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Mason City to embark upon second year of partnership with University of Iowa for community projects

University of Iowa

MASON CITY – Mason City residents and visitors will have an opportunity to talk to University of Iowa students about their community-based projects by visiting their booth at the Great River City Festival in downtown Mason City on September 15th and 16th. Students and staff from the university will be on hand to discuss ten projects completed last year, as well as a new round of projects currently underway.

The event marks the continuation of a partnership between the City of Mason City and The University of Iowa’s Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities (IISC). Projects planned for the 2017-18 academic year include a North End neighborhood plan, digitizing and publishing Mason City’s architectural heritage, a public health campaign on aging, downtown murals, and more. The public is encouraged to contribute ideas and feedback to help the students, who represent a variety of disciplines, complete projects that meet the needs of the community.

“With the festival bringing in a great deal of traffic to a concentrated area, the event is an advantageous way for students to gather input from the community for their projects,” said Travis Kraus, IISC Assistant Director. “We love to meet directly with residents, who know what’s best for their own community. We’re here to facilitate and turn those ideas into quality projects that contribute to environmental, social, and economic sustainability in Mason City.”

Over the course of the two-year partnership, roughly 100 students will contribute about 20,000 hours to community-based projects in Mason City. Students from a variety of disciplines work alongside community leaders to complete the projects.

Steven J. Van Steenhuyse

“We have a lot of great momentum heading into the second year of our partnership with IISC,” said Steven Van Steenhuyse, Director of Development Services for the City of Mason City. “You can see the value of the partnership with very visible projects like the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired mural on the Brick Furniture building, while many other projects contribute to a long range vision for the community.” Van Steenhuyse serves as co-community coordinator for the partnership, along with Tricia Sandahl, Planning and Zoning Manager for the City.

The Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities is a campus-wide, engaged learning program housed in the Provost’s Office of Outreach & Engagement at the University of Iowa. IISC pursues a dual mission of enhancing the sustainability of Iowa’s communities while transforming teaching and learning at the university. IISC currently partners with the East Central Intergovernmental Association and the City of Mason City. To learn more about IISC, visit

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