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CultureAll’s Open Book Presents: JJ Singh Kapur and Tracy Codel

August 28 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

The Turbanator

JJ Singh Kapur

JJ Kapur was twelve years old when the unexpected happened. His family was worshipping at their Sikh temple in West Des Moines, Iowa, when a group of news reporters interrupted their service. His congregation received news that a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, had just become the site of a mass shooting by a white neo-Nazi gunman. The shooting happened in a small, Midwestern town only three hundred miles away. JJ remembers thinking, “It could have been us.”

This turning point became the beginning of JJ’s interfaith work in Iowa. In high school, JJ started a youth organization called “The Turbanators,” which was focused on “turban-ating” the negative stigma surrounding Sikhism in Iowa through awareness building and community service. In 2017, JJ became the first turbaned Sikh to win the most prestigious high school speech and debate competition in the U.S. After graduating in 2022 from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Theater and Performance Studies, JJ returned to his hometown of Des Moines as an AmeriCorps Lead for America Fellow, where he is currently serving with CultureALL to help Iowans build bridges with their diverse neighbors by cultivating a human library across his home state called “Open Book”

52 Walks with Friends: A Year of Intentional Connection and Gratitude

Tracy Codel

Tracy Codel is a Des Moines native whose childhood home sat on a cul-de-sac in the Beaverdale neighborhood. Summer days were spent in endless games of kickball and hide-and-seek or exploring the deep woods, creeks, and ravines of two nearby parks. She developed her sense of wonder about nature during that time when some of the best toys were magnifying glasses, sticks to turn things over, and hammers to crack things open.

After attending Drake University on a track scholarship, she ventured to San Antonio and St. Louis to teach mathematics and computers and coach cross-country. She met her husband on a St. Louis YMCA masters swim team, and then found herself back in Des Moines when his job required them to move to Iowa to develop his career. After she gave birth to the first of their two sons in 1999, Tracy became a stay-at-home mom and was actively involved in leading several committees at both church and her children’s schools, where a repeating focus with her efforts was on building community. She now enjoys the empty nest transition with her husband and finds great joy in tutoring high school math students online. She replenishes herself through yoga, hiking, biking, traveling, participating in her women’s adventure group, and is contemplating taking up piano lessons again.

“In order to combat the loneliness of COVID and to cope with an unknown medical condition, I began a year-long journey in February of 2021, whereby I walked with a different friend each week and blogged about it on Facebook. Come walk with me as I share my uplifting story about the restorative power of nature and human connection.”


August 28
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Lisbon Public Library & Heritage Hall
201 E Main St
Lisbon, IA United States