Evans: Another school problem is not being discussed

When you have orbited the sun as many times as I have, people sometimes want to tap into the insights you have gathered through the years. Young journalists and newsroom managers ask about the lessons I accumulated from a half-century in the newspaper business. One lesson is quite simple, actually: Keep your eyes and ears open, and never hesitate to ask questions. The lesson came through loud and clear one afternoon in the 1980s when I was an editor on the Des Moines Register’s metro desk. The phones were constantly ringing.

Evans: Libraries should be for all, not just for some

There’s a big birthday coming up in Iowa in about a month.This place we call home — these 55,800 square miles of farm fields, wooded land, and clusters of housing and commerce — joined the Union 175 years ago on Dec. 28.This should be cause for a celebration. But it probably won’t be. We have difficulty agreeing on much of anything these days, it seems — including libraries.The spotlight was on them last week during a committee meeting in the Johnston School District. The topic was whether two novels for teens, “The Hate U Give” and “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” should be available in the Johnston High School library for students to read.

Buddhist monastery finds home near Decorah

In the rolling hills of northeast Iowa, amid fields of cattle and corn, sits a simple, cream-colored building. The gravel road leading to the dwelling climbs an incline. A weathered wooden sign surrounded by flowers and tall grass reads “Ryumonji Zen Monastery.”

A Buddhist monastery, the only one of its kind in the state. Buddhism, an Eastern religion that began in India, follows the teachings of the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama. It focuses on participating in good to reach enlightenment.

Buddhist communities increasing across Iowa

Iowa’s Buddhist population grew in the last several decades with new places to practice — Cedar Rapids, Clive, Decorah. Now Indianola. 

The latest is in Warren County’s county seat of Indianola, where the former Saint Thomas Aquinas Church, built in 1958, will become a Buddhist temple. The Board of Adjustment approved a special work permit at a November meeting. “Mostly, this would be a place of peaceful contemplation,” the Karen Buddhist Association wrote in its application to the city. The Karen Buddhist Association of Iowa is made up of about 50 families.

Evans: Much to marvel at in the human spirit

You have to marvel at the capacity of the human spirit — especially the ability of people who remain optimistic and upbeat in the face of challenges most of us can’t fathom. Those thoughts were swirling through my noggin during the recent observance of Veterans Day. There were many veterans who came to mind — especially Noel Evans, a member of the Army’s 701st Military Police Battalion. When World War II ended, his uniforms were neatly pressed and were tucked safely away in the family cedar chest, where they remained for years. I found myself remembering two other men whose military service prompts today’s thoughts.

List of recipients of Berry, Brubaker awards

STEPHEN BERRY FREE PRESS CHAMPIONS

(For current journalist or journalism educator)

2021: Clark Kauffman, Iowa Capital Dispatch

2020: No awards due to COVID-19 pandemic

2019: Carol Hunter, Des Moines Register

2018: Herb Strentz, Drake University

2017: Randy Evans, Iowa Freedom of information Council

2016: Clark Kauffman, Des Moines Register

2015: Mary Mason and Jim Compton, The Spotlight (Muscatine, IA)

2014: Brian Cooper, The Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)

2013: Kathleen Richardson, Iowa Freedom of Information Council and Drake University

RANDY BRUBAKER FREE PRESS CHAMPIONS

(For attention to free press principles outside of journalism)

2021: Polly Carver-Kimm, former spokesperson for Iowa Department of Public Health

2020: No awards due to COVID-19 pandemic

2019: Margaret Johnson, Iowa Public Information board executive director

2018: Bill Monroe, Iowa Newspaper Association

2017: Chris Mudge, Iowa Newspaper Association

2016: Harold Hammond (post-humously)

2015: Keith Luchtel, first Iowa Public Information Board executive director, governor’s open government liaison, long-time media lobbyist

2014: Michael Gartner, Iowa Cubs president

2013: State Sen. Pam Jochum, Dubuque

Free Press awards go to Clark Kauffman, Polly Carver-Kimm

IowaWatch honored an outstanding investigative journalist and a former public health spokesperson, both judged to be advocates for open and transparent government, during the Virtual Storytelling Event on Friday, Nov. 12. The awards stopped in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “IowaWatch is delighted to recognize the work of journalists and Iowans who care about truth and providing citizens, the public, with information that it is their right to access,” said Suzanne Behnke, IowaWatch’s editorial director. IowaWatch photoClark Kauffman

Clark Kauffman was given the Stephen Berry Free Press Champion Award for a working journalist, journalism group or journalism educator in Iowa.

IowaWatch hosts Nov. 12 online storytelling event, featuring adventurers

You can find adventure just about anywhere, from exploring your own neighborhood to getting lost in the wilderness. IowaWatch.org will celebrate adventures big and small in a virtual storytelling event via Zoom webinar Friday, November 12, at 7 p.m.

Iowans Lisa Rossi, Chuy Renteria, and John Richard will share true stories of adventures from their lives. Rossi, a former Des Moines Register journalist and IowaWatch board member, will tell about embarking on a new adventure in stand-up comedy. Renteria, who recently released his memoir, “We Heard It When We Were Young,” will share his adventures growing up in West Liberty. Richard, a documentary filmmaker, will share his harrowing tale of being trapped in the Andes of Argentina.

Evans: Public must be informed in doctor discipline

The Iowa Legislature’s “to do” list should be a little longer after last week. And people need to contact their senators and representatives in the Legislature to make sure they understand their duty is to protect the health and safety of Iowans. The reason? The Iowa Supreme Court handed down a decision Friday that will pretty much keep the public in the dark when a physician is charged by state regulators with professional misconduct. For decades, the Iowa Board of Medicine released the facts and legal basis for disciplinary charges the board filed against doctors. That basis might include a physician being impaired by alcohol or other drugs.