Category Archives: Side projects

My Writing Elsewhere: The Lovely Bones

I have a piece in the March/April 2017 issue of DSM Magazine that I think turned out nicely. It’s a profile of Lee Emma Running, a Grinnell artist whose latest work would fit in nicely with the Des Moines Art Center’s current “Alchemy” exhibition. (Which is also the theme of this spring’s Big Hair Ball!)

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Read “The Lovely Bones” or check it out in the splendid layout (pp. 88-96) here.

I enjoyed interviewing Lee in her Grinnell studio, and I’m grateful the magazine editors endured a little more back-and-forth with me to make sure it the piece had just the right tone. It’s such a privilege to tell the stories of artists like Lee. I even got to see her pieces at Olson-Larsen Gallery, including a kind of walk-in installation. The 2017 Valley Junction spring gallery night is set for April 21, if you’ve never been.

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The magazine held its unveiling yesterday evening at The Republic on Grand, a new hipster Marriott in the East Village. It was so packed! They have a rooftop heated bar that looks out to Principal Park, which would be a great spot to catch the fireworks on a Friday night in spring. I am always thrilled to see friends featured and Jami Milne shot the stunning cover.

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The ethereal underwater ballet shot is beyond lovely, but I’m more obsessed with the “Layers” portraits she did of high school students in the RUN DSM slam poetry program. I saw a bunch of the teens perform in a showcase last weekend and I felt like they were total celebs.

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Filed under movies/art, Side projects

My writing elsewhere: “ia” magazine 2017

It’s always an honor to contribute to “ia” magazine, the statewide sister publication of “DSM.” Like last year, I was assigned an outdoor adventure piece. This time, I got to explore Whiterock Conservancy, which is just a little more than an hour from Des Moines in Coon Rapids, Iowa.

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I went out twice to report — once solo to get the background on the place and once to overnight with our little family in the Hollyhock Cottage, a converted chicken coop made comfortable with a queen bed, bunks and a kitchen and bathroom, just behind the Garst family farmhouse (now a B&B). Our visit was in the spring and looking back Eileen was so tiny!

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We had a blast and I really want to go back with Joe’s whole family. Read the full story “Where the Wild Things Are” online:

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Extra special fun: We got to host the unveiling of the magazine at DMU last week! Double the excitement for this writer/community relations manager.

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Filed under Iowa adventures, Side projects

5 DSM events I’m working on

My dear, neglected blog! Summer has been a whirlwind and it looks like we’re plowing right into fall, so I wanted to check in and share some upcoming events that I’ve been a part of before they pass me by.

All of these events are super different and some I’ve been involved with through my Community Relations position at DMU and others are more extracurricular. Across the board, I’ve met some fun, dedicated people collaborating to make Des Moines an incredible place.

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I’m part of a group working to spread the word about The Avenues of Ingersoll & Grand rebranding. Inspired by this series and the murals in DSM, we’re putting up some temporary murals along Ingersoll Avenue next week to help celebrate the launch & generate some social media buzz for the district. The Ingersoll Wall Crawl is Monday evening, Aug. 22 from 5-7 p.m. It’s free/open house style, but maps are available at Moberg Gallery (where we’ll also have some drinks!) and we’ll be giving away swag for people who tag @theavenuesdsm in photos from the night.

American Heart Screening

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The Refugee Health Alliance is hosting a free screening & panel discussion with the filmmaker of “American Heart,” an award-winning documentary that takes viewers on an intimate journey into the lives of three refugees who are patients at a remarkable health clinic tucked away in St. Paul, Minnesota, which serves as a crossroads for these embattled refugees and their devoted doctors. I previewed this movie with our group and was moved to tears. I’m especially excited for our DMU students to see it, but it’s open to the public and refreshments will be served. Monday, Aug. 29 at the DMU Student Education Center Auditorium. Film starts at 5:15 p.m. (I’m pretty sure we’re going to be able to offer social work CEUs for this, if that’s something you’re interested in.)

DMU Clinic Climb 

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Are you a young professional looking to take control of your health and wellness, but not sure where to start?  Join Des Moines University Thursday, September 15 for an evening of networking and learn about DMU services and academic programs while on a progressive dinner touring our multispecialty clinic. You’ll meet health professionals, learn about choosing a primary care provider, see our running & cycling clinic, and more. Register here and use the code “YPHEALTH” to attend for free!

Women Rolling Collectively: Ride with Her

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According to the League of American Bicyclists, women riders only make up 24 percent of bike trips nationally. If you’d like to change that statistic, this October 1 ride is for you! Funds raised will support female-focused programming at the Des Moines Bicycle Collective.

Riders will have the option of a 15-mile (one-way) or-30-mile (round-trip) route that will travel from downtown’s Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge to the Ankeny Market & Pavilion. Multiple stops along the route will feature opportunities to learn basic bicycle maintenance, practice bicycle safety and gain confidence to ride central Iowa’s streets and trails. Riders of all ages, backgrounds and abilities are welcome. I got a ticket for me and for my mom who is going to come into town for the ride! Registration is just $25 

Best Buddies Iowa Chef Challenge

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Best Buddies International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

This event is October 13, which is Eileen’s first birthday! I plan to spend the day with her and then head to this evening event at Embassy Suites. I’ll share more details when they become available, but I’ve learned so much about how this well-run nonprofit fundraiser works. Local restaurants and chefs work with Buddy Pairs to create  signature small plate dishes, and there’s a live and silent auction. They’re adding a Moscow Mule bar at this year’s event, too! Seeking auction items is outside my comfort zone, but if you have something you would like to contribute, let me know! I’ve been so grateful to some generous friends who’ve already agreed to help.

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Filed under I love Des Moines, Side projects

I wrote an op-ed

Writing comes naturally to me, but every time I’m published is still nerve-wracking. Did I get the facts right? Did I represent the situation accurately? Even after I publish on this personal blog, there are a lot of entries for which I’ll tweak the wording after a post initially goes live.

I’ve been wanting to write an op-ed ever since Lynn Hicks spoke at the YNPN Non-Con in January, with tips for crafting an opinion piece. The whole idea felt a little bit intimidating, though. I’ve felt passionately enough about bike safety legislation and funding the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust to write to my legislators, but they weren’t the right topic for me to tackle (yet) for the paper.

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When I got an e-mail alert from Save the Children Action Network about The Working Families Relief Act, I felt like my story would resonate with a lot of people. I’ve been talking about childcare as a YP retention issue for awhile, and this felt timely and personal. Actually writing this piece took about an hour and a half on Wednesday night. I was feeling pretty confident about it, and then Lynn told me it was going to run in this Sunday’s paper and I kind of wanted to hide under a rock. Turns out writing an op-ed is one thing, but having it published is terrifying.

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I haven’t read the online comments – and I don’t think I will – but thankfully there have been some really positive tweets and facebook posts about it. And, it prompted Joe to take a decent photo of me and the kiddos, which only took about 27 tries as we were leaving.

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I hope nobody thinks that my writing this means I don’t highly value the work that caregivers provide. We have lucked out majorly, but I’m constantly surprised that a family-centric metro like Des Moines has such a shortage of options, and I really do see it leave my friends scrambling. So many YPs move back to their hometowns as they start growing a family, and as an Iowa transplant, I’d really hate to see the young professionals leave at such a critical point.

Read the opinion piece here. 

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Filed under Family Fun, Side projects

My writing elsewhere: DSM Magazine May/June 16

Joe and I sat next to Katie and Jay Byers at the David Wax Museum concert in January, and some friendly conversation during a break turned into an invitation to their Valentine’s Day house concert. Of course, I had to turn it into work when I thought about what a neat story it would make for DSM Magazine. The story, “Bringing Down the House” is out in the May/June issue, which was released today.

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I love being a regular contributor to such a gorgeous publication, and this issue’s launch party at Hotel Renovo also featured a Mac & Cheese bar – a fun idea!

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Filed under I love Des Moines, music, Side projects

My writing elsewhere: DSM Magazine March 16

It’s always a little thrilling to see freelance pieces released into the world. My latest for DSM is on the DSM Girl Gang, a group I had already been following on Instagram before I was asked to write about them. The founders were a little cagey about describing the group as feminist, but I think it’s definitely all about girl power.

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Read the story or view the spread online.

When I interviewed them, I definitely felt some parallels to what it was like launching YNPN Des Moines for the nonprofit sector. The more groups out there facilitating connections and growth, the better!

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They have a spring show coming up, too, if you want to meet these ladies in person:

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Filed under I love Des Moines, Side projects, Uncategorized

Top this: XO-LP giveaway fun

Smart friends and witty puns make life all the more enjoyable, and when you can combine the two — it’s magic.

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illustration via XO-LP

I’ve known illustrator/pun-master/connector Laura Palmer of XO-LP fame for most of my time in Des Moines, and it’s been amazing to watch her journey into #goingsolo to follow her entrepreneurial dreams.

We kept running into each other coming/going at events like the September issue DSM unveiling (I wrote a story on soon-to-open jazz club Noce and she’s featured in a style story) and decided we had to actually make a point to see each other beyond a quick wave.

So the other week we grabbed coffee at Zanzibar’s and we finally caught up on life. I highly recommend starting any day with puns and caffeine. I also picked up a hand-illustrated frame mat (only $5!) that was super chill to sit and color in my pajamas. Emmett’s been all about blasting off! lately – can’t wait to fill this.

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LP and I talked about making things and momentum and I told her about how much fun I had crafting my clay pizza earrings the other week.

I guess that’s how we got to today’s giveaway: I had enough supplies left over to bake up a fresh pair of pizza earrings, and I wanted someone who appreciates a slice of life as much as we do to have them.

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Head over to Laura’s blog to find out how you can win a one-of-a-kind pair of pizza party earrings!

And Laura’s never one to leave anyone empty-handed. Her shop is full of great items, and she has a whole section of free printables to reel you in, too.

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Filed under Getting crafty, I love Des Moines, Side projects