Remembering Tony Bourdain in Iowa City

Remembering Tony Bourdain in Iowa City

He loved food and the people who made it, and would go anywhere and taste anything in a quest for the most inventive, the most interesting, the most exciting cuisine and cooks in this life.  Tony Bourdain understood that truly knowing a person, or a people, has nothing to do with walking their shoes. It has to do with sitting at their table.  If we are what we eat – and we are – then to share food is to share one’s true self, and gathering around a table is the only way to make peace.

All Farmers Are Farmers

All Farmers Are Farmers

Sometimes I wonder if our shorthand name for this process, “The Comp Plan,” might better stand for “Complicated” rather than “Comprehensive.”  In my short time in this office so far, this has become the best example I have seen of the old cliché, “The devil is in the details.”

Before I get into said details, it bears reiterating, as I have said in this space and elsewhere, the Comp Plan is a broad guiding document, a “30,000-foot view,” which lays out where we want to go rather than specifically how we will get there.  Much of the “how” happens in the Unified Development Ordinance, or UDO, and revisions to that will occur over the next year or so, heavily informed by whatever we end up deciding in the Comp Plan.  The Comp Plan cannot, for example, amend or repeal the 40-acre rule. Whatever that change may look like in the end, it has to happen though an ordinance.

We Are All Better Than Our Worst Moments

We Are All Better Than Our Worst Moments

My decades in foodservice taught me many things that had nothing to do with cooking, and among them that just because I was often bullied or harassed, that didn’t make it OK for me to do the same thing.  I still slip up occasionally.  I still say stupid stuff every so often.  I still occasionally have the need to rediscover the glories of the unspoken thought. 

Gone, But Not Forgotten: Labor's Struggle with Itself

Gone, But Not Forgotten: Labor's Struggle with Itself

From County Supervisor up through congressional races Labor is an issue, especially at the state legislative and gubernatorial levels, where the damage done by two years of the Republican “trifecta” in Des Moines has laid waste to the remaining protections workers had in Iowa.  I am pleased to see strong labor candidates running at all levels, and this year holds great possibility for the future of workers across our state. Yet one obstacle could scuttle the whole deal.

Conservation Controversy

Conservation Controversy

I know that there are those whose minds will not be swayed on this issue, and so be it.  But for those who are seeking details and reasons for why and how the land was acquired and why and how I reversed my initial stand and voted in favor of it, I hope this post will be of some help, and that you will join with most of us on the Board who look forward to the great things to come from this land.

The Vulgar Mistake

The Vulgar Mistake

Iowa’s Governor had me thinking about Ralph Waldo Emerson this weekend. 

Actually, I had been thinking of him a lot this year, usually because of something the President had tweeted, but this was the first time Governor Reynolds had elicited from me one of my favorite Emerson quotations.

In a speech at what will ostensibly become her annual political fundraiser should she have more than 18 months in office, Governor Reynolds was firing up her base.  She said, “As we all know as we travel the state, the liberals are unhinged and they are out for us and we need to double down and do all we can and if you keep fighting, I’ll keep fighting,” (emphasis mine).

I don’t feel unhinged.

Iowa's Future & The Governor's Race

Iowa's Future & The Governor's Race

Cathy is a nurse, not a career politician.  She offers new blood to reinvigorate the party and to listen to the people, not the patrons.  As a nurse she’s seen first-hand, too many times to count, people being forced to choose between the medicine they need and feeding their kids, between their mom’s surgery and making rent.  She’s seen the results, in painful human terms, of Iowa’s shameful position as 50th in the nation in mental health care access. Cathy knows universal single payer is the only workable option, as has been proven all over the world, and she won’t wait for the Feds, she’ll do it right here in Iowa.

CAFOs & The Comp Plan

CAFOs & The Comp Plan

What I seek are answers – answers that address the concerns of both farmers and environmentalists, both urban and rural.  No one is going to shut down any farms.  No one is going to take away any CAFOs (even if some may wish to).  But it is reasonable to seek answers to the growing problems that are resulting from these practices.  I hope we can do it without demonizing anyone involved.

The Versaland Rezoning Appeal

The Versaland Rezoning Appeal

A video posted on Facebook inspired a torrent of emails, and at least three voicemails, to flood my inbox over the weekend.  It is indeed inspiring to see passionate involvement in local governance.

The 26-minute video, created by Johnson County farmer and Versaland founder Grant Schultz, details the difficulties he has had in obtaining the zoning he wants, to accomplish his vision of Farm-scale Permaculture, a farm incubator, fishing pond, farmhand cabins and rental cabins on the acreage, part of which is in the village of Morse, northeast of Iowa City.  It is indeed a grand vision, one that, if realized, could offer a shining example of local, sustainable food production of the type I have advocated for for more than three decades.

Keeping All Our Options Open: A Vision for a “New Century Farm” at the Old County Home

Keeping All Our Options Open: A Vision for a “New Century Farm” at the Old County Home

Preemptively disallowing an asset as valuable and historically consistent with the use of the property – as the farm incubator could potentially be – is short-sighted and moves away from the goals of the strategic plan the entire Board approved.  I will always argue in favor of more farms that grow local food for local folks, and that is why I voted as I did.