About 1000 Friends of Iowa

Who We Are

1000 Friends of Iowa is a statewide nonprofit organization founded in 1998 and based in Des Moines, Iowa.

1000 Friends of Iowa is the only statewide group in Iowa  focused solely on promoting responsible and equitable land use, transportation, and sustainability in community, state, and federal development decisions. We seek to prevent poorly-planned land use decisions and sprawl through citizen engagement, education, and action about sustainable development. We work to ensure responsible, equitable, and assessable land use and transportation planning that puts people at the center of the decisions, while protecting  farmland and natural areas, reduces climate impacts; and ensures thriving, livable communities through implementation of smart growth principles.

Why the name 1000 Friends of Iowa?

The first 1000 Friends group was founded in Oregon, 1000 Friends of Oregon. Since then, almost a dozen 1000 Friends groups have been founded across the US to work on land use and community development issues. The name implies that if 1000 people donated $100 per year, our work would be more economically sustainable.

Although we are not officially affiliated with the other 1000 Friends groups, we work with many organizations across the country that are members of Smart Growth America.

How We Work

1000 Friends of Iowa has a 3-pronged approach to our work:

  • We organize and engage everyday Iowas to involved them in land use, transportation decisions happening in their communities and across the state while promoting climate action and sustainability.
  • We work with municipalities and other decision makers to provide peer learning opportunities and support responsible land use, smart transportation, climate action and sustainability efforts
  • We recognize cities, counties, and individuals through our annual awards programs for projects that serve as models for others related to smart growth.


The mission of 1000 Friends of Iowa is to engage and unite Iowans in efforts to:

  • Protect farmland and natural areas
  • Revitalizes our neighborhoods, towns and cities, and
  • Improve quality of life for future generations


Our vision is of a sustainable Iowa with thriving communities that work for all residents, where the impacts on the most vulnerable community members, as well as an appreciation, preservation, and celebration of the unique qualities of productive soils, dwindling natural areas, the culture of the heartland, and climate change are at the center of all land use, transportation, and economic decisions.

People United for Responsible Land Use