Collaborate Muscatine seeks cooperation through conversation

MUSCATINE, Iowa–As both friends and colleagues, Muscatine Community School District Superintendent Clint Christopher, Muscatine Community College President Naomi DeWinter, Muscatine Power & Water Executive Director Gage Houston, Executive Director of UnityPoint Trinity Muscatine Hospital Angie Johnson, Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Erik Reader, Community Development Director Jodi Royal-Goodwin, Community Foundation Executive Director Charla Schafer, and City Administrator Carol Webb had met informally for some time to share information about their organizations and strategies that had helped them work more effectively. They found their coffee and conversation sessions enlightening, and used what they learned from each other to improve their own organizations.

Over time, the participants started to wonder, if conversations between just a few people could lead to positive change, could opening them to the wider community bring even bigger results? From this curiosity sprang Collaborate Muscatine.

In order to hear more from Muscatine residents with different experiences, especially younger residents, Collaborate Muscatine devised a series of conversation groups that will take place throughout the spring and summer. Each Wednesday through August 1, Collaborate Muscatine will host a community conversation in the afternoon. Brenda Christiansen of Muscatine Power and Water and Chris Boar of Bayer will host each meeting. To best meet the needs of those interested in participating, the group will schedule exact times and locations based on the preferences of the people attending. Designed to emulate Collaborate Muscatine’s original conversations between leaders, these informal sessions will allow community members to introduce themselves and share what they love most about Muscatine and what improvements they would like to see in a comfortable and welcoming environment. If you would like to participate in an upcoming community conversation, you may sign up by calling the Community Foundation at 563-264-3863.

By listening to community members at each community conversation and taking note of common areas of growth they identify, Collaborate Muscatine will start local improvement projects tailored to address those concerns. Though they do not yet have enough community input to begin outlining specific plans, Collaborate Muscatine hopes that common themes will emerge from the community conversations, and that they can use the resources of all the organizations participating to pair their new projects with existing ones in a complementary way.

Though Collaborate Muscatine has only just gotten started on identifying areas where they can contribute to positive community growth, they believe that, with the community’s support, they can continue to make Muscatine and the surrounding area a better place to live. “We are excited to participate in what we anticipate will be an ongoing dialogue, take action, and make impact for the community members we serve each and every day,” said Angie Johnson, executive director of UnityPoint Trinity Muscatine Hospital.

Muscatine Community College President Naomi DeWinter added, “We are already learning more about each other’s organizations through frequent meetings and are building a strong foundation for the upcoming work.”

As Muscatine moves forward, especially after the initial economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the members of Collaborate Muscatine hope they can serve as a catalyst to future positive change. They encourage the public to join them in this mission to continue bettering their home for themselves and their neighbors.