At dsm, we typically plan stories at least six months before publication—sometimes more. We reported on and photographed Neil and Khanh Hamilton’s Waukee garden (read here), for instance, last summer.
But one story in this issue has been three years in the making. Contributing writer Chad Taylor first proposed a story on “one night in Des Moines” in October 2019. He wanted to spend an eight-hour evening “hitting up five or six different venues, just to showcase how much stuff is happening on a given night,” as he wrote in his pitch. We agreed that the chosen night should be in the spring or summer, so we decided to wait until 2020 to pursue the story.
But we all know what 2020 brought: a city forced into silence. And in 2021, events and activities throughout Greater Des Moines remained spotty. By the time 2022 rolled around, we knew the story could be a go, but we also realized, of course, that the city—and all of us who live here—had changed, which gave the piece a different framework and perspective. The story also grew from the proposed one night and six spots to a full day and night, for a total of 15 hours and 22(!) venues.
Chad teamed up with Betsy Rudicil, a multitalented photographer who’s also been a dancer, model, actor and carpenter. (Read our 2019 story on Betsy here.) They set out with a general itinerary, but it turned out that a third of the stops were serendipitous discoveries, Chad says. What’s more, “not only did we stumble on things like Girls on the Run and the Wobble, but even the planned stops provided surprises. The Botanical Garden’s Bonsai for Beginners was on our list, for example, but we were completely surprised by the tai chi class there.”
But the biggest surprise of all? Impact Pro Wrestling. “It was the last thing I added to our itinerary, and we went in kind of blind,” Chad says. “Platform was such an unexpected venue for a live wrestling show, and the size of the crowd was genuinely a revelation.
“One thing that I’ve always told people when it comes to entertainment options in Des Moines is ‘all you have to do is look,’” he adds, “and I think the story reflects that.” (Chad, by the way, is used to immersive reporting. Before the pandemic, he spent more than a year inside the local stand-up comedy scene; read the 2020 story here.)
Chad and Betsy’s collaboration illustrates the type of dynamic teamwork that delivers stories that resonate the most with our readers. (Read the story here.) Another creative collaboration resulted in this issue’s cover; read more about the project here.
I was inspired not only by these collaborations, but also by all the thoughtful and creative people featured in this issue, including Ukrainian-born artist Igor Khalandovskiy (read here), fine art photographer Miriam Alarcón Avila (read here), and up-and-coming comedian Antoinette Stevens (read here).
And, as always, the people we’re recognizing as LGBTQ Legacy Leaders (read here) never fail to inspire me with their resolve and grace. Please join us in celebrating them at an event on Oct. 19, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Willow on Grand.
And if I don’t see you there? Well, then perhaps I’ll run into you at a tai chi class at the Botanical Garden or at a concert at xBk or—who knows?—even ringside at a live wrestling match. Stranger things have happened.