30 1 / 2012

I grew up in Ankeny, Iowa.
I graduated from Ankeny High School.
I went to college at the University of Northern Iowa.
I worked for a video game production company in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
I worked for a rock’n’roll band based in Des Moines, Iowa.
I launched a tech startup (Tikly) in Des Moines, Iowa.

Childhood, awkward teen years, college choices, video games, rock’n’roll, and Tikly all happened within a two-hour radius. My experiences have informed the tip I want to impart on you now, Des Moines: do.

The amount of resources we have available to us is incredible. Networking opportunities abound and every level of our community will support you in what you do. We are a little big town placed in a natural incubator of awesomeness. I promise you that if you go to the right networking events and reach out to the right people, you will find yourself enveloped in success. This is Des Moines, Iowa. This place rocks.

I double dog dare you to get out there and do something. You don’t need to launch a company, though if you would like to, you should do it. Just get out there and do buy local, do talk to new people, do attend events, do go out to eat, do stay connected, do do it all. (Yes, “do do”…heh.)

Don’t know where to start? Here are a few resources that really helped me do what I do:

Young Professionals Connection 
Startup City Des Moines 
The Greater Des Moines Partnership (the original “Do More in Des Moines” crew) 
Business Innovation Zone 
Des Moines Music Coalition 
Silicon Prairie News 
Des Moines Startup Drinks 

And once you decide to get out there and do things. Don’t stop. This is our community, it’s our future, and we can do just about anything.

I love you, Des Moines.

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Emma Peterson is the Founder & CEO of Tikly and the Communications Director for Authentic Records. Follow: @emmzzuh. 

27 1 / 2012

If you are reading this, you are probably a human. And one of the characteristics of being a human is that you will die. You only live one life, and, again, if you are reading this, you are probably living that one life in Des Moines, Iowa. Wow. What’re you gonna do with it?

Might as well make something, right? I believe that what you make is what you are. If you want to make something of yourself, then make something. Anything. A song, a garden, a chair, a poster, a business, whatever. I don’t care. The point is if you make something with your own mind and hands and from your own heart, you will be making yourself known. If we all make ourselves known, well, then we’ll all know each other. That’s a community.

Fortunately for you, you’re wasting away in a place full of people that understand this. You are not alone. You don’t have to make something by yourself. Des Moines is loaded with people with professional skills but independent attitudes, which means someone like me can write a song and find world-class musicians to hit the studio and the stage with me to achieve my vision. And then I can find a top-notch graphic designer to make an amazing poster or album design. And a photographer to take pictures for that designer to use. And folks to make a music video. And people to help me promote whatever I’m working on. And, of course, people to care about any of it.

So be true and be nice, and you’ll find those people who share your passion for making something for no other reason than to contribute to the community. And when they need your help, you’ll be there for them. Right?

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Chris Ford is Christopher the Conquered and CEO of Maximum Ames Records. He lives and makes in Des Moines. Follow: @CTConquered

25 1 / 2012

I stand for cuisine mobility.

Des Moines needs lunch trucks.

Des Moines needs food carts.

Carts, I say! Street vendors parked hither and yon, providing yummy morsels for the bar flies and suit’n’ties alike. Never again shall we exit a tavern and scream into the Iowa night: “Who is hiding all the falafel in this town?”

Unless you’re perpetually satisfied with pizza, and I got nothing against a slice of pie, you’ll admit that it is absurdly difficult to find a variety of late night munchables on our streets (let alone hail a taxi, which is a literal impossibility… and a tangent).

We reside in a city that currently supports absurd policies regarding mobile food vendors. This past January, the City Council approved rules that restrict hours and require vendors shut down between 1:30 am and 5:30 am, potentially the most lucrative timeframe. Residents could come together in 2012 to reverse these rules and resolve to make Des Moines a cart-friendly city just in time for 80/35.

We’re lucky to have such an excellent Downtown Farmers Market and a swank array of restaurants throughout the metro, but Des Moines must mature into a place where late night dining options are widely available and a storefront is not a requirement for aspiring business-owners.

We can make this happen.

In 2009, the Des Moines Social Club was able to repeal the “No Dancing” ordinance by raising pubic awareness and advocating for change at the municipal level. Speaking of DMSC, remember mooncheez? I do. After that tasty reminder, ask yourself: how can we not organize? Your future self is chowing down right now. She says thanks.

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Rachel Dakarian is one of many loyal @iowademocrats, the tweeting Tech Chair for @NLC_DesMoines, a member of the @wheatsfield Board, an avid @PPHeartland supporter, and a Development Researcher at the @isufoundation, which means she so greatly values her DSM lifestyle that she willingly commutes to Ames every weekday. Rachel wishes you, dear reader, a Happy Year of the Water Dragon. Follow: @Rachel_Dakarian

23 1 / 2012

People think that frontiers don’t exist anymore.  Not true. Especially, in Des Moines.  I explore everyday looking for new and exciting things to do and see.  My mind is constantly churning.

What do I see in Des Moines that other people don’t?  Who can I collaborate with to create something more extraordinary than I could alone?

Des Moines is a maiden market of talent.  People are gracious and genuinely want the best for each other. I hear about new and exciting projects on a daily basis. These people are selflessly using their talents to create something that is personally cool to them.  The indirect impact it has on Des Moines is priceless. I call this frontiering.  

You can try it sometime.  

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Jessica Miller is 
the co-owner of Hill Vintage and Ingenue Boudoir. Follow: @IowaWildFlower