All It Took Was A Smile

All It Took Was A Smile

All it took was a friendly smile.

I had nothing else to do on a spring Saturday in May roughly about 7 years ago. I decided to walk and visit the shops and places in Des Moines’ East Village neighborhood. The State Historical Building and the Olympic Flame restaurant were the only two places I knew and went to. When I interned at the Iowa drug czar’s office in college, I was introduced to The Olympic Flame. That was my only remembrance of East Village until I moved to Des Moines a year later in 1998.

After a few stops, I was in front of a store that was on the corner of E. Grand and E. 5th.  The store looked small. It was filled with lotions, soaps, and other items that I was ashamed to admit that it smelled so good. The store was laced with the scent of lavender, citrus, parfum, different types of exotic oils, perfume and cologne.

Rather than keep walking, I was curious enough to foolishly walk in. After about three minutes of standing in front of a table of fragrant soap, the owner notices me and asked if there was anything she could help me with. Being a mild stutterer, I was caught off guard and I stammered out “No thank you. I was looking.” I quickly left and went about my way.

Not long after that, the store moved to its current place on East 6th. The place was a little bigger and brighter. White and light tones dominated the inside of the store. The signage outside was hard not to ignore.

eden

Simplistic and yet it had a charm and an identity that would have a hand in the evolution of East Village.

I walked inside, once again curious as hell as I meandered past the tables and shelves of shampoo, soap, candles, and children books. The owner, as she did the last time, asked if I needed any help. I didn’t quite remember her, only because I kept my head down in embarrassment. I don’t recall what I said, but it had something to do with soap or shaving cream.

What I remember about that exchange was that she smiled.

Jennifer Hansen had a smile that made you feel welcomed, whether you were going to buy something or wandering around like I did.

After that, I became a fan and a supporter of eden. I learned how she was inspired to open eden: her grandmother visited Paris and told stories about Paris. Years later, Jennifer would visit Paris. Paris was the inspiration for her to open her own store. Holiday parties, special events, and First Friday were “must-go” for friends and acquaintances to stop by. First Fridays in the summer was on my calendar, not to shop, but to sit in the back with the men, as her husband John grilled hot dogs or steaks. In the front of the store, the shop girls and Jen would provide homemade cocktails.

eden 2
Courtesy: Historic East Village of Des Moines (eastvillagedesmoines.com)

A large poster of Audrey Hepburn and a red scooter (Vespa, I think?) were the first things to greet customers when they walked through the doors of eden.

Three visits stood out to me as memorable. The first was when I was looking for a birthday gift for my youngest niece. I walked out of there with a stuffed brown dog with ears that flapped all over the place. The next purchase was a gift basket for my mother for Christmas. Jen helped me put together the basket. The third one, and this is important to me, was when I got up the courage to ask Jen and a friend who also had a shop in East Village, if it was possible for my non-profit to have our walk through East Village.

That ask came before I was diagnosed with advanced stage retinopathy. I struggled to see anything in focus. On the day of the walk, I didn’t get the chance to see the walkers walk through and experience East Village for the first time.

I wasn’t allowed to drive or bike. I had to call a cab if I needed to go somewhere. After the walk was over, I walked the nearly 7 blocks through downtown, across the bridge over the Des Moines River, to thank Jen and Alyssa for their help. The walk event wasn’t a huge success, but the confidence to ask for support and ideas were pretty special.

Jen was a Sherman Hill apologist through and through. John and her also loved camping. In fact, she gave their camper a name. The camper was part of her family along with the cats who lived in their Sherman Hill home.

Before I met her, there was one unwelcome guest that never seemed to leave: cancer. Yeah, that guest. When I learned I had retinopathy and later kidney failure, I privately thought of Jen and how she kept a smile on her face despite chemotherapy, days of physical drain, and when she had to rest at home, while the shop girls ran the store.

In essence, showing kindness through adversity. Adversity is a box that contains stuff that we do not want, but rather than sit and stew about it, we find ways to understand, accept, and eventually part ways with that box.

The last visit I made to eden was a year ago, in October 2016. I was in town for an event, and it was First Friday. I stopped by, quietly, as Jen, the shop girls, and the customers were mingling.

Why ruin something that is, well, just perfect? Everyone was in good spirits. There was no time to talk about illnesses.

Until Monday morning. The unwelcome visitor, cancer, left for good.

And took Jennifer along.

Cancer sucks, but no one here on this planet is going to put their boxing gloves down for anything. Cancer, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s, and other unwelcome guests.

As I remember Jennifer Hansen, the large poster of Audrey Hepburn and the scooter in the window front doesn’t make me mourn. I can see in my own mind Jen riding on that red scooter…with Audrey hanging on as they ride down Locust Street in East Village.

With a smile on their faces.

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A Missing “Core”

A Missing “Core”

Two stories in the Des Moines Register recently caught my eye, and it tied into a piece 2014 piece I wrote.

The Brookings Institute published a report on metro areas that has seen economic recovery after the recession. Des Moines was one of the cities that enjoy “inclusive” economic growth that benefited a diverse range of the region’s population, however, Brookings also indicated that also the greater Des Moines economy is leaving some workers behind, namely poor workers.

The second story was a release of a study from The Directors Council, a local non-profit group, on the widening racial disparities in Polk County and Des Moines.

In October 2014, I wrote on how Des Moines is so progressive in many areas and yet ignoring the African-American community within the urban core. Surprisingly, some groups are finally getting around to addressing these issues. The urban core is poor and most of the citizens of this core are African-Americans.

There are a two questions that I have…

  1. I have never heard of this The Directors Council or the affiliations underneath TDC. I had lived in the Des Moines area for 13 years and not one person of color, or anyone else, has mentioned this group to me. For the record, I am African-American. I have been seeking organizations like these as a way to connect to possible mentors or to establish new networks.
  2. What was this group doing when Ako Abdul-Samad told the National Journal in 2014 about his frustration on how Des Moines has viewed and treated its predominantly black urban core?

There is a lack of African-Americans in (political) leadership, in arts and nonprofits, and in the Des Moines business community. The only time I hear of a prominent African-American in Des Moines, that person is in the business world.

I hear of their names, but I never see them in person.

They must be hard to track down. It’s better to not be seen than to have people recognize you, that is my guess. And no, attending the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s diversity receptions do not count as an official appearance.

When I look back at my experience living and working in Des Moines. I continue to question the willingness of Des Moines to address actual problems regarding the socioeconomic disparities within its city borders, without slapping paint on it and say “everything’s fine”.

The new wave of “gentrification” in the downtown area, unemployment rates for African-Americans, safety for those who live in poorer neighborhoods, and food scarcity with regards to affordability to buy fresh food over cheap junk food are vital topics for the urban core, beyond the common topics of race, unemployment, and economics.

I don’t have an answer to how all of this can be fixed. I’m no policy wonk. I do know that in order for Des Moines (not just city leaders, but business leaders especially) to be actively “inclusive”, they need to do a better job of addressing what it means to be “inclusive” and effectively supporting groups and individuals who are disadvantaged from a socioeconmic standpoint.

Closing the Book on “Mad Men”

Closing the Book on “Mad Men”
Sterling Headshot
“Remember, when God closes a door, he opens a dress.” God bless you, Roger Sterling. (PopSugar)

Tonight, it ends.

The story of a guy named Don Draper and the life surrounding an advertising agency in New York’s 1960’s. But, this story doesn’t begin with a script written by Matthew Weiner. It actually began, innocently enough, with a group performing in Des Moines one night. Critically acclaimed group “RJD2” performed at Vaudeville Mews. Popular for the tune “1976” and “Ghostwriter”, little did anyone, or even the group, would know that that another tune “A Beautiful Mine” would be selected by Weiner to be the opening theme to “Mad Men.”

Yes, Des Moines, you had a small part of television history, besides being the home of January Jones (Betty Draper Francis).

We tend to easily toss the banter of “greatest show ever” at anything we just watched (“The Sopranos” and “MAS*H” for examples), but there is something about television series that pulls us in like a black hole. But, there is validity to what The Sopranos and Mad Men mean to today’s television. It was unique, it had interesting characters that resembled the people we’re around these days.  I dare you to tell me you didn’t run across an Uncle Junior, Paulie Walnuts, or a Roger Sterling in your daily lives? Or wait, we wished we would run across people like that…

Remember when Peggy Olson in Season 1?  My how time have changed for Peggy. (Frank Ockenfels / AMC)
Remember when Peggy Olson in Season 1? My how time have changed for Peggy. (Frank Ockenfels / AMC)

Anyway, I have always been fascinated in how we watch television: how we view it, how we expect it to end and the reaction to it when it ends in the way that we did not anticipated it.

Do Colonel Henry Blake and Rosalind Shays come to mind?

As I wrote back in 2010 about the ending of The Sopranos, the idea that we want a perfect ending to a show is only wishful thinking. Shows should challenge our thinking and attitudes on what we think our perceptions are and to get us to view it a different way.

Larry Gelbart nailed it when how he described on MAS*H killing off Henry Blake. The viewers were upset that the writers would create such a killjoy in adding in Blake’s death, but the writers’ had another angle for viewers to understand: MASH wasn’t just a sitcom…it was a sitcom/drama about the reality of war.

So, as AMC closes the book on “Mad Men” this evening, don’t be surprised if the ending you expect isn’t the one you want.

Mind you, Weiner did work on The Sopranos. Anything can happen…just don’t expect it to live up to your own unrealistic expectations.

You Don’t Need To Win An Award To Be A “Hall-of-Famer”

You Don’t Need To Win An Award To Be A “Hall-of-Famer”

Dan Marino and Charles Barkley are considered the best athletes in their respective sports, football and basketball. Both of them are hall-of-famers despite the fact that they didn’t win a NBA title or a Super Bowl.

There are critics who feel that Marino, Barkley, and others should not be in the hall of fame, because they didn’t win the “big one.” According to conventional wisdom, winning a championship validates your legacy and punches your ticket into the hall of fame.

As the case, many great athletes have been inducted into their hall of fames without ever winning a championship.

The greatest athletes are enshrined into a hall of fame.  Does this apply to regular people and regular life?
The greatest athletes are enshrined into a hall of fame.
Does this apply to regular people and regular life?

There is a sense in local young professional circles that if you haven’t receive an award for making a difference in your community, then your accomplishments have no value.

Last October, at a YP event, a facilitator gave a group an assignment to write their dreams and what goals they wanted to achieve individually. On a majority of “dream” lists, YPs listed a plethora of dreams, but the majority theme on their lists is being named to “important lists” such as the Business Record’s Forty Under 40 and Juice’s YP of the Year Award.

After the event, several of us YPs read what was written on each list. A few of us found it troubling to read that the “end all be all” dream of many is “winning an award”. The question we asked was whether an award, being named to a board, or being recognized as an “up and comer” should validate a young professional’s status in the Des Moines business community.

Juice and YPC will announce the 2014 winner of the YP of the Year award in early February.
Juice and YPC will announce the 2014 winner of the YP of the Year award in early February.

As someone who have won two awards for community service, there is an harsh truth about winning awards: it doesn’t always validate your status and presence in the eyes of the community.

It doesn’t raise your profile as much as you think it should. For some, it does, which is why many YPs feel that Forty Under 40, the Business Record’s yearly honor list of 40 individuals under 40 who are making great strides in Central Iowa, is such a big deal.

None of those distinctions have landed me a permanent (or better) job and a higher profile. I’ve gotten a pat on the head for being a great volunteer, but nothing else. In 2011, there wasn’t much fanfare

The “checkbox “ that YPs are using to measure each other in the area of life and career is disturbing. If we’re not obsessively networking, gathering up as mentors, and taking leadership classes, then we must be failing and not living up to the standards of “being successful”.

Have Gen Xers and Millennials fallen into the "checkbox mentality" of trying to be noticed and admired?
Have Gen Xers and Millennials fallen into the “checkbox mentality” of trying to be noticed and admired?

It’s the Gen X/Millennial version of the “rat race.”

Last July, Juice’s Josh Hafner asked “do YPs do more than network, find mentors, and learning about leadership?” It was a great question because he was seeing a trend that I didn’t notice. When I look back at my experience as a YP over the past decade, I have struggled more than I have achieved. I didn’t get that big promotion, lofty job title, or the things that everyone I know already has: family, house/condo, significant other, et cetera.

Hafner’s column resonated to me. Being a young professional should be more than networking for your career, being mentored by great leaders, and learning how to succeed as a leader.

You are starting to learn how to live life: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Not many YPs are going to have mentors. Either we can’t find the right mentor for the right fit, or a mentor may have no interest in mentoring you.

Many of us may be unable to sign up for leadership classes, if time permits us. There are leadership classes that will not be the best fit. Would it be better for me to take a Leadership Iowa class than GDMLI, because I’m interested in how leadership is done on a statewide basis, plus my interest level goes beyond what goes on here in Des Moines.

Despite those challenges, the list of finalists for the 2014 YP of the Year do not just sit on a bunch of boards, have a Rolodex of networks, have great jobs, and have mentors. Their interests include building houses for low-income families, encouraging women to run for elected office, raising money for children with serious illnesses, among other activities.

YPs understand that we have lives outside of the professional world and cultivating our individual lives is paramount for our sanity.

rat-race
Gen X and Millennials are now experiencing their own “rat race” to success.

I have accepted that I will never be named to the Forty Under 40 list. I’ve never had the career or job that I could advance up the ladder in and have it linked to the activities I have done or doing in the community.

There are too many factors going against me for this honor. I’m at peace with never getting it. That’s one less thing I have to worry about.

I never sought out to win the YPC Ashley Okland Community Service award or receive the Iowa Governor’s Volunteer award. It was never a goal. Individuals nominated me because they felt that a person who is dedicated to what they love and believed in should be honored.

I never bring those awards up to brag or remind people about. Nobody cares.

It’s 2015, not 2011.

It’s nice to have them, but how many people remember that I received them?

I volunteer and network because I enjoy staying busy and giving back in a small way. Personally, it takes my mind off of feeling lonely and dealing with my own personal battles (health, lack of work). If volunteering and connecting people make a difference in one person’s life, I consider that a victory.

YP of the Year Award finalists (from left) Josh Dryer, Andrea Woodard, LaVerne Greenfield, Megan Ruble, Brianne Sanchez, Emilee Richardson, and Tyler DeHaan, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, at the YPC 2015 Kick Off event at Jasper Winery in Des Moines. (Juice)
YP of the Year Award finalists (from left) Josh Dryer, Andrea Woodard, LaVerne Greenfield, Megan Ruble, Brianne Sanchez, Emilee Richardson, and Tyler DeHaan, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, at the YPC 2015 Kick Off event at Jasper Winery in Des Moines. (Juice)

In her blog “BS in the Midwest”, Brianne Sanchez wrote about being fortunate in living in a city that let’s her do her job, pursue her passions and hobbies, spend time with her family, friends, and colleagues. Also, she never feel stressed out to hit those “self-made benchmarks” that most of us YP’s have unconsciously set for ourselves.

“Whether or not I “win” the YP award in February, the fact the I get to go to work in a job I love and live in a community that lets me pursue and explore so many ideas (and embraces me when all I want is to hang out in my sweatpants), is a huge reward in itself.”

Is an athlete a Hall-of-Famer, if they never won a championship?  The answer is yes.

Is someone a “Hall-of-Famer” if they don’t receive an honor or award, based on their accomplishments?

That answer should always be “yes.”

“March Madness” Finally Comes to Des Moines

“March Madness” Finally Comes to Des Moines
The 2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships at Wells Fargo Arena . Hosting this proved that Des Moines was ready to host any major sporting event.
The 2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships at Wells Fargo Arena . Hosting this proved that Des Moines was ready to host any major sporting event.

Remember when Wells Fargo Arena and the Iowa Events Center opened in 2005?

Remember when people complained about paying $6 for a beer at Wells Fargo?

Remember when the Polk County Board of Supervisors had that ridiculous iron-clad contract to put an AHL team inside Wells Fargo?

Remember when people expected Wells Fargo and Des Moines to land a NCAA men’s tournament game right away?

Funny how we forget those moments. People stop complaining about the price of beer. It’s cheaper than venues like Solider Field and Yankee Stadium.

After the first fiasco of having an AHL team, the Board of Supervisors finally got it right by having the right owners and an affiliate that was in the region (Minnesota Wild).

And all that talk about never getting to host March Madness?  That debate ended today.

NCAA2016_DesMoines_logo

This morning, the NCAA has announced that Des Moines was selected as one of eight cities to host the first and second round games for the 2016 Division I men’s basketball tournament…aka March Madness.

Yes…our city. How about that?

See what patience and proving doubters wrong can do?

Des Moines was ready for this moment to come. It took a few “no’s”, but here it is.

This is why the IAHSAA and the IGHSAU moved their tournament dates up a few weeks early, much to their displeasure.

This is why Des Moines was willing to host the NCAA Track and Field Championships, the women’s basketball early and regional rounds, Iowa State hosting the volleyball regionals, and the coup d’etat, the NCAA wrestling championships in 2013.

And not to mention, Des Moines has hosted the AAU Junior Olympics the last few years as well.

This is why after listening to what they needed to do to improve their chances at hosting the men’s tournament, Des Moines, quietly and patiently, worked diligently to put as many of the pieces together. A new hotel will be built next to the Events Center complex in the next two years.

So that excuse of not having a hotel on site can no longer be used as an excuse by the NCAA or anyone else.

This news even surprised WHO-TV’s Andy Fales, who thought Des Moines was going to miss out, yet again:

…after the announcement:

The more you doubt a person or something, the more they can prove you wrong.

The credit goes to the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau and others like Iowa State, Drake, and sports fans. We earned this. We proved that anything can happen…patience is a virtue.

Is hosting a major national sports event still a “useless folly”, Mike Draper?  I didn’t think so. The CVB just got scoreboard.

That also goes for those who will continue to find ways to player-hate on Des Moines. You can quietly exit stage left.

The haters are not going to ruin this day for sports fans. We’ve waited for a long time for this to happen. When 2016 arrives, it’ll be 44 years since March Madness was held in an Iowa venue (Hilton Coliseum hosted the 1972 Midwest regionals).

There are a few other things I want to add about the news (for one, it’s long overdue for the NCAA to find new cities to host tournaments), but for today, it’s a good day to see that the work towards getting March Madness paid off.

A “Hip” and Progressive City Like Des Moines Should Be More Inclusive

Des Moines skyline.
Des Moines skyline.

An acquaintance of mine posted a link on Facebook recently, celebrating a friend of hers on a story he is doing on Des Moines for the National Journal. The National Journal is doing a series called “The Next America”, specifically focusing on the reality of 21st Century Iowa (as if the rest of the world thinks we’ve just climbed out of the 19th Century, but Scott Siepker would beg to differ).

It’s no surprise that Des Moines, the city I live in, is receiving recognition from publications for being a great place to live, work, to create startups, and other things. It is a city that is recognized, along with the state of Iowa, for legalizing gay marriages, the influx of young professionals, and exuding “Iowa nice”.

The current topic in Des Moines and Iowa is encouraging women to take on a larger leadership role in business and politics. Iowa, along with Mississippi, are the two lone states that have not elected a woman to Congress. All of that could change next month. Maybe it won’t, but it’s a big deal.

What many here in Iowa do not realize, or have ignored, is that Iowa haven’t elected a minority to Congress either. And another topic that’s not being discussed, despite the all of the progress taking place in Des Moines, is that the African-American community is a non-factor.

It is an invisible community. We see it everyday in Des Moines, and yet we prefer to tout how same-sex friendly we are and our pursuit to elect a woman to Congress.  There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s nice to pat ourselves on the back for being #1 on every list from Forbes to The Today Show, but we still have work to do to make it better.

A lot of work.

Iowa State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad. (AP/Charlie Neibergall)
Iowa State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad. (AP/Charlie Neibergall)

State representative Ako Abdul-Samad spoke to reporter Matt Vasilogambros about how the urban core of Des Moines have been forgotten as the other cores of the city and suburbs like Beaverdale, Waukee, Downtown, and Gateway West has become desirable places for residents and businesses. While this is not surprising to me, what is disconcerting is that Abdul-Samad expressed his discouragement to a national publication…and not to the local media.

Did he tell the National Journal his sentiments because he felt that the local media, city/regional leaders, and the business community would continue to ignore the urban core? Is there a reason he chose to speak with a national publication about the plight of Des Moines’ urban core and the lack of progress from a business and quality of life standpoint?

For Abdul-Samad to tell a national publication and not address it locally puzzles me. He may have his reasons. The main point of this entry is that if Des Moines is going to brag about its “great” diversity when it comes to life and work, the African-American community should get the same attention and support that the growing Latino, Asian, and LGBT communities receive.

Des Moines and Polk County hasn’t had a minority on the city council or board of supervisors for nearly a decade. There has been little traction to encourage and engage African-Americans in the growing business sector, downtown projects, and overall when it comes to daily life. There are a few African-Americans in the Des Moines business community that people know of, but if you asked me, I hear of their names, but I never see their faces.

It’s discouraging for me as an African-American young professional to continue to have the sense of “I’m the only black in this meeting, event, or workplace.” I attended a local Young Non-Profit Network meetup recently. I surveyed the room before the meeting.

Yep, that feeling crept in. I don’t mind it because I can roll with it, but there has to be African-Americans in this city who are interested in non-profits, arts, and other stuff.

If there is an area of improvement that Des Moines has to work on, with genuine seriousness and not some make-shift short-term Band Aid solution to cover it up, is to re-engage themselves into the black community and encourage African-Americans YPs like myself to be active in the community, whether its volunteering at church, food pantries like Move the Food, or reading programs.

The Business Record, a local business publication, hosts forums and events to raise awareness of women in business. Why not do a similar one for minority groups?

I have to keep in mind that it is a choice. You can’t force people to “get involved” and “be engaged”. What is important is to make these opportunities available. If someone takes advantage of it, we need to embrace their opinions and perspective, for it helps us understand and improve our quality of life.

The Rose Garden at the Des Moines Art Center.
The Rose Garden at the Des Moines Art Center.

Des Moines is a good place to live and work, however, in order to reach its full potential, Des Moines need to address the lack of African-American involvement in the progression of this city. Awards are cute and nice, but everyone should be able to share in the accolades.

That means all citizens. No one should be forgotten or ignored as this city continues to progress towards newer and better things.

“Dear Cityview…” July 19, 2006

“Dear Cityview…” July 19, 2006
Not everything that is written on blogs are about fluff, club scenes, and Court Avenue antics.
Not everything that is written on blogs are about fluff, club scenes, and Court Avenue antics.

When Juice premiered in 2006, there was a lot of criticism about the publication, namely from Cityview Magazine. Cityview spent every week making Juice (and the Register) their personal pinata, attacking them for writing “fluff” pieces and not “hard news” as Cityview stakes their claim to.

The statement below from Cityview’s “Winners and Losers” column propelled me to send a reply back to Cityview…to prove that not everything is “trash” in their eyes…and that they sometimes don’t practice what they preach.

Dear Cityview…

Courtesy of Cityview Magazine, July 19, 2006:

We named The Des Moines Register a “loser” last week for sending its reporters to blog live from concerts. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention The Register’s pubescent progeny, Juice – particularly, its staffers’ stunning ability to continually churn out blogs about absolutely nothing.**
——————————————————————–

To the staff at Cityview:

Thank you for “reading” my blog (though I doubt you ever have). I hate to tell you this, but not everything comes from a 9-year old’s diary. The last blog post I wrote on Monday was not ripped out of a kid’s coloring book. It was a personal perspective about the slayings of two police officers in 1981 and the impact it had to a city and its citizens 25 years later.

The little girl who writes in her diary never wrote about the suicide of Dr. Stephen Gleason, the comical follies that is Nan Stillans and the Des Moines School District, and whether its cool or not to be a single person in the middle of Iowa.

Alright, I admit that the single person’s point-of-view wasn’t stellar reading.

I know you are offering constructive criticism (if that is the term you use over there) about blogs here on Juice.

Please allow me to explain myself: I don’t need a rival publisher to tell me how bad of a writer I am. I know how bad I am. I don’t have a journalism degree, nor did I attend the Writer’s Workshop at the State University of Iowa. The one positive thing I have learned from blogging is the appreciation for those who are journalists, and those who write or blog for a living.  They’re the ones who bust their asses off daily. I feel it is insulting to call myself a journalist.

I never wrote about getting drunk, acting like a d-bag, and hitting the club scene.
I never wrote about getting drunk, acting like a d-bag, and hitting the club scene.

It’s imperative to get the facts right, check your sources, and write a story that informs your readers as well as gauge their opinions. I thought I was doing that, until you informed me that my work is garbage. That is constructive criticism and I appreciate your magazine for calling it like it is.

I do think it’s fair that I offer the same criticism to you.

I do this for fun and to gauge the interest of what readers want to read or talk about. You do a very good job of that at Cityview. I don’t do your job nor will I insult your intelligence on how to be a writer. My attempt is to write about things that are relevant to us as individuals.

To you, I do a half-assed job of it.

I take it as terms of endearment.

I don’t aspire to be another Marc Hansen, Donald Kaul, Maury White, or Ron Maly. I wouldn’t last 30 seconds in their presence. They’re pros. I’m a schlub. 

If you want to throw a blanket on everyone who write for Juice, that’s your prerogative, but if you don’t read between the lines, there is someone who is trying to do what you expect them to do…

…write and open the lines of discussion on serious and interesting issues that do affect people.

If I’m not doing that, then contact the publishers of the Des Moines Register. I don’t have a “right” to blog, it’s a privilege.

Childish writing is for kids. I’m an adult. I have to write like one.  Just like you. 

Sincerely yours,

Romelle Slaughter

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** – Post-script: the concept of “live blogging” at events have become very popular and is used constantly, much to the chagrin of Cityview. To Juice’s credit, they understood it could be a trend that is highly effective today.

The following week, Cityview said that though they were sticking to their statement, they did acknowledged that not everyone at Juice writes “nothing”. Put one up on the scoreboard.