OPINION

Iowa’s greatest teams - Our home towns

Staff Writer
Story City Herald

—by Gerald F. Schnepf, Executive Director,

Keep Iowa Beautiful

Successful Iowa communities have similarities to winning sports teams. Championship teams have great coaches and talented players. Successful communities have great mayors and city councils and interested and active citizens.

Successful communities and winning teams both have:

*A shared Vision,

*A work together attitude,

*A positive and “can do” spirit,

*Clear future goals,

*Adventuresome, exploration and risk taking attitude

*Players in the right position and doing the right jobs and

*A strong cheerleading sector.

The key element for the success (or failure) of a team or community is whether the coach or leaders provide vision and the leadership to pursue that vision.

The mayor and city council set the direction and policies for the Community, in essence, the vision. The question often is – is the vision set by the officials simply survival, status quo or is it a true vision for the future. Is it one that will provide for community improvement, advancement, enhancement of the quality of life and growth. That vision generally results in both cultural and economic vitality – a shared vision.

The selection of a mayor (the coach) many times is simply based on finding someone who will do it out of the goodness of their heart, but, without the vision and enthusiasm needed to make a difference. Trying to find someone can be the challenge. As a result the community does not progress as everyone would like. Keep Iowa Beautiful has found a solution!

To help communities with that situation, Keep Iowa Beautiful has determined that the provision of a professional to serve as a “Community Coach” can encourage community leadership, support the development of a vision and most importantly help coach the community into implementing that vision. It is done through training in grant writing, developing the vision with local input, helping to search out potential revenue sources to implement the vision and in providing leadership training. One coach can service a cluster of communities from up to seven to 12 communities. The other key is that we provide that coach for a period of five years so that there is a since of stability and continuity.

That community coach serves as a coach, at times a referee and at other times a cheerleader. With some initial success the communities begin to develop a confidence and can move on to larger projects with a result of not only an improved community, but, equally important the development of a spirit of vitality in both the economic and cultural elements of the community. With that desire to win (succeed) the community thrives and change starts to occur that will provide sustainability to that success.

As we look around the State, it is clear to see those communities with vision. They stand out in positive ways – they are clean and attractive with well maintained public facilities and filled with activity. For those that are not as blessed it may be time for change – to see a new vision for your community – consider the Hometown Pride program. Citizens need to ask for and demand more from their leaders. Make your hometown a winning team!

(Gerald Schnepf writes a regular column about “Building Strong Communities”. This is his November column. Gerald’s email is gschnepf@keepiowabeautiful.com)