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The Week in Social 9/7-9/11

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.

Feed Iowa First, an organization fighting food insecurity by growing produce in urban farms in Cedar Rapids, is putting some more mileage on its Veggie Bus. The vehicle drives around Linn County neighborhoods while workers provide fresh produce for free.

Post-derecho, the Veggie Bus has been giving away produce nearly every day, up from three times a week. “It was a lot of go, go, go; more so than it usually is,” AmeriCorps VISTA Farm Coordinator Kit Kirby said. “Long days, but they went by quickly, because we were doing what was necessary during these times.”

The nonprofit said it distributed 22,773 pounds of produce to more than 2,000 families since the August derecho. For context, Feed Iowa First distributed around 20,000 pounds of produce in all of 2019.

“That’s way above average,” Kirby said. “We’ve had great support with our rural and urban partners, donations coming from in town, out of town, near and far.”

Techstars Iowa Accelerator, a program that focuses on startups addressing innovations across a broad technology landscape, kicked off its inaugural cohort in downtown Des Moines last week. The cohort is running for the next three months, with startups accepted into the program set to receive $20,000 in funding and the option of taking an additional $100,000 in convertible notes.

Grinnell College, Iowa State University and the University of Iowa all partner with Techstars Iowa. Grinnell College’s investment office is providing the initial funding, which will support the program through its first three years.

Out of the 10 startups selected, three are based in Iowa. Dhakai (Cedar Falls), deetz (Cedar Rapids) and OpenLoop (Iowa City) were all accepted into the cohort and will have a chance to present their innovations on Demo Day taking place Dec. 3.

Hotel Surety is opening in fall 2020 and landed on Forbes’ list of 35 Exciting New Hotel Openings Around the World For Fall 2020. The Des Moines hotel will open in the 1914, Beaux-Arts Hippee Building, which once held the title of the tallest building in Iowa. A rotating exhibition of art chosen for the hotel will be on display once the hotel opens in mid-October.

The hotel uses a metaphor on its website to explain the type of experience guests can expect. “In banking, a surety bond is a guarantee – a promise that someone has your back so that you can make good on a loan. At Surety Hotel Des Moines, we make a promise as well: unmatched service, incredible design, a superior level of hospitality and a one-of-a-kind Iowa experience for travelers and locals.”

On August 27, Netflix released a new sports documentary, titled “Rising Phoenix,” which explores the legacy, intensity and importance of the Paralympic Games. One of the athletes featured is an Iowan with a very unique path to stardom.

Matt Stutzman, a Fairfield, Iowa resident, is an archer who competed in the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. Stutzman, born without arms, is one of the top archers in the world. The Armless Archer can back up his moniker: he won silver at the London 2012 Paralympics and has hit a target from 310 yards – breaking the then-longest Guinness-ratified distance by any athlete or individual in the world.

Published September 14, 2020

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