Resilience and Hope in Small-Town America, with a Spotlight on Bellevue and Emmetsburg

Jun 29, 2016

Julianne Couch should have been happy staying in her native Kansas City, or even her adopted Laramie, WY.  But after a drive through Eastern Iowa, she and her husband couldn't resist the charms of a small Mississippi River town in Jackson County.

Couch, a teacher and writer, found out that she was one of the lucky ones who could work from home in any place, as long as it offered a good broadband connection.   She insisted on staying somewhere between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River, so why not Bellevue, Iowa?  After she visited Dubuque, she traveled south to Jackson County and was taken by its natural beauty.  She told Charity: "I actually decided it would be fun to live in Iowa and I found the perfect beautiful little river town."

Couch has written about Bellevue  (population 2191, located 24 miles southeast of Dubuque) and Emmetsburg (and seven other towns outside of Iowa) in her new book "The Small-Town Midwest; Resilience and Hope in the Twenty-First Century." (University of Iowa Press) 

She and her husband have been Bellevue residents for five years now, they began by renovating an old Victorian building into a single-family residence.  "The thing about living in a small town," Couch told us," is not to just sit on your porch or watch TV.  We got involved with the community right away.  You can't just be a wall-flower, you need to make friends."  She also writes about Emmetsburg (population 3904 located in Northwest Iowa).  Like Bellevue, Couch says the Palo Alto County city is vibrant with evolving businesses and residents willing to volunteer and invest themselves in the community.   She says Emmetsburg is especially helped by the presence of a community college.