Jos Sasson and his musical friends are back at Uptown Bill's Coffee House on Saturday, Jan. 13 with another special tribute night. This evening is a tribute to the music of Richard Rodgers. 'Blue Moon,' 'Dancing on the Ceiling' and 'Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered' are among Rodgers' best known songs from his collaboration with Lorenz Hart (1919-1943).
'South Pacific,' "Oklahoma,' 'The King and I,' and 'The Sound of Music' are among the best known musicals from his collaboration with Oscar Hammerstein (1943-1960).

Sasson and friends have presented other musical tributes at Uptown Bill's, including one featuring the music of Johnny Mercer and another celebrating the Great American Songbook. Saturday's show starts at 7 pm. Suggested cover: $5 to $10. Parking is available in front of the coffee house and in the U of Iowa parking lot across the street.

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In the spirit of Bill Sackter, we strive to nurture and encourage individuals with disabilities by providing: 1) a gathering place where people of all abilit...

Uptown Bill's customers are a thrifty group. They just can't bear to throw anything away. They believe that just about anything can be used again. Apparently, they also believe that the coffee house will know how to reuse just about anything.

I don't know when I first noticed this. Maybe it was the bag of rubber bands left on the counter. Or the box of plastic CD cases at the door. Or the bags of plastic bags people bring to us.

In any case, it is clear that there are a lot of people out there with a lot of things they'd like to see recycled. In recent days, we've received a package of those little twist-ties from bread wrappers, a stack of unused check covers and still more CD cases.

Some of these these things are left outside the door with a note. "Thought you could use these," is a common one. Others are delivered in person: "Could you use these." It's not really a question, but a plea. A lot is left unsaid: "I've been hanging onto these for a long time. I don't want to throw them away. If anyone could figure out what to do with them, I thought it would be Bill's. Please take them so I will not feel guilty."

All of this started nearly 20 years ago with recycling efforts at the original Wild Bill's Coffee Shop. At that time, the university wasn't doing much  recycling. So Wild Bill's started recycling cans and bottles. Gradually, the collecting expanded around the building. At one point, Wild Bill's was managing recycling barrels on three floors in North Hall. We didn't do this alone, of course. We had help from the UI  student government, from the undergraduate social work student association and from the custodians in the building.

We also recycled all kinds of paper, including newspaper and office paper. We even recycled those little paper tapes from the cash register. Then the rubber bands, twist ties and other things started coming. Plus dozens and dozens of those AOL CDs (Remember those?)

This commitment to recycling has continued at Uptown Bill's since it opened in 2001. One of our friends even brought us an "official" green recycling barrel for our cans and bottles.

Perhaps it's the success of this recycling has led customers to the conclusion that the coffee house can reuse or recycle anything. So they bring all kinds of things to us. Some of these donations have been easy to incorporate at Uptown Bill's, like extra condiments and unused plastic silverware

There have been other donations which have been a challenge. Included: balls of string, clothespins and an assortment of computer peripherals. But if you look around the coffee house, you can see how we have put them to use.

All of this activity has prompted a number of customers to organize specific "recycling" drives. Perhaps you remember "Fur Fest" (or was it "Fuzzy Stock?") when Wild Bill's patrons were urged to bring in gently-used stuff animals for donation to children at a local shelter. There have also been several efforts -- at both of the Bill's -- to  gather little soaps and toothpastes for our local homeless shelter. In these efforts, and so many others, Coffeeshop customers showed that they are not only thrifty, but also generous. That's a lot like Bill himself.
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Writing about all this "recycling" got me thinking again about Hope Cahill. She was a subscriber to a weekly paper where I was the editor some years ago. She called one day and said she'd been saving the rubber bands which came along with her newspaper. She suggested we could take them back and use them again.

Hope said she'd leave the rubber bands on her porch in a little sack from time to time. "Your newspaper carrier can pick them up," she said.

I wrote a column about Hope's idea and we were flooded with rubber bands. It turns out that a lot of people had been waiting for someone to suggest what they do with the rubber bands they've been saving. They've been wrapping rubber bands around door handles. Stuffing them into plastic sacks. Making them into little rubber band balls. And now they had a place to take them.

But readers didn't stop there. They also brought us plastic bags, twist-ties, and lots of other things they thought we could use.

Perhaps I should have learned a lesson from that experience: Don't write about recycling. It only encourages people to bring things to you. But I think there's another lesson here as well, one which is more important: People are ready and willing to reuse and recycle. All you have to do is give them the opportunity.
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Iowa is one of ten states with laws requiring a five cent deposit on bottles and cans. You pay the deposit when you buy soda pop and get it back when you return the bottle or can. It's a system which has worked very well for the good of the whole state  -- and is the envy of many other states. It's estimated that more than 80 percent of all cans and bottles covered under the law are returned. But the big grocery chains don't want anything to do with recycling and have been trying to get the law repealed for years. Leading the voices for repeal is Hy-Vee, followed by Casey's, Kum & Go, Kwik Trip and Walmart. They are using weasel words like 'modernization' and 'improved and expanded' to describe their proposal. But their goal is to repeal a very successful law. A repeal bill got through a House committee last year and could be considered in the legislature this year.

Of course, the bottle deposit law could be improved. First step would be to increase the deposit to ten cents. Second would be to include other products in cans and bottles, i.e.; waters, juices, coffee and tea. There are other changes, too, which would strengthen the recycling system. But for now, we'll have to use our energies just to keep the current law in place.


Thursday, Jan. 11. 7 pm. Uptown Bill's Live: Open Mic and more. Our weekly salute to local performers (and occasional touring musicians). Like to perform? Sign up in advance at the coffee house for your 10 minute spot.

Saturday, Jan. 13. 7 pm. Salute to the music of Richard Rodgers. Jos Sasson & Friends. Earlier: Community Folk Sing at 3 pm.

Thursday, Jan. 18. 7 pm. Uptown Bill's Live: Open Mic and more. Our weekly salute to local performers (and occasional touring musicians). Like to perform? Sign up in advance at the coffee house for your 10 minute spot.

Saturday, Jan. 20. 7 pm. Awful Purdies. Earlier: Ukulele Social Club at 4 pm.

Thursday, Jan. 25. 7 pm. Uptown Bill's Live: Open Mic and more. Our weekly salute to local performers (and occasional touring musicians). Like to perform? Sign up in advance at the coffee house for your 10 minute spot.

Saturday, Jan. 27. 7 pm. Singer/songwriters Greg & Susan Dirks. Earlier: Old time gospel music jam at 3 pm.

Saturday, Feb. 3. 7 pm. J Knight & Friends. Earlier: Irish Music Session at 3 pm.

Thursday, Feb. 8. 7 pm. Sweetheart Serenade. Local musicians brings songs of love and valentines to the coffee house.

Saturday, Feb. 10. 7 pm. Annual Pete Seeger Tribute Night. Sign up to sing 2-3 of Seeger's songs at this annual tribute night. Earlier: Community Folk Sing at 3 pm.

Bill's Coffeeshop Newsletter is a virtual extension of Wild Bill's Coffeeshop and Uptown Bill's Coffee House. Published since 2000, the Newsletter is written by Tom Gilsenan, a former manager of Wild Bill's and now director of Uptown Bill's. You can write to him at [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>

Wild Bill's Coffeeshop is a project of the School of Social Work at the University of Iowa. Located in North Hall, it has been a part of campus life in Iowa City for more than 40 years. The coffeeshop is currently closed; it will reopen when classes resume next week. For more information, check the Wild Bill's Coffee Shop and Friends of Bill's Coffeeshop pages on Facebook. You can call the coffeeshop at (319) 335-1281<tel:%28319%29%20335-1281>. Donations to support the work of the coffeeshop may be sent to: Bill's Coffeeshop Fund, University of Iowa Foundation, P.O. Box 4550, Iowa City, IA 52244. Contributions are tax deductible.

Uptown Bill's is the crosstown cousin of Wild Bill's. Now in its 18th year, it includes a bookstore, performance venue and other businesses in addition to a coffeeshop. Located at 730 S. Dubuque<>, Uptown Bill's is open Monday through Friday from 11 am, Saturdays from 9 am. For more information, check the Uptown Bill's website or Facebook pages. You can call Uptown Bill's at (319) 339-0804<tel:%28319%29%20339-0804>. Donations to support the work of Uptown Bill's may be sent to: Uptown Bill's/Extend the Dream, 730 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City, IA 52240<,+Iowa+City,+IA+52240&entry=gmail&source=g>. Contributions are tax deductible. You can also donate online at the Uptown Bill's website:<>. Look for the donate button at the top of the page.


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