Resilient Sustainable Future for Iowa City

A lot of scary changes are coming, like rising temperatures and the end of cheap transportation. Ahh! A lot of us feel pretty anxious and pretty helpless about them.

We also have more urgent problems. We lack affordable housing and transportation, we lack access to nutritious food, and suffer systemic oppression built on a history of extortion and extraction. We are destroying the natural environment. A lot of us feel urgently these things need to change.

The key realization behind our non-profit, RSFIC, is that the upcoming long-term changes will bring new disruptive opportunities that we can use to address many of our more urgent challenges.

Every change globally will create strategic opportunities locally.
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For example, as fuel prices rise, global clothing businesses will have to raise shipping prices. At some point it will be cheaper to make local fabric than it will be to ship it, which will create new opportunities for local fabric creators and fashion designers to compete. So, in 2022, we partnered with the Wright House of Fashion, whose mission is to empower underrepresented people through sustainable fashion, to get them a permanent location.

Imagine 2035, when some of the folks learning at WHoF today have cornered the midwestern market on fashion!

This is just one way we can try to use big global changes in fuel prices to claim power locally if we invest in skills and space now - and we can work in solidarity towards social justice while we do it.

Our mission is to build systemic long-term resilience in Iowa City. We value relocalizing power, solidarity, consuming less, humility, and integrity.

Our vision is an Iowa City with strong and interdependent neighborhoods, where we’re all working on something important for the community, we have the diverse set of skills we need to sustain ourselves, and we’ve claimed ownership of fundamental sources of power like food, shelter, and energy.

Eventually, one way or the other, we’ll all be shifting to a sustainable culture. We just want to do it soon enough to take advantage of the opportunities this change will bring to push for a just balance!

What’s the plan?

We think the fundamental problem is that our prevalent culture has us giving our power away. We want to help shift our culture to value our own long-term strength.

Our plan has two parts:

  • Shift The Narrative
  • Join Our Neighbors

Shift The Narrative

Stories define what’s normal and what’s imaginable. Our neighbors working locally don’t have marketing budgets, so we don’t hear their stories as much as we see profit-seeking ads. As a result, we hear more stories normalizing profit and growth and fewer stories normalizing claiming our own power. One effect: It’s “normal” to be a consumer, but it’s “risky” to be an activist or an entrepreneur. We assume everyone will be a consumer, but you have to be special to forge your own way. We accept paying “essential workers” the lowest possible wages because culturally we understand it to mean “essential to corporate profits.”

This is a big strategic opportunity. There is a ton of power around we can claim, if we learn how to see it.

Many of us are ready to hear empowering cultural narratives, and RSFIC is ready to put a lot of skills and resources into telling them.

This will look like:

  • Advertisements and articles for local entrepreneurs
  • Potlucks and gatherings to share stories and feedback directly
  • Published analysis of the way we invest, including the city budget, trends in our personal spending, where we get our food and energy, etc
  • Anthropological breakdown of the myths we believe today (e.g. companies exist to maximize profit/shareholder value) so we can see more clearly

Bit by bit we can cultivate stories that normalize acting for social justice, solidarity, and local empowerment! Our end goal is a resilient culture, but the little steps that will get us there also address many of our immediate needs!

We’re looking for someone to head up this strategy as Director of Cultural Narrative. We're hiring!


Join our Neighbors

There are so many local opportunities all around us that we cannot really see because our current cultural narratives make us blind to them. While part one is about shifting the narrative, part two is about simply joining hands and doing the work. We’re just going to pitch in and help the many folks around town already working locally on community empowerment, local food, neighborhood solidarity, social justice, and other endeavors today’s culture would have us wait on until we’ve clocked our 40 hours.

This will look like:

  • a diverse team of full-time and part-time success coaches available to help with coaching, moral support, connections, and spare time - not just in initial consultations but over long, multi-year durations.
  • 30 zero-risk grants of money, time, skills, and space for Iowa City neighbors and their projects, totalling about $600,000 in 2023 (starting in late summer)
  • Direct support with marketing, accounting, sales, network building, and other parts of running a business or social enterprise
  • An overarching system at RSFIC that makes sure we’re honestly sharing real stories - and remembering to celebrate the people doing the very hard work of change.

Bit by bit we can demonstrate that investing locally pays dividends that the stock market can’t even comprehend. Our end goal is a resilient culture, but these little steps will also address many of our immediate needs!

We’re looking for someone to head up this strategy as Head Success Coach. We're hiring!

More About Us

Who are we?

RSFIC was founded by two local entrepreneurs who donated a large amount of cash to get this started. They are white and middle-aged and have lived in Iowa City for 20-30 years, respectively. They have created and led several intentional communities, founded and sold two tech companies, and strive to live with integrity. They would love to meet you and tell you all about themselves in a more personal venue - you will definitely meet them if you write or visit, and even if you don’t, you might find them asking for an invitation to the good work YOU are doing!

RSFIC is staffed day to day by an Executive Director (one of the founders) and an Operations Manager (an Iowa City native and University of Iowa Alumnus).

Our board is small today but we are growing it by inviting folks from various subcommunities of Iowa City who share our mission and want to help us reach farther than the founders’ echo chambers. The board provides accountability that keeps our actions in line with our values, and when you meet them they can be very transparent with you about the work we do!


Why Iowa City?

We’re focusing on Iowa City because that’s where we are. It occurred to us to focus on a larger scale, but we think large-scale organizations are already working on that, and frankly, larger scale solutions may just not be tenable. We thought about focusing at a smaller scale, but we didn’t think we could achieve the diversity of systems we’ll need with just one or two neighborhoods. We thought about moving to some remote woods and living off the grid, but we wanted to break the cycle of colonialism and extraction and focus on where we are today - acknowledging our history and moving forward with humility and integrity.



What have we done already?

  • Listened as best we can, meeting with dozens of leaders around Iowa City

  • Found space and serve with coaching and other support for Tamarack Discovery School, who are working to teach kids in community

  • Found space and serve with coaching and other support for Wright House of Fashion, working to empower underrepresented populations with art, design, and sustainable practices as vehicles for change.

  • Helped AstraCommons create a local real estate investment fund designed to relocalize home ownership

  • Shared space with MDC Iowa and Astig Planning to serve community in community


How can you get involved?

This page was updated on September 12, 2023