Julie Gammack's Iowa Potluck
Julie Gammack's Iowa Potluck
Who's Who in Potluck Land

Who's Who in Potluck Land

...Dana James launches a new newspaper, plus a schedule of speakers to come, and why I do this

Our Monday Zoom lunch guests May 8 are columnist Robert Leonard and Chris Jones, the latter in the throes of a major controversy regarding his work with the University of Iowa, overseeing water quality testing. We’ll discuss pressure from the legislature that resulted in his resignation. Jones is a popular blogger who just moved his writing to a Substack column and Leonard interviewed Jones for his column and podcast.

You’re reading my inaugural post at Substack. I’m here now because a few farmer legislators here in Iowa couldn’t stomach my blog at the University of Iowa domain, so they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: take it elsewhere, or else. I’ve started over several times in my life and so I suppose one more restart can’t hurt. …Chris Jones


The podcast posted above is an interview with Dana James, founder of Black Iowa News. The journalist is bucking publishing trends by launching a print publication to augment her popular blog and column as an Iowa Writers’ Collaborative member. 

In this episode, you’ll learn why she feels Black Iowans are an important audience to cover and serve. She is uniquely positioned to do so. Her plans are ambitious, well-thought-out, and game-changing. As is often the case, the participants on the call ask good questions and offer an interesting perspective to the discussion. You’ll hear from veteran journalists, appreciative listeners, and others on this podcast. 

Please share it with others you believe might find Dana James and her new publication of interest. 



Here is the link to our Monday Zoom call with Robert Leonard and Chris Jones. This is available to all subscribers of this column:

ZOOM, NOON CENTRAL, MAY 8: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81477520889


Plan ahead. Here is a list of future guests who will be appearing on Julie Gammack’s Potluck, Monday Zoom Lunch show, beginning at noon central time. Subscribers will be sent the Zoom link the morning of the event. Please do not post the Zoom links elsewhere to avoid hacking.

Monday, May 8: Chris Jones and Robert Leonard

Deep Midwest: Politics and Culture
Iowa Water Quality Monitoring in Peril
Dr. Chris Jones retires this May from the University of Iowa. Trained in chemistry, among other subjects, he served as a research engineer with the Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research in the College of Engineering. His work, in part, was to be in charge of the 70 sensors on rivers and streams across the state that posted real-time data on water quality…
Read more
  • Monday, May 15: Kathie Obradovich, Iowa Capital Dispatch and her new education reporter, Brooklyn Draisey. Read about this new effort.

  • Monday, May 22, Randy Bauer, on Iowa tax policy. He understands the Iowa budget better than most, and comes highly recommended as a speaker on this subject.

  • Monday, May 29, author Jeff Biggers. He’s been a guest on MSNBC, the Rachel Maddow Show, and many other national media. Click for more about this talented writer and observer.

  • June 5, Romen Borsellino, comedy writer. He had a hand in crafting remarks for Biden during the Washington Correspondents dinner. Will the Hollywood writer’s strike be resolved by the time of this podcast? What is/was it about? Romen is from Iowa and is the son of Rekha Basu and the late Rob Borsellino.

If you have a speaker you think would be of interest to our Potluck audience, please let me know.

What’s the WHY of this Potluck column, the Iowa Writers’ Collaborative and the Okoboji Writers’ Retreat?

Stories matter. In a time when division, rancor, media consolidation, and changing reading habits are turning our world upside down in so many ways, there remains one constant: understanding comes from people speaking their truth or being open to hearing the truth of others.

This column gives me a chance to tell some of those stories. The Iowa Writers’ Collaborative was founded to assist others in telling more stories about Iowa. And the Okoboji Writers’ Retreat was created to help you tell your stories.

It’s that simple. That’s my ‘why.’

Now, what’s your ‘why’? How can we help you tell your stories? You matter. Your life matters. Your stories matter, and what does not matter is the size of your audience.

Find your seat at the workshop tables during the Okoboji Writers’ Retreat, September 17-20, 2023.

Why not? Seriously, why not? If money is the main impediment, thanks to paid subscribers of this column, there are some scholarships available for those in need of assistance. There is also a discounted rate for working journalists.

If you don’t think you belong, think again. You do.


One of many spaces where small group discussions will be held. There’s a chair waiting for you. This porch is in Waitt Hall on the Iowa Lakeside Labs campus, West Lake, Okoboji, Iowa.

Give a gift subscription

Julie Gammack's Iowa Potluck
Julie Gammack's Iowa Potluck
The Iowa Potluck features commentary, stories and interviews with notable leaders. Feel free to join our growing tribe, where you'll find a smart, engaged community of readers.