Sustainability and Vision in the Greater Des Moines Region, Part 1

Jean Danielson

Jean Danielson

On Tuesday afternoon (yesterday) I attended a focus group on sustainability and the Des Moines region that was hosted by the Greater Des Moines Partnership. A wide variety of interested people were in attendance, from a regional mayor to small- and medium-sized business owners, architects, city planners and those interested in what green space meant for this region and its inhabitants.

Let me begin by saying that I had spent the morning going over an operational audit—in all its myriad procedures—of what I do here, which is to direct operations.  So my mind was fortunately already in ‘systems’ and what ‘systems’ mean when Chaden (boss man) told me he didn’t have time for the meeting I requested, but we could sure talk on the way to a meeting he was attending and then on the way back again.

“What meeting?”

“Let me tell you on the way,” he said with a smile.

I grabbed my bag, a cup of coffee, a college-ruled wire notebook and my sense of adventure as I walked out the door and got into the passenger side of his hybrid, making sure not to spill the Tupperware of soup that was sitting on the seat as I moved it to the floor.

Fast forward to the meeting….

This group, perhaps 35 people, were sitting in a room for one-and-a-half hours only, to bring together an aggregated untold decades of experience in public policy, sustainability, economic development, a knowledge of city government in its multiple forms, the agricultural community and a deep and abiding care for what happens in the world that they live in—most specifically Des Moines and its surrounding communities, both rural and urban, in an expansive and amazing mosaic.

There did not seem to be one question that was to be answered by the group. Instead, the discussions were lead by how does one (person, group, community) maintain, create and integrate this complex idea of sustainability into all areas of civic and personal life?

Wowsers. A big task.


Part II will be posted on Monday, November 22nd


– Jean Danielson is director of operations for Indigo Dawn. She likes watching reruns of Fargo and pointing out to people that the dead body in the field is played by Prince.


  1. I’m sorry you didn’t think the focus group was a worthwhile use of your time. I’d like to speak with you further about this process if you’re interested.

    • JeanDanielson says

      Oh my! I don’t know where you read that. I adored the passion and complexity of the meeting and look forward to many more. Please be sure to take a look at Part II of the article.

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