It’s Never Boring When You Have Topics to Write About

It started with a cause and a passion…five years later, a blog proved that it’s never boring in Des Moines, Iowa.

Today is the fifth anniversary of “Des Moines Is Not Boring”, a blog dedicated to touting and showing everyone that Des Moines is not boring…ever. The brainchild of Pete Jones has expanded over the years, with featured writers and topics, but the premise remains the same, which is there is plenty of events, activities, and things to do in Des Moines.

If Forbes and other publications have acknowledged that Des Moines is a busy place, then DMINB is doing their job.

Congratulations DMINB on this special day. From one local blogger to another, a tip of the fedora for a job well done and continued success.

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No visit to the Iowa State Fair means not seeing the new tractors and combines for this John Deere guy. Remember my friends, nothing runs like a Deere.

For the first time in 12 years, I didn’t go to the Iowa State Fair. From a physical standpoint, I’m dealing with some pain in my right leg which makes walking or running unbearable at times. It was sad not being able to see some of the new things at the fairgrounds, but missing one year isn’t the end of the world.

Neither is missing a cold glass of cherry phosphate…and fried cheese curds…hot beef sundae….pork chop on a stick…sweet potato fries…JR’s mini donuts…you catch my drift?

If you have never heard or read anything from noted sports writer Wright Thompson, this week might be a good time to read some of his stuff. On Wednesday, his story on Dan Gable‘s fight to help save wrestling is required reading. To be honest, Thompson did a better job of telling the story and the life of Gable than the old SportsCentury episode did a decade ago.

As a native of Waterloo, Gable is one of the most recognizable faces that represent my hometown, along with the Sullivan Brothers, NFL great Reggie Roby, among a few others. However, Gable, with Bob Siddens, Jim Miller, Dave Natvig, Bob Buzzard, and others, put Waterloo on the map as the hotbed of prep wrestling in Iowa.

Picture of Dan Gable when he prepped at West Waterloo High for legendary coach Bob Siddens from 1964-66. (courtesy of DanGable.com)

For many sports fans, the return of football is much like the sports version of New Year’s Day. Friday will mark the return of prep football in Iowa, as Week 0 opens up for 54 teams, most of them in the 8-player class.

Where did the summer go? Sly and the Family Stone must have taken it with them.

Which brings me to do some shameless plugging, if you don’t mind. Good friend Marco Santana of the Des Moines Register profiled DM Webcasting earlier this week. I happen to know Greg Goaley and Pete Tarpey. So does everyone’s friend Paul Yeager.

Getting to do games with this guy on Friday nights…priceless. It’s time to “…go back, Jack, and do it again…” on August 30th.

This will be my fourth season working with Paul covering the CIML, notably Dowling Catholic and WDM Valley football and our third year webcasting high school football on the internet.

DM Webcasting is behind the live online streaming of both schools’ home games. Paul will handle the play-by-play duties, I’ll do the game and score updates on Twitter, Seth Drury has the sideline report, and we’ll make sure coach Andy Pollock knows how Aplington-Parkersburg is doing in their games.

In case you didn’t figure it out…there will be a heavy Wartburg presence in the pressbox.

UPDATE: Today, The Des Moines Register announced that they will carry a live feed of all the games this season, via DM Webcasting, on their website. That’s a big news for high school football fans across the state.

We’ll make our season debut next Friday as Valley hosts Waukee at Valley Stadium. I hope you can tune in, watch, and enjoy the broadcast, because as we all well know, “there is no cheering in the pressbox. If you want to cheer, buy a damn ticket”, as the great Duane Schroeder famously said.

It’s Time to Pay It Forward, Des Moines

Des Moines, it's time to "pay it forward".
Des Moines, it’s time to “pay it forward”.

Today, the city of Des Moines received another glowing accolade, this time from the Kansas City Star.

Over the past few years and recently, publications, notable well-known people, and a good part of the nation have taken notice on how nice, progressive, and promising Des Moines is.

“We come a long way, baby”* indeed.

As I read the article by Edward M. Eveld, a light bulb went off in my head.

“For as much accolades we have received here in Des Moines, isn’t time we started to give accolades and shot-outs to other places and towns in Iowa?”

Des Moines may be the biggest city in the state, but the rest of Iowa is what helps Des Moines get on a lot of list of “great cities” to live, work, entertain, and visit.

The best creative minds and superstar talent didn’t all grow up in Des Moines. They came from different cities and small towns across Iowa. They saw the promise of what Des Moines and Iowa could be.

The resiliency of Des Moines mirrors the rest of the state. Twenty years ago this summer, Des Moines was underwater. At that same time, Davenport was underwater as well. Five years ago, Cedar Rapids faced the same situation.

All three of them took a page from the rest of the state: you don’t quit…we will survive and get back on our feet.

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The push to buy local isn’t just a moniker. It’s a fact. Buying local isn’t totally inside the city limits. It’s the surrounding areas and across the state. We believe in promoting our neighbors and friends, far and wide.

Des Moines and Iowa are tied to the hip most of the time. When Des Moines gets noticed, the rest of Iowa gets noticed as well. That’s a unique spot to be in. You hardly see New York State get noticed when New York City gets mentioned.

With today’s accolade in the Kansas City Star, I’ll be in the minority when I say this: I’m giving a shout-out to all of my fellow Iowans outside of Des Moines. They deserve some accolades as well. It’s time for the city I live in to “pay it forward” and let the rest of the world know about our state, the places, cities, towns, and events that make Iowa just as cool and hip as Des Moines.

*- credit to Virigina Slims for the usage of their famous slogan.

Collaborative Silos

Collaboration is work in progress. It takes more time and effort to break down the "silo" effect among organizations.

A friend of mine, Jason Wells, guest wrote a blog for the Iowa Biz blog, hosted by the Business Record.  He asked about what could be done to foster more collaboration among organizations in Des Moines.

I’ve been trying to figure that out for the last 7 years.  For the reputation that Des Moines has in being one of the most charitable cities in America, having the most non-profit organizations per capita in the nation, and a great city for young professionals, there are areas that need improvement.

A better way of saying it:  we may need to demolish some silos.

There is a culture of silo thinking when it comes to organizations.  Most of it is structure, and some of it is territorial and ego.  To me, there is a sense that organizations do not like to have another organizations impede on what they are doing, and that kicks in their egos.

For disclosure, I’m going to use the organization I’m directly involved with as an example.  I serve on the American Diabetes Association of Central Iowa board.  Over the past year, we have brought in new leadership to help us rebuild our brand, mission, and our purpose:  to provide education and support individuals affected by diabetes.  We are different that what the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation does.  JDRF raises money for research to find a cure for juvenile (Type 1) diabetes in children.

A view of 7th Street in Downtown Des Moines
A view of 7th Street in Downtown Des Moines (Wikipedia)

JDRF is a great organization and does phenomenal work.  So do we at American Diabetes.  The difference is that ADA does more than raise money for research.  We provide and offer educational, nutritional, and health programs for children and adults, African-Americans, Latino Americans, namely all people who are affected by diabetes.

Regardless if that person has Type 1, Type 2, gestational, or various types of diabetes.

Would it be beneficial for both organizations to collaborate as a united front to fight and stop diabetes?  Sure.  My opinion is we can, but if JDRF chooses not to collaborate, then who am I to force them to?  I don’t know if they see us at ADA as competitors, but if they do, then it’s on my organization to go out and show the community how we can provide a service that JDRF does not to offer.

The fact being is that JDRF and ADA are committed to the same mission:  to eradicate diabetes, but they have different ways of going about it.

Ego is a touchy subject, for no one wants to admit that they have any, but organizations, in one way or another, do display a level of egotism.  They want to be the best and they’ll do everything to be on the top of everyone’s mind when it comes to people knowing who that organization is, what they do, and why people should support it.

Jason wrote that “Des Moines is near the top of the list in terms of having some of the most developed and diverse YP groups in the country…I can just about guarantee you there is a group in Greater Des Moines for you to join.”

That is true, though I have noticed that young professionals in Des Moines tend to join organizations that already has a large number of young professionals in it.  I’m guilty of that, for I’m a member of the Young Professional Connection, along with Jason (he is the past president of the YPC board).

That’s not a bad thing, but it makes it harder for other lesser-known organizations to reach out and encourage YPs to consider being involved with their causes and missions.

Before 2011, I was the only ADA board member that was under the age of 40.  I continue to have difficulty encouraging fellow YPs to be interested about diabetes.  The same can be said for someone advocating for Multiple Scerlosis, historical preservation, or tutoring at-risk students to become better students at school.

It would be nice to have her deliver my insulin shots everyday, but I digress...

Today, my board has 3 members under the age of 40.  One of them is a recent Business Record Forty Under 40 honoree.  The current makeup of the board is starting to reflect what the community looks like: diverse.  The point here is don’t join a group because everyone else is.  That’s silo thinking.   You need to expand into topics and causes you may or may not have a connection in.  It’s cool to help kids, but sometimes you have to learn how to help your peers, and other groups.

In order for a city like Des Moines to best represent it’s identity as a great city for non-profits, the number of people being involved in organizations, for-profit or non-profit, has to be distributed evenly.  .

There are some forms of collaboration, but not at the level that or vision some would like for it to be.  Collaboration takes time, patience, and sometimes a “Come-to-Jesus” moment where it doesn’t take one light bulb to go off in one person’s head.  It takes two light bulbs from both sides to see the opportunity to work towards a common goal.

The United Way and Community Health Charities is another example of how much work and time it will take for a transparent form of collaboration.  Up until 3 years ago, I did not know that the United Way doesn’t directly support or fund non-profit health organizations, which includes Alzheimer’s Association and Komen.  These groups have to be supported by CHC, which operates as a consortium for health organizations to connect with companies about their causes and fundraising.

Those are not the actual reasons, but this gives an insight from someone who has been involved in non-profits for nearly a decade about the challenges of collaboration and why there isn’t enough of it.  Can this change?  It’s possible.  It’ll have to take the right groups to establish that.  Let it be the wrong groups and the trains will jump off of the tracks very fast.

This is not to say that everyone should merge and pool all their resources into an “one-stop shop” kind of approach.  What I am saying is that organizations can collaborate on a project or goal that fits appropriately into what they are seeking to accomplish.

The “Other” List: What I Love About Des Moines

Juice has come out with a list called “50 Things We Love About Des Moines”.  I’m not a “list” person by any means.  There are far too many things about living here in Iowa I love, and about Des Moines, since I’m a resident here.

This is going to be Des Moines-centric, so for you fellow readers out in Cedar Rapids and Eastern Iowa, you have been warned.

With that said, I have no opposition or issues with the list.  It’s a good list.  But, as my eccentric nature of independence, there are a few things not on the list that I love about living in the Des Moines area.

Looking for tickets for the State Wrestling Tournament next week? Good luck.

1.  State Tournaments  Did you know that high school state tournament season begins the next week with state wrestling?  Des Moines has a pep in its step when teams and fans from across the state arrive to Wells Fargo Arena for wrestling and girls and boys basketball action.

2.  First Saturday of Farmers Market The first Saturday in May has become an unofficial holiday as the start of the Downtown Farmers Market kicks off.  20,000+ people, with babies, dogs, and shopping bags looking for the freshest goods available.

All locally grown.

I'm looking forward to renting out a B-cycle this spring.

3. B-Cycle The B-Cycle is on its way to becoming the new way to tour the city, without burning gas in the car.  The city-owned bicycle rental program is one of the best ideas to take advantage of the great bike trails in the Des Moines area.

4. Manhattan Deli  No bells, no whistles, and no splash.  Just simply walk up, order, and then sink your teeth into a local sub sandwich delight.  PGA golfer, Cedar Rapids native and Drake grad Zach Johnson has a sandwich named after him.  It’s the only sub sandwich I order when I go there.  Oh, cash and checks only.  No debit or credit cards.

5. Americana’s “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” Americana Restaurant’s “Bombshell Brunch” is the place to be on Saturday and Sunday mornings, but if you are not a morning person, schedule a trip for Monday nights for “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner.”  Endless amounts of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and cornbread is all waiting there to be dined on as you decompress from the start of the work week.

Des Moines skyline.

6.  A view from the Capital Head to the Capital, park your car (no meters), get out of car, and walk around.  Take in the view of downtown.  Get some fresh air, albeit cold wintry air.

7. East Village There was no such thing as East Village when I moved here from college in 1998.  Slowly and quietly, the area between the Capital and the Des Moines River downtown has become the model of success for local shops.  From Vitae to the Kitchen Collage, The Village Bean to eden, East Village is the original local success story of entrepreneurship and realizing big dreams.  Which leads me to…

Your mission for 2012: get to know Christian Renaud (left) and Tej Dehwan. They run Startup City Des Moines.

8.  The Silicon Sixth If you haven’t heard of Silicon Sixth Avenue, make 2012 the year to learn about it and the people involved.  Dwolla is located on the Sixth, so is Startup City Des Moines, ShareWhere, and the Des Moines hub of Silicon Prairie News.  The Silicon Valley isn’t the only place where new ventures and technology are being created.

9.  Mars Cafe The Drake Neighborhood got a jolt of caffeine when Mars Cafe opened.  Similar to East Village, Dogtown, as the locals affectionally call it, is another great example of neighborhoods being revitalized and attracting visitors and patrons alike.

10. Home Sweet Home Many people in my age group couldn’t wait to get out of Iowa after college.  I never had an inclination to leave.  Why?  I’m happy here in Iowa.  Des Moines has always been a city where if the right people, the right time, and the right opportunities fall into place, it could be a great place to live.  The verdict:  it is the right place for me.

“Really New York?!” No, “Really Des Moines?!”

The "Sign" that is getting Des Moinesians in a tizzy (Andrea Laug)

See this sign above?  This was taken on May 21, 2011, by Andrea Laug.  Andrea is a great friend of mine.  She moved to New York City two years to take a job at a salon after graduating from Aveda in West Des Moines.  She posted this picture on her Facebook page.  I sarcastically posted a comment saying “Booo!” in jest.  I thought it was funny.

Apparently for a few folks in Des Moines, they don’t see it that way.

In fact, this sign is a non-story, but it is a story because some Des Moinesians can’t help but to act offended.  Note I didn’t write “feel offended.”  Feel and act are different actions.

New Yorkers have been known to be the brunt of jokes longer than Iowa has been a state (okay, I’m stretching that a bit).  For as much crap as they get, if anyone saw a similar sign and it had “New York” and not “Des Moines” on there, their response would be “fugetaboutit!”  Most New Yorkers would scoff or laugh at it, and then brush it off and go on with their lives.

Des Moines, on the other hand…

…is acting like someone walked up to them and asked if their Mom was a Cougar.

“Really, New York?!”

No, “Really, Des Moines?!” Do we have to overreact to everything emotionally?  Hell, I have a bigger issue on how the headline was written on Radio Iowa‘s blog.  Then again, I’m no journalist or headline writer. 

Sorry, but I don’t buy the notion that NYC was dogging us out.  In fact, it helps Des Moines and its profile.  How many New Yorkers have heard of Des Moines, outside of every four years when the caucuses roll into town?  Secondly, as Suzanne Hull pointed out to me while I was writing this, “No P.R. is good P.R..”  I have good friends who offered their comments to this story on different sites.  I could not disagree with them more on this.  That sign was not put up to “intentionally” demean Des Moines.  To suggest that it is, I think it’s ludicrious. 

If you can’t laugh at yourself and let this go, then that’s a “you” problem, as ESPN’s Colin Cowherd would say. 

This “story” is an non-issue.  Des Moines, take a chill pill and relax.  We are who we are.  Much like New Yorkers, you take it or leave it.  They don’t care if you don’t like them, but they sure as hell wouldn’t be stopping in their tracks and whine about it.

Let it go.

Plus, Andrea should get credit for finding the sign first and then taking a picture of it. 

News and Sports Links – April 14, 2010

Justin Schoen of eComegy. (Eric Rowley/Juice)

I have several projects on the docket and I’ll be out and about on this wet day.  Let us get to the business of finding out what’s going on over the past few days. 

Before I do, I want to thank all of you for being patient and allowing me to keep the “Life Disrupted” post up for a few days.  I hope that it was a source of inspiration for my fellow friends and acquaintances who knew her.  As I said, I didn’t know Ashley very well, however my friends Pete Jones and Shawn Harrington did.  I’ll let you read their words on their blog “Des Moines is Not Boring.”

  • I never thought this day would come, but it has.  ABC has announced that “All My Children” and “One Life to Live”, their daytime bedrocks, will be cancelled.  AMC will bid adieu in September, OLTL in January.  Time to bid adieu to Erica Kane and Viki Buchanan.  My childhood memories have now been permanantly dismantled (I’m kidding).  It might be a good time wax poetically on soap operas one of these days. 

 

Erica Slezak, the actress who plays Viki Buchanan, on OLTL.

 

  • With the NBA playoffs looming, popular and oft-controversial national Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock spent a few days with LeBron James‘ friend and manager Maverick Carter.  While Carter and James continue to recieve bad press for how LeBron left Cleveland, Whitlock learns that Carter is taking the lessons from the debacle and have started to put them to good use as a savvy businessman. 
  • Tim Epstein from the impressive Sports Law Blog writes an opinion about the Illinois Legislature reigniting the debate over the hotly-debated “multiplier” rule that was put in place by the Illinois High School Association in 2005.  Basically, the concept of the enrollment multiplier is that it requires actual enrollments of non-boundaried schools be multiplied by 1.65 in determining classification in athletics competition.  As a result, this pits smaller private schools against much larger public schools, as an effort to bring the number of state championships won by private schools more in line with their smaller numbers relative to public schools. The Legislature is working on an amendment to do away with the multiplier rule. 
  • Silicon Prairie News‘ (in conjunction with Juice) Christopher New profiles a fellow friend of mine Justin Schoen and his company, eComegy.  eComegy is a commerce and marketing consulting firm here in Des Moines.  
  • There is some movement at ESPN according to The Big Lead.  Josh Elliott shocked the Worldwide Leader by announcing that he is heading to join ABC’s Good Morning America.  TBL reports that Kevin Neganhdi will replace Elliott on the live morning SportsCenter.  

Apparently, Chris Berman felt that it’s way too early for a 5:00 am wake-up call!  

That’s it for now. 

I still can’t believe that my favorite soap opera character is going away. 

I’m going to miss Viki Buchanan!