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Speak life

Building possibilities in Estherville-Deb Brown gathering info to help community

July 18, 2018
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

Deb Brown of spoke to 18 leaders from various community organizations Tuesday about what each person would like to see in Estherville. From this and other data Brown collects through the week, she will present her findings at a public forum at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the ballroom of Studio 12 on South Sixth Street.

"What you speak is a very important driver of energy to a town. I'd like to see everyone stop speaking down about Estherville and instead talk about possibilities," Brown said.

According to Brown, Estherville is something to celebrate. "You have a wonderful community. It's leaps and bounds ahead of many other communities of its size in Iowa and throughout the Midwest."

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Brown, 61, who was raised on a farm outside of Geneva, Iowa, said awareness is what drives change and growth, and that online is important but it cannot be the only thing.

"You tell your story face-to-face first," Brown said. Brown recognized with busy lives, this is harder to accomplish, but it's vital, she said.

"I do a lot online but we forget about face to face. That's how communities get built," Brown said.

"Call and visit your neighbor. Business owners should visit each other and just check in with what's going on," Brown said.

The Empty Buildings Tour is the major innovation that grew into When Brown was head of the Chamber of Commerce in Webster City, she and other leaders organized a tour of the empty buildings. Realtors and owners came together. Brown said better than hiding the fact that the town has empty buildings, say it out loud and let people in to share ideas.

"They show us the back rooms, the basements, and we start talking about possibilities. We invite people in from college students to retirees wanting a new chapter, and welcome them with open arms," Brown said.

It sparks a discussion of what's working versus what people would like to see, Brown said.

Each leader present made a suggestion of something they would like to see in Estherville. Among the suggestions: activities for younger adults; newer, affordable rental properties, promoting the idea of staying in the area to kids and teens through job shadows, site visits, internships; transportation more affordable and available than RIDES; advanced manufacturing jobs, bike trails, a pool and splash pad, ways to attract new people to town; more recreational activities; a brewery; and housing.

"The key is to spread positivity," Brown said.

Thursday evening's presentation is open to the public.



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