To Ames, With Love

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Dearest Ames,

I’m so happy to call you my adopted hometown.

You know that when we first met back in 1991, I wasn’t impressed. As I drove through town on the way to meet my soon-to-be husband’s mother at his childhood home, the cold, cloudy February day dimmed your beauty. I couldn’t know then just how much the sun would bring out the best in you on any given day, nor could I anticipate how warm your people would be. You had me fooled. Now I know firsthand the peace of your well-kept, treelined neighborhood streets, the beauty of the Iowa State University campus when the leaves turn in fall and the flowers riot with color and texture in spring and summer, and the shimmering whiteness of winter snow that mutes the landscape of your 36 parks. I also know that, when gray days arrive, they soon depart, leaving behind the city I’ve grown to love.

I love you for your water, the Best Tasting Water in Iowa, two years running. It’s no small thing to me to be able to turn on the tap and drink without worry, to walk into any of your restaurants and have a great-tasting glass of water with dinner, and to know that the City’s new Water Treatment Facility and the Watershed Management Boards we partner with are working to ensure your water is safe for future generations.

I love you for the generous spirit of your people. You have City staff who work tirelessly to ensure excellent service to residents; people who volunteer thousands of hours for community events and initiatives, like the Sesquicentennial, RAGBRAI, and City parks projects, and who support human service organizations, like Food at First, Habitat for Humanity, and the United Way, with their time and funds; engaged residents who care enough to spend their time writing emails, making phone calls, and sitting in City Council meetings to give input on community issues, like the vitality of Downtown and Campustown, rental housing concerns, land use, and climate action; and more than 34,000 Iowa State University students, who share their drive, enthusiasm, and talents with the rest of your 66,500 residents.

Most of all, I love that your civic, university, and community leaders work together to strengthen already-strong bonds and keep looking for ways to make you an even more welcoming place for all residents. I’m also proud of your long-time ties to national and state institutions, like the National Animal Disease Laboratory, Ames Lab, and the Iowa DOT, which have helped you maintain the lowest unemployment rate in the nation (1.4%).

All of these people, institutions, and quality of life elements make you the city where I choose to live, work, and play, and make me proud to serve you, Ames. You’re a forward-looking, caring community, where my Council work and input can make a difference.

You have captured my heart,

Gloria Betcher

Ames City Council Member

About the author: Gloria J Betcher, Ph.D.,a sixth-year Council Representative for the City of Ames, IA, currently Chairs the NLC University Communities Council. She is a professor at Iowa State University and holds a certificate in Town-Gown Relations from the International Town and Gown Association. Her passions include neighborhood quality of life, city-university partnerships, and historic preservation in college towns, topics on which she has presented at national conferences. She is an ardent advocate for historic preservation as both an economic generator and a best practice for sustainability.