On February 3, 2007, Urban Planning faculty at The University of Iowa hosted a policy summit focusing on a single broad question: How can urban planning help improve the overall quality of the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City region? The event was supported by a Year of Public Engagement Grant from the Office of the President.
Over sixty people participated, including members of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, the City Council of Iowa City, the City Council of Cedar Rapids, the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, the Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce’s Regionalism Task Force, 1000 Friends of Iowa, The James Gang, the Johnson County Local Food Alliance, the Iowa Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Administration, the Johnson County League of Women Voters’ Regional Government Committee, and FAIR!
I opened the event by welcoming people and providing an overview of the day’s activities. I then made a presentation that stressed the value of “Imagining CRANDICIA” [Cedar Rapids AND Iowa City IA]; that is, of thinking of Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and their immediate surroundings as being part of an interconnected region. This was followed by a two-hour “Planning Directors Roundtable,” which involved City Administrators, Directors of Planning, and other equivalent officials from Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Linn County, Johnson County, the Johnson County Council of Governments, two of the region’s major school districts, and Campus Planning at the University of Iowa.
In the third part, seven members of the Planning faculty spoke about specific topics concerning the region: Peter Fisher addressed “Regional Cooperation and Local Government Finance”; Heather MacDonald, “Housing Markets in East Central Iowa”; Jerry Anthony, “Cornfield Mythology”; Alan Peters, “The Creative Class and the Cultural/Technology Corridor”: John Fuller, “Transportation in the Corridor”: Lucie Laurian, “Regional Environmental Questions”; and Rick Funderburg, “Attaining Regional Perspective Using GIS.”
This faculty panel session was followed by a public exploration of creative ideas for improving the region, which I moderated.