We love letters. Maybe it’s because our grandmas always used to tape a quarter to our birthday cards when we were little and we now have this Pavlovian thing going on. Regardless, we want to hear from you. Sing our praises, bust our chops, or just tell us what’s on your mind. Send your thoughts to editor@americanwaymag.com.


I recently read your June 1 story “The Fall and Rise of Cedar Rapids.” My grandfather started a business in Cedar Rapids in 1932, a similar economic time to that of today. The impact he and my father had on the community as leaders was significant, and I believe it is partly responsible for the resilience and can-do mentality that is endemic to the town. His entrepreneurship was akin to that of the small-business owners who are starting to reopen following the flood.

I left Cedar Rapids to serve my country as part of a call to duty I learned during my childhood as a third-generation Cedar Rapidian. Service, selflessness, and respect are values that are the cornerstones of that great community. The waters have subsided and businesses are rebuilding, but there are still those in need. My aunt is a prime example of the can-do mentality, as she has personally raised over $40,000 to bridge the gap in federal funding for local citizens.

Thank you for a well-written article that highlighted some of the monetary shortfalls of the recovery but that, most importantly, cast an eye on the spirit of Cedar Rapidians to come together and teach the world a lesson on determination.


ADAM PITLUK RESPONDS: I received an e-mail from a friend asking me why I would run that story. “It has nothing to do with travel,” he said, “and if anything, it highlights that Cedar Rapids isn’t ready for tourists or industry.” I tried to explain to him that before being the editor of American Way, I was a reporter for Time magazine, that this is a very important story, and the opportunity to run it in such a widely read forum was something I wasn’t going to let pass me by. Not to mention that I am an American -- an American who has been to and loves Cedar Rapids and doesn’t want to see it fail -- and that this story needed to be told. He said, “I don’t get it.” Then your letter came. I read it to him, and he sure got it then. Thank you so much for your kind words and insight into Cedar Rapids. You really “get” what the story tried to do.

Thank you for including the story “The Fall and Rise of Cedar Rapids” in the June 1 edition. As a Cedar Rapids resident, I can vouch for the fact that the article tells the story very well. My company has been trying to get the message out to the entire country that Cedar Rapids is still fighting the devastating effects of the flood. There are billions, with a b, in rebuilding and reconstruction dollars needed, yet Cedar Rapids has only received millions in response from Washington, D.C. The pictures show the devastation that impacted this vibrant city. Cedar Rapidians are fighters, and we will come back stronger than ever, but we do need assistance. Thanks for sharing the story.


ADAM PITLUK RESPONDS: There are scores of us out there who felt deflated and hopeless as the raging river swallowed the city with reckless abandon. The situation looked grim. But we knew that a bright future lay ahead. We take comfort in knowing that hard-working, resilient Iowans like you are continuing to fight. We will follow the rebuilding of Cedar Rapids and be a media watchdog to make sure it’s done right.


Reading American Way is usually something I rather enjoy, and there are always several articles that catch my attention. However, I’ve noticed lately a proliferation of indecipherable fonts in your magazine, from the “I thought this was a baseball article, not the Magna Carta” font in the April 1 issue [“Take Me Out to the Ball Games”] to the “Did someone kidnap the barbecue for ransom money?” font on the cover of the May 15 issue. These difficult-to-read fonts do not enhance my enjoyment of the articles, and I’m guessing it’s bad when a guy with a graduate degree who has been reading English for the past 26 years closes the magazine, saying to himself, “This is just too difficult.” I’m not advocating you restrict yourselves to Times New Roman and Helvetica but perhaps something that vaguely resembles the Latin alphabet?


I was sorry to learn that you experienced such frustration with the design treatments we executed for the features you mentioned. We have a logical thought process behind our font choices and overall execution of feature stories. With every feature, we try to find the tone and personality for that story and amplify it visually. For example, with the baseball story, the overall theme we came away with was “pilgrimage.” With that as our theme, we commissioned an illustration with an illuminated-manuscript look and feel and fonts to match. That said, we are in the field of visual communication, and illegibility is never our end goal. In the future, we will try to be more cognizant of these issues.