The Iowa’s Living Roadways Community Visioning Program is currently accepting applications for the 2022 program. Eligible communities are those with populations of fewer than 10,000 residents, existing transportation-related issues, and a committee of volunteers willing to dedicate their time and talent to the visioning process. Only communities located within one mile of a state or federal highway will be selected.
Two southwest Iowa communities—Malvern and Shenandoah—are participating in the 2021 Iowa’s Living Roadways (ILR)Community Visioning Program.
Community Visioning is a participatory process that integrates landscape planning and design with sustainable action to assist community leaders and volunteers in making meaningful decisions about their local landscape. The program targets small, rural towns with populations under 10,000 residents that lack the resources needed to address local transportation needs.
“Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.” Those three words are the keys to success for community development according to Steve Adams, who has spent more than two decades as a southwest Iowa community development specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
Since 2001, Centro Latino has become a vibrant, self-sustaining, independent nonprofit providing education and direct services to Spanish speakers from its office located in downtown Council Bluffs. As the Latino population has continued to grow, Centro Latino’s board and director decided data were key to analyzing the current needs of its clients, along with those of other agencies, businesses, and organizations interacting with them to deliver direct services. To get those data, Centro Latino engaged the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED) program to conduct a county-wide needs assessment of the Latino community.
Every spring, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach faculty and staff are honored for exceptional work in areas ranging from service and volunteerism to excellence in research-based education, and 2020 was no exception.
However, this year Vice President for Extension and Outreach John Lawrence also recognized extension professionals who excelled at finding innovative ways to continue educating, informing, and serving Iowans during the global pandemic through a series of COVID-19 Exceptional Effort awards.
Five community development specialists from the Community and Economic Development program are among the 50 extension professionals who are coordinating Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s efforts to help Iowans recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The recovery efforts are focused on six critical issues: the economy, financial security, the food supply, youth education, mental health, and child care (see article on page 1). Extension-wide Covid-19 Recovery Initiative teams (I-Teams) were established to promote and develop programming focused on these issues.
This spring, the public is invited to participate in the Great Iowa Road Trip, a weekend event planned to help revive Iowa’s small businesses and small towns. This special event, scheduled for April 30 and May 1, will be a coordinated mapped tour of open doors at businesses and attractions in southern Iowa.
Dynamic. That’s a word we use to describe the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach program Leading Communities. We describe the program as dynamic because we want to always be able to adapt the program to the current and emerging community leadership and engagement needs of our Iowa counties. A research-based community engagement program, Leading Communities was developed and is provided to Iowa communities by community development specialists in Community and Economic Development.
When the pandemic hit the United States in March 2020, ensuring that local officials had the knowledge to properly implement land use law seemed the furthest thing from a priority, even to specialists in the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED) program. There was too much uncertainty. Fortunately, that didn’t last long. Although the way CED was doing business had to change, continued development and good land use planning remained priorities.
As with many Community and Economic Development (CED) programs in Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the Iowa’s Living Roadways Community Visioning Program was profoundly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdown.
When ISU suspended work-related travel, the program was forced to cancel in-person activities. Read how the program adapted to virtual engagement in 2020 and how that is affecting the 2021 program.
For 44 years, the Office of State and Local Government Programs in the Community and Economic Development (CED) Program at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has offered the Municipal Professionals Institute (MPI) in some form as an in-person training held in Ames every year.
Read how 2020 changed all that and what 2021 looks like.
New housing development is occurring in Iowa, but its distribution is not even across the state. In 2018, just five of Iowa’s 99 counties accounted for more than 65% of the total new housing permits issued statewide.
For places experiencing little new development, an aging and deteriorating housing stock is an urgent concern for local policymakers. While new development is not a cure-all solution to rural housing problems, increasing housing options in rural areas can help attract new employers and stabilize local budgets.
Leaders in rural communities tell us that the demand exists for new homes, yet in many communities it is obvious that homes are not being built. Statewide data for the number of housing permits granted by county indicate why concern may exist.
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED), in partnership with the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Empower Rural Iowa initiative, has been helping rural communities form local housing policy and create housing action plans through the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment (RHRA) program. To date, CED specialists have worked with seven communities, with five more set to begin the program this winter.
AMES, Iowa – Ten Iowa communities have been selected to participate in the Iowa's Living Roadways Community Visioning Program in 2021.
The 2021 visioning communities are Alleman, Calamus, Conrad, Emmetsburg, Malvern, Princeton, Shenandoah, Tama, Toledo, and Wheatland. Three of the communities had participated in the program previously: Emmetsburg (2000-01), Princeton (1996-97) Toledo (1998-99). The program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Transportation in partnership with Iowa State University Landscape Architecture Extension and Trees Forever, an Iowa-based nonprofit environmental advocacy organization.
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Community Food Systems program staff worked hard this summer to transition the Local Food Leader and Community Food Systems trainings and certifications to a virtual format.
Early September marked the launch of virtual Local Food Leader and Community Food Systems Certifications. Both certifications were sold out with cohorts of 16 for Local Food Leader and 21 for Community Food Systems. Each course incorporates a dual-format curriculum with virtual workshops through Zoom and an online course within Moodle.
Your house is now everything – your home, your office, your kids’ school. Turns out, if you spend months on end in your house, the importance of quality, affordable, and safe housing that meets your lifestyle needs is top of mind.
Add in all the news about housing: looming foreclosures and evictions, houses lost to derechos, historically low mortgage interest rates, and suddenly housing is something that matters more than ever. However, with everything going on, who has time to focus on community housing needs? Well, if you are socially distancing and Zooming all day anyway, it’s a perfect time to evaluate and plan for a different future.
At least that’s how it turned out for Ida Grove. Way back in the olden days before COVID-19, Ida Grove agreed to pilot the Rural Housing Readiness Assessment program being offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community Economic Development (CED) in cooperation with the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Community Development Block Grant technical assistance fund.
For two weeks every July for more than four decades, up to 300 municipal professionals from around the state of Iowa have descended on Ames to receive training focusing on real-world instruction that assists municipal clerks, finance officers, and administrators in doing their job. The Iowa Municipal Professionals Institute and Academy (MPI/MPA) are offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Office of State and Local Government Programs and the Iowa League of Cities.
The year-long planning process for the 2020 MPI/MPA was already well underway when COVID-19 started spreading through the United States in March. It didn’t take long to realize that bringing 300 people together in person for the annual training was not feasible for July 2020.
The Iowa’s Living Roadways Community Visioning Program is currently accepting applications for the 2021 program. Eligible communities are those with populations of fewer than 10,000 residents, existing transportation-related issues, and a committee of volunteers willing to dedicate their time and talent to the visioning process. Only communities located within one mile of a state or federal highway will be selected.
Is public participation possible during a pandemic?
That was the question facing Iowa’s Living Roadways Community Visioning program staff in mid-March, when Iowa State University canceled all in-state travel for employees.
Julia Badenhope, ISU professor and visioning program director, decided to use COVID-19 as an opportunity to explore innovative ways to engage the public without compromising the safety of staff, students, and community members.
Many nonprofit boards are feeling the effects of how COVID-19 is changing things for them operationally to fulfill their mission and are making plans to engage in strategic planning. That’s a good thing. However, the pandemic has hindered board members’ ability to meet in person. That’s a bad thing.
Since the pandemic started, the Community and Economic Development CED program in Iowa State University Extension and Outreach had been quite proactive in developing and delivering virtual programming, and mission-statement workshops are no exception.
An important driver of success in communities is the ability of leaders to act strategically. Especially in city government, it can be easy for the day-to-day work of running a city to dominate the council’s time. Some councils go years without ever really sitting down and thinking broadly together about common priorities. This can lead feeling like the city is jumping from issue to issue without making meaningful progress on the things that are most important to the community.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED) can help.
Goal setting is an activity that is hard to imagine doing virtually, yet community members in Palo Alto County met up recently for a Virtual Goal Workshop, facilitated by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED), to focus on Local Economic Development and COVID-19 Transition and Recovery.
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Business Development team will soon be offering business development webinars for small Iowa businesses as they continue to cope with the economic situation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In-home offices, online classes, meetings with your colleagues in a virtual room, they are all a part of our new normal. We are doing it, but we may not all be doing it well – yet!