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What do you want for your community?

Brown shares results of embedded experience

- Daily Freeman-Jounral photo by Anne Blankenship Deb Brown of SaveYour.Town gave a presentation to a group of local residents Wednesday night at Fuller Hall. The presentation shared information she compiled from a series of interviews and meetings with students, business leaders, government officials, civic clubs and others in the past two weeks. All of the participants were asked, “What do you want for Webster City.”

After nearly two weeks of interviews and meetings, talks with dozens of local residents, students, business owners and government officials, Deb Brown of SaveYour.Town shared some of her findings with a small gathering of local residents Wednesday night at Fuller Hall.

“What do you want for Webster City?” was the question she asked in those interviews and meetings, and Wednesday night said that she received many great ideas.

She said the top responses fell into several categories, including stores, parks and trails, buildings, activities, food and health.

Brown said many of the respondents said they would like to see more stores. Others thought a basic general store, like Ben Franklin, would help provide many of the goods that are not currently found in Webster City. Brown also said popup shops might also offer some variety in the community. She showed photos of the recent Ladies Night Out which featured a pop up store with several independent and home-based businesses.

“If you go on Etsy and search for Webster City, you will find many area entrepreneurs,” she said.

She also said it’s essential for shoppers to support local businesses.

Brown said many of the respondents also discussed the parks and trail systems in the area.

“We have an incredible number of trails and parks in Hamilton County,” she said. She added that the Parks to People Program that is a partnership between Hamilton, Boone and Webster counties is working to improve and promote all area natural resources.

Brown also talked about communities that had created maker spaces which allowed people to share workshop spaces for creative endeavors.

She suggested ideas for improving the look of empty downtown buildings – such as putting murals or photographs in the windows.

“Get the third-grade classes to make paper snowflakes and hang them up,” she said.

She also encouraged the Chamber of Commerce or the city to develop a façade grant that would provide business owners with seed money to make exterior improvements.

Brown told the audience that the young people she talked to wanted to see more activities – such as a drive-in movies, bowling and others. She offered examples of other communities that had established and an outdoor movie showing and other volunteer-based community events.

She also talked about recruiting volunteers to help plan and execute community events.

“It’s important to reach out to people,” she said. “Don’t ask them to serve on a committee for year. Ask it they can help for two hours.”

Brown wrapped up by saying the most important thing people can do is to change their attitude.

“Start looking for possibilities,” she said.

The presentation is part of a partnership with SaveYour.Town, Legacy Learning Boone River Valley and The Daily Freeman-Journal during the months of November through January. In addition to Brown’s embedded community experience, the collaboration will feature:

• A residency for international photojournalist Brendan Hoffman at the Daily Freeman Journal

• Brendan Hoffman will be offering a series of free photography classes for Hamilton County residents. Those interested can register at www.legacylearningbrv.org. Classes start Dec. 7.

This collaboration is possible since Hoffman received financial support from the Magnum Foundation and a Yunghi grant, in addition to a grant from the Lenfast Institute for Journalism in partnership with the Facebook Journalism Project received by the collaboration.,

Hoffman will begin his residency at the Daily Freeman-Journal on Dec. 1.

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