Sustainable communityWashington opens partnership with the University of Iowa Thursday
Over the next year, the City of Washington, Washington Public Library and the Washington Chamber of Commerce will get some help in the form of projects being done free of charge by graduate and upper class undergraduate students from the University of Iowa.
The Iowa Institute of Sustainable Communities (IISC) has announced that Washington will be one of three partnering communities for the next school year. The other communities are Cedar Rapids and Muscatine. Program coordinator Nick Benson said that IISC identifies needs of partnering communities and matches them with University resources. He also said it gives university students the opportunity to work in real world settings and gain experience.
“We aid in projects emphasizing economic development, art, culture, health and community vitality,” Benson said.
An event announcing the partnership will be held Thursday afternoon in conjunction with the Washington Farmers Market. The University’s steel drum band Panderlirium will perform at 5 p.m., followed by remarks from university and community officials at 5:30 p.m.
Washington Chamber of Commerce director Michelle Redlinger said the partnership began about a year and a half ago, while she was attending a seminar at the University. During the program, people from the University discussed sustainable communities.
“They talked about a community that can function on its own and has a variety of options for community members,” she said.
During the seminar, the university members discussed projects being done in Dubuque. Benson said that IISC had worked with Dubuque for two years and had done 10 projects. Redlinger spoke with the program directors about Washington could work with the program.
While the program was founded in 2009, the projects in Dubuque changed the manner in which the program functioned. Most recently, the program expanded to include all departments on campus.
“Community development is multi-disciplined,” Benson said.
Benson said many of the projects have already been determined. He said the school of library science would work with the Washington Public Library on several projects, including reclassification of the library’s book system and to start a program for Washington students interested in a career dealing with the arts.
The school of engineering will do research for the city into the proposed design of the Wellness Park and the feasibility study, as well as develop a watershed for the park.
Redlinger said that the school of business would help the chamber determine a new marketing campaign.
“I really wanted to work with a program that could help me tell our story better,” she said. “We’ve had so many slogans over the years and we are almost out of our brochures, so we had a need to create new brochures for Washington. We are working with the marketing institute, which is an honors grad-level program within the school of business. The team is learning about Washington. We went on some tours and we are looking at how we can sell Washington.”
She said the program has more resources than are available to the chamber.
Benson said that Thursday’s program might be delayed if it rains. He said that he would determine Thursday morning if the program would be held. If the program is cancelled, it will be reported on the Washington Evening Journal’s Web site.