Citius altius fortius
The phrase that heads this piece is the slogan used by the Olympic Games, and translates from Latin to mean “faster, higher, stronger.” It could be applied to efforts that are under way now by dozens of community and business leaders under the direction of the Greater Des Moines Partnership to build a map of where we need to travel over the next decade.
That map, known as Project Destiny, is beginning to unfold, and we can say so far that it has been worth the wait.
So far, two of five installments have been revealed and the findings contained in them are powerful. They include ways to improve Central Iowa’s social services by establishing networks of volunteers, providing more money to prepare young children for school and finding better ways to coordinate support for those in need.
They also include plans to link Greater Des Moines’ parks with more trails and other recreational outlets. Over the next three weeks, the rest of the reports from the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s task forces will be released. They will focus on quality of life, government spending and training-related issues.
At the base of these efforts is a twofold realization. First, that Central Iowa’s physical infrastructure – its roads, bridges and buildings – is in relatively good shape and is headed in the right direction, though there are plans for improvement. Second is a strengthening belief that Iowa needs more talented workers and residents to grow and prosper.
Some of those workers can be gained by luring them from other states, and there are efforts to do just that. The rest will come by persuading more Iowans to stay in their home state and through efforts to help everyone live to their potential.
The Partnership’s involvement on such a grand scale in the region’s social structure, an area traditionally tended by government and charitable programs, is a refreshing change and marks the logical next step for a nation that for decades has been increasingly turning to the private sector for solutions.
All of these reports – the ones we’ve seen and the ones that are coming – are a sort of teaser to what will happen in January when the Partnership hosts its annual dinner and will unveil its strategy for tackling the recommendations. We’ll be looking for a seat in the front row.