A spirit of generosity. A thriving school district. A place where children grow up and return to raise their own families. These are community assets recognized by members of the Cascade Chamber of Commerce during the debut of Community Heart & Soul™, a community engagement process that reconnects people with what they love most about their town.

Dozens of Cascade property owners, business owners and retired community members gathered at Two Gingers Tavern to share a meal and learn about Heart & Soul in late July. “To have 50 people coming to this lunch today is very exciting,” says Jen Rhomberg, Cascade Chamber of Commerce director.

“Once you get going on anything in this town, people just get on board. There are a lot of go-getters,” smiles Molly Knuth, who is using her marketing and communications talents to help her hometown through Heart & Soul. “I’m very invested in this small town. I do see a lot of ways we can improve, so I’m excited to be a part of this.”

Cascade’s Heart & Soul leaders, who now number more than 20, began meeting in February and called on the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque’s (CFGD) Jason Neises, who is leading the effort to implement the Orton Family Foundation’s Community Heart & Soul™ community engagement method in CFGD’s seven-county rural affiliate region. The Orton model encourages storytelling and translates those personal and emotional connections into a blueprint that serves as the foundation for future community decisions.

Neises asked lunch attendees to interview one another, beginning the process of collecting the stories that will guide Cascade’s work. “They have an instinct for it. They want to be inclusive and make sure everyone is involved. It’s pretty neat,” says Neises.

Cascade’s city manager Deanna McCusker participated in the event, and the City of Cascade has provided seed money for the project. “We are very excited that the city council is behind us and we appreciate that,” says Shontele Orr, Cascade’s Heart & Soul coordinator.

The Cascade Heart & Soul group is wrapping up the first phase of the 18-24 -month process and will soon move forward into the community exploration phase. To follow Cascade’s Heart & Soul progress, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.

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Jeff Danna
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About Us
Founded in 2002, the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque strengthens communities and inspires giving. We are dedicated to improving the quality of life throughout Northeast Iowa by serving donors, making grants to local nonprofit organizations, and providing community leadership through convening and collaboration. Guided by the values of integrity, equity and inclusion, collaboration, excellence and innovation, we seek to ensure a vibrant and inclusive Greater Dubuque region with resources and opportunity for all.