Mayor Haila declares Nov. 13-21 Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week


The Ames City Council conducting business Aug. 24.

Finn Mcnally

Mayor John Haila made Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in Ames official during the City Council meeting Tuesday. The council also discussed the results of the Downtown Plaza project and the results of the Play Ames initiative.

Haila declared that Nov. 13-21 will be a citywide focus on housing and food security. Ames public library will feature a weeklong display sharing statistics and resources for those in need.

“On behalf of our community, I encourage all citizens to recognize that many people do not have housing and need support from citizens and private, public and non-profit service entities,” said Haila.

The city wants to focus on engaging the community in volunteering, donating and educating about the topic. 

The council heard from a committee of students and staff from the Community and Regional Planning program at Iowa State University. The committee, led by Alenka Poplin, an associate professor in the Community and Regional Planning program at Iowa State, shared the results of the Play Ames event they facilitated.

Play Ames was a festival hosted by the Community and Regional Planning program intended to engage the Ames community and focus on underrepresented and marginalized groups.

“The festival brought a lot of good spirit, an amazingly positive atmosphere, and an enjoyable environment,” said Poplin. “I think this is a potential in engaging residents in creative, sharing, playful, technology-based, experiential ways.”  

Play Ames was a community engagement festival in four locations around Ames that featured various activities for community members such as yoga, mural painting, urban planning games and virtual reality.

The committee said that the activities they found to be most successful were ones that involved creativity and gave participants a final product.

“It feels like [those activities] gave them some kind of sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, creativity,” said Poplin. “They saw the product being produced and they could take the pictures home.”

They also found that people engaged with experiential activities and ones that featured technology like the virtual reality activity where blank happened.

The committee reported they would like the festival to be an annual event run by Community and Regional Planning students. In the future, they would like to involve neighborhood leaders and city officials and make the events more accessible.

The council discussed the Downtown Plaza project that is in development. The Downtown Plaza will be a public space that features an ice skating loop. The city has partnered with Confluence to design the project.

The plaza will also feature a splash pad, a water runnel similar to the one in downtown Des Moines, skate rentals and various interactive water features. During the summer, the ice will be covered with panels and converted into a walking path. 

The council approved a request to change the name of Squaw Creek Park to Ioway Creek Park. Squaw is an offensive term towards Native Americans that many locations around Ames were named with. Squaw Creek was previously renamed Iowa Creek.

The next City Council meeting will be Nov. 18 at Ames City Hall. It can also be attended virtually on the City Council’s website or their Youtube page.