Our History

1000 Friends of Iowa began with a small gathering of professionals at the Griffieon Family Farm in Ankeny. Academics, politicians, conservationists, landscape architects, planners and various non-profits spent an afternoon discussing their views concerning land use in Iowa. This engaged group became the Rural-Urban Stewardship Project (RUSP), but later changed its name to 1000 Friends of Iowa. The first 1000 Friends group was organized in Oregon in 1975. Other 1000 Friends organizations exist across America; all focused on land use issues relative to their areas. 1000 Friends of Iowa was incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit in 1998.

Our statewide board represents many disciplines including landowners, farmers, city planners, architects, landscape designers, preservationists and neighborhood activists, all active promoters of our mission. Our office space, in the Merle Hay Tower, gives us a strong presence in our state’s capitol city.

Our goal is to develop 1,000 Founding Friends ($100) donating annually from across the state. This would support our $100,000 budget and enable for us to continue to advocate our causes and educate Iowans on the value of responsible land use. Our mission statement is:

1000 Friends of Iowa promotes responsible development that:

  • Conserves and protects our agricultural and natural resources
  • Revitalizes our neighborhoods, towns and cities
  • Improves the quality of life for future generations

We work to provide multiple resources to educate Iowans:

  • Website – www.1000friendsofiowa.org provides up-to-date information on our work, issue background, book reviews, related links, resource materials and a current calendar of events
  • Land Use Bulletin – published quarterly, promotes local development successes, provides activity updates and highlights current land use issues
  • Public Policy Updates – provides in-depth information on policy changes
  • Action Alerts – electronic messaging provides notification of meetings, events, in-depth information on issues of concern impacting land use
  • Annual Meeting/Regional Seminars – local and national experts provide latest developments, staff reports on our research projects and local citizen efforts, Best Development Awards highlight planning and development that successfully incorporates Smart Growth Principles and sustainable practices

1000 Friends of Iowa frequently works in collaboration with other organizations focused on related concerns, e.g., Center for Sustainable Communities, Women Food and Agriculture Network, Iowa Environmental Council, Iowa League of Cities, Transition Des Moines. We often host student interns from area colleges and universities who assist with our research projects, e.g., a recent study looked at Tax Increment Financing (TIF) impact on development patterns.