Moving to Des Moines in 2005, I was looking for a way to become part of the community. After living in larger metros like Austin, Texas and Washington, D.C., I hoped to trade being a spectator of the community to being a participant. I learned very quickly that Des Moines is a midsized metro with a small town network. Built upon volunteerism and civic pride, centered around family (however you define family), Des Moines is a place where they will welcome you in and allow you to participate. Here are tips for how to plug into Des Moines.
I cannot emphasis this enough. Des Moineians take their philanthropy seriously. At networking events, your volunteer activities may be just as important as your actual job. Many times, your volunteer activities will lead you to your next job. The civic pride is palpable in the city, and much of that pride is due to the tremendous amount of philanthropy and volunteerism that our city leaders put in and expect from others. Need help finding a place to lend a hand? Visit the United Way of Central Iowa. They have a great matching option on their site.
Des Moines is a city built on fitness. From the Governor's Healthiest State Initiative, to Get Healthy Iowa, fitness is a staple of the Des Moines lifestyle. But that doesn't neccisarily mean just lifting weights in a gym. Thanks to a robust, world class trail system, cycling is huge in Des Moines, as is the social scene that goes with it. To learn more about the local scene check out the Des Moines Cycle Club.
Des Moines has a rich and growing local culture. So whether it's going to the downtown Farmers Market, or picking up your mandatory "Des Moines: Hell yes" t shirt at Raygun, or having your first cone at Snookies, support Des Moines first and you will find a whole new community.