Events coming up during the next two weeks

The days are getting warmer and longer, early wildflowers are starting to come up, and two of my favorite spring events in Iowa are happening the next two weekends. The Planned Parenthood spring book sale starts this Thursday and continues through Monday at the State Fairgrounds (4H building). This semi-annual sale supports the education and community outreach programs of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, covering most of Iowa and part of Nebraska. Come Thursday night or Friday for the best selection, Sunday or Monday for the lowest prices.

The sixth annual Natural Living Expo will be held April 2 and 3 at the Polk County Convention Complex in Des Moines. This free event showcases more than 100 natural and/or environmentally friendly Iowa businesses and community organizations. I’ll be helping staff the tables for a couple of non-profits, but I always look forward to browsing during my break times.

Like many in the Bleeding Heartland community, I’m excited to see the new map of Iowa political boundaries, which the Legislative Services Agency will release on March 31. The LSA will hold public meetings around the state on April 4 to discuss the proposed map.

Details on those events and much more are after the jump. As always, please post a comment or send me an e-mail if you know of an event that should be added to this calendar.

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Congratulations to the Iowa Renewable Energy Association

The Iowa Renewable Energy Association announced Friday that it will receive $100,000 in federal stimulus money awarded by the Iowa Office of Energy Independence.

I-Renew will receive $100,000 under the training and information program to expand its staff in order to provide training related to wind, solar, and solar thermal in at least 24 workshops over the next two years. Introductory and advance level courses will be offered. […]

In addition, I-Renew will coordinate with Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) to ensure that workshops of­fered by I-Renew fulfill the prerequisites for the MREA intermediate and advanced offerings.

For years, I-RENEW has run workshops for homeowners on installing renewable energy technology. The new workshop series will focus on training professional installers, who will be able to provide that service for many more Iowa homes and buildings. Lots of people who aren’t DIY types may be interested in having a wind turbine or solar panels on their property.

This program is only one small part of the federal stimulus bill, but it will yield long-term benefits in terms of cost and energy savings.

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Events coming up during the next two weeks

Last month was so busy that I didn’t manage to post any event calendars here, but I am back on duty now. The highlight of this month for Democrats is the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on Saturday, November 21, featuring Vice President Joe Biden. You can buy tickets online.

Please note that November 10 is the deadline for public comments to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources about protecting our Outstanding Iowa Waters. The Farm Bureau is mobilizing public comments against these regulations. The DNR needs to hear from Iowans committed to preserving our highest-quality waterways. Click here for background and an easy to use comment form.

State Senator Staci Appel will officially announce her re-election campaign on November 12, and I’ve posted details about a fundraiser for her campaign below the fold. Appel’s Republican opponent, State Representative Kent Sorenson, is already gearing up for next year’s election. He spent the weekend in Texas attending the WallBuilders ProFamily Legislators Conference. Here’s some background on David Barton’s vision for America, chock full of Biblical interpretations supporting right-wing public policies. Barton spoke to the Iowa Christian Alliance not long ago (click that link to watch videos). Former presidential candidate Ron Paul is headlining a fundraiser for Sorenson on November 14, by the way.

Many more event details are after the jump. As always, please post a comment about anything I’ve left out, or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com).

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For Blog Action Day: Iowa non-profits against global warming

More than 10,000 blogs around the world are writing something about climate change on October 15 to mark “Blog Action Day.”

If you’re concerned about global warming, you may already have made small changes to reduce your own “carbon footprint.” You can significantly lower your energy consumption (and save money) with simple steps like hanging your laundry to dry and turning the thermostat down a few degrees in cold weather.

I also encourage you to get involved with at least one non-profit organization that works to reduce global warming. Whether you become an active volunteer or send a small donation once a year, your support will make a difference.

Here are 15 Iowa non-profits that deserve broad-based support. Although not all of them mention climate change in their mission statements, they all promote activities, land uses and public policies that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

1000 Friends of Iowa

Center on Sustainable Communities

Environment Iowa

Iowa Bicycle Coalition

Iowa Environmental Council

Iowa Global Warming Campaign

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

Iowa Interfaith Power and Light

Iowa Network for Community Agriculture

Iowa Renewable Energy Association

Plains Justice

Practical Farmers of Iowa

Repower Iowa

Sierra Club, Iowa Chapter

Trees Forever

In this comment thread, please recommend other non-profit groups working to reduce climate change.

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Labor Day links and events coming up this week

Hope you’ve been enjoying the perfect Iowa weather during this holiday weekend. The U.S. Department of Labor and Blog for Iowa provide background on the history of Labor Day.

Organized labor doesn’t have a lot to celebrate right now, with more job losses in the manufacturing sector and unemployment rising across the country (though Iowa’s unemployment rate is significantly lower than the national average). The Iowa Policy Project finds that “the state of working Iowa” is not good. As in the previous recession, we are losing jobs with good benefits as wages stagnate for the people who still have jobs. We now rank 32nd in terms of median wages, and lower incomes mean less money for consumers to spend at other businesses. Click here for the full report, which also explains that “policy makers could do more to make work pay for low- and moderate-income working families and to insist upon job-quality requirements in economic development strategies.”  

Iowa hasn’t adopted most of organized labor’s key legislative priorities in recent years, in part because of the “six-pack” of Iowa House Democrats that blocked those bills. On the plus side, Curt Hanson’s victory in the House district 90 special election means we haven’t lost any ground on this front. We only need to persuade one or two “six-pack members” (or defeat them in Democratic primaries) to find the 51st vote for “prevailing wage,” for instance.

I haven’t heard much lately about Senator Tom Harkin’s efforts to find a compromise on the Employee Free Choice Act. Getting 60 votes in the Senate for anything meaningful is likely to be quite difficult. The Service Employees International Union has some news related to the EFCA here.

Two years ago I attended the Solidarity Fest Labor Day celebration in Des Moines, featuring John Edwards and Hillary Clinton. The same event, sponsored by the South Central Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, takes place today in the 4-H building at the State Fairgrounds from noon to 2 pm. Later today, the Friends of Iowa Midwives are having a family-friendly potluck picnic at Raccoon River park in West Des Moines (4 to 8 pm, suggested donation $5).

After the jump I’ve posted details for lots of other events coming up this week.

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Events coming up during the rest of July (updated)

The RAGBRAI riders are enjoying some relatively cool weather this week, although last night’s rain may have been unpleasant for campers. If you’re riding and have any anecdotes to share, post them here.

Details on other events going on around the state are after the jump. As always, post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of something I’ve left out.

Occasionally I put a river clean-up on these event calendars, so I wanted to let the Bleeding Heartland community know about this opportunity:

The Iowa Whitewater Coalition today announced the Clean Rivers Team Stewardship Program (CRTSP) — a mini-grant program to help fund local river clean-up activities across Iowa.

Any community group or organization in Iowa is welcome to apply for a grant from the CRTSP for the purpose of paying expenses related to river clean-up activities. Grants are limited to a maximum of $500.

Details are available at www.iowawhitewater.org and a Letter of Application may be submitted at any time to Iowa Whitewater Coalition, PO Box 65453, West Des Moines, IA 50265. Questions can be addressed by Peter Komendowski at 319-269-8493.

UPDATE: Added details on the Iowa Politics forum for Republican gubernatorial candidates (July 22) after the jump.

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