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How are some towns able to thrive even as their population shrinks in size?
This is the question driving a grant-funded research project led by Kimberly Zarecor, Ph.D. Professor of Architecture, and Jennifer Drinkwater, Associate Professor of Art and Visual Culture at Iowa State University. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the two professors are working to develop strategies and share examples from successful Iowa towns to help similar communities improve the quality of life for their residents.
Mount Ayr happens to be one of the six towns selected as a project partner. The other communities include Elma, population of 545, Sac City, home to 2,000 residents, Bancroft, a town of 730 residents, Corning, population of 1,630, and Everly, where roughly 600 people reside. These communities are all places where Iowa residents have reported experiencing a high quality of life despite experiencing population loss.
Dr. Zarecor and Drinkwater brought 12 Iowa State University students to Mount Ayr for a visit on Friday, January 27. The group of Architecture, Visual Arts, Interior Design, and Landscape Architecture students conducted community research and gathered ideas for their project focused around using art as a community driver.
Several ideas are being considered, including the possibility of a mural on the outside of Princess Theatre, reimagining the Princess Theatre marquee, ideas for a community amphitheater at one of the RCCB areas, and reimagining the children’s section of the library. The group plans to return on Friday, February 24 to continue to learn more about the quality of life in Mount Ayr, Iowa.
If you are interested in connecting with the research team or learning more about how communities can benefit from the research, you can contact Professor Kimberly Zarecor at Iowa State University by email email@example.com or by phone: 515-294-5026.
Additional information about the project can also be found online: www.ruralshrinksmart.org