RDG Design Residency

This week, I am leaving the bright lights of Iowa City for the much brighter lights of Des Moines. I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in the RDG Design Residency (and, yes, I have built this web site so I’ll have something to put out on business cards). I’m excited: very rarely are writers offered an opportunity to directly change the world.

From RDG’s web site:

Students of 2013’s RDG Design Residency explore one specific site…This fall, Bob Riley, President and CEO of Riley Resources, moves his bio-economy based business to a site near the University Ave and I-235 interchange in Pleasant Hill, a community nestled in the southeastern quadrant of Greater Des Moines.

Early projects matter for the bio-economy core to achieve its full potential. Riley, one of the Des Moines area’s key business leaders, knows this well. He wants to mark this territory with a site design paying homage to its prairie roots and reaping full ecological and social benefits.

He also wants to dig new philosophical turf. Which business models let Riley and others capture full ecosystem benefits while making money and promoting personal and public health?

The multi-disciplined design residents will play multiple roles in achieving Riley’s goals. They function as owner’s representative, guiding seasoned professionals as they document a vision for the site. They collaborate in this design as creators in their own right and as a target audience (examples of the skilled, innovative, brain-trusters) for living and working in bio-economy core.

My friend and former Workshopper R. Clifton Spargo, the author of “Beautiful Fools,” was the writer for the residency last year. Then, the project was a proposal for an ecologically-friendly 300-acre development. Spargo’s job included writing day-in-the-life stories about what living in the development could possibly look like. Like the rest of his fiction, they are vividly real.

I’m excited to be on the design team this week, even if that means I’ll have to finish my 20-something-page MFA exam in the next 24 hours. (Early? EARLY?) What a bizarre and wonderful place Iowa is.

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