Heart & Soul sets stage for small towns’ ‘brain gain’

Bellevue and Cascade, Iowa, have a lot in common. Both are located in rural regions and exude small-town values and charm. With populations around 2,000, even their sizes are similar.

Both have also faced a common challenge: Attracting and retaining residents.

In a recent radio report, Harvest Public Media highlights the work residents of Bellevue and Cascade have undertaken to combat “brain drain,” or outward migration, and attract newcomers, or achieve “brain gain.” The piece, which aired on July 11, emphasizes the role the Community Heart & SoulTM planning process has played in helping both towns focus efforts to improve quality of life.

With the support of the Orton Family Foundation, the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque (CFGD) works with leaders in rural Iowa communities to implement the Heart & Soul engagement process. The goal is to involve residents in the local planning process by encouraging them to identify their towns’ best and most unique attributes — characteristics, values and causes that the community can come together around and support.

Listen to or read the Harvest Public Media report.