At the center of what was once the tallgrass prairie, Iowa has stood out for clearing the land and becoming one of the most productive agricultural states in the nation. But its success is challenged by multiple issues including but not limited to a decline in union representation of meatpacking workers; lack of demographic diversity; the advent of job-replacing mechanization; growing income inequality; negative contributions to and effects of climate change and environmental hazards.
To become green, fair, and prosperous, Connerly argues that Iowa must reckon with its past and the fact that its farm economy continues to pollute waterways, while remaining utterly unprepared for climate change. Iowa must recognize ways in which it can bolster its residents’ standard of living and move away from its demographic tradition of whiteness. For development to be sustainable, society must balance it with environmental protection and social justice. Connerly provides a crucial roadmap for how Iowans can move forward and achieve this balance.
About the Author
Charles Connerly is professor and director of the University of Iowa School of Urban and Regional Planning. He is author of “The Most Segregated City in America”: City Planning and Civil Rights in Birmingham, 1920–1980. Connerly lives in Kalona, Iowa.
“Chuck Connerly’s book is a clear, concise explanation of the forces shaping Iowa’s history and its critical debates today. It cuts through the political clutter and gives us a much-needed long view. Policymakers should put down their talking points and pick up this book.”—Todd Dorman, columnist, The Gazette
“Rural population loss, an eroding natural environment, fewer union jobs, and a lack of racial diversity affect Iowa’s economic future. Dr. Connerly’s book shows how Iowa can reverse these trends to create good jobs with a green and sustainable economic future.”—David Osterberg, cofounder, The Iowa Policy Project
“Connerly provides a detailed description of Iowa’s history from a prairie state to a prominently productive agricultural state. He summarizes the evolution of Iowa’s ag industry, and its impact on the vibrancy of Iowa’s people, communities, and environment. Connerly provides thought-provoking suggestions for how Iowa can create solutions for crises it is facing.”—Sally Worley, executive director, Practical Farmers of Iowa