Urban. Rural. Together.

Bob Riley | CEO, Riley Resource Group

The Idea: Our rural and urban fortunes are linked together in a “system” that requires that we depend on each other. We must extend this symbiotic relationship more broadly and deeply throughout Iowa.

Des Moines is a great city because it is connected to every corner of a great state … a state made from innovative and insightful leaders, hardworking people from all over the world, who had the wisdom to put together a series of communities that valued all of the Seven Capitals (Natural, Social, Financial, Cultural, Built, Political, Human) that are necessary for a cohesive and sustainable Iowa.

When one looks at the flow of all these capitals between and among all the cities and counties of Iowa, and from Iowa to the rest of the world, it is apparent we in Iowa are smack-dab in the middle of the Mesopotamia of modern agriculture, and Greater Des Moines is the epicenter, or fulcrum, that helps drive this system into the future.

As we look at the independent and interconnected nature of our 3.1 million inhabitants, on 55,000 square miles, in and around 947 cities and towns, with our 367 school districts, our 99 counties, our 53 watersheds, our 29 private and 13 community colleges, and three regent universities, we see the web of assets, or capitals, mentioned above, and how truly interdependent we all are on each other.

This built capital has served us well. It has enhanced the lives of millions over time, and will continue in the future, as we work together to maintain and enhance.

Over the last 175 years, what has made Des Moines and a few other cities in our state stronger has been the migration of rural populations into urban cities, providing an exceptionally talented workforce, work ethic and educational level, with an innate innovation and curiosity ― great people from a great state making great cities!

We must, in this 21st century, extend this symbiotic relationship more broadly and deeply throughout Iowa. Because we are all better when each of us is better. Because when the least of us are stronger, we are all stronger. And when we build on rural and urban strengths, we multiply our results. We must keep together in our rural and urban pursuits of these capitals ― because we can all win if we are united in pursuit of a greater good.

Take our Natural capital ― if we can keep the soil where it is, and build back what we have lost over the last 150 years, using regenerative agriculture, the state will be better, and both our rural and urban residents will benefit. As we build back our soil, and protect it with practices such as cover crops, the flow of water across our landscape will slow, nutrients will stay in place. Our water quality will benefit. Floods in our cities will be less severe. Our landscape will be resilient and attractive for even more in-migration, providing Human capital to our rural and urban institutions. Iowa will be better.

As we continue to see that our rural and urban fortunes are linked together in a “system” that requires that we depend on each other, where we are truly “better together,” each of our capitals will be enhanced.

Our economies depend on each other, and can grow as we work together. Our populations, our cultures, our politics, all depend on all of us working together for common greater good. As we build “Our Iowa ― the 21st Century Rural and Urban Economy,” we will be the example for the rest of the nation, the rest of the world. >