Englert web series ‘Nuggets of Wisdom’ presents a friendly dialogue on race and queerness

Viewers might watch an episode of the Englert Theatre’s new series, Nuggets of Wisdom, and think Sharon Udoh and Jonny Stax have been close friends for years. Whether it’s the chemistry they have in their conversation, or how comfortable they seem talking about personal subjects, there’s a sense of familiarity.

The two actually met in November during the 2019 Witching Hour Festival, and were brought back together to discuss (and occasionally sing about) the state of the world, marginalized populations and how to be better citizens.

“Our deep mission work, like the work we do with Mission Creek and Witching Hour, has always tried to focus in on these conversations about race and gender identity, and really highlighting populations that may not always get a platform,” said John Schickedanz, marketing director for the Englert. “And so that’s always been part of our ethos, I guess.”

Continue reading “Englert web series ‘Nuggets of Wisdom’ presents a friendly dialogue on race and queerness”

University of Iowa fall plans spark concern for UI faculty and graduate students

Faculty and staff are voicing opposition to and personal concern around the resumption of partial in-person instruction in the fall 2020 semester.

Originally published on The Daily Iowan website.

While the University of Iowa plans to return to in-person instruction for the fall semester, some faculty and staff have expressed concerns that the social distancing guidelines created by the UI will not be enough to keep instructors and students safe.

Thirty-seven University of Iowa faculty members signed an open letter to UI students, which was published in the Cedar Rapids Gazette on the first of the month and later in The Daily Iowan. The writers shared concerns about recent budget cuts that have led some lecturers to be fired, which could result in larger classes and excess work for remaining faculty and staff.

In the letter, the faculty and staff members wrote that the guidelines outlined for the upcoming fall semester by the UI, such as 6 feet of spacing in classrooms and in-person instruction in classroom spaces that accommodate for twice the number of students, aren’t possible.

Associate Professor of Political Science Cary Covington was not one of the faculty members to sign the letter.

“I think there’s no question that face-to-face interaction with students and faculty is much better for the student,” Covington said. “I think back and forth — give and take — is crucial, particularly in a liberal-arts education.”

Continue reading “University of Iowa fall plans spark concern for UI faculty and graduate students”

Iowa Freedom Riders seek to share personal stories of racial injustice with Iowa City City Council

The organization hopes testimonies from the community will make people feel heard, and show the city council that racism is just as much of a problem in Iowa City as it is elsewhere.

Originally published on The Daily Iowan website.

The Iowa Freedom Riders (IFR) announced at a protest on Independence Day that they wanted Black and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC) in the community to share their stories of racial injustice in Iowa with the Iowa City City Council. The organization followed up with an Instagram post on the same day, asking people to share their testimonies with its email account.

The Iowa Freedom Riders are currently in the process of gathering these stories. Wylliam Smith, an activist who works with the group, said he doesn’t know yet when IFR will choose to share them with the City Council.

“We are going to bring these stories to city councilors because we’re not going to let them sit here and say this stuff isn’t happening, and/or that if it is happening, it doesn’t mean anything — or it’s not as bad as it could be,” Smith said.

Continue reading “Iowa Freedom Riders seek to share personal stories of racial injustice with Iowa City City Council”

Rummage in the Ramp aims to reduce landfill waste virtually

In years past the event has provided a space to donate and purchase used items, reducing landfill waste and raising money for local volunteer groups.

Originally published on The Daily Iowan website.

Iowa City’s Rummage in the Ramp in-person event was canceled this summer, along with most other annual traditions in the city, due to concern about community spread of the coronavirus.

The city-sponsored event began in 2007 with the goal of reducing reusable items going into the landfill over the summer when leases turn over. People moving out of apartments can donate unwanted furniture, clothing, and appliances for members of the community to purchase.

The 2019 rummage set a new record when more than 800 residents donated reusable items and kept more than 32 tons of materials from curbs and dumpsters, according to the event’s website.

Continue reading “Rummage in the Ramp aims to reduce landfill waste virtually”

University of Iowa prepares for students to return to on-campus living by adapting residence, dining halls

Physical spaces like residence halls and market places will look different than previous years, in a campus-wide effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Originally published on The Daily Iowan website. This story also appeared in the 7/8/2020 DI paper.

As the start of the fall semester nears, students prepare to begin on or return to a University of Iowa campus that differs from previous years, with policies and procedures in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The information that UI administrators are providing is fairly consistent with past years, director of Housing Administration Virginia Ibrahim-Olin said. Housing was still available for all incoming students seeking to live in residence halls, and each still had the opportunity to request a roommate.

“The big difference that we are sharing with individuals has been related to our housing contract terms and conditions,” Ibrahim-Olin said. “Those have been updated to reflect the health and safety expectations for people living in the residence halls.”

Continue reading “University of Iowa prepares for students to return to on-campus living by adapting residence, dining halls”

Iowa City Community School District Board discusses four models for returning to school

In a webinar on June 30, Iowa City Community School District board members talked over in-person, at home, and hybrid models for K-12 students.

Originally published on The Daily Iowan website. I promoted this story on my Instagram account with the graphic I made below.

The Iowa City Community School District Board discussed four different models it’s considering the implementation of in the upcoming school year in a virtual meeting Tuesday, including on-site, all-remote, and hybrid models of instruction.

The board will release more information about the return-to-learn plan through July week by week.

At this time, all four models are still being considered for implementation. According to Matt Degner, interim superintendent of the school district, schools will likely use a version of hybrid learning at points throughout the year.

Continue reading “Iowa City Community School District Board discusses four models for returning to school”

University of Iowa makes plans to limit COVID-19 spread among thousands of student employees in fall semester

More than 7,000 students are employed by on-campus organizations. As the university makes adjustments to prevent the spread of COVID-19, student workers will adapt to a new work environment.

Originally published on The Daily Iowan website, also published in the 7/1/2020 edition of the paper.

Bryan Mulrooney has worked for University of Iowa Transportation since August 2016. The fifth-year senior works as a Cambus student supervisor and continues to provide transportation — deemed an essential service — amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Mulrooney is one of more than 7,000 students employed at the UI, according to University Human Resources. As the start of the fall 2020 semester nears, many students are anxious to see how the university responds to COVID-19’s possible effects on their employment, as well as their education.

“These organizations employ students in a variety of positions, from research to community engagement, tutoring, food service, and driving Cambus,” UI Director of Internal Communication Tricia Brown said in an email to The Daily Iowan. “… These organizations and others that employ students have been affected in different ways by COVID-19. Some were able to offer remote work, while others were not. The nature of the job determines whether remote work is possible, and each employer makes its own decision.”

Continue reading “University of Iowa makes plans to limit COVID-19 spread among thousands of student employees in fall semester”

One page statement

I have spent the last three academic years as an online staffer for my school’s student publication, the West Side Story. As a sophomore I was a digital reporter, as a junior I was the online feature editor and as a senior I was the online editor-in-chief, so creating engaging multimedia content has been at the forefront of my coverage. Though I consider myself a writer first, working on wsspaper.com has allowed me to experiment with podcasting, broadcast, graphics and photography when I’m constructing an article. 

My first submission uses video, photo galleries and text to explain my two-week long experiment of cutting down my wardrobe. When planning this story I knew it would be need of visuals to showcase my different outfits, but I went back and forth about the best way to format my information and images. I decided to introduce the concept with text and then show my process of picking out the clothes in a short video, which was filmed and edited by Jillian Prescott. Then, I embedded a gallery for each day of the challenge, along with a description of my clothes. The photos were taken by various photographers and captioned by myself. I had a lot of fun with this article because I was able to share an interesting experiment and produce something visually engaging. 

My second submission is one of my more graphics-heavy posts from this year. It was a timely news post about the graduation ceremony for the class of 2020. Because I wanted to get the information out quickly, I didn’t want to create overly complex visuals that would push back publication. However, I did think that graphics could help readers visualize the different formats that were proposed for graduation, and it was a good way to break up the text. I started playing around on Pikochart and with the images provided by the website I was able to communicate the basics of the proposed plans. In creating this story I learned that simple graphics can be just as helpful as time-intensive ones. 

My third submission is my contribution to a larger effort to increase collaborative and multimedia rich coverage on our website. A few months ago, some staffers pointed out we weren’t utilizing our collective skills to create media rich content. To address this, I had the section editors for news, feature, sports, arts and entertainment each come up with a collaborative story for their section that teams of staffers could work on together. I was on the news team and we covered the Iowa Caucus. I interviewed caucus organizers and created an informative graphic for caucus-goers. I enjoyed organizing this team projects for the WSS staff and I was happy to see us push ourselves to create more engaging stories as a collective. I linked some other articles that were the result of team projects here, here and here.

My fourth submission is a light-hearted news piece, but by adding audio I was able to make the brief more engaging, especially because the piece of audio I embedded is the center piece of the story. In putting together this story I learned that small edition like audio clips can take these briefs to the next level and are a good use of the online medium. 

My last submission shows how I restructure print stories for the online format. Short form stories that run in our magazine often have text intermingled with the design, which does not translate well to our website. I’ve learned that websites like ThingLink are a good way to make short form stories as interesting to read online as they are on paper. 


Thank you for considering my submission for NSPA’s Multimedia Journalist of the Year. If you have any questions you can reach me at nataliemdunlap@icloud.com.

WSS staffer tries 10 x 10 challenge

Editor-in-Chief Natalie Dunlap ’20 restricts her closet to 10 items of clothing for 10 school days.

About the entry: When I had the idea to write a fashion piece, I knew it had to be visually engaging. I decided to break up the text with video and media elements. In the video I explain the basics of the challenge and why I choose the pieces I did, and the galleries showcase the different combinations I was able to create. For clarification, I wrote the article, anchored the video and added captions to the photos, but I did not take the photos or edit the video.

It feels like American shopping habits are driven by wants and style instead of needs and function; there’s no time like the holidays to give and receive things we might not use or even want. Many of us gathered around with family and friends over winter break, unwrapped some single-use wrapping paper and opened a present that might sit in the back of your closet for months unused. It’s sometimes feels like the most wasteful time of the year, so I decided to spend the two school weeks before winter break focusing on what I already have.

What is the 10×10 challenge?

The 10 x 10 challenge was created by Lee Vosburgh, creator of the blog Style Bee, with the intention of getting more creative with her clothing. The exercise consists of choosing 10 items of clothes you already own and creating 10 unique outfits for 10 days. The “rules” (which Vosburgh says can bend to fit your schedule) say tops, sweaters, pants, dresses, shoes and coats all count as part of your capsule wardrobe. However, you can add and change out other items in your outfit from day-to-day, including hats, bags, scarves, gloves and jewelry.

Video filmed and edited by Jillian Prescott

In the video above I choose the ten items I limited myself to. After some consideration I ended up choosing a pair of Vans, a winter coat, jeans, black leggings, an oversized denim top, a cropped blue top, an American Eagle sweater, a tan mock neck from Goodwill, a black body suit and a striped sweater.

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Natalie Dunlap poses on the steps of a temp near the ninth grade center. Photo by Aditi Borde.

Day 1

10X10 items I wore: blue crop top, jeans and Vans.

Other items: black belt, silver hoops, silver tree necklace.

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Dunlap poses in her day two outfit, featuring Vans, an American Eagle sweater and leggings. Photo by Alyssa Skala.

Day 2

10X10 items I wore: American Eagle sweater, leggings, Vans.

Other items: moon necklace, dangly earrings, small circle earrings, green scrunchie.

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Dunlap brought out her winter coat for the day three outfit as she stands in the snow. Photo by Paras Bassuk.

Day 3

10X10 items I wore: black bodysuit, jeans, winter coat and Vans.

Other items: pink crystal hoops, triangle studs, and crescent necklace.

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Dunlap pairs a Celtic knot necklace with a simple tan mock neck. Photo by Paras Bassuk.

Day 4 

10X10 items I wore: tan sweater, jeans and Vans.

Other items: brown belt, silver hoops and Celtic knot necklace.

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Dunlap’s day five outfit was one of the more colorful looks, featuring a tricolored sweater and an oversized denim top. Photo by Paras Bassuk.

Day 5

10X10 items I wore: oversized denim top, striped sweater, leggings and Vans.

Other items: moon necklace and geometric studs.

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Dunlap adds a fossil necklace as a statement piece to her day six look. Photo by Paras Bassuk.

Day 6

10X10 items I wore: oversized denim top, black bodysuit, leggings and Vans.

Other items: fossil necklace, silver hoops and studs.

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Dunlap accessorized with a large gray srunchie, a black belt and crawler earrings. Photo by Paras Bassuk.

Day 7

10X10 items I wore: American Eagle sweater, jeans and Vans.

Other items: gray scrunchie and climber earrings.

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Dunlap sits in the commons, sporting a tan mock neck underneath an oversized denim top. Photo by Paras Bassuk.

Day 8

10X10 items I wore: oversized denim top, tan sweater, leggings and Vans.

Other items: moon studs and hoops with a star charm.

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Dunlap poses along the wall of West High in her day nine outfit. Photo by Kylie Butcher.

Day 9

10X10 items I wore: striped sweater, jeans and Vans.

Other items: brown belt, ball studs and star studs.

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Dunlap ends the challenge as she started it, wearing the blue crop top. Photo by Kylie Butcher.

Day 10

10X10 items I wore: blue crop top, leggings and Vans

Other items: silver studs and chunky hoops.

Final thoughts

I’m glad I tried out the 10×10 challenge. It showed me I don’t need to drastically change what I’m wearing everyday to have a cute outfit, and repeating items within a short period of time is no big deal. Additionally, it was fun for me to pick out jewelry that made the clothes I was repeating more interesting.

However, there were some draw-backs and if I were to do it again I would make some changes. First of all, I would trade one of the tops, either the denim or the cropped shirt for a different pair of pants. My decision to wear leggings and jeans was a boring one and all I proved in my combinations was that denim and black, as you may have guessed, go well with lots of things. If I wore a skirt or a patterned pair of pants the combinations would have been more interesting and less repetitive.

Also, a bit of the fun was taken out of the challenge because I planned my two weeks of outfits in advance. I didn’t want to wear the same top in a week, so by the second day of my challenge I had already taken pictures of my possible outfit combinations and decided what I was going to wear each day based on my plans.

As I was approaching the second week I was a bit bored. What I wear everyday usually varies and there were some clothes I wanted to wear that week instead of what was in my capsule wardrobe. When I reached the end of my week I was ready for the challenge to end and have a change to bring more variety.  However, since finishing the challenge I have been re-wearing the same item within a week, something I would have avoided in the past. I’ve also been looking at certain pieces in my closet and thinking of more interesting ways to wear them.

I think we glorify consumerism and shop for the want in our lives too much, in a way that is unhealthy, unsustainable and overall not beneficial to us. Buying more things that we rarely use is a waste of money and takes up storage space. The new year is a great time to think about sustainability. As you are thinking of ways to be a better version of yourself in 2020, why not add a sustainability goal to your New Years resolution? Several of my friends are limiting the new clothes they are buying next year. Keep your shopping habits in check with your values as we kick off the new decade.