Cedar Rapids, Iowa, what is it? The City of Five Seasons? Sure. The second largest city in Iowa? Definitely. An up and coming city, with plenty to offer? Of course!
But what makes Cedar Rapids, well, Cedar Rapids? It may be the business opportunities, or the different neighborhoods that make downtown a lively and cultural place to spend time (thank you Czech Town and New Bohemia). The real thing that makes our city wonderful though, is its people. The citizens of the city are the heart of Cedar Rapids. The people are the ones who shape the city, without people, it’s just a bunch of buildings.
To truly understand the city, one must understand its people, and furthermore – why the people love the city. For many they love it just because it’s home, it’s where they work, where they live, where their friends or family are – and that’s why they love it. However, a city is so much more than that, it’s the culture, the events, and again, the people.
Sandi Fowler is the Assistant City Manager of Cedar Rapids, and has worked for the city for 28 years, so either she really loves the city or doesn’t have anything else to do. Fowler expressed, “I love Cedar Rapids because it is a community that cares about people. Our neighborhoods are vibrant and full of citizens who care about each other and the place they call home. All across the city are neighbors who look out for one another and take care of each other. They join together to both celebrate good times and to provide support when needed.”
Fowler’s description of the citizens holds true to what our city is all about, citizens caring for each other. Cedar Rapids is a big city that feels like a small town. People help each other out here, almost everyone can feel like your neighbor in this city. Maybe it’s just a midwestern thing, or maybe it’s just a Cedar Rapids thing, but it is special.
Those neighborly connections can also come in handy when trying to move up in the world. The opportunities provided through connections within CR can be extremely helpful. Mariah Reeves is a graduate of Coe College and an English teacher at Prairie High School, she spoke passionately of how Cedar Rapids can be a stepping stone for greater possibilities.
Reeves commented, “I love Cedar Rapids because of all the career opportunities for young college graduates and the networking opportunities. I think so often you see Cedar Rapids as just one of the larger cities in Iowa, but it actually has so many different networking opportunities that expand far beyond Iowa, and even far beyond the midwest.”
So while CR is a great place to be, it may also just be a place to be grateful for. But the bottom line is that people help people. It may be for networking purposes, or coming together to support a cause, like the Especially for You Race Against Breast Cancer which is hosted annually to support those in need in Cedar Rapids area. Fowler mentioned, “The community also comes together in times of crisis – as we came together in 2008 and the years following to rebuild our city, and again in 2016 to protect our city from devastation.”
Cedar Rapids is a community that cares, perhaps that is why the city is seen as a place with potential. The potential for an even more vibrant community has been something noticed recently, especially in the NewBo district.
Raygun is a store that’s been in the area for nearly 2 years now, and it’s thriving in Cedar Rapids. Raygun sells all sorts of clothing, art and novelty items that reflect the culture of our city. Thomas Somphanthabansouk, a manager at Raygun commented, “We’re definitely still growing, especially in the NewBo area, where the store is located. There’s so much going on and so much potential in the area. Not only is it a warm and inviting city, it’s also a growing one too.”
Cedar Rapids is a city on the rise, and with all of the opportunities here, the kindness of the community, and the potential in the city, it’s no wonder CR is a city with heart. As Fowler stated, “Being a part of this community is a gift, knowing that your friends and neighbors are there for you, supporting the community and building a wonderful home for all its residents.”