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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Extreme makeover, or just a touchup?

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Lynette Sowell

My front porch


For years Des Moines, Iowa had the distinction by some of being America’s dullest city. Nobody was saying, “Woo, I want to hang out in Des Moines, how exciting. So much to do there, so many fun and interesting things I would like to stay and spend money on.”

“How America’s Dullest City Got Cool”, a recent article in Politico Magazine, tells the 15-year transformation of Des Moines into a hopping cultural attraction where people come to be entertained, eat, spend money, and enjoy the arts.

In 2007, 28-year-old Brooklynite Zachary Manheimer was looking for a place that needed a little help—a cultural makeover, so to speak. He found that in DesMoines.

“(Des Moines) had creative people, but there weren’t any venues, galleries, and theaters and clubs, so the actors and musicians were on the road a lot and the artists’ shows were hung in other cities. I was like: This is it!”

He was one of several, including a city planner who had crafted a vision years earlier, who began a movement to bring some life, pep, and art to Des Moines.

The business community got behind his effort, called the Social Club, which began organizing events to literally jazz Des Moines up a little—a food truck festival, jazz night, poetry club, and much more. Having events like these made the young families and professionals who’d moved to Des Moines for work, actually want to stay in town for entertainment.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people say they’re going to Killeen, Harker Heights, and beyond for their entertainment—whether that be dining, live music events, art, or more.

Is Copperas Cove the dullest city in Central Texas? What are we known for? I’ve seen our nearest neighbors, Killeen and Lampasas, on both ends of the population spectrum from us, grow their cultural and arts scenes. And it shows. Both downtowns have had dramatic improvements, not as a result but I believe in conjunction with.

I can only wonder why ours hasn’t. We can sit around and blame the city, the business owners, the apathetic ones who are here for a few years and move on—take your pick, etc., but instead of blame, maybe we should sit down and make some plans and execute a vision that works for us. We might never be like Salado or Fredericksburg, but we can definitely develop a community voice we can be proud of and make our community into a place other people will want to visit. Maybe we can’t have an extreme makeover, but surely we can give ourselves a touchup.

You can read more about Des Moines’ transformation here:


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