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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 2, 2011

Walljasper to visit UI campus, Iowa City community for 'A Conversation About the Commons' Nov. 8-9

Jay Walljasper, author of the recently published book All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons, will visit the University of Iowa and the Iowa City community Nov. 8-9. Walljasper's visit will include several events and will focus on discussions about "the commons."

According to, which Walljasper co-edits, "The commons is a new way to express a very old idea -— that some forms of wealth belong to all of us, and that these community resources must be actively protected and managed for the good of all. The commons are the things that we inherit and create jointly, and that will (hopefully) last for generations to come. The commons consists of gifts of nature such as air, oceans, and wildlife as well as shared social creations such as libraries, public spaces, scientific research, and creative works."

Walljasper is senior fellow at Project for Public Spaces, a New York-based organization that helps citizens enliven their communities by improving public places. He is also a contributing editor of National Geographic Traveler, reporting on sustainable tourism initiatives, and is an associate of the Citistates Group, a public affairs consortium focusing on metropolitan regions. In addition to All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons, he is the author of The Great Neighborhood Book and Visionaries: People and Ideas to Change Your Life. Walljasper's experience includes being editorial director and editor of Utne Reader, executive editor of Ode magazine, and a travel editor at Better Homes & Gardens. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in journalism and English from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa in 1976.

Public events, which are free and open to all, include:

--Noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, A Conversation About the Commons with Jay Walljasper, Room 1505, Seamans Center, University of Iowa.

--3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, Public Reception for Walljasper, M.C. Ginsberg: Objects of Art, 110 E. Washington St.

--7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, The Commons and Community Development in Iowa City, panel discussion, Robert A. Lee Community Recreation Center Social Hall, 220 S. Gilbert St. In addition to Walljasper, panelists will include Jeff Davidson (City of Iowa City, Planning and Community Development), Carson Eggland (The James Gang, Ronald McDonald House), Kurt Friese (Devotay Restaurant, Slow Food USA/Iowa City), Mark Ginsberg (M. C. Ginsberg: Objects of Art), Fred Meyer (Backyard Abundance), Katie Roche (Englert Theatre), and Christine Scheetz (United Way of Johnson County).

--7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, Reading by Walljasper from All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons, Prairie Lights Bookstore, 15 S. Dubuque St.

Walljasper will also visit a section of the undergraduate course The Good Society and will meet with selected faculty who have participated in the service learning institutes and the Crossroads Institute. The faculty group will discuss creativity, information, and intellectual property.

"Jay Walljasper brings an enthusiastic and expansive perspective on the commons," says Thomas Dean, who is organizing Walljasper's visit. "His wide-ranging travels and deep roots in the Midwest have given him an outlook on what we share together and how we share it that I think will resonate well with the UI and Iowa City communities."

For more information, contact Dean at

Sponsors of Walljasper's visit include the UI Leisure Studies Program in the Department of Health and Human Physiology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UI Office of the President, UI Public Policy Center, UI Iowa Project on Place Studies, UI Center for Teaching, UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, UI School of Urban and Regional Planning in the Graduate College, UI Office of Sustainability, Robert A. Lee Community Recreation Center, City Channel 4, Prairie Lights Bookstore, Brown Street Inn, M. C. Ginsberg: Objects of Art, Little Village, Devotay Restaurant, Red Avocado Restaurant, and Motley Cow Restaurant.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Thomas Dean, UI Leisure Studies Program and Office of the President,, 319-335-1995; Kelli Andresen, University News Services, 319-384-0070,