Clinton Partners with University of Iowa for ‘Sustainable Communities Program’ | local education

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The University of Iowa and Clinton have partnered in a program to improve the city through a myriad of public art, stormwater management and local history projects.

This is part of the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities. Founded in 2009, IISC works annually with small and medium-sized communities in Iowa to advance sustainability statewide. Clinton is the 17th partner of the IISC.

More than 100 faculty members and students from the university will work with the Clinton community and city officials on the projects, focusing on local needs and opportunities in several areas, including public art, housing, water management, local history, sustainability, urban planning and more.

Travis Kraus, associate professor at the Iowa School of Planning & Public Affairs, has led the IISC since 2016. He said the program quickly spread across campus after realizing how many ways IISC could serve communities.

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“We’ve worked with 23 different departments over our 12-year history,” Kraus said. “We start by looking at the needs and opportunities in the communities, and then my job is to try to find the people on campus – through courses, capstone projects or even just hiring students – who can work on these projects.

Kraus said he has done projects for Clinton in the past through another partnership with the Eastern Central Intergovernment Association (ECIA), a regional planning agency that serves Clinton County.

“(Clinton) kept calling me every year and saying, ‘We’ve got other ideas for you,'” he said. “This year, we finally thought about bringing the entire partnership to Clinton. Now we’re down to 20 — and possibly more — projects.”

IISC and Clinton officials hosted a public launch event to celebrate the 2022-23 partnership last Friday at Clinton’s Candlelight Inn. He followed the revelation of a mural on the exterior wall of Keeping You Sewing, a sewing shop that offers instruction classes in downtown Clinton.

During the event, professors and students from the university had the chance to visit the community as they began to work on their respective projects.






A prompt for Clinton community members at the University of Iowa student group table during the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities partnership kick-off event on Friday


Olivia Allen



“These students are the future. They are the great minds of Iowa, of our generation and of our country,” Clinton Mayor Scott Maddasion said. “It excites me to see the different perspectives and new ideas that help us grow and prosper in the future. We want to be the best Clinton we can be, and I think by enlisting these great minds, we we’re going to get to this point from here and there.”

One group’s project is the development of Clinton’s “Liberty Square”, a vacant, grassy lot between Liberty and Camanche Avenues.

Sepehr Yadollahi is one of the students working on the Liberty Square development project, pursuing his Masters in Urban and Regional Development.

After he and his peers visited the site, Yadollahi said the area offered plenty of development opportunities.

“The region gives us a lot of options for how we can develop it, or how people want us to develop it,” he said. “It will be a very good practical project, and I really like this program.”







IISC Clinton Partnership Body Photo #1

University of Iowa students talk with a member of the Clinton community about their proposed Liberty Square development Friday at the launch of the city’s Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities partnership. More than 100 students and faculty from the university will work with Clinton officials and the community on a series of community projects during the 2022-23 year.


Olivia Allen



In addition to promoting sustainability, Kraus, the program director, said IISC allows Iowa students to “jumpstart” their careers.

“Having that experience just prepares them for the work they’ll do after they graduate,” he said. “A lot of them are just months away from graduating, so they’ll have that competitive edge when they’re looking for a job. Because it really is professional-level work.”

Kraus also hopes that this career pipeline will remain as it is.

“The other thing we want students to understand is that there are parts of Iowa outside of Iowa City or Johnson County, and those are special places worth visiting. to be explored,” he said. “So we can expose them to areas that they might not otherwise see, and they might see an opportunity to stay here instead of leaving for bigger cities.”

The partnership will end in June 2023.

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