During the first week of March, a team from The Tomorrow Plan traveled to Knoxville, Tennessee, to participate in the Smaller Places Summit for recipients of Sustainable Communities grants. The event was aimed at accelerating efforts to build more economically vibrant, resilient, and sustainable communities. It also allowed us to connect with fellow grantees as well as leading national practitioners, thinkers, investors, and policymakers. Our team included Glenn Lyons with the Downtown Community Alliance, Siobhan Spain with the Center on Sustainable Communities, John Peterson with the City of Ankeny, and Dylan Mullenix and Bethany Wilcoxon with the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
The summit provided an exceptional opportunity to meet with federal officials, agencies, and organizations dedicated to making the future of our communities better. In addition, we were able to spend time with others who are working in their communities and regions with a passion for the people they serve.
The summit confirmed one aspect of sustainability that is becoming more and more evident, which is the interconnectivity of our efforts. Whether it be civic or commercial, educational or entertaining, urban or rural, cultivating an inclusive community dynamic will lead us to greater economic prosperity and an enriched quality of place. The Tomorrow Plan presents Greater Des Moines with a very unique opportunity.
Making great places similar to the ones that we already have in Greater Des Moines is key to turning around our economy. Another key to success is your involvement! As facilitators of this planning process, we are striving to breakdown the plethora of elements that The Tomorrow Plan is addressing into more manageable pieces to which you can relate. After all, what does land use or air quality really mean to you?
As regional community members, we need to connect and encourage everyone, every generation to participate. This vision for the future reaches beyond our time. The stories we tell today, the sharing of what we value, and the weaving of those values into the vision will enrich The Tomorrow Plan. Robert J. Grow with Envision Utah suggests that a successful regional plan has “one foot in memory and one foot in prophecy.” Values-guided planning will be stable and enduring, just as we look at life’s tides as opposed to life’s waves.
The Tomorrow Plan is “a campaign for the future of our region” and “a small investment in the future of the country.” The Department of Housing and Urban Development, along with the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, have invested a great deal of resources in regional planning efforts like The Tomorrow Plan; they are counting on us, as the Greater Des Moines region, to deliver. We can – and have to – do better.
Bethany Wilcoxon is an Associate Transportation Planner at the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. She also is the Project Manager for The Tomorrow Plan.
Dylan Mullenix is Principal Transportation Planner at the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. He oversees the long-range planning process as well as the management of other planning activities.
Glenn Lyons is the CEO of the Downtown Community Alliance of Des Moines. He has more than 30 years experience in urban planning and development work in the United States and Canada, including work in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.
John Peterson is an Assistant City Manager for the City of Ankeny, Iowa. He has been the Planning Director or Community Development Director in Ankeny for 25 years and recently joined the City Manager’s office to manage Special Projects, Neighborhood Revitalization, and Comprehensive Planning.
Siobhan Spain joined the Center on Sustainable Communities (COSC) in 2009 and seeks effective ways of supporting the organization’s mission, programming, and fundraising efforts by overseeing its website, media relations, marketing, and branding. She also organizes COSC’s annual Evergreen fundraiser and other development initiatives.