Photo credit: Robin Malmanger

By Dave Markwell

Well, what’s old is new again. The world is a strange and wonderful place. Following a strange and sometimes not-so-wonderful year, a time of rebirth is upon us. A time to grow and do better and be better and contribute more. That is this.

For the unfamiliar, I’m Dave Markwell, a Des Moines guy. For several years, I wrote a column titled, “Feel Good Friday” here on the Waterland Blog. I shared thoughts and experiences and ideas. My kids were younger and were often headliners in my columns. A new world has dawned. My kids are older and I am older, and maybe wiser, the jury is still out on this one. But, I have new things to say.

A little backstory on being a “Des Moines guy”: I grew up here, went to its schools, explored, learned my lessons, and have lived my life here for 50 years. I am a Ram. I worked at the old KFC in high school, and Anthony’s Homeport during a money-saving adventure to travel. I lived in my van at the marina during this time. I worked for the City of Des Moines Park department for most of the 1990’s. I was a real estate broker with John L. Scott in Des Moines for many years. I owned and coached Waterland CrossFit. And, I built and helped start the Waterland Arcade.

I have supported nearly every major event in town for over 25 years. From the Waterland Festival, to Fireworks, to Rotary and Destination Des Moines events, I have been involved. I have contributed. I have participated, sometimes as a happy, slightly drunk guy laughing with friends, and sometimes as much more.

My connection to this community may be genetic. My great-grandfather owned a saw mill at Beach Park in the late 1880’s. My dad grew up here, too. I’ve raised my kids here, and buried my dad in the waters off the marina. Des Moines is in my bones and blood. I know its streets, its people, and its heartbeat.

I tell this story only to establish my legitimacy as a Des Moines guy, and the truth of my understanding of, and love for, this community. My column will reflect this. It will be a working love letter to my town.

For several months, I have been engaged in a “year of reinvention”. I am committed to becoming a better version of myself. I am doing things differently. I am working hard to become more and have more to give. Part of my journey is this. My dreams are big, and include helping other people become bigger, too, and serving my community in bigger ways.

Using my voice and love as vehicles to remind, encourage, influence, connect, inspire, and help others fall in love with our unique little city, I aspire to create relationships/friendships which support involvement and engagement in a stronger, richer, kinder, happier, friendlier, more robust community. And, you’re invited.

So, a new Spring is springing with fresh buds on the trees and new growth emerging from the cold dirt. I see colors and smell flowers and salt water. This is our town and it’s lovely. Thank you for making it so, but we can do more and become more. So, let’s do that. Together. You’re invited. See ya’ next week!

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:


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