Talk of Iowa

Weekdays at 10 a.m. on IPR News and News/Studio One and 9 p.m. on IPR News

Talk of Iowa brings a mix of regular guests and a range of experts to the microphone to discuss what’s happening in Iowa and what makes this a special place to live. Guests include wildlife expert Jim Pease and the Hort Gang on Fridays.

Talk of Iowa is hosted by Charity Nebbe @CharityNebbe.  It’s produced by Dennis Reese, Emily Woodbury @EmilyWoodbury, Lindsey Moon @lindseysmoon and Clare Roth @ClareAliceRoth.  Our Executive Producer is Katherine Perkins.  Our theme music is by The River Monks.

Lee Wright / Flickr

In January, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs announced a plan to renovate and modernize the state historical building of Iowa. That comes after the department scaled back hours and made staffing changes at the historical building in Iowa City. The new plan has some Iowa historians very worried.

Carl Wycoff

Water quality is certainly an important topic in Iowa, but can it also be sexy and funny?

Jennifer Wilson thinks so, and she set out to prove it in her first novel, Water. The book takes on water quality and politics in Iowa, and it takes place against the familiar backdrop of Des Moines and Northeast Iowa.

On this Talk of Iowa interview, Charity Nebbe talks with Wilson about the book and its unconventional path to publication with t-shirt company RAYGUN. RAYGUN owner Mike Draper also joins the conversation to talk about the collaboration.

Del Ramey / Flickr

Lots of animals nest, and spring is the height of nesting season.

"It is a natural behavior that crosses all continents around the world, and something that really, everybody does in some way, including humans," says wildlife biologist Jim Pease. 

Brave Lux Photography

The women behind the new podcast “Quilt Your Heart Out” describe the show as Car Talk for quilters. On this hour of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks quilting and podcasting with Marianne and Mary Fons, best known as the hosts of the PBS television show "Love of Quilting."  

Early Spring Blooms

Mar 18, 2016
DM / Flickr

There are few things as lovely as a spring time hike in the woods when wildflowers are in bloom and you can recreate that experience in a small way in your own yard.

On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe sits down with Aaron Steil, assistant director of Reiman Gardens, and Richard Jauron, Iowa State University Extension horticulturist, to talk about perennials that bloom in early spring.

See-ming Lee / Wikimedia Commons

According to research by the Gallup organization, North Dakotans are happier than Iowans. Or rather, they have a higher state of well-being.

Emily Woodbury

Kate Duffus is pregnant for the fourth time, but the little girl she is carrying will not be her little girl.

Wikimedia Commons

Between typing and texting we are a lot less likely to put pen to paper. What's lost when we don't? 

Wikimedia Commons

In January of 2011 when Ginnie Peters retired from the Perry Public Library, she was looking forward to spending more time with her husband, Matt, but she never really got the chance.

He died of suicide in May of that year.  “One day he told me he had torment in his head, and then the next day he was gone," she says. 

The two farmed 1500 acres between Perry and Panora, Iowa for most of their lives. Today, Peters blames the stress of planning for the future of her husband’s century farm for what happened. 

Waldo Jaquith / Flickr

Iowa’s Master Gardeners will be stocking community food banks this summer.

Iowa State University Master Gardner coordinator Denny Schrock says it’s expanding existing programs already producing nearly 15-tons of fresh produce.augmenting healthy diets for more than a third of a million Iowans said to be food insecure. And Shrock says the desired foods are surprising.

"They want more zucchini. So, we’ve green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers,  carrots, potatoes, melons, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes are going to be part of the home demonstration gardens.”   

Lee Wright / Flickr

In January, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs unveiled a plan to renovate and modernize the State Historical Building of Iowa, something that people who work in the building will tell you desperately needs to be done. But the $80 million plan has caused quite a stir, as it involves demolishing part of the building, reducing the amount of square feet from 234,000 to 155,000.

Clay Masters

When it comes to Daylight Saving Time in the spring, there are two camps of people - the ones who hate it and the ones who don't mind. Iowa Public Radio Morning Edition host Clay Masters says he doesn't necessarily hate the time change, but it isn't his favorite time of year. 

"When I started hosting Morning Edition, I knew the hours I was signing up for," he laughs. "It took some conditioning."

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

Markus Zusak wasn't expecting an enormous response when he published The Book Thief.

"I thought no one would ever read this book, I thought it would be my least successful book. I imagine someone reading it and then trying to convince one of their friends to read it and their friend says, 'Well what's it about?' And what do you say? You've got to say, 'Well, it's set in Nazi Germany, it's narrated by Death, nearly everyone dies, and it's 580 pages long, you'll love it.'"

photo courtesy of Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

Lou Henry Hoover, first lady of President Herbert Hoover, was born in Waterloo, Iowa in 1874. While she moved around a lot as a youth and considered herself a Westerner, her birth here and eventually marriage to Herbert Hoover, born in West Branch, means many Iowans claim her as their own.

She got involved with the Girl Scouts in 1917 and after serving as a part of the leadership of the organization, and as it's first president, she realized the group needed money. 

David Cavagnaro, born and raised in California, started taking pictures of insects and plants at 14, becoming fascinated with what he calls "the land of the small."  Throughout his life, he has used this love of plants to push hard to save our agricultural diversity.

Facebook

Hip-hop artist Dahlak Brathwaite was arrested after being caught with magic mushrooms as a youth.  During a show he calls Spiritrials, he raps about his arrest and how he was treated by the criminal justice system. 

"The way the criminal justice system is set up, if you are caught with drugs, you are labeled as a drug addict who needs help," he says.

Jena Fuller / Flickr - Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

Morel mushrooms are one of Iowa's spring delicacies, but they can be very hard to find. Mark Gleason, Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at Iowa State University says if you want to be successful go mushroom hunting with an experienced forager. Gleason says you can often find morels in the vicinity of dead and decaying elm trees.

Laura Beth McConahie / Flickr

Psychotherapist Jeanne Safer found the roots of her 1996 book, Beyond Motherhood: Choosing a Life Without Children, in her own life.

“I became interested because I had to be interested. I really was struggling myself to make this decision. It took me five years to do it. I really worried about it, I thought about it, I didn’t talk to many people about it because I didn’t really know anybody who was going through it.”

But once she started researching the book, she found she wasn’t alone in that struggle.

Peter Miller / Flickr

Heartening news out of Mexico this week: monarch butterfly populations at the southern end of their migration pattern are up from last year. They covered 10 acres of land, more than five times larger than their all-time population low in 2013. There’s still room for improvement—in 1996, they covered 45 acres. Donald Lewis, Iowa State University extension entomologist, says this news, while good, doesn’t mean the problem is solved.

Photo Courtesy of Pyramid Theatre Company

Pyramid Theatre Company, which intends to feature black actors and draw from plays by black playwrights, is announcing their opening season in Des Moines this summer. Ken Matt-Martin, founder and executive director of the company, says a company with this mission is needed.  

Photo Courtesy of Jamie Burch Elliott

For some Iowans, the idea of doing yoga is appealing, but the idea of walking into a yoga studio is not.

Jamie Burch Elliott identifies with that sentiment. She’s curvy and doesn’t have a typical “yoga body." She says she remembers one of the first yoga classes she attended well. 

Thomas Life

Reading education has come a long way since the days of Dick, Jane, and Spot, but many children still struggle to become readers. In fact, according to the Iowa Department of Education, nearly one in four public school third-graders did not meet state standards for reading proficiency in either 2014 or 2015. 

Damian Gadal / Flickr

We’re a long way from the shopping mall’s dominance of the late 80s and early 90s, but shopping still has a big effect on our culture and our economy. Dave Swenson, associate scientist in the Department of Economics at Iowa State University, says any new, sizable store almost guarantees an economic impact.

courtesy of the The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra

Wacky costumes, ukuleles and confetti are not usually a part of orchestral performances. The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra is trying to change that, and they’re touring Iowa this week. Age Pryor, the band's co-founder, says that when the group got started, they were really just a ukulele jam band meeting at the local cafe. 

Christina Lynn Johnson, / Wikimedia Commons

His instrument was small, but his persona was not. Herbert Khaury, known as “Tiny Tim,” was born in New York in the late 30s, became a star in the 60s and later moved to Iowa for a time before he died in 1996.

Justin Martell, author of a new biography about Tiny Tim, says that he first became aware of the musician at a Halloween theme park.

Washington Area Spark / Flickr

In May of 1917, the first class of African-American officers in U.S. military history were trained at Fort Des Moines.

Chad Williams, associate professor of African and African-American Studies at Brandeis University, says the fight to establish the class was an arduous one. Joel Spingarn, a white man and former NAACP leader, struck a deal with the General Leonard Wood: if he could find 200 acceptable candidates, they would create a training camp for them. In the end, 1200 men came to train, and 639 graduated.  

Photo Courtesy of the Institute for Figuring

The Paleozoic Era is the last time a coral reef existed in Iowa. Now, with the help of some dedicated crocheters, a coral reef, or an approximation of one, will be in the state once again.

Margaret Wertheim is the co-creator of the Crochet Coral Reef. First created in her native Australia and now spread to 35 cities in 12 countries, complex coral reefs are woven from yarn by groups of volunteers in imitation of a rapidly dying natural phenomenon.

Conservation Fund

Prairie-chickens once thrived in the prairies of Iowa, but by just after 1900, they were on the verge of extinction.  Today, these beautiful birds with a unique mating ritual can be found in only 9 of Iowa's 99 counties.

Wikimedia Commons

Do you have sugar maple tree in your backyard? If so, now's the time to tap it if you want to make your own syrup. Jesse Randall, a forester with Iowa State University Extension, says that the freezing nights and warm days of late winter get the sap flowing. 

"It’s a function of being warm, but it’s also a function of day length. And we’re racing against the day length clock. What will happen is the buds will begin to swell, and that changes the flavor of the syrup," Randall explains. 

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

The list of extracurricular activities for kids these days is almost endless, but for many years opportunities to sing, dance, act, and perform excluded kids with special needs. And when those kids become adults, those opportunities are even harder to find.

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