“Is There Anything More Ironic Than Coming to Live in Des Moines”

Terms of Endearment supermarket“Is this Heaven?” “No, it’s Iowa.” —Field of Dreams

We’ve mentioned it here before on the site, so we’re not too surprised, but Des Moines is getting a lot of love these days. According to the National Journal, only half-jokingly, we should all be moving to Iowa, or at least visiting and considering it:

It was a normal night at the Social Club when we visited. The art gallery was open, just next to Capes Kafe coffee shop and comic-book store; upstairs, nine people in a comic-book drawing class watched an eccentric, gray-haired instructor in skinny black jeans and thick-rimmed glasses draw a cartoon about a retired Elvis impersonator named “Sid.” Out on the purposely graffitied porch with rope-spool tables, dozens of members of the local Young Nonprofit Professionals Network chapter met to network, drink, and take professional head shots.

Looking out over the courtyard marked by an old telephone tower and murals, Brianne Sanchez and Danny Heggen, both 29, describe the chapter they founded in 2013 for monthly coffee meetings. It has turned into a group of more than 550 members that successfully draws millennials downtown to connect and help each other out. It’s a quintessentially Midwestern mix of selflessness in a deep pool of ambition and drive.

“We always joke that Des Moines is a big small town,” says Heggen, a project manager for a firm that transforms old art deco buildings into new apartments. “But really, Des Moines is a large living room. There’s this homey feel. What I most want is everybody around me to be successful. And I believe that everyone wants that for me, as well.”

Musician David Byrne concurs. So the NYT, which mentions that unemployment statewide is an “enviable 4.5%” while the state as a whole has gotten less white — as of 2010, only 89%!

The once sleepy core of Des Moines, known for its commuter-friendly 9-to-5 hours and drab overhead skywalk system, is taking on cosmopolitan hues. The population downtown has doubled over the past decade, and 1,500 new units of housing are planned. … Mickey Davis, a 23-year-old musician, was so confident he would leave Iowa after college that on his arm he tattooed the corporate emblem of Travelers Insurance Company, a mainstay of downtown Des Moines, to take a bit of the state with him. He is now the program manager at the Des Moines Social Club, a hive of cultural activity inside the Art Deco quarters of an erstwhile firehouse, which hosts operas, poetry readings, bands, art exhibits and yoga classes. “Des Moines,” he said over lunch, “is actually a happening place.”

Clickhole, on the other hand, is sticking with Pittsburgh. Well, okay. Maybe their weather is better?

RELATED: Millennials categorically refuse to live in small towns, whether or not they’re in Iowa. Also, this list — supposedly the 25 best cities and neighborhoods for Millennials — is bizarre in a least five ways. See if you can spot them!



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