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‘Our Towns’ authors: Cedar Rapids can define long run of urban existence

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‘Our Towns authors Cedar Rapids can define future of urban

In Cedar Rapids prevent, Jim and Deb Fallows say the way the metropolis has crafted anew following disasters is crucial to its tale

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Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell (left) speaks with “Our Town” authors Deb and Jim Fallows (centre) and lawyer Emily Ellingson (appropriate) through a panel dialogue at the Cedar Rapids General public Library on Wednesday. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Soon after approaching devastating floods, the harmful 2020 derecho and disruptive COVID-19 pandemic with a “build again better” frame of mind, award-profitable journalists Deb and Jim Fallows instructed a Cedar Rapids audience Wednesday that Iowa’s second-most significant town is poised to direct the way amid mid-dimensions American towns in defining city dwelling.

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In a public discussion hosted by the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance at the downtown Cedar Rapids Community Library, the duo of former journalists for the Atlantic journal shared some of the attributes they see of thriving communities around the region. They claimed Cedar Rapids is nicely-positioned for the civic and economic rebirth of American communities, especially emerging from the pandemic.

The Fallows in 2018 posted “Our Towns,” a portrait of the civic and economic reinvention getting put in cities across the U.S. mainly out of view of the national media. The well known ebook was adapted into an HBO documentary very last year.

Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell stated the city’s investment in a everlasting $750 million flood regulate technique soon after the 2008 flood delivers an illustration of how the town has rebuilt strategically to assist additional men and women. And as the metropolis replants thousands of trees that had been downed in the derecho’s hurricane-force winds, she pointed out that amid the initially areas to get new trees had been neighborhoods that lacked them prior to the storm strike.

She stated individuals are indicators that Cedar Rapids results in its individual model for achievement.

“We develop stuff, we construct things, we start off from zero and choose what we want that to seem like,” O’Donnell mentioned. “What we have accomplished with the floods and the derecho is we took that adversity, and we determined that we ended up likely to use that as an option and re-imagined not only what we had been as a city, but how we can be a superior metropolis for everyone.”

Economic Alliance Government Director Doug Neumann questioned about the job organic disasters need to perform in how the metropolis marketplaces by itself and tells its possess story, as some appear to have grown weary of the narrative of devastation.

Deb said she was struck by a sense of urgency in Cedar Rapids that is probable driven by the trifecta of purely natural disasters and other gatherings, and said that urgency will be a driving drive in moving the city ahead and fearlessly considering new ideas that emerge.

It is vital to admit this component of Cedar Rapids record so that long term generations born following these disasters never hear about it in “an hideous way,” Deb mentioned, but a lot more as a issue-of-fact assertion of the city’s identification. Furthermore, with the flood only 14 several years in the city’s rearview mirror, she explained time will probable iron out the story naturally.

“It appears to be like this is a pure place of changeover that it will resolve itself in yet another 15 several years or some thing … but it won’t be the predominant tale and men and women in the Legislature will not say, ‘Stop conversing about it,’” she stated.

Each group by definition is distinctive, Jim mentioned, but several spots this sort of as hurricane-ravaged New Orleans have been by way of difficult instances. Cedar Rapids is showing how a new urban life can be created. It is among the major-edge vanguard of communities hoping to consider progressive actions to handle the local climate disaster with a thing like its Group Climate Action Plan steering sustainability.

“Resilience is pretty vital for the state in its local weather long run, but newness — you’re generating a new town,” he stated.

He recommended it issues far more that Cedar Rapids is pleasing than distinctive. Jim and Deb Fallows reported amenities this kind of as trails and bike trails, a thriving craft brewery scene, public artwork and other high-quality-of-everyday living investments are vital to attracting individuals to stay and get the job done in a selected put.

Nikki Wilcox, communications and marketing director for the Economic Alliance, wrote in an email that “while we hope Cedar Rapids could be featured in a long run Fallows publication, practically nothing is currently in the operates or made a decision on.”

“Jim and Deb are nationally regarded speakers and if one more book or documentary is not in the performs, we hope that the Fallows share our tale as they go on touring to amazing cities throughout the country and remind persons of our tale and our ground breaking mindset,” Wilcox explained.

Remarks: (319) 398-8494 marissa.payne@thegazette.com

“Our City” authors Deb and Jim Fallows discuss in the course of a panel discussion at the Cedar Rapids Community Library on Wednesday. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell listens through a panel discussion with “Our City” authors Jim and Deb Fallows at the Cedar Rapids General public Library on Wednesday. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

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