I wish I could tell you I wrote this from atop a log raft while floating down the Mighty Mississippi, but sadly the wifi access out there ain’t so mighty. Instead, I’m sitting at a table inside the Grand Harbor Resort and Conference Center complex, which is part of the $188 million riverfront development project here in Dubuque, Iowa, our first of three stops during our week traveling The Great River.
The development project — and the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium that’s part of it — is what first drew us to Dubuque, but the more we explore, the more we’re realizing there’s a lot to see here and a lot of people to meet. First up was a meeting this morning with Mayor Roy D. Buol, a cheery gentleman who has lived in Dubuque his whole life and has seen it through bad times, like an economic slump in the ’80s, and good, like, well, now.
Buol remembers a Dubuque that didn’t offer any access to the river at all, so he’s excited about creating a riverfront that gives citizens a place to recreate and offers tourists an opportunity to enjoy a "national treasure."
Buol is also very much involved in efforts to green Dubuque. He has signed onto the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and attended the Sundance Summit, where he says he learned a lot about climate science. Now, creating a sustainable city is one of his top goals.
When you think about Iowa, visions of cornfields and hog farms abound, Buol told us, but Dubuque is different from the rest of the state. And we’re off to explore it some more.