Delmar Storytelling and Community Development

Academic Year 
2016-2017
College/Department 
School of Urban & Regional Planning
Led by 

Graduate students in the School of Urban & Regional Planning course Community Development in the Upper Midwest worked with 4th-6th graders from the Delwood Community School District in Delmar, IA to produce videos and books that tell the story of the community through interviews with longtime residents. 

The City of Delmar aims to engage their citizens in creating a vision for the town that builds on the community’s common values, and particularly to revive interest in community development and the small downtown business district.  This project focused on a planning model that brings people together to identify what is distinctive and what matters most to residents, and to use that information to develop a vision and strategic plan for the community.  University of Iowa students helped gather public input through “storytelling”.  Teams of UI graduate students in Delwood CSD students in 4th-6th grades developed interview questions for local residents.  The teams recorded interviews on video and edit footage into narrative “stories”, followed by a bookmaking workshop designed to illustrate key community-visioning themes from the interviews.  The collaboration culminated in a public open house and a series of videos about Delmar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZNAXQiYs34.

On-campus partners for the project included Center for the Book, IDEAL, and Art Education, with community support from the City of Delmar, the Delwood Community School District, the Delmar Economic Development Group, and ECIA.