Tips for Running Efficient Meetings

We’ve got a lot of meetings going on for Hometown Pride, and we know you want them to be as productive as possible. Here are a few tips for running an efficient meeting!

  • Have an Agenda: Always have a clear agenda that outlines the topics to be discussed
  • Start on Time: Start meetings at the time stated on the agenda. Meetings that start on time end on time.
  • Time Limits: Include approximate time frames for each discussion item on the agenda, and stick to them.
  • Meeting leader: Each meeting needs a clear leader – someone who will make sure that the agenda is followed.
  • DO Interrupt: While we usually try our best NOT to interrupt people, when you are the meeting leader, sometimes you have to! It’s natural for conversations to get sidetracked, and it’s up to the meeting leader to get them back on track, even if that means (politely) interrupting.
  • Preparation: The meeting leader should sure to have the background information needed to make decisions during the meeting. Or, if other committee members are responsible for bringing the necessary information, the meeting leader should check with them in advance to make sure they are prepared.
  • “Parking Lot”: Inevitably, important ideas or topics will arise that are not on the agenda (or can not be resolved in the allotted time frame). These can sidetrack the meeting and keep you from completing your agenda. Keep a running list of those discussion items to put in the “parking lot” until later, and then make a plan at the end of the meeting for if/when you will address those (like putting it on the agenda for next time, forming a subcommittee, or resolving via e-mail).
  • Make sure people feel heard: If it seems like someone keeps repeating the same idea, it’s probably because they feel they haven’t been heard yet. The meeting leader should make sure to acknowledge the point, either by addressing it immediately, putting it in the “parking lot” for later, or even writing down people’s ideas somewhere visible, like a white board.
  • Follow up: When an item requires action, determine who will be responsible for that and include follow-up on the next meeting’s agenda.

What other tips would you add to this list?


$16,500 awarded to Hometown Pride

Four of our Hometown Pride projects received funding from the Warren County Philanthropic Partnership, for a total of $16,500 in the 2018 grant cycle. The projects were:

  • Carlisle – Playground Equipment for Lindhardt (South) Park: $4,200
  • Norwalk – Cemetery Landscaping (in partnership with the City of Norwalk): $4,900
  • New Virginia – Street Sign Replacement (in partnership with the City of New Virginia): $2,700
  • Hartford – Christmas Lights (through Hartford Betterment Committee): $4,700

The grant recipients were recognized at a reception in Norwalk on May 15.


New Ideas for New Virginia

Hometown Pride brought together more than 40 New Virginia residents for an ice cream social and community vision discussion. The participants talked about their ideas for how to improve their great community. The main ideas that came out of the discussion were:

  • Clean-up the appearance of the community and improve first impressions. A few ideas for ways to do this were offered:
    • Offer to help property owners clean-up their properties
    • Improve entryways and add welcome signs
    • Host a clean-up day
    • Paint murals on the sides of buildings
    • Plant flowers/flower baskets along street
  • Market New Virginia and its assets to potential residents. Great community, easy access, low cost, etc.
  • Add sidewalks and walking trails in the community.
    • This will make our community more attractive
    • Continuous sidewalks will be good for the parade and other community events.
    • The City sidewalk code may need to be updated.
    • Some of the older sidewalks are in disrepair and present a safety hazard

New Virginia Hometown Pride thanks the community for the great discussion. Our committee meets monthly to plan how we can act on these and other ideas.

We need your help to make these things happen! Would you like to help get one of these ideas off the ground? Contact us to learn how to volunteer for Hometown Pride.

Indianola kicks off Hometown Pride

A group of volunteers and other supporters met to talk about Indianola Hometown Pride and what they would like to see for the future of Indianola! Below are the highlights of their discussion. If you would like to get involved in Indianola Hometown Pride, please contact us to learn how. (Deadline to apply to the committee is February 9).

Discussion Notes from February 8

What we like about Indianola:

  • Great place to raise a family
  • Lots of opportunities
    • Events, college, opera, lake, etc.
  • “We do summer really well” – lots of summer activities
  • Indianola is pretty big, but still has a small town feel
  • Sense of community
  • We have a city center, the square
  • Very caring community


Opportunities for change in Indianola / Things we would like to do:

  • A better way to get the word out about events. Need a central hub
  • Letting people know they are in Indianola, and directing them to what’s here
    • Welcome signs and special attraction signs
  • Telling people about the many opportunities to get involved.
    • A community organization fair?
  • Improve home/yard appearance. Some yards have furniture, etc. in them.
    • Offer assistance to those who are unable to fix up their yard/house
    • Do a clean-up day
    • Yard of the month?
  • Refresh rundown buildings on 65 & 92. High visibility.
  • Offer more incentives for businesses to fix up their buildings
  • Maintenance of downtown parking areas
  • Add bike racks
  • Add public art
  • Get a wider variety of people involved in community life – will help offer fresh perspectives
  • Keep investing in the square
    • What happens to the courthouse?
    • Focus on retail options in the square
  • Support local businesses
  • Let Des Moines know that we are closer than you think
  • We can draw people from around the County
    • Can we survey what those people want?
  • More restaurant variety (beyond pizza or Mexican)
  • Public transportation options
  • Hometown Pride should involve service clubs in our work

Read the full meeting minutes here.

What’s next for Cumming?

Residents gathered at Cumming City Hall to talk about Hometown Pride and the future of their community! Below are the notes from the discussion. If you would like to help work on these ideas, or one of your own, join the Hometown Pride volunteer team. We are looking for people who want to be occasional volunteers (to help 2-3 times per year) or committee members (meet monthly). Or feel free to just drop us a line to share any ideas you have for Cumming! Contact us here.


Things we like about Cumming:

  • Has a small-town feel, but still “8 minutes from everything”
  • Bike path
  • New flower pots in park and on street are a nice addition
  • Cumming tap and the Distillery both attract people to town
  • Legion and Parks group both doing positive things

Things we could do to improve Cumming:

  • Add an attraction/amenity at the trail head, and paint lines in the parking lot
  • Fix up the alley behind the Legion/Tap
  • Provide more ways to meet your neighbors: music in the park? yoga in the park?
  • Take advantage of “bike nights” at Cumming tap, perhaps by hosting a complementary community event at the same time, or using the opportunity to promote Cumming
  • Purchase better Christmas Lights for decorating the town
  • Provide more ways to share community news (not just the post office)
  • Connect the bike trail to the new part of town (and to Norwalk?)
  • What can bring people in the newer developments into “old town?”
  • Do more Christmas events: Pets with Santa? Tree lighting in the park?

What would you add to this list? What can we do to ensure a great future for Cumming?




Carlisle residents share their ideas for Hometown Pride

20 residents from Carlisle and the surrounding area came together to kick-off the Carlisle Hometown Pride program on Thursday, January 18th. Discussion topics included possible improvements to parks and trails, increasing activity and event offerings, and community beautification.

About a dozen of the attendees volunteered to serve on the new Carlisle Hometown Pride committee, which will meet monthly to plan and implement community improvement projects for Carlisle. Below are the full discussion notes from the Jan 18th meeting.

Do you want to be part of Carlisle Hometown Pride? Contact us.



What we like about Carlisle:

  • Sense of Community
  • Schools
  • Trails
  • Pool
  • Small Town Feel
  • Library
  • Businesses and Restaurants
  • Natural Beauty
  • Close to Metro
  • Growing
  • Parks
  • Community Sense of Pride
  • Citizen Engagement
  • Community Events
  • We Celebrate our History
  • Family & Friends
  • Regional awareness
  • Youth athletics
  • Fire, EMS & Police Service


Opportunities for Change in Carlisle/New Things we would like to see:

  • Dog Park
  • Coffee Shop
  • Rec Center with Multi-purpose room
  • Yoga in the park
  • Fiber Internet
  • More activities for adults and kids
  • Public art
  • Beautification in public spaces, like the street right-of-way
  • Community clean-up
  • Yard of the month program
  • Trail activities for kids & adults
  • SRNP trail head with water, bathroom, tables, etc.
  • Community Social Events, like a “bike night”
  • After school programs
  • Places for young kids/families
  • Public transportation to Des Moines, Trolley service within City
  • Better way to cross the highway for kids
  • Downtown revitalization
  • Downtown Park (in progress)
  • Way to connect to your neighbors
  • Centralized point of communication for community happenings
  • Park improvements – add playground and other equipment to parks so that they offer the full range of basic park options
  • Sand Volleyball and Pickleball courts
  • Holiday events – bring back “light up Carlisle”
  • More partnership between community and school
  • Add a Welcome Sign
  • Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts involvement in community projects
  • More volunteer opportunities

Hartford residents discuss community projects

Residents from the Hartford area joined the Hartford Community Betterment committee last night to discuss ideas for new community projects and events in Hartford. Notes from the discussion are below. The Betterment Committee will work with community volunteers to decide which projects to pursue.

Do you want to get involved in Hartford Hometown Pride and the Hartford Community Betterment Committee? Contact us.

Photo Jan 09, 7 01 57 PM

Photo Jan 09, 7 38 52 PM

Norwalk holds first Hometown Pride meeting

A group of 15 volunteers attended the first meeting of Norwalk Hometown Pride on January 8, to discuss the goals of the program and brainstorm ideas for community projects. The group discussed what they like about their community and what they would like to change. See the notes below for an overview of the group’s ideas.

Norwalk kick-off meeting notes

About a dozen of the meeting attendees signed on to be part of the Norwalk Hometown Pride committee, which will meet monthly to decide which projects to pursue, and how to get them done!

If you would like to be part of the Norwalk Hometown Pride committee, or would like to volunteer for Hometown Pride projects on an as-needed basis, contact us. And/or review our Volunteer Interest Survey to see the volunteer opportunities available.

Meeting notes (text version of above photo):

What we like about Norwalk:

  • Welcoming people
  • Business loyalty (residents are loyal to Norwalk businesses)
  • New welcome signs
  • Golf courses
  • Great school
  • Clean
  • Close to Des Moines/Downtown/Airport
  • Lots of amazing local businesses
  • Safe community
  • Good balance of old and new
  • Great EMS
  • Great Senior Care facilities
  • Nice, cared for homes

What could we improve or change in Norwalk?

  • Improve Hwy 28 median (aesthetics)
  • More activities for adults: like a pickle ball court
  • Improvements to Main Street/North Avenue
  • Add better connection to bike trail
  • Senior center activities
  • Public art
  • Publicize farmers market more
  • Add trees, especially by cemetery
  • Little free libraries
  • Add light poles or other improvements on Sunset Blvd
  • New Welcome sign
  • Slow traffic on Sunset off Hwy 5
  • Expand aquatic center and/or add a YMCA
  • Work with city on creation of new downtown/town-center


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