Photo credit: Robin Malmanger

By Dave Markwell

Each night, I sit in my black chair at my home on North Hill and look across Des Moines. I see traffic lights and street lights and house lights. I see neighbors’ homes, and businesses I know, and some I’ve worked at or owned. I see my past life. I also see a future. I like these pictures.

As I ponder the interesting questions of the future of my town, I see many things. Many of these things are the same things I see today- folks walking the family dog, or heading home from work, or pushing a new baby in a stroller. I see people living their lives in this community in which I’ve lived most of mine. And, I’m happy for them. And, I’m happy for me. We have good people in this town. I’m grateful for that.

With this in mind, I consider the next steps in our evolution. I’ve spent some amount of time frustrated that Des Moines has never really approached its potential. I’ve seen other communities grow and get cool stuff, while we have lagged behind. I used to be frustrated by this. I’m kind of resigned to it now, but I also appreciate all the great things we do have. I believe we can and will have nicer things, but I’m not uncomfortable with the rough edges, either. They’re OUR rough edges.

The prevailing common denominator in any successful community is its residents. We have some great ones. That said, most of us can be more involved.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

– Ghandi (maybe)

So, this week’s challenge for myself and YOU (yes, you) is to ask yourself: What am I interested in? What would I like to see improve? How can I contribute?

The answers to these questions are easy to find. It’s much harder to ask the questions out loud. Asking them out loud we assume some responsibility for action. However, action is what makes things better. Good ideas and good intentions don’t change things- acting on them does. And, this makes the responsibility worth it.

There are no shortage of opportunities to serve this town- Destination Des Moines, Rotary Club, Legacy Foundation, Food Bank, churches, youth groups, etc., etc. Or, just meet your neighbors, pick up trash if you see some on your walk, smile, be kind, shop local, live local. Be A local. It’s a nice thing to be.

I know many of these things are already happening organically. And, that’s wonderful. But, what else can we do? With intention and a mindful vision of creating a future community we can all be proud we participated in? Food for thought.

Dave Markwell is a life-long Des Moines liver and lover. Former owner of Waterland CrossFit and the Waterland Arcade, Dave is now using his unique story-telling voice to help small businesses tell a better story, and his love for people to help folks live bigger and better lives.

For more info. check out his website:

He can be contacted at: [email protected].


Scott Schaefer

Founder/Publisher/Editor. Three-time National Emmy Award winning Writer (“Bill Nye the Science Guy”), Director, Producer, Journalist and more...