We asked musicians, artists, young professional leaders, business owners and creatives to tell us what they'd like to see in central Iowa in the next year to make it greater. Here are their ideas. Share yours with #2015dsm on Instagram and Twitter.
Emilee Richardson, marketing communications manager at Science Center of Iowa and Blank IMAX Dome Theater, Young Professionals Connection president: My 2015 resolution for Des Moines: To work together with our neighbors and help to establish the entire Midwest as an exciting place to live, work and play. Des Moines has grown up a lot in the last several years, and we've gotten a lot of great recognition, but Iowa is still considered a "fly-over" state to much of the country. I'd love to see that change… or at least begin to. Des Moines is not an island!
Mike Draper, owner of Raygun: My 2015 resolution for Des Moines: For the city to be named in more top 10 lists. Des Moines' rankings on those lists is the number three reason I live here. I'm looking forward to Wells Fargo Arena landing SXSW. I think with that new convention hotel in the works, we can lure it away from Austin.
Mickey Davis, Des Moines Social Club Program Manager: My 2015 resolution for Des Moines: Spend less time talking about how many lists we're on as a city and go out and create something.
Abi Reiland, Founder, Abi Reiland Communications: Des Moines has been recognized as a rapidly growing and developing city over the past few years. Our emphasis on the downtown scene, music and the arts, and support of local small business owners is nothing short of amazing. So, moving into 2015, I'd like our community to use that momentum and put additional focus on healthy living (for all demographics). Although we have many options available from 5Ks and gyms, to trails and specialized studios, I think it can be difficult to navigate what healthy living means from person to person. Teaching an entire community to alter our perception from processed low-fat foods and weight loss, to whole food and strength development as a means of health, will take education and active involvement in the cause. Des Moines has bragging rights for their spot on published lists, and I'd like to see us on a Healthiest City list.
Katie Stocking, Founder and Owner, Happy Medium: My New Year's resolution for Des Moines would be to continue our technology growth and create better everyday living experiences for the community. Working in the technology world, we see so many cool things every day that change people's lives for the better. I would love to see (and be a part of) Des Moines becoming a leader in this area.
As an example, I believe we need more public Wi-Fi options to encourage businesses to have it available for customers. Another example would be to have our parking meter cards automatically renew rather than visiting the machines to refill with money. What if Des Moines had a real-time parking app, where you could always see where the nearest available parking spot was?
The options are endless, and these are the things I think will make our city very enticing to current and future residents!
Jonathan Brendemuehl, Corporate Communications Manager, Bankers Trust: Des Moines has evolved into a destination city, so my New Year's resolution for our community is that we embrace this status and rise to the occasion. A tangible example of this could be creating a high-speed rail system linking metros throughout the Midwest. Studies have shown next generation rail is a win/win as it creates jobs and could reduce travel times from 30 to 50 percent. A network like this is critical to enticing future businesses to lay roots in central Iowa and encouraging tourism.
I love showing off our community and hope we have new easy and affordable ways to do it in the future.
Liz Lidgett, Founder and President, Liz Lidgett Fine Art: Des Moines' art scene continues to grow beyond the strong foundation of the Pappajohn Sculpture Park and the Des Moines Art Center. Organizations like the Social Club and the upcoming DesMoinesArts are offering new outlets for local artists. Galleries like Olson-Larsen, Moberg, Viaduct, and Transient continue to offer artists a way to exhibit new work. Let's continue to use this momentum and channel it toward more experimental types of artwork. I'd love to see a sharp increase in temporary and untraditional artwork. This can include new opportunities for street art (both permanent and not), performance artwork and happenings, and using unusual locations like waterways. Although these forms of artwork are harder to monetize, they are an essential part of the vitality of an art scene and a city. I believe an increase in these opportunities will prove a great way to help Des Moines become an arts destination.
Scott Yoshimura, singer for Canby, drummer for The Envy Corps: My 2015 resolution for Des Moines: Keep our ego in check. I love this city. I think it's arguably one of the best places to live, especially when raising a family or starting a business. But as we're growing and becoming a contender on the national circuit, we become more and more of a "big city." This comes with increased difficulties and inconveniences to daily life, especially in regard to transportation. If we continue to grow at our recent rates, we will be forced to deal with the fact that we won't always be able to park right in front of the restaurant or shop that we wish to patronize. We might possibly even be forced to walk two to three blocks regularly. God forbid we convince each other to use the bus system when we can, which isn't nearly as bad as everyone thinks it is. My 2015 resolution for Des Moines is keep our ego in check, quit complaining, bring on Hy-Vee, we can walk.
Joe Lawler, music writer for Juice and the Des Moines Register:
More/better venues: Toward the end of the year there was a little implosion of venues shutting down as House of Bricks transitioned to Streetcar 209, The Grapevine closed to seek out a new location, El Bait Shop stopped hosting regular shows and Hull Avenue Tavern and Locust Tap temporarily shut their doors. The venues that are still operating or are considering opening their doors need to pay attention to what has worked and what hasn't to improve their spaces. While more venues are nice, better venues will improve the music-going experience and draw more music fans out.
Better attended shows: If you want a better music scene in Des Moines, you need to be attending the shows. Local fans need your support and the touring acts playing Wednesday night shows need a reason to come back to Des Moines. You never know who might blow up after visiting Des Moines (think Macklemore). Memories of Des Moines being a supportive town help ensure return visits.
A fresh start for festivals.
Lazerfest: After weather problems in Indianola and Boone, it might be time to re-examine the early May date. It's almost always cold and rainy, and the switch to Wells Fargo Arena last year (while necessary) just didn't work for a festival. Lazerfest sold out in 2015 but only drew 10,000 fans last year. That trend needs to be reversed.
80/35: The festival struggled to line up its second headliner last year and many attendees won't commit until at least the big names are in place. Hopefully the later date (July 10-11) frees things up a bit in the booking process and draws in fans who had other plans on 4th of July weekend. Let's just hope we find out who is closing things out in April, not June.
Concerts at Water Works Park: For years Water Works was the home of festivals in Des Moines, but it's been quiet in recent years. Hopefully the River Bank Bash (June 27 with Eric Church and Travis Tritt) will revitalize things a bit.
Nate Logsdon, singer for Mumford's, co-founder Maximum Ames record label and music festival: My resolution for Ames this year is to stay true to our underground roots. The music community has grown a lot in the past five years, we have thriving record labels, numerous live music events and festivals, and great clubs for bands to play. The growth of the community is exciting, but it's also important to stay true to how we got here, which is playing in each other's basements and living rooms and weird DIY spaces. Those basements and backyards are still killing it in Ames today. I resolve to devote as much energy to those small- scale performance opportunities as I do to the exciting larger-scale events we've grown into. Ames' music scene is exactly like a house: the foundation is a basement.
Sarah Day Owen, editor of Juice: My resolution for Des Moines is for the city to find ways to allow creative ideas or businesses that draw young professionals. The pilot program for food trucks, finally, is a start, but we're behind other cities with thriving food truck scenes. Des Moines has the opportunity to be a leader among cities by finding a way to allow ride-sharing services to operate safely. I would hope this in turn entices other ride-sharing services besides Uber to come to central Iowa. By having a less car-centric culture in Des Moines, downtown will have greater flexibility to grow.
Sara Bridell, manager, Capes Kafe: My 2015 resolution for Des Moines: I want Des Moines to get out there and enjoy what our unique city brings to the table! Too often I still hear "nothing cool happens here" which is so terribly false. This coming year will bring our first big comic convention, several film festivals and music festivals, a ramen house, and so much art. If you want this city to be cool you have to go out and support the awesome things that are happening!
Cat Rocketship, artist: In the coming months I hope Des Moines will see strange new endeavors. I daydream about art parades (like Coney Island's Mermaid Parade), capital-H Happenings, bizarre parties and late-night revelries, secret societies with public goals, and guerilla art installed under cover of darkness. I want to keep hearing about Iowans who are not just thinking up new notions, but then diving in and working their fingers to the bone to make them real. Des Moines has been proving herself a haven for weirdos who want to start experiments and inflict experiences — low cost, well-connected, and full of nice people who want to support their endeavors. I can't wait to see what our city grows this year. Keep Des Moines weird.
Dani Ausen, designer, director of Market Day: My goal for Des Moines in 2015 is a personal one. I plan to kick as much ass as I can, and I am challenging you all to do the same. Des Moines had a great 2014. We hosted our first ever Maker Faire, the Des Moines Social Club hosted a slew of awesome events and new businesses in its new home, make/break's art CSA charged onto the scene, bringing affordable art to the city in a whole new way, and on a note of personal success, Market Day completed its sixth season, which included new pop-up markets. Nice work, Des Moines. Let's keep it going. I'm more connected with the art world than anything else, but I know we're continuing to kill it in the young professional scene. No matter what your focus, I say to you: make Des Moines even better. Let's do it together.