Category Archives: City of Iowa City

Daily Iowan: “UI Ready to Shun Coal”

Earlier this week, the Daily Iowan published an article detailing University of Iowa’s President Bruce Herrald’s announcement that UI will be coal free by 2025.

Here’s a bit of the article:

“University of Iowa President, Bruce Harreld, announced on Feb. 20 the UI will be coal-free by 2025.

According to a press release, Harreld said, ‘It’s the right choice for our students and our campus, and it’s the surest path to an energy-secure future.

‘In 2025, we expect to have diminished our reliance on coal to the point it is no longer included in our fuel portfolio.’

The UI will continue its efforts to advance energy programs to ensure there is ‘an abundant supply’ of alternative-energy sources, he said.

The UI has taken steps to reduce its dependence on coal — in 2008, the university established seven ‘sustainability targets’ to be achieved by 2020, according to the press release.

Since the 2020 vision’s inception, the UI has managed to reduce its use of coal by 60 percent.

This correlates with one of the sustainability targets, which seeks to derive 40 percent of the UI’s energy from renewable resources — a far cry from a university once dependent on fossil fuels, according to the UI sustainability website.”

The coal industry’s destructive tendencies towards global climate is well known, and this plan to shift away from using the energy source as a means of powering our university remains to be small, but important step in combating climate change.

Ideally, given Iowa’s inclination towards wind energy, we’ll see more institutions making the shift away from dirty fossil fuel.

Walkability: Jeff Speck on 4 Ways for the City

Urbanist and author Jeff Speck on how to get people out of their cars, and a-walking the city

In the American city, the typical American city — the typical American city is not Washington, DC, or New York, or San Francisco; it’s Grand Rapids or Cedar Rapids or Memphis — in the typical American city in which most people own cars and the temptation is to drive them all the time, if you’re going to get them to walk, then you have to offer a walk that’s as good as a drive or better. What does that mean? It means you need to offer four things simultaneously: there needs to be a proper reason to walk, the walk has to be safe and feel safe, the walk has to be comfortable and the walk has to be interesting. You need to do all four of these things simultaneously, and that’s the structure of my talk today, to take you through each of those.

Seattle Votes to End $3 Billion Relationship with Wells Fargo Because of the Bank’s Dakota Access Pipeline Financing

Check out this article in the Seattle Stranger on how the Seattle City Council pull its investments out of Wells Fargo bank, regarding the DAPL pipeline.

Here’s a clip:

The Seattle City Council has unanimously voted to end the city’s relationship with Wells Fargo over the bank’s financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), its financing of private prison companies, and a regulatory scandal involving the bank’s creation of two million unauthorized accounts.

All nine council members voted to take $3 billion of city funds away from the bank after Seattle’s current contract expires in 2018. The vote occurred just hours after the Army notified Congress that it will be granting an easement allowing DAPL builders to drill under the Missouri River following a presidential memo from Donald Trump.

One Poem, Two Translations and One and a Half Poets

Chen Ko Hua is a poet, essayist, and ophthalmologist with a degree from Taipei Medical University and Harvard Medical School. He has written more than twenty books of poetry in Mandarin, and this fall he was a resident writer with the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.

Every year, the program invites about 35 writers to live in Iowa City for a few months and attend readings, panels, classes, with the chance to interact with writers from around the globe. This year’s group included a surrealist fiction writer from Bulgaria, a flash fiction writer from the Philippines, a spoken-word poet from Botswana…

After my International Literature Today class, in which he presented his work, I asked him if he might provide some insight on my project. He followed up by sending me an entire signed book of his poetry, along with tens of essays and poetry he had written about the environment, climate change, weather patterns, etc.

My parents and I sat down, going line-by-line through each stanza and together we translated this poem. I brought the newly birthed “Call to El Nino” to him, then I sat down to see what he thought.

El Nino refers to a weather phenomenon where abnormally high or low sea temperatures and ocean current changes create unstable rain patterns in the east Pacific region, causing extreme rainfall or droughts at times.

“I wrote this poem maybe last year,” Chen said, “Maybe I’m paranoid, but also I’m a Buddhist. In the Buddhist manuscript, they also describe the end of the human world that’s pretty similar. It’s called “huo” which is a fire, “huo da” means the fire will be destroy everything. So that’s pretty similar with the temperatures getting higher and higher. And as a poet we can imagine that it’s a warming of nature, or telling people that we really have changed too many things, we twist or we are just too greedy so we change nature. Nature will change us and change the world. Sometimes I will worry about this.”

I would not call myself a poet, perhaps just a partial poet. But the value of any actual person as a translator is especially noteworthy when you compare their work to the results from a “Google Translator.”

Google chugged:

We already call the baby

The baby ‘s ghost has arrived. Rainstorm

The morning sunset

We live in high places

You can see a brilliant purple gold edge of the evil cloud

UFO-like passing

My Translation: As you read through the rest, pay close attention to the line rhythm, the word choice, and the punctuation/word capitalization in the poem.

Call to El Niño

We beckon to El Niño.

Its spirit has already arrived

with the morning sunset’s downpour.

We live safely, high above the ground

watching the brilliant purple golden clouds

its ominous edges

soaring across the sky

like a UFO.

By the window, a pot of withering plant —



within the skyscraper made

of steel and iron bones,


flu-proof masks

the humans are locked inside doors,


by air-conditioners.

Though it wants to travel, it wants to visit from thousands of miles away

together, we keep El Nino outside —

We wait for the sun to once again kiss the earth,

when the breeze is soft and sunshine is tender.

We poke our heads out

only to discover El Niño

at every door

has left a perfumed


























The Outline Outside My Mind

Theme : Have you ever wondered how great nature can be? Doesn’t matter your answer to that question because either way, this project will entice you to form a more perfect union with trees.

General storyline: I, along with a good friend of mine, will be walking through a forest and talking about the intricacies, the beauty, the majesty, the drama, the romance, the war, the famine, the peace, the pieces, and the nature of what we see. We will, of course, supplement all the factual information with statements that may not be facts to the general public, but they are to us.

Main characters: Those featured in this work will be, as of today, will be Raud, yours truly, and my main man Creek may sneak on camera.

Interviews: I have interviewed Creek, the caretaker of the particular forest I will be filming in, and Andy, the university’s urban forester. I am currently working with three other folks to get interviews. Some more viable than others, so we shall see who else will join in.

Arts Medium: I will be working with film. I do not think it will be on an old-timey crank-and-shoot, but the world has many surprises and that is always an option.

P.S.: I plan on reaching out to Leonardo DiCaprio, so, ya know…the film should be pretty cool.




Leo lovingly pointing at...

Leo lovingly pointing at…

Kate’s Outline


C  N  P    O U T L I N E

Theme : will be based on the concept of oil and crude materials and their destruction of nature and society as a whole. The idea is the spilling of oil will have an effect everywhere with its drips touching everything.

General storyline I (maybe with someone else) will walk up representing humanity/Big Oil. Will admire this beautiful piece, and then spill all over it. Subject matter/ pieces in the whole canvas: forest, ocean, desert, cityscapes, possibly Iowa City, polar ice caps, human health, and how our culture is impacting these elements.

Main characters me, the piece, humanity. 

Interviews / Research Erica Damman (arts medium), Richard Priest (oil background), online research of artists of inspiration

Arts Medium  slanted canvas with acrylic subjects. Then real oil or a replacement will be spilt over it, dripping on ceramic/plastic figures of humans on a map.

Climate Change and Rivers

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-8-22-09-am Open Rivers in Minnesota had a nice interview with the Chief Meteorologist for Minnesota Public Radio, on the impact of climate change on our rivers in the Midwest.

Here’s a clip:

“OR] How does living near the Mississippi River shape you today?

[PH] Our rivers and lakes are a barometer of climate change. We’re seeing much higher volatility in our river systems and our hydrologic cycle. It’s well documented that it’s not raining as often in Minnesota, but when it does, it’s raining harder. That fits with the shift in climate. You increase the vapor in the atmosphere by roughly four or five percent, and you get exponential increases in rainfall when it does rain. I’ll give you an example. In 2013 the Mississippi River level at St. Cloud went from the seventh highest reading to the third lowest reading in just over two months. So we’ve seen this trend toward wetter springs and early summers in Minnesota, toward an increase in early warm season precipitation. And then it shuts off later in the summer. So we’re getting a trend toward these high variabilities in our river levels, where we’re getting record floods in early spring and summer, and then a record drop to low water levels in late summer and early fall. That doesn’t happen every year, but we’re seeing a trend. There is higher volatility in our river systems, and the Mississippi is part of that.
[OR] So that causes some challenges for cities and urban planning and so forth, doesn’t it?

[PH] Indeed it does. City managers around the state are scrambling to deal with that. Our urban infrastructure was built around a certain set of climate assumptions from more than a hundred years ago. Those climate assumptions are no longer valid, especially when it comes to precipitation intensity. The 2012 Duluth flood is a great example of a city being overwhelmed by the kind of extreme weather we’ve been having. We have had four major 1000-year rainfall events in Minnesota since 2007. Three of them were in southern Minnesota, one in the Duluth area. That was a $100 million infrastructure damage event in Duluth. Cities all around the area are dealing with these higher water events, where places like Mound, near Lake Minnetonka, were overwhelmed by high water levels. It’s Interesting to watch, as climate shifts, even when it seems like our national policy makers are slow to react, our local cities policy makers are well aware of this. They’re on the front lines of climate change and they’re dealing with it every year.”