Posts Tagged ‘Lincoln’


An Invite From CRAG

24 P Linda Sliding 4Linda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas — I was invited to speak at the September 24 meeting of the Caddo River Art Guild (CRAG), an avid group whose mission is promoting art and artists in south central Arkansas,  My mission of course is capital cities, so I talked about “art in the capital cities,” that is, the community’s support of the arts. How Art Thrives was my topic, leading with the question: What does it take to have a thriving arts community?

It takes four things, I proposed, to nods of agreement from around the room:

• Money
• Artists
• Volunteers
• Attitude

I selected five uniquely different cities to illustrate:
Santa Fe, New Mexico, Population 67, 947 (about 6 Arkadelphias) because it supports and focuses on the artist more than any other capital city.

Montpelier, Vermont, Population 7,855 (about 3/4 of 1 Arkadelphia!) because it’s the smallest capital city and has the 2nd most artists per capita and the biggest group of volunteers.

And Helena, Montana, Population 28,190 (about 3 Arkadelphias), Lincoln, Nebraska, Population 258,379 (about 24 Arkadelphias), and Indianapolis, Indiana, Population 820,444 (about 77 Arkadelphias) to show it’s not the size of the city that matters, it’s the attitude of its residents. » read more


Smack Dab In The Middle

06 america tagLinda Burton posting from Des Moines, Iowa –The Journey Across America is 70% complete. I’m wrapping up my stay in Des Moines, my 35th capital city. This time last year I was in Olympia, Washington. This time next year I’ll be in Washington, DC. Right now, I’m smack dab in the middle of the country, the part we call “the heartland.” I’ve found a lot of heart here on the prairie, where people live with wide-open spaces and rich, productive farmland. The cities aren’t big, but the spirit is. Mother Nature commanded my attention as I drove between these last five 04 Wanda and Cocoacities – with floods and tornadoes and my personal favorite, lightning storms. But the people I’ve met overshadowed the weather inconveniences; and that’s what I’ll remember. Like Wanda, and the 4th of July party she put together for many of us in the hotel, bringing her homemade potato salad, and having husband Max grill the burgers (and bring Cocoa in for us to pet). Like Josh and Patrick in Lincoln who took care of my car, adding a special “rain protector” after the wash so I’d be safer in the storms, cheering on the Journey, and 06 guys car wash lincolnwishing they could tag along. Like Sheryl in Topeka, who stopped her work every morning to chat with me over breakfast, and wouldn’t let me leave without getting our picture together by the car. Like Robyn in Jefferson City, who helped me track down facts on Daniel Morgan Boone; and William, who thanked me for writing about the concert at the capitol where he sang a solo. Like the security guys Robert and Fred in Springfield, who were tippy-toed with excitement that I’d come to see their capitol, and followed me outside, still talking, wishing me a successful Journey. What is better than that? » read more


Five Domes, And Plenty

03 capitol front 4Linda Burton posting from Des Moines, Iowa – There are three unusual things to note about the Iowa state capitol. One you spot right away – it is the only five-domed capitol in the country. The capitol and its five domes are visible from just about everywhere; located atop a sweeping hill above the city; steps lead up and up from the promenade that slopes to the Des Moines River through a grassy park. It is a spectacular sight; with flags flying and gold gleaming, it grabs for attention right away. I was pleased to find plenty of well-marked free visitor parking, in front, in back, and on the west side, and good signage directing visitors to the entry door. But I didn’t find out 03 flag in rotunda 2why the capitol has five domes; the guides at the Visitors Desk said there was no particular reason; “It was just the architect’s design.” The center dome is covered in gold leaf; from inside you can see its ornate beauty and even climb up into it on special guided tours. The four copper-covered domes are trimmed in gold and hold down each of the four corners of the building, but are not accessible nor 03 extra domevisible except from the outside. “They’re just there to be pretty,” the guide further explained. The design is quite pleasing to the Iowans I spoke with; most calling it “very beautiful;” one person commenting that “every other capitol is a disappointment after you’ve seen ours” and calling out the name of one she found particularly “boring.” Capitol rivalry! I entered the building on the Ground Floor, stopped at the Visitors Desk, and took the elevator to Floor One, where my senses were further assailed; the color palette was rich with vibrant blues and reds and greens, and a looking-up sight that fools the eye. » read more


Go Big Red

21 big redLinda Burton posting from Lincoln, Nebraska – I stared at them all during lunch. Red back-to-back “N”s all across the wall in a Mexican restaurant that didn’t have “N” in its name. So I finally asked what they meant. My server just stared at me. “Nebraska,” she finally answered, as though she couldn’t believe anyone would have to ask. “This is NebraskaGo Big Red.” Properly chagrined, I replied, “Well I knew that. I just didn’t know why the “N”s were here.” “They are everywhere,” she laughed. “Everything in Lincoln is Nebraska Red.” And so it is; the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, the state’s oldest and largest university and the flagship of the University of Nebraska system. It all started back in 1869, two years after statehood, when it was chartered by the legislature as a land grant university under the 1862 Morrill Act. It was laid out on four city 21 unlblocks and had one building. Today two campuses in Lincoln cover 2,815 acres and the university is organized into eight colleges with over 100 buildings and research facilities. City Campus is north of downtown, and south of the old fairgrounds; East Campus is two miles east-northeast of that. In addition, UNL has a 25-acre technology park on the north side of town, supplied by modern high-tech laboratories on artificial intelligence, the first 21 football statuesendeavor of its kind in the state. The Nebraska Innovation Campus, on 249 more acres, is being planned to house agricultural biotechnology and other life science research. And then there is the athletic program. The Cornhuskers football team has won 46 conference and five national championships; the women’s volleyball team has won three national championships. Memorial Stadium holds 85,000 and sells out every game. This year eight home games are scheduled; great joy in Lincoln over that. » read more


Looking Up

23 kids looking upLinda Burton posting from Lincoln, Nebraska – “Sit around this circle and look up,” Jamison the Tour Guide instructed the kids. They plopped to the floor and so did he, right in their midst. The rest of us kept standing; an appropriate entourage of parents, one grandma, a couple from Germany, and me. We exchanged glances, acknowledging our inability to gracefully plop; then grandma and I found a bench. Meanwhile, the kids kept looking up, and up, as Jamison pointed and told stories. “See the man behind the plow?” he said, and directed everyone to look at a large mural on the wall high above our heads. The children nodded. “The grass is 23 furrowvery thick,” he explained, “and he is digging up sections of it with his plow, and stacking the sections. Do you know what he did with the large sections of grass, or sod?” They did not know. “They built houses,” he said joyfully, “sod houses! They stacked it up and made houses from it. Now, why do you think they used sod instead of trees?” The children looked at each other, and looked again at the mural. They did not know the answer. “We have trees in Lincoln now,” he continued, “but many years ago, there were no trees, just prairie grass. No trees! Somebody planted all the trees you see today. There was no wood to build with, so the 23 jeweled domesettlers used what they had. And that was sod.” There was a group “ohh” from the children as they thought about that. Jamison continued with the beginnings of Nebraska, pictured right there in the vestibule of the capitol. The capitol’s art is “themed” from beginning to end, reflecting the values of the people of Nebraska. There’s hushed behavior here; the building feels cathedral-like; especially looking up. » read more


Life Is Right

19 visitor lincoln 001Linda Burton posting from Lincoln, Nebraska – “I’m not stuck-up. I’m just deaf.” Such was the comment made to me by the gentleman to my left, as his wife leaned across to chat. We each were waiting for a table; the restaurant was crowded and a conversation had naturally begun. At least, between the wife and me. Until the husband chimed in, concluding, “That’s why I’m not talking.” He looked directly in my eyes as he spoke, and gave me a quirky smile as though to apologize. His wife smiled too, and gave him a love pat on the shoulder; I smiled back and thanked him for saying that. It was a comfortable moment. And not unusual for Lincoln, I’m finding. Everyone comes across friendly, and open. If people in a community are friendly, and open, then is it logical to conclude that the people in that community are happy? That life is right? The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce believes it; in fact, they have set up a website – – to serve as an outlet for local residents, and visitors, to express why they believe life feels “right” in Lincoln. At “Shout Lincoln” you can record your comments; at “Picture Lincoln” you can add your favorite Lincoln photos. And “Brand Lincoln” is an innovative approach that helps local businesses and organizations customize the Lincoln logo to perfectly fit their 19 lincoln circleneeds. It’s a simple but very eye-catching look: an arrow pointing upward, to symbolize growth and progress, and pointing towards the Lincoln “L.” Rationally, the three segments of the arrow represent the people, places, and events that make up the community; emotionally, they stand for the success, comfort and fun you have when you live in Lincoln. And where the arrow meets the “L” is the sweet spot; that’s what signifies that “life is right” in Lincoln. » read more


Two For One, Special

17 capitol carLinda Burton posting from Lincoln, Nebraska – Look carefully at my picture of the Nebraska state capitol. Do you notice anything unusual? I thought it was nice that free parking is available close by, and a sign at the bottom of the steps shows the open hours and the ADA entrance; that’s unusual, but not what I’m referring to. I’m talking about a feature unlike any other capitol in the United States. Thirty-seven capitol buildings have domes and four are skyscraper-highrise in construction. But the Nebraska capitol fits into both categories! A domed highrise, unique 17 capitol hrs signand striking. It’s not the tallest of the three built in the 30’s when economic considerations were primary and Art deco was the design of choice, nor was it the least expensive to build, but it incorporates features that meet the needs of Nebraska citizens with both efficiency and beauty. And behind every element that is functional lies a deeper meaning of what Nebraska is all about. Take that golden dome, for instance. It is symbolic of the sun, so central to the weather of the prairie state; its reflective surface even changes 17 sowercolor as the weather changes. Below that, the frieze around the drum depicts thunderbirds, an American Indian symbol of thunder. Atop the dome stands the Sower, arm extended as he spreads the seed in a northwesterly direction, where most of Nebraska’s farmlands lie. These three elements together represent weather and agriculture; symbolically, they are an homage to civilizations of the past – Egyptians, American Indians, and the European settlers. From top to bottom the theme carries through, yet all the spaces are usable, and logically arranged. But it’s not just the building that’s unique, it’s also what happens inside. I’m talking about the legislative system – the only one in the country that is unicameral. » read more


In The Neighborhoods

15 park gazeboLinda Burton posting from Lincoln, Nebraska – It once was named Lancaster, but its name was changed in a political ploy. It wasn’t built on a large body of water or near any mountains. Without those moderating influences it has a highly variable climate, subject to bitter cold in the winter and heat waves during the summer. Frequent thunderstorms often produce tornadoes and blizzards are possible in the winter. It has little development outside its city limits and no contiguous suburbs. It doesn’t sound like a very appealing place to live, does it? But wait. 15 park logoThis city, built on gently rolling hills, has over 6,000 acres of parks and natural land, 7 recreation centers, 128 miles of trails, 10 public pools and 5 city golf courses. The goal of the city planners is to have a park area within a half mile walking distance of each residence in the community; in fact, the tagline says “parks and recreation are FUNdamental to the city’s quality of life.” There’s more. A canopy of 125,000 public trees covers the city; 87,000 of them line the 1,217 miles of streets. In fact, the city has been nationally recognized as a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day 15 planting treesFoundation every year since 1976. And oh yes, the CDC has put it high on the list of “healthiest cities in the USA.” I’m talking about Lincoln, Nebraska, ranked as the 14th most populous capital city with 258,379 (US 2010 Census) residents who are proud to call it home. And it’s been around since 1856, even though it was Lancaster back then. Let me explain what led to the “political ploy” that changed everything. And then I’ll take you around to some of present-day Lincoln’s beautiful neighborhoods. » read more


Itsy Bitsy Spider

13 lightning to ground 2Linda Burton posting from Lincoln, Nebraska – Which frightens you most – spiders or lightning? For me it has always been lightning, like the stuff that welcomed me to Nebraska today in a frenzy of white slashing black over the green prairie to the west. Could I outrun the storm? It was moving west to east; I was traveling south to north; it was a futile contest; I lost. I’ve never seen much lightning before, as I tend to head for cover at the sound of the first thunderclap. Today I had no choice but to look. I had to keep my eyes on the road and sky; there was no place to stop; only open prairie. 13 lightning cloud to cloudBy sheer force nature made me realize just what amazing tricks it can do. Cloud to ground! Cloud to cloud! I counted more than a hundred streaks before the storm engulfed me with rain and then I couldn’t see a thing. Until I reached my hotel and flipped the blinker to signal left. That’s when I saw the spider and forgot the storm. My priorities changed! It was a substantial-looking brown spider, directly above the steering column and crawling down. I grabbed the first thing I could – a piece of paper with today’s driving directions – and smashed it against the spider. I missed. The spider fell to my feet. I’d heard tales 13 brown recluseof wrecks caused by insects; although the storm raged around me and traffic whizzed by on either side, my basic instinct was to jump out of the car. But I didn’t. I made it into the hotel parking lot and got the cats and myself  inside out of the storm, where I immediately began to read up on spiders. Because after all, that healthy brown arachnid was still in my car. » read more


Trailing History

09 jackson statueLinda Burton posting from Richmond, Virginia – I need to put my waders on. History is knee-deep here in Richmond, and then some; it is layered and twined with life as it goes on today. Every downtown street and hill top and river bottom is slathered with the taste of it; first-graders on a yellow bus circle Stonewall Jackson’s statue on the way to school. Sunday skateboarders veer down Bank Street, just below the pristine white-columned capitol, first used in 1792, French-inspired, Thomas Jefferson designed. A man walks his red-collared dog in Great Shiplock Park, they stroll the edge of James River on this side of Manchester Docks, where 09 capitol from bankslaves once arrived from Africa. Across the street condo dwellers live in downtown luxury, it’s the reconverted buildings of Tobacco Row where Lucky Strike is bricked into the factory’s chimney, left behind as a historic masterpiece. Suburban dwellers cross Lee Bridge and head home on J D Hway, that’s Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davis, you know; the road is dotted with historic markers directing you to battle sites. Steven Spielberg filmed the movie Lincoln here; no city is more central to the Civil War. But go back farther than that; think John Smith, and Pocahontas, and the Jamestown settlement just downstream. Think 09 st johns churchRevolution, and Patrick Henry, whose famous words rang out in St John’s Church on East Broad; “Give me liberty, or give me death.” It’s more than I can wade through in two weeks; I’m dividing the organized trails into groups for exploring, to get at least an overview; early European settlement days; Revolutionary War; and Civil War. Put on your boots and follow me. » read more