philanthropy Center, 425 Cedar St., 3rd Floor, U.S. Bank Building

Iowa City: 7:00 p.m., Plaza Conference Room of Hotel Vetro on the Ped Mall

The deranged Fred Phelps and his “God Hates Fags” church followers will be in Des Moines, having postponed a visit planned for April 27. They will protest outside Polk County offices in the morning, then denounce Jews in front of all three synagogues in Des Moines before picketing Lincoln High School, where a student will win the Matthew Shepard award. My advice is to avoid and ignore these people, rather than draw attention to them by staging any counter-protests.

Wednesday, May 6:

From the Iowa Environmental Council:

Volunteers Needed: Water Testing Event in Polk County

Please consider volunteering your time to help with the Spring Polk County Water Monitoring Snapshot on Wednesday May 6th. The Polk County Snapshot is sponsored by the Iowa Environmental Council and Des Moines Waterworks. Over the past 5 years, more than 150 volunteers have helped collect water samples from over 70 river, stream and lakes sites throughout Polk County. Volunteers will meet at 8:30 am at the Izaak Walton League Clubhouse at 4343 George Flagg Parkway to form teams and get equipment and sampling instructions, while enjoying a free continental breakfast. All sampling will be completed by 2:00 pm. So we can have packet and materials prepared for each volunteer, please contact Susan Heathcote at or 515-244-1194 Ext. 205, by May 1st.  

Author and Artist Claudia McGehee

Using her books A Tallgrass Prairie Alphabet and A Woodlands Counting Book as a launching pad, Claudia will talk with Pre-K-3rd grade children at the Musser Public Library, 304 Iowa Avenue, Muscatine, on May 6 at 10:30 am and 6:30 pm.  At these presentations, which are part of Muscatine’s Annual Community Read for the Environment initiative, students will learn hands-on about plants in their environments by sample specimens Claudia will share.  Through large interactive murals, the children will help “build” a prairie and woodland and learn important components of each.  For information, call the Library Information Desk, 563-263-3065.

Alexander Robinson’s schedule is as follows:

Dubuque: 9:00 a.m., Naughty Dog Coffee Bar and Deli, 1108 Locust Street

Clinton: 12:00, La Feria Mexican Restaurant, 116 5th Avenue S, Clinton Street

Davenport: 2:00, Metropolitan Community Church of the Quad Cities, 3019 N. Harrison

Cedar Rapids: 7:00 p.m., Faith United Methodist Church, 1000 30th St. NE

Thursday, May 7:

Beginning at 7 am, the 24th Annual Smart Economic Development Conference will take place at the Polk County Convention Complex, Fifth and Grand, Des Moines, Iowa. Registration is $60. Visit for registration information, directions and to view the agenda for this conference.

Alexander Robinson will participate in a panel discussion at 7:00 p.m. at Polk County Central Senior Center, 2008 Forest Avenue, Des Moines. Panelists include Des Moines-area African American leaders Tim Tutt, Yvonne Jones and Kittie Knauer. Light refreshments will be served after the event.

Tulip time begins in Pella and runs through Saturday, May 9. I like to go down the week after the festival; the tulips are still pretty, and the main square is not crowded.

From the Iowa Environmental Council:

Aldo Leopold: Writing from his Burlington Roots

Please join us for a free presentation by Steve Brower at the Burlington Public Library 210 Court Street, on Thursday, May 7, at 7 p.m. (and repeated at the Fairfield Public Library 104 W. Adams, on Thursday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m.) Steve will share new research and photographs developed with grant support from Humanities Iowa through the Leopold Heritage Group of Burlington. He will explore the influence Aldo Leopold’s formative years in Iowa had on his mature writings as a renowned conservationist, and  the importance of Iowa in the development of Leopold’s land ethic.

Friday, May 8:

The Iowa Commission for the Status of Women is having a Lunch and Learn discussion regarding Iowa women and unemployment. Presenters will be Paula Nissen, Deb Ostrem, and Donna Burkett, all with Iowa Workforce Development. 12 noon – 1 p.m., State Capitol, Legislative Dining Room. Free and open to the public. Bring your lunch and join us!

The Polk County Democrats are having their annual spring dinner fundraiser and auction:

“Growing the Democratic Party in Polk County”

With U.S. Senator Tom Harkin and Congressman Leonard Boswell

Program includes speakers honoring the late former State Representative John Connors including:

Des Moines Fire Chief, John Tekippe

State Rep. Bruce Hunter and

Secretary of State Michael Mauro

Friday, May 8, 2009

Doors – 5:30pm   Dinner – 6:00pm   Program – 6:30pm

Steelworker’s Local #310, 125 NW Broadway, Des Moines

Tickets are $25 and include dinner and a beverage

Reserved tables of 8 can be purchased for $200

Feature Auction item: 2008 Presidential Candidate poster in full color with personal autographs from Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, Kucinich, Obama, Richardson and Vilsack.

Also: A hat and hat pin from Former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack

Oversized, numbered Obama print, framed and more.

For more information, to reserve tickets or buy using your Visa or Mastercard, call 515-285-1800

Saturday, May 9:

The National MS Society is organizing MS Walks in lots of cities to raise money for research on multiple sclerosis. There are six MS Walks scheduled in Iowa, in Cedar Falls/Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Mason City, Quad Cities and Sioux City. Click the link for event details.  

From the Iowa Environmental Council:

International Migratory Bird Day Celebration

This year we will celebrate International Migratory Bird Day on Saturday, May 9th at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge located 30 miles east of Des Moines in Prairie City. With events ranging from bird hikes to making bird crafts at our crafts station, it is a great way to kick off spring and celebrate the warmer months to come. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Birds in Culture.” Birds have always been important to native people. They are found in storytelling, art, music, dance, spirituality, food, and much more. For example, birds are found in some of the earliest cave art, feathers have been used to add beauty and meaning in the creation of ceremonial objects, and certain native people believed birds carried messages to the spirits. For more information or other questions about the event contact Hallie Rasmussen at 515-994-3400 or

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