Sustainability embodied – Dubuque, IA

Going from frantically Googling ‘where is Dubuque?’ to actually arriving in this city of 60,000 population by the mighty Mississippi river – the past 10 days have been fascinating meeting locals and learning what makes this city tick.

Dubuque was the first city in Iowa and obviously reliant on agriculture as primary economic activity…. until it crashed in the 80’s. Everyone we spoke to shared how the city deteriorated as it held the highest unemployment rate in the country at that time and how downtown Dubuque was virtually dead.

But Dubuque today is vibrant – with full employment, a liveable city and incredibly high level of public engagement driving all its initiatives grounded by 12 values of sustainability. The level of transformation is impressive to say the least, given the challenges of engaging local citizens for productive, actionable input are numerous across the world.

We met plenty of folks who make this city work – from the Mayor, Roy Buol who knocked on 4,990 homes to find out what Dubuquians wanted to public works department who keeps the city running….IMG_5651

From riding garbage collection trucks…IMG_5593

…to visiting landfill and recycling plant, we also managed to also see how the city protects stormwater from seasonal flooding and increase social equity through the Bee Branch project.

Of course, it’s not really getting to know a city well without going on a cruise ride on the Mississippi with the American Lady, nor going to support the Dubuque Fighting Saints ice hockey team playing a home game.

Neither is it complete without visiting a pumpkin patch in time for Halloween, or the local Farmers’ Market buying seasonal produce all within the State!


We look forward to continue exchanging best practices and experiences whilst checking out the sights!


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