Days In Des Moines: HuffPost’s Listen To America Tour Stops In Iowa

Jenna Amatulli

The fifth week of HuffPost’s Listen To America road trip took us to Des Moines, Iowa. 

Iowa plays an important role in the United States’ political process: It’s where the first caucuses of the presidential primary cycle take place, and many candidates set up campaign offices in the capital city of Des Moines.

But despite that very American tradition, Des Moines gets its name from a French phrase. It’s named after the Des Moines River ― which had the French colonial name of Rivière des Moines, or “River of the Monks.”

After the HuffPost bus cruised past the glittering gold dome of the Iowa state Capitol building and staff members admired the art in Pappajohn Sculpture Park, we set up shop to talk to locals in the parking lot of Urban Dreams, a company that provides human service programs to people in the area.

We also held a panel in Drake University’s Sussman Theater to discuss inequality in the city ― including how it pertains to income, wealth, health, housing, education and the environment. The event flipped the script of a traditional panel: The panelists were Des Moines community members, and the audience was made up of the city’s leaders and elected officials. You can watch the whole thing here.

Check out the photos below for more on our stop in Iowa:

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

HuffPost visits Des Moines on Oct. 9, as part of "Listen To America: A HuffPost Road Trip." 

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

Sarah Bourassa interviews Wayne Ford and Mary Compos.

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

Ajamu El Amin (aka AJ The Dancer) dances on the sidewalk.

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

Hillary Frey and Emma Reilly discuss interviews.

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

People wait to be interviewed during HuffPost's visit to Des Moines.

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

Hillary Frey signs up Heaven Chamberlain and Heather Ryan to be interviewed.

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

Jo Confino interviews Ajamu El Amin (aka AJ The Dancer).

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

Staff members set up in preparation for interviews.

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

Mary Compos is interviewed.

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

Lawrence DaBarber is interviewed on the HuffPost bus.

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

Moderator Wayne Ford speaks to panelists Nancy Mwirotsi, Victor Ayara, Lisa Thai, Yadira Figueroa, Art Turner (aka Country), Tilak and John Campbell during the panel event. 

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

Nancy Mwirotsi speaks during the panel. 

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

Tilak speaks to the audience.

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

Dr. Anita Fleming-Rife ask questions of the panel.

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

Moderator Wayne Ford speaks to the audience.

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

John Campbell responds to questions.

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

Ako Abdul-Samad asks questions of the panelists.

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

Victor Ayara speaks to the audience.

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

Art Turner (aka Country) talks about homelessness.

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

Polk County Supervisor John F. Mauro speaks about hunger in the community.

(Damon Dahlen/HuffPost)

The HuffPost tour bus driving at night during its stop in Iowa. 

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.