Cyclists Give Back to the Monarchs

Cyclists Give Back to the Monarchs

Tomorrow 8,500+ cyclists will depart from Glenwood, IA to begin the annual week-long RAGBRAI tradition. Amongst them are Kelly Guilbeau and others from Monarchs in Eastern Iowa who will complete their annual milkweed seedball expedition on the ride.

Three summers ago, Ragbrai 2014, Kelly and her roommate decided to ride their first Ragbrai, and they knew they wanted to give back in some way along the ride. Kelly had a growing fascination with monarch butterflies (which has since grown exponentially) and before moving to Iowa, she’d read a good deal about monarch populations, but she had never heard about the milkweed crisis. The basic facts: 1) milkweed is the only plant where monarchs can lay their eggs 2) the decline in milkweed plants in Iowa and the decline of monarchs go hand in hand. Here in Iowa, that environmental correlation is extremely clear given the state’s focus on agriculture. Kelly and her roommate decided to make milkweed distribution the focus of their ride.

That year, they brought 3oz of milkweed seedballs (as it sounds, a small biodegradable baggie filled with milkweed seeds)  on the ride with them and spread seedballs along the route or gave them to other people to spread. Kelly said it was a very “grassroots” way of approaching the idea—mostly she and her roommate tossing  the milkweed seedballs off their bikes into the ditches on the side of the road. But over past two years, they’ve really developed quite a program of education, advocacy, conservation and fun out of this initial adventure. Kelly has worked with David Osterberg of UI Public Health and Patty Ankrum of Monarchs in Eastern Iowa who were also working on initiatives to educate and help the monarch population. Together, they’ve gotten hundreds of volunteers involved in the movement. Making seedballs is a really simple, from scratch process. The group has hosted seedball making events with four-year-olds and other events in nursing homes. There has been a lot of excitement all around from people of many ages and backgrounds. The press has picked up the Ragbrai story more than a few times, causing lots of volunteers to show up for more than 20 preparatory seedball making events in advance of this year’s ride.

Seedball booth in Mount Vernon, IA from the Monarchs in Eastern Iowa website

This year, riders will depart with over 50,000 seed balls holding 4 milkweed seeds in each pod. Adding up to over 134,000 milkweed seeds, Kelly says if even 10% of those come up over the next few years it could make a big impact.  The group will also have 7 educational booths (one for each day) along the Ragbrai route. Admittedly, it’s difficult to track correlation with a project like this, but after having an active plan  in place for distributing milkweed seeds and plants in Iowa, the monarch population has gone up 2x. Kelly says it’s all about taking steps in the right direction, and the education.

I asked, what can the average person do if they’re interested in helping the monarchs. Turns out, in some ways it’s pretty simple. You can’t plan milkweed plants or seeds. You can plant nectar plants in your yard that will attract a lot of adult butterflies. Butterflies are attracted to very colorful nectar plants, and if you’re interested in what types of plants are recommended for planting, you might consider visiting Monarch Watch to read about plants for your personal garden. You can also register to be a “Monarch Waystation” if you’re already growing monarch favorites. This video from National Geographic explains how. It’s also surprisingly easy to raise monarchs from eggs if you find them. If you find an egg on a milkweed plant, just bring it inside on the leaf. Then, assist the egg in becoming a caterpillar by putting it on a fresh milkweed plant. By raising it indoors, you’re giving that egg a higher chance for survival against predators.

There’s also the “what not to do,” which seems to be where people feel a little more stuck on this issue. Pesticides and herbicides used in personal gardens prove harmful to the monarch population. Educating yourself on the effects of these chemicals on the environment is highly recommend. Unshockingly, many people who grew up living on Iowa farms worked for years to pull milkweed plants from their farms.

Fortunately, Kelly says, Iowa farmers have been open to conversing with their group about conservation issues and the environment. Some common solutions found between farmers and monarch advocacy groups are to plan milkweed on unused highway roadsides, like is being done during the RAGBRAI ride. Also to postpone mowing these areas during peak migration season, June-September. If you’re interested in encouraging your local DOT representatives to take up this program, consider writing a letter asking them go easy on the milkweed plants in areas they mow.

All in all, it’s fun and easy to get involved and help the monarch population here in Iowa. Whether you’re supporting monarchs in your own personal gardens, rescuing eggs so they can develop into caterpillars, writing to local agencies in support of this mission, or tossing milkweed seedballs from your bike on RAGBRAI, you’re helping out with a problem that needs solving. Monarch supporting groups in Iowa say thank you and hope you enjoy all the fun ways they’ve developed to support this educational and advocacy movement!

Be sure to check out Monarchs in Eastern Iowa for more ways to get involved!

Bed Bugs Poop

By: Jessica Carney

“We can’t stop e-mailing you,” the sales guy at the car dealership told me.  I had just one request when I brought my car in for an alignment – please don’t send me 15 e-mails and call me twice to ask how my service was.  What the hell has happened there that they need a system of checks and balances more complex than the United States government?  “If you aren’t happy with me you can tell the manager when he calls you,” he explained.

“The only thing that makes me unhappy IS the phone calls,” I tried to explain to his blank face.  This was clearly not a concept that anyone has ever brought up to him.  Why isn’t he mad that his boss trusts him so little that he has to shake down customers for intel?  As a participator in modern technology my phone makes noises and/or motions every time I receive an e-mail.

“Why don’t you check your phone?” my husband Devin asks me constantly.  Every time his phone makes any noise or motion he immediately responds to quiet it and comfort it.  “Shhhh.  It’s okay, it’s okay,” I imagine him saying while stroking it slowly, “I’ll take care of you.”

“I am not a slave to my phone,” I respond.  After submitting my phone number for many innocuous things such as ordering Chipotle online so I don’t have to speak to anyone…ordering Noodles & Company online so I don’t have to speak to anyone…and ordering Papa John’s online so I don’t have to speak to anyone my phone number has been sold all over the place.  I get numerous phone calls from foreign locations like Kissimmee, Florida, and Aspen, Colorado.  I don’t even so much as flinch anymore when it rings.  This distresses Devin greatly.

“Aren’t you going to get that?!?!” he asks.

 

“I like knowing that other people are watching the same thing I am,” my mom said when we tried to get her to switch over from cable to Netflix.  She watches mostly reruns of old shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (don’t get her started on her complicated feelings about Spike) that could easily be watched without interruption on Netflix, but she won’t switch.

My mom also thought the whole front page of Facebook was dedicated to her.  She responded meticulously to every post.  She thought 100+ people wrote her personal messages about their daily lives and shared links just for her every single day.  Sometimes twice a day.  We assumed she was just overly enthusiastic when we first noticed the impossible number of responses that she was writing.  She knew just enough to be dangerous – one day she created an event completely by accident.  The event was titled after my sister –“Lisa Fritts at 4:00pm on Saturday”.  Lisa clicked “Not Attending”.

 

A lady in an adjoining neighborhood to mine somehow found me on Facebook after only knowing my first name.  We spoke a few times on the walking trail that separates our two developments and I found out that she has some sort of in-home business selling clothing.

“We should talk about it sometime,” she said.  The next day I got a message inviting me to her open house that said “You can be the hostess next time!” if I brought enough friends with me.

“You know what men are really good at?  Not throwing parties where they pressure each other into buying things,” Devin said.  I decided to accept a Facebook invitation to a Norwex party thrown by another neighbor to be friendly…and because that neighbor had recently adopted a chocolate lab puppy that I desperately wanted to pet.  I had tried unsuccessfully to time our walks with theirs so that I would get a chance to talk to them and meet the new dog.  “Stop creeping,” Devin would tell me when he would catch me peaking out the window at their house.  At the party the dog kept picking up the cleaning items we were supposed to be admiring and running away with them.  The host kept trying to corral the dog to get us to pay attention to the presenter.

“Bed bugs poop 25 times a day you know,” the presenter told us with furrowed eyebrows.  At least if you get suckered into going to a Mary Kay party you get to try on make-up.  Even a Tupperware party (these also amazingly exist) would be better than a Norwex party.  I scanned the room for anyone with a glimmer of humor in their eye as we passed around an actual toilet wand.  Each guest examined it thoughtfully.  “Hmmm….this angle would be great at cleaning up that rogue piece of shit,” said their thought bubble.

 

“What is your date of birth?” asked the woman I was purchasing sunglasses from recently.

“Seriously?” I asked.  Granted, this was my first pair of over $6.00 sunglasses, so I wasn’t familiar with the routine.  My routine is to buy cheap sunglasses, abuse them and cram them into my purse, and then be annoyed when they fall to pieces.  I decided to turn over a new leaf and go to an actual glasses store rather than the one located in the checkout lane at Drug Town.  Well – technically – it was inside a Target so “actual glasses store” is a stretch.

“Let me just see if your e-mail is already in our system…” she said.

“Yeah – it’s not.  And you don’t need my date of birth or e-mail.”  The sales woman opted to give me a dirty look instead of asking, “What negative result could possibly come from you spewing out your personal information to anyone who will take it?”

My interactions with our linen vendor at work could best be described as Mars trying to communicate with the moon.

“You want what picked up from where?” they ask.

“Linens picked up.  From my place of work…the same place I’ve called you from the last eighteen times.  Wait – do you even pick up anything else?  If I asked you to pick up an office chair would you just do it?”  The receptionist and I start from zero each time we talk.

“Who am I….where am I…”

“LINENS,” I answer.  I have yet to get our linen bags back from them after calling six times to explain the problem.  “WE HAVE NOTHING TO PUT THE LINENS IN,” I say.  One day, despite picking linens up all day, the driver just forgot that they are often in a container.

“Oh bags – those cost extra,” the receptionist said turning the situation into the most boring hostage situation of all time.

“We already had them!  You took them when you picked them up!”

“I’ll need to have the manager call you,” she said.

 

I feel like a queen when Devin and I go to Home Depot.  We look at tile and curtains and grill accessories.  Devin talks to people about our future projects saying things like, “We definitely plan on tiling behind the stove,” and complains excitedly about the amount of work that will be required.  He also talks about putting in a big privacy fence so that we can have parties in the backyard….apparently without anyone knowing.  I like that no one really bothers you at Home Depot – there are just stacks of stuff to literally build a house and you’re supposed to put them together and take them to the depressed looking lady in mom jeans at the register who may or may not have smoked for upwards of 20 years at some point in her life.  If I walk into the Yankee Candle store someone is RIGHTHERE helping me decide what season I want my kitchen to smell like.   Building a kitchen?  You’re on your own there.

My aunt wanted to buy a “berm” home that was basically half-cave.  It was on a large plot of land – a big contrast from her modest fenced yard surrounded by yards with kids in them.

“They are so loud,” she said.  She put up a privacy partition inside of the fence in the backyard but some of the kids still tried to talk to them over the two barriers.

She and her husband drove by the berm home which had an “Open House” sign in the yard referring to one that would take place that Sunday.  They thought it meant that it was open and decided to ring the doorbell.

“They were nice but kind of strange,” she said about the current residents.  She’s since decided that she wants to build one of those tiny homes where IKEA dreams are made.  She wants to forgo all technology and live with a bunch of dogs in a humorously tiny space with clever lofted areas.

 

On The Sims 3 your characters can visit other Sims in the neighborhood.  This is a major upgrade from previous versions where you had to wait for people to walk by your house and drop whatever you were doing to catch them before they disappeared from your lot.  I would make my Sim set their newborn baby on the tile in the middle of the kitchen and go sprinting out of the house to the edge of their property to “chat” with the neighbor.  If your Sim gets an invite to another house they have to behave themselves – if they nod off on the couch or try to make a sandwich a message appears that says, “___ is acting inappropriately and if they continue I will have to ask them to leave.”

You can also play the game as a full-on crazy hermit if you choose.  You can spend hours picking out tile for an elaborate mansion and then delete your front door so that no one will ever come in.  Everyone knows that you can purposely torture a Sim but the glitches that happened spontaneously were far more humorous to me.  One of my Sim’s got stuck in his front porch.  There really isn’t a better way to phrase it.  Half his legs were sticking through the bottom of the porch and his thighs and up were coming out the top.  After about three days of shrugging he just died.  Another one of my Sims acted inappropriately by taking a bath at a guest’s house but a glitch caused him to be floating mid-air naked with no bathtub around him.  He leisurely made gesturing as though he was washing himself for a few minutes while the home owners knocked angrily on the door.

They added dogs in the Sims 3 which greatly increased my game play time.  You can set your Sim’s “life goal” to “be friends with as many dogs as possible.”  Other life goals include “become the best scuba diver” or “become an awesome social media blogger.”  Yep – you can pretend to be on social media within the game.  When Devin got on my Sims game all he did before I kicked him off was set up a guy in a boring looking house and had him sit in the corner and play computer games.

 

When we lived in a small apartment in Minneapolis we taught our dog Daisy to run full speed from one end of the hallway to the other with each of us standing at one end – basically a way for us to exercise her without having to get cold or move at all.  Now that we live in a house with a yard she figures she should run full speed at the neighbors in their yards – approximately the same distance away as the two of us would have been in the hallway.

“DAISY!” Devin calls out, agitated.  Or sometimes he will say, “Well Daisy found a new friend today.”

One neighbor has a big, old yellow lab that lies in the front yard.  When anyone in the cul-de-sac comes home he gets up laboriously and goes over to greet them in their garage.  The owners apologize profusely when he follows you down the street a little ways, wagging his tail.  When I tell Devin that I want to alter our walking route to go over and go pet the dog he rolls his eyes a little and begrudgingly agrees.  This is a little outside of normal operating procedure for the owners – they look at me funny and say something like, “The weather, huh?” as I pet their dog.

We don’t talk to our neighbors very often.  A couple of them came by when we first moved in but only when they saw us outside – no one ever came to the door.  The people that live behind us go around to the side of their house and smoke while gazing passively inside the windows at the houses around them.

We talked to even fewer neighbors in Minneapolis.  When a water pipe broke next door Devin went over and helped the neighbors turn off the water and mop up enormous amount of heinous black water.  We didn’t really see them much after that.  Their deck was connected to ours, only being separated by an ugly green sort of tarp that was tied between.  Oftentimes their cat would crawl through and perch in our windowsill – peeking in at what we were doing.

 

Catch Hamlet @ TCR Before It’s Gone!

Catch Hamlet @ TCR Before It’s Gone!

Hamlet. A story of family drama, murder, fighting lovers, brewing wars and ghosts–Hamlet is a Shakespeare that cannot be missed. And it is Theatre Cedar Rapid’s first Shakespeare production in 30 years, to boot! Two shows remain, Friday the 15th and Saturday the 16th. Catch it before it’s gone.

Many are likely familiar with Hamlet, have read the play in school, seen a public production, or know one of the modern-day film remakes. But every director who takes a look at Hamlet approaches it differently. Jason Alberty, director of the Hamlet production at Theatre Cedar Rapids chose to put on a show that is fast-paced. The plot is slimmed and cut to the point. The Fortinbras sub-plot, and the sections on wars and political dramas in other countries, are removed for a show that centers around our star Hamlet, his family, and his friends. These are the stories that will resonate with any audience, and the director was smart to focus the production in this way.

This directional focus plays up the true friendship between Hamlet and Horatio, and it shows a softer side of Hamlet toward Ophelia. It shows how he jokes and fights with his friend. It shows he really cares for people: Ophelia, his father, his mother.. but how deeply troubled he is by what’s happened before the show begun. This is an angle on Hamlet that I’ve always enjoyed–one thats focus is wrapped around this confused, fraught, emotional main character. It is a hard look into a very loyal young man who has just lost his father and is dealing with his mother. And Matthew James played a wonderful Hamlet.

Alberty’s directoral choices, focused the play smartly on the young characters of the production. Because he chose to focus on these relationships, it creates a play that will appeal to a modern-day viewing audience. Audiences of all generations and ages understand sibling bonds, best friends who don’t always agree, and dramatic teenage love sagas. And Hamlet has all of that in force.

In this way, Ophelia and Laertes got to have their fantastic brother-sister scene early on in the show (it’s moments like these that you always hope won’t get cut when someone is trying to put on a fast production of a lengthy play). And MC Cole who plays Ophelia is delightful and spunky when need be– only making Ophelia’s eventual heart-broken madness more stark and tragic when that time comes. The production and effects are well done in the whole show, but one of the most memorable moments in this performance is definitely the singing scene that belongs to Ophelia played by the terrifically casted Cole.

All in all, Hamlet is a classic story that needs no build-up, and the performances put on by the folks at TCR do not disappoint. It is entertaining, relevant and well-acted. See it before it’s gone!

Iowa Landscapes Deserve Artistic Attention

Iowa Landscapes Deserve Artistic Attention

This year is all about Grant Wood in Cedar Rapids. It’s celebration of the 125th birth-year anniversary of both Grant Wood and Marvin Cone and in honor, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art has a comparative exhibition of both artists’ work on display. Though their collection of these artists is extensive, this exhibition focuses on both artists’ landscapes, barns, and farms.

There is something wonderfully familiar about the art in this exhibition. The Iowan landscapes displayed are particularly easy to fall in love with.  CRMA has a few of  Wood’s smaller-scale, brush-y layered, impressionistic landscapes displayed. Three such landscapes depict a familiar place we know and love: Indian Creek. Wood’s Indian Creek is painted in oil in three seasons: a pink and blue spring, a deep humid green summer and a flaming orange and red fall. The colorful layers of these landscapes was enough to make a visit to the gallery worthwhile.

There are paintings in the exhibition that were already familiar, too. One painting visitors will definitely recognize is Wood’s well-known  “Young Corn” (1931). This is one of those of rolling Iowan hills,“Seuss-ical” trees, and budding corn crops. People from outside of Iowa may think of this state as being as a flat-Kansas, but if you’ve ridden a bike or seen a Grant Wood, you know this Iowa. Whenever I see hills like those “Young Corn,” I take a flash-back to cresting a huge hill on Ragbrai and looking out over the Iowan countryside to hills are far as the eyes (connected to a body connected to terribly pained legs) could see.

young corn

CEDAR RAPIDS MUSEUM OF ART Grant Wood, “Young Corn,” 1931. Oil on Masonite panel, 23.75 inches by 29.75 inches. Collection of the Cedar Rapids Community School District, on loan to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. L1.70.3.177.

The “Barns” section of the exhibition was a really well-done comparison between Grant Wood and Marvin Cone. Wood paints barns as these really intimate, quiet and shade-filled scenes. The viewer is positioned, at eye-level, low to the ground and you can imagine that you’re lounging beneath a tree just on the side of the barn. But Marvin Cone’s barns are like huge cathedrals. Cone gets the whole barn in the frame, plus the house next to it, and the road, and feet of sky, and the people who are doing farm work around it. Those who are familiar with the Marvin Cone depiction of Lil’Bo will recognize that as the style of these barns.

Marvin Cone Barn

CEDAR RAPIDS MUSEUM OF ART Marvin Cone, “From Iowa,” 1941. Oil on canvas, 16 inches by 32 inches. Bequest of John B. Turner II. 83.1.7. 

Marvin Cone and Grant Wood didn’t just paint farm landscapes, of course. They both painted industry, new agricultural technology, animals, portraits, and more. But it’s the landscapes and the barns that I feel fondly about as we move into another Iowan summer. Katherine Kanau, CRMA Associate Curator, said of the exhibit “Wood and Cone were both Iowa natives, and I believe their most enduring contribution to the art world was their belief that the Iowa landscape was worthy of artistic attention. Both artists had a deep love for the land and people of their home state, and this exhibition celebrates the ways in which they depicted this love through their art.” This exhibit feels very “heartland” and any native of the Corridor will love seeing an Iowa they recognize in this exhibition. It makes me wonder, who’s painting the landscape of Iowa nowadays? If you know, leave us a comment below!

The exhibit is open through May 15, 2016, so see it before it’s gone!

CRMA

Of course, CRMA is a huge space with a wide variety of exhibitions currently on display from prints to ceramics to paintings to photography. And opening June 4th, is a visiting exhibition of Rodin sculpture that is promised to be world-class. The museum has very accessible hours, including Saturday 10-4pm, Sunday noon-4 and Thursday evenings until 8pm. The metered parking outside the museum (just next to Green Square) is free on weekends. If you haven’t been to CRMA, or you haven’t been recently, there is definitely enough there to entertain for a couple of hours at least.

 

Featured photo from #IowaBrag.

 

“Get Your Clapper Boards Ready”

“Get Your Clapper Boards Ready”

Completely Hollywood Abridged at The Old Creamery Theatre.

Out in Middle Amana, Iowa there is a cool black-box theater that puts on hilarious shows like Completely Hollywood Abridged. The Old Creamery Theatre is a professional, not-for-profit theatre company founded in 1971.

Completely Hollywood Abridged comes from a group of writers who “reduce” and “abridge” long histories and literature. They’ve done Shakespeare and the Bible, and now they’ve abridged this history of Hollywood. With those three it’s the same dramas, different lines, no?

Anyway, even in its abridged format this play is still huge. It’s over two hours and the three actors pack in an impressive amount of words per minute. The actors have to talk fast and literally run around the stage throughout the whole show to get all 186 film references in. The actors and writing are both very funny, but the comedy is also really physical. The actors change in and out of crazy costumes and props time and time again. You can tell this play was really fun for them to do– and so funny– but kudos to the for working hard for it. I got exhausted just watching them!

Completely Hollywood Abridged plays up a lot of film elements that Hollywood buffs and casual movie fans alike will find funny and interesting. For example, the actors try to determine whether all films can be fit into a combination of common themes. They boil it down to: 1) Jesus Story 2) Boy Meets Girl 3) Coming of Age 4) Fish Out of Water, and anything else is just a combination of these. Just try to disagree with them. We had fun playing with this element even after we left the show.

The play is really fun, and viewers with any knowledge of film will enjoy it, but of course the more you catch the more fun you’ll have.  Completely Hollywood Abridged runs through April 17 on the Old Creamery’s Studio Stage, with shows on Thursdays and Sundays at 2:00 pm and on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm. The Studio Stage is located in Middle Amana at 3023 220th Trail. Sometimes it’s difficult to find cultural entertainment at 2:00 on Sunday afternoon entertainment, and Amana is just the perfect place to spend such a day. Visit the shops and restaurants, catch a show at Old Creamery, and by the time you’re out of Completely Hollywood Abridged, you still have time to tally up who caught the most movie references over a beer at Millstream Brewery.

Completely Hollywood Abridged stars Nate Curlott, Seth Hunter, and Sean McCall. Directed by Magdalene Spanuello, a Chicago-based director and choreographer.

 

Cheers, Turner Alley Brewing Company!

Cheers, Turner Alley Brewing Company!

By: Emily Weber

When you think of the Cedar Rapids the future has in store, what do you envision?

The Corridor Review met with Bill Patterson–Turner Alley Brewing Company owner– to talk about his brewery, Cedar Rapids beer culture, and good craft beer. Patterson told The Corridor Review that he sees Cedar Rapids really at the beginning of its journey toward becoming a “Beer City.”  Cedar Rapid’s beer scene is built on a solid foundation, it’s growing fast, and in the near future Patterson envisions Cedar Rapids as destination city for good beer. Unlike cities that have already been crowned “Beer City, USA,” like Grand Rapids, Denver, Portland, Chicago, Portland… Cedar Rapids still has room to grow & create new beers. The excitement around the new craft beer scene is just getting started, the demand is there, and Cedar Rapids beer culture is on its way to becoming something great. With new beers popping up every day, it’s an exciting time!

So what’s Turner Alley Brewery’s role in the Cedar Rapids Beer Scene?

From this writer’s perspective, Turner Alley Brewing has a unique, very unaffected but still unmistakably hip, vibe. They’ve been producing beer here in Cedar Rapids since 2015, out of a refurbished warehouse on the Southwest side. It’s only been a short time, but you might be living under a rock if you haven’t had their Czech Village Pilsner yet (this beer makes up about 75% of what goes out the brewery’s production doors and it can be found on-tap at bars all around the Corridor). For the past year, you’ve been able to try Turner Alley beer on-tap at places like Brewhemia & Bricks to Need Pizza & NewBo City Market. Iowa City Chop House & Short’s. You can even find their beer at Kinnick Stadium & Theatre Cedar Rapids. And of course if you’re among the crowd that travels outside of The Corridor  you’ll find the Czech Village Pilsner at El Bait Shop. And that’s just the short list.

But, now Turner Alley Brewing has officially opened their taproom. It’s a perfect fit for this brewery, too, because when you hear them talk about how a good beer scene cultivates good food, art, culture, and community– you’re glad to hear they have a place where people can sit down and enjoy a good conversation, hang out and relax over a board game (we played Backgammon), and drink some great beer!

The Turner Alley taproom is at 2715 12th St. SW and it just opened with hours 4-10pm Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Though the brewery and taproom are in a pretty industrial center of Cedar Rapids, it’s not far from places we all know and love. Just a 15 minute bike ride from Czech Village (the center of this writer’s universe), AND one fun way to get there would be taking the under-used Wilson Avenue bike path. See:

map

The brewery seats about 50 people and the building (previously a warehouse) is totally open-concept. Very cool, very fitting with the southwest side’s warehouse/factory feel. AND THEY CAN HAVE FOOD TRUCKS. Turner Alley Brewing has been hosting local food trucks, like The Grateful Crepe, outside the brewery. And as the weather gets warmer they plan to do even more. This does more than just provide tasty food for brewery visitors, it’s helping to build Cedar Rapids’ food truck scene is a sure-fire way to create the destination city we’re all hoping for. Kudos to the brewery for being a part of this.

turner alley resized

 

The Corridor Review team has visited the taproom a few times, and managed to consume many of the beers they had on tap at that time (just for our readers, of course!).

For those of you at home who want the run-down, here’s our take on the beers in no order. You can also find where we were live-tweeting as we had them on Twitter @CorridorReview here:

  1. Czech Village Pilsner—a classic pilsner, and I promise, we’re not the only ones who will tell you this tastes just like the pils in Prague. This is the beer that I have to believe will put the Cedar Rapids beer scene on the map. I like it more than the East Village Pilsner from Green Flash Brewing & the Lagunitas PILS, just of two ‘largely-distributed in the midwest’ Czech Saaz pilsners that come to mind. This one’s a quick favorite.
  2. Roosevelt Imperial Red- Full-bodied, hoppy & malty. 8.2% ABV. Stay tuned to try this one barrel aged–coming in early autumn. Yum.
  3. Almond Joy Stout (special seasonal)- an almond, chocolate, coconut stout that is not too sweet. One of our writer claims “you can really taste that cookie crunch!”
  4. Vanilla Stout (special seasonal)- tastes like: Stout + Bourbon + Vanilla Beans.
  5. Breakfast Stout (special seasonal)- A coffee-forward stout. Delicious.
  6. Stout (standard)- Roasted coffee, toffee, & cranberry. Just the right amount boozy. Four very delicious stouts to be had
  7. Wood’s Wheat—The perfect bike-ride beer. Crisp & refreshing. Try it while you train for RAGBRAI at Turner Alley’s bike riding event on April 2nd.

What’s the story behind the Grant Wood connection, anyway?

Grant Wood is one of the most prolific artist in modern art history, in Patterson’s opinion, and he lived right here in Cedar Rapids. Since “American Gothic” is the second most recognized (after the Mona Lisa) and first move reproduced painting in the world, Turner Alley Brewing believes it only makes sense to celebrate someone local who made such large contributions to the national art scene (maybe #IowaBrag about our local contributions to culture a little bit?). It’s the same thing Turner Alley Brewing is trying to do with their beers, after all. “Great beer is like an art form,” Patterson says.

And Grant Wood is ubiquitous at the brewery. He’s in the brewery name, the  décor, the paint brush tap handles, and some of the special release beers. This just goes to prove that Turner Alley Brewing is proud to be found in Cedar Rapids. Many of their standard beers or special releases are nods to local places or special components of the Cedar Rapids arts & culture scene (Czech Village Pilsner, May’s Island IPA, Brucemore Brown Ale).

Other than the local connections, what makes Turner Alley unique?

  1. “Turner Alley is committed to high quality.
  2. The brewery’s vibe is genuine. It embraces all people from every walk of life.
  3. Turner Alley Brewing is dedicated to becoming a destination brewery in Cedar Rapids—a place where people would drive a great distance to go.”

Think again, of that future Cedar Rapids. Let’s admit that many of us have driven across state lines for that six-pack of New Glarus beer, right? Patterson envisions a future where Wisconsinites (and people from all over) are driving to Cedar Rapids to pick up a six pack of Czech Village Pilsner. And that’s a future Cedar Rapids this writer can get behind.

So what’s new at Turner Alley Brewing?

Wednesday, April 6th 4-8pm: Brucemore Imperial Brown Ale release

Great Friends of Turner Alley program: Includes lots of great perks, including some unique ones–free growler fills of seasonal releases & direct email access with the Brewmaster to name a few.

May 7th: Iowa Craft Beer Week release. A collaboration beer to be released between several local breweries, found on tap all across Cedar Rapids & at Benz Beer Festival.

May 21 11am-3pm: Tour de Tanks (FREE!)

Autumn: Barrel Aged Beer Releases.

Check their Facebook page for more!

Turner alley logo

 

 

And finally, just your basic background on Turner Alley Brewery:

Turner Alley Brewing is a regional production brewery opened in 2015. Owner, Bill Patterson grew up in a suburb of Detroit and has lived around the country in San Francisco and Chicago, before moving back to Iowa in 2012, thinking Iowa would be a great place for family and business. Patterson’s family clearly plays an important role in the family business, his kids even got to help paint the brewery’s grain storage room! Adorable.

Brewmaster, Travis Scheidecker grew up in Illinois and worked as Brewmaster at The Cedar Brewing Company beginning in 2005. Bill and Travis met over Czech pilsners at a Third Base Brewery bottle share and discussed the idea of opening up a production brewery in Cedar Rapids.

The Turner Alley Brewery is named for 5 Turner Alley, in a nod to local infamous artist, Grant Wood.

Review: Where to Invade Next

Review: Where to Invade Next

By: Joe Dreshar

From FilmScene‘s website:

“Just in time for election season, America’s favorite political provocateur, Michael Moore “Bowling for Columbine,” “Fahrenheit 9/11″), is back with his new film, WHERE TO INVADE NEXT. Honored by festivals and critics groups alike, the film is an expansive, hilarious, and subversive comedy in which the Academy Award-winning director confronts the most pressing issues facing America today and finds solutions in the most unlikely places. Moore has returned with an epic movie that’s unlike anything he has done before–an eye-opening call to arms to capture the American Dream and restore it in, of all places, America.”

where to invade

Joe writes: Michael Moore is not without his flaws. He’s biased and sometimes disingenuous in editing and interview and he tries to hide behind comedy. He’s politically charged which turns off 50% of the population and his faults as a filmmaker and documentarian can turn off even the most liberal of audiences.

That said, I don’t dislike him or his films. Bowling for Columbine, in particular, I think is a good film (full disclosure, it’s been more than a decade since I’ve seen it so I can’t guarantee it holds up to the test of time). So, put me more on the ‘pro’ side than the ‘con.’ Not staunchly pro, but I agree with his politics so it helps. It’s the editing and the humor that can turn need off moreso than the politics.

But that has nothing to do with this movie.

‘Where to Invade Next’ is worth seeing. No, he doesn’t address the differences between the nations he “invades” and the US, which may help explain why the things he is claiming for the US are not already implemented or may not be able to be implemented. Or why, politically, we may not want it.

That said, his overall thesis is convincing. You will leave the theater wondering if we can truly believe in American exceptionalism when other nations seem to excel and provide for their people in ways that exceed our own. You will find yourself wondering if liberal ideals are truly at odds with capitalism. That if we only adopted a few of the ideas presented, that if we might not be able to be better than we are.

And it’s funny whenever Moore plants a US flag is some poor Slovene’s office and he has to hold it in place as Moore walks dramatically away.

It may not change your mind if you disagree, but this is better than Fahrenheit 9/11 or Sicko or Capitalism: A Love Story politically, so give it a shot.

The movie is running at FilmScene in Iowa City through Thursday. Catch it while you can!