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Contributed by Iowa State University Extension and Research

The Iowa’s Living Roadways (ILR) Community Visioning Program is a participatory process that integrates landscape planning and design with sustainable action to assist community leaders and volunteers in making meaningful decisions about their local landscape. The program targets rural towns with populations under 10,000 residents. ILR is a collaboration of the Iowa Department of Transportation, ISU, and Trees Forever. Since 1996, 258 communities have participated. Evaluation shows that 98% of visioning communities complete at least one project and 50% complete four or more.

Photos of Belle Plaine Roadside Park: A Community Visioning outcome

Belle Plaine Roadside Park: A Community Visioning outcome

Ten communities participated in the program in 2022 and are moving forward with project implementation. For example, the Logan, Iowa Community Visioning committee has been aggressively fundraising, obtaining a $40,000 commitment in FY 2024 for visioning projects from the City of Logan. The committee also applied for several grants, and received $10,000 from the Harrison County Community Foundation for way-finding signage, and $100,000 MATCH grant from the Wellmark Foundation for a trail/safe route to school. Finally, the committee is piloting a streetscape improvement project to reconfigure on-street parking accommodating wider sidewalks and planting beds. In Riverside, Iowa, the city council is considering a network of new streets to solve a traffic-flow problem at the elementary school that was brought to the forefront in Community Visioning Program focus-group findings.

In 2022, the Community Visioning Program earned an honor award in the planning and analysis category from the Iowa Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. The 2022 visioning program culminated in an annual meeting on November 3, 2022.