By David J. Novak
On a wall plaque in the lobby of Cedar Memorial, Iowa artist Richard Pinney captures the essence of what it means to be Iowan. His phrase, “Get up in the morning, get busy because work is good, do-it-yourself and be good at it,” especially brings a unique poignancy to our recent experience.
Let’s reflect on what happened in Eastern Iowa this year.
A human service community organization mirrors the area’s investment in its social capital when it raised more than $10 million in an economy still reeling from the 2008 flood and recession.
An East Coast lawyer breezes into our state after signing a winning Iowa Lottery ticket, thinking it will be taken as gospel, only to learn Iowans discern when something just doesn’t feel right.
A family, who gratefully received a new home built just for them, then sponsors a fundraising effort to help another family so its members eventually can build a home of their own.
A city leader describes Cedar Rapids as the city of cranes, which will signify in 20 years that the Corridor’s renaissance began not when times were good but when they were bad.
Church and community leaders share the reality that whatever happens in one part of town affects what happens in all parts of town.
hospice workers respectfully care and love the most vulnerable and compromised people in our lives.
The Big Creek and Red Cedar River watersheds are appreciated as natural resources with valuable ecological capital, and their health reflects more on who we are than on what we are.
The trees arching over Second Avenue and 18th Street SE in Cedar Rapids create a soothing cathedral effect for the neighborhood, motorists and pedestrians.
A northeast Iowa fourth-grader wins a national handwriting championship.
A local high school athletic team enters the rarefied air of a seven-peat, doing us proud with its work ethic and class.
Each person reading this can add to the list. We Iowans know much work remains following tornadoes, floods, greed and hardship of various kinds, yet we’re resilient. Whether in the Corridor or Mississippi River Valley, we realize that more dirt under our fingernails means less dirt in our minds, and in the end, while it’s not always pretty, eventually we get to where we need to be and thrive. That’s just how we are.
Again, Pinney’s words sum it up best: “Take care of your own, be as brave about your lot as possible, then change it for the better.”
David J. Novak, longtime Cedar Rapids resident and a 2002 Freedom Festival Hero, operates a land-restoration business. Comments: davisbox@