We Are CR, Part 4: Onward

We Are CR, Part 4: Onward

First-hand perspectives on Cedar Rapids’ All America City award: Last week, Quinn Pettifer traveled to Denver as part of the Cedar Rapids delegation to the All America City conference, building community pride and friendships along the way. This is the final blog post in a series reflecting on the experience – find part one, part two and part three at the links, or replay our conversation with City of Cedar Rapids officials here. Now that Cedar Rapids has won this award, what should happen next? Leave a comment below, or email us at engage@wecreatehere.net. Sunday was by far my favorite day of our All America City conference. Best practices from the our fellow finalists were plentiful and my notebook filled up fast. From San Pablo’s youth engagement programs, to Montgomery, Alabama health initiatives, to the rising success of Fort Lauderdale and their economic development success. Every presentation, every story confirmed that our community not only has lots to offer in what we’ve accomplished, but is poised to consider what’s next. Panelists included a variety of perspective – from retirees to youth, all willing to share their stories and triumphs along with challenges and lessons learned. Our own CR delegation was able to provide detail on our Blue Zones designation, along with a moving story of practices, initiatives our community has adopted through the opportunity, and a heart-warming perspective from Lynn, the Blue Zones number one volunteer and advocate. Her moving story included some real health scares followed up by an inspiring weight loss of over 110 pounds. So many of our fellow delegates were impressed and inspired—including those in our own group who up until…
We Are CR, Part 3: Show time

We Are CR, Part 3: Show time

First-hand perspectives on Cedar Rapids’ All America City award: Last week, Quinn Pettifer traveled to Denver as part of the Cedar Rapids delegation to the All America City conference, building community pride and friendships along the way. This is the third in a series of blog posts reflecting on the experience - find part one here and part two here, and stay tuned tomorrow for a bonus - part four. Or, replay our conversation with City of Cedar Rapids officials here. On Saturday morning at 10:45 a.m., our own Cedar Rapids Delegation took position outside the closed doors of the packed auditorium, awaiting our wave in for the presentation. The energy and pride our group demonstrated was infectious to onlookers and other communities. These 39 strangers had transformed into a unified front of love for our community, each displaying their “I am” shirts: I am a Positive Person I am a Mother to Be I am a Planner I am a Husband…..the list alone caused a lot of smiles. Hugs and tears were exchanged, as if we had already won. Last minute instructions and reminders from our presentation leader Casey Prince were on point-as if this group had been working together for years instead of mere weeks. Suddenly, the doors opened. The music and singing started and I watched in awe for the next 20 minutes at the amazing work these individuals put in to telling hundreds why Cedar Rapids is an All America City. Healthy choices, our arts and culture community, neighborhood and business recovery from a flood that cost us billions…..all rolled into a story. Every individuals played a role-telling the...

We Are CR, part 2: Ready for the unexpected

First-hand perspectives on Cedar Rapids’ All America City award: Last week, Quinn Pettifer traveled to Denver as part of the Cedar Rapids delegation to the All America City conference, building community pride and friendships along the way. This is the second of three blog posts reflecting on the experience - read part one here, check back this week for part three, or replay our conversation with City of Cedar Rapids officials here. By Friday morning, I was ready for the unexpected. Granted, I had my handy itinerary, my Cedar Rapids shirts (assigned by color per day) and an overall sense of my assignment: promote Cedar Rapids, fill in wherever needed for the group, and keep in close contact with We Create Here and the rest of our media buddies back home to keep updated on our experiences as needed. Yet I knew upon walking down to our first gathering that many of us, while excited, weren’t sure what to expect. Friday began with a fresh workout and breakfast down in the lobby where many of our delegation greeted other cities checking in. By 11 a.m., a handful of us gathered to launch a Google hangout with staff back in Cedar Rapids from We Create Here to capture the message of intent along with a schedule of what our Cedar Rapids audience could anticipate in the days ahead. ​Our delegates in the hangout seemed optimistic, yet the realization of our final rehearsal was very real – a mere two hours away. My biggest point of pride in this group came from not only the explaination of the intent, but the high energy from the actual...

We are CR, part 1: An Invitation, A Game Changer

First-hand perspectives on Cedar Rapids’ All America City award: Last week, Quinn Pettifer traveled to Denver as part of the Cedar Rapids delegation to the All America City conference, building community pride and friendships along the way. This is the first of three blog posts reflecting on the experience - check back this week for parts two and three, or replay our conversation with City of Cedar Rapids officials here. A few days ago, I entered a rehearsal room at Theatre Cedar Rapids where I received a warm welcome from 39 Cedar Rapidians. It was obvious the group had spent a couple weeks together already – small talk came naturally, with kids laughing and running around, a couple reviewing lines, sharing stories, humming to song and looking intensely at three murals with a mucky looking black paint and blue tarp. It was hard to believe that just a few weeks prior this group hardly knew one another beyond familiarity with a name, a face, maybe a common thread of volunteering together, knowing the same people or attending the same events. Yet this group of strangers would soon create a bond so great it would receive national recognition, inspiring hundreds in Denver and creating a newfound pride for thousands back home. My own invitation to attend the All America City conference with the group who would represent Cedar Rapids as a finalist came with immense excitement, yet at full disclosure, a little hesitancy. What could I contribute to a group that had been working tirelessly for months at the application, presentation practice and an overall bonding of their rebuilding experience? Granted, I’ve spent the better...

Live from the All America City competition in Denver

UPDATE: The city of Cedar Rapids has been named a 2014 All America City. Our own Quinn Pettifer is now in Denver with a handful of other representatives on behalf of the city of Cedar Rapids. Cedar Rapids is competing as one of 25 cities to be named an All America City. On Friday, We Create Here hosted a Q & A with panelists from Denver to get a better understanding of what went into the application process and what it would mean for Cedar Rapids to be named an All America City. You can listen to the conversation here. Follow along with the action from Denver by using the hashtag #WeAreCR. Here is a video capturing some of the highlights so...