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The Week in Social 7/13-7/17

Everywhere you look, Iowans are uniting like never before. While times may be tough right now, we’re seeing it won’t stop the great people in the state from supporting one another. Many have taken to social media to help those in their communities, share helpful resources or to simply highlight something positive to bring joy to others. The Week in Social will round up the best of #IowansUnite and share these uplifting stories.


The Rural Innovation Grant Program is focused on supporting creative, non-traditional ideas to fix current issues and challenges that rural communities face, especially those focused on community investment, growth and connection. The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) recently awarded $300,000 in Rural Innovation grants to 17 projects throughout Iowa.

Examples of the types of actions to come out of the grants include a program that will connect entrepreneurs and business owners with youth through an Innovation Lab, free public WiFi and a new coworking space.

“With access to supportive programs and creative ideas from the awarded communities, the projects will be used as models to be replicated across the state, serving as best practices,” said Debi Durham, director of the IEDA and Iowa Finance Authority.


In fiscal year 2020, Iowa State University received $253 million in external sponsored research funding, including a new record of $186 million in federal research funding. “I really believe the 2020 fiscal and academic year is a study in both perseverance and relevance,” said Guru Rao, Iowa State (ISU) interim vice president for research, citing the COVID-19 pandemic and a soft agricultural economy as obstacles ISU researchers had to overcome.

“Research plays a critical role in supporting Iowa State University’s mission to create, share and apply knowledge to make Iowa and the world a better place,” said Rao. “Our research community’s response to this pandemic has really underscored our faculty’s and university’s commitment to exploring new ideas and solutions to the grand challenge of promoting healthy lives throughout our society.”


On the west side of Highway 6 in Iowa City, it’s difficult to miss the brand-new mural inspired by the South District’s youth. The mural was designed by art submissions from students at Grant Wood Elementary, Archibald Alexander Elementary and Faith Academy.

Though fundraising efforts took two years to complete, the actual painting process took less than a week. More than 130 South District residents, including many kids, painted the mural over the course of five neighborhood painting days.

Angie Jordan of the South District Neighborhood Association and mural artist Nick Meister were two of the driving forces to get the project done, but they couldn’t have done it without the help of their community.

“The kids did such a great job. I am so proud of my own kids, but also these bitty, bitty kids and some of the older, older kids who are also next to each other doing the same thing. It was so cool to watch the youth create their mural,” said Jordan.


Templeton has a great history of baseball and whiskey. Now, there’s a way to celebrate both of them at the same time, as Templeton Rye Distillery is releasing a new baseball-inspired whiskey.

“We happen to be releasing this ten-year corn whiskey that you can only find out at the distillery, and it has a wonderful label on the front that is a throwback to the Field of Dreams,” said Tim Grimes, senior brand ambassador of Templeton Distilling LLC. The label features two players from Templeton’s baseball team in the 1940s set against a backdrop of a sprawling corn field. The distillery, which recently reopened, is the only location where you can purchase the new whiskey.


Condé Nast Traveler, a luxury and lifestyle travel magazine, compiled a list of the Best Hikes in the U.S. The categories range from best summertime hike to best family-friendly hike and best short hike to best intense hike. From across America, beautiful locales like Hawaii, Alaska, Utah and Maine make up portions of the list. However, one of the best hikes in the U.S. happens to belong right in the heartland of the country.

Hanging Rock in Effigy Mounds National Monument took home the title of best archeological hike in the U.S. As the site of a Native American burial ground, you can find more than 200 mounds built by indigenous people as effigies. The piled-earth tombs were created to look like animals or other symbols, and you can find mounds shaped like birds, bison, lynx and many more. The hike can take you 3.5 miles to the park’s largest effigy, Great Bear Mound, where you’ll also see stunning cliffside views of the Mississippi River.

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