Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 22, 2017

Fairfield is goose laying golden eggs

By Sharalyn Pliler | May 08, 2014

To the editor:

Recently, Jefferson County supervisor Becky Schmitz chastised those who said that if Heartland built here, Fairfield would “become like every other town in Iowa.” Becky’s smart so I was surprised at her apparent lack of comprehension that (no insult intended) Fairfield IS different than other towns.

Some highlights:

• Gov. Branstad called Fairfield one of Iowa’s “economic superstars;”

• Having established over 400 businesses, Fairfield has won two awards as Entrepreneurial Community of the Year, currently hosting annual National Rural Entrepreneurial Gatherings (now called the FRED conference);

• Has been labeled a “Rural Renaissance City;”

• Named one of Iowa’s six Great Places;

• Recognized as one of three major centers for the arts in Iowa;

• Named by Smithsonian Magazine as one of the U.S.’s 20 Best Small Towns;

• Won the Community Vitality Award;

• Has its own $6 million arts and convention center;

• Has monthly art walks which won Iowa’s Tourism Event of the Year;

• Named one of the “12 Great Places You’ve Never Heard Of” by Mother Earth News;

• Has more restaurants per capita than San Francisco;

• Labeled “America’s Most Unusual Town” by Oprah Winfrey.

Not everyone here is health-oriented, but our most organized, dynamic group focus is towards the healthy, the eco-friendly, organic, and sustainable (all opposite of Heartland’s operation). For example:

• The Iowa Independent noted that Fairfield was “blazing a trail” for other Iowa cities eyeing sustainability;”

• Mother Earth News called it “sustainable and cosmopolitan,” also noting our world-class health spa;

• Fairfield’s goal, the mayor says, is to become a “virtual template” for “small cities interested in creating a sustainable city environment;”

• Fairfield’s Green Strategic Plan covers everything from conservation, local farms, local food, alternative transportation, and recreation areas;

• Blue Zones finalist;

• Won $80,000 grant from the state Office of Energy Independence;

• One of only 21 locations in Iowa to receive the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award after reducing energy consumption by more than 8 percent in one year;

• Installed $60,000 worth of solar panels and created a $4 million energy-efficiency loan fund;

• Has more homes with solar energy or other green building features, than any other town in Iowa;

• Many other publications note Fairfield is a model for health, art, business, research, beautification, etc.

Don’t these kudos and awards say that Fairfield really is unlike other towns? Along with the aggressive “green” orientation, we have demonstrated leadership in pro-organic, health- and eco-attitudes. This dynamic reflects residents who want a progressive, super-healthy town with 33 miles of walking trails, not one with known health and pollution risks like Heartland would bring. Becky also called for diversity, but has she missed the difference between “diversity” and degradation of momentum?

This isn’t a “roos” versus farmers issue. I was born in a farmhouse and I still raise chickens. I shop at TSC and Reiff’s. But no matter how much I support farming, the pollution, tax expenses, and noise distraction of a monster elevator operation are in direct opposition to the driving forces that have made Fairfield unique. To not understand this is to fail to understand the goose that lays the golden eggs.


– Sharalyn Pliler, rural Fairfield

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