My friends and family thought I was crazy to leave Atlanta for Iowa City... I couldn't imagine still living in Georgia now.
Thanks for visiting my website. I'm Donald Baxter, a 46 year old graphic designer living in Iowa City, Iowa, since the end of 2000. My hometown is Atlanta, Georgia, a city where I spent most of my life. I've lived also in Houston, Texas, Huntsville, Alabama, (my parents recently retired to Huntsville) and Lawrence, Kansas. I am a graduate of the University of Kansas and received my BFA from the College of Art and Design there in 1979.
I work in the Acquisitons Department at the University of Iowa Libraries. I also work as a freelance graphic and web designer for The University of Iowa Department of Broadcasting Services (radio stations WSUI and KSUI). I maintain the websites for both radio stations and design and produce most of the printed communications from the Department. Public radio is one of my passions and I enjoy listening to public radio stations and programming from all over the United States and Canada.
Betty, Hector, and Inez
So why Iowa? Well, why not? Atlanta was getting too big and too expensive for me but I think I would have been fine there if I never actually had to venture into the suburbs. Atlanta has become one of those 'doughnut' cities: jobs in the suburbs, leaving the city to either the really wealthy or the poverty stricken. I had been to college in the Midwest and had friends in Eastern Iowa that I had visited several times so Iowa City was on my list of place to consider moving to. I put my house in Atlanta up for sale at a price that I thought would discourage its sale--the house sold the first week it was on the market. I rented a near suburban apartment for my last year in Atlanta. At the end of that year, I packed up my stuff and my two cats Agnes (recently deceased) and Betty for the long trip to Iowa City.
The first year was tough--jobs are hard to come by here. I finally found a terrible part-time job at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, but it at least got me started here. Shortly after a long year at UIHC I found a part-time position at the UI College of Law Library (where I worked for an alarmingly cheerful woman who turned out to be a John Bircher Catholic) and now I work full time at the University of Iowa Libraries in the Acquisitions Department (e-mail me about what you want the University to buy). I work with a great group of people now that I really like. Iowa City is a tough place to move to unless you have a job lined-up already--it's been hard for me and I consider myself to have been lucky. Patience and persistence paid off.
My house in University
Would I choose Iowa City again if I knew what I know now. I'm not unhappy here, but I don't think I would do it again. I find Iowans rather entrenched in a self-loathing that keeps them from making good development decisions and preserving its quality of life. Like much of rural America, Iowa is rushing to the bottom in an attempt to attract any employer, chase any means of support. Sprawl and chainstores are seen as progress here and if a town doesn't have those two elements, it's seen as a failure. The places Iowans seem to point to as examples of progress just make me want to cry. Drive through West Des Moines or Coralville sometime and see if you aren't depressed afterward. If that's a place that looks like the future of anything we probably don't have much to discuss.
I own a little house in University Heights, an incorporated enclave (pop. 980) surrounded by Iowa City. This means I've become disenfranchised from participating in the political life of Iowa City. One nice thing about University Heights is that we have a police force that actually keeps vehicular speeds low. Most of the Iowa City area hates our police force, but as a pedestrian and a cyclist who believes that it is the automobile and not television that will cause the ultimate demise of Western Civilization, I love our UH Cops! Check out a bit more about the pedestrian rights movement here. E-mail Me!