NESTLED among the hills of
northeastern Iowa is the little city of Waukon. It is
the home of twenty-five hundred wide-awake, earnest
and cultured people. Twenty-five hundred more cluster
about her and look upon her as their town and their
point of contact with the world. Four times
twenty-five hundred more are proud of her as their
county seat. Situated within but a few miles of the
proposed Mississippi Valley National Park, Waukon
combines the rugged roughness of the Park with the
broad, rolling prairies that make Iowa the first
state in the Union in the percentage of arable land.
"Beautiful for situation," blessed with an
intelligent citizenship, and unique in her isolation,
Waukon is a good place to live in. Moreover, this
little town has a community club.
Social Influence of a
Community clubs give people something
to do that takes them out of their littleness and
selfishness and centers their attention on things
that are for the common good. To arouse a community
spirit requires a community enterprise. No great
organization has become established without a great
work to be done. When men unite upon a common task
for the betterment of all the people, their effort
draws them together by the bonds of sympathy into a
spiritual unity. What communities need is not more
people nor better people, but a means of nurturing a
community consciousness and then all these things
will be added.
Three years ago last October the Waukon Commercial
Club was organized. Many things have been undertaken
by the Club and brought to a successful culmination.
Some of these have brought with them material
comforts, others national publicity, but in answer to
the question, "What is the most important work
that the organization has done?" the replies
were nearly unanimous. Nearly all agreed that the
bringing about of a broader spirit of fellowship, the
breaking down of narrow prejudices and the building
up of a strong community feeling have been the things
that have made the club of the largest usefulness to
the town. As the mayor of a neighboring city said,
while attending one of the gatherings of the club,
"You do not talk about community
buildingyou work at it."
The enterprise that has given us the
greatest amount of publicity was the holding of a
successful "Pay-Up Week." Altho the idea
did not originate with the Waukon Commercial Club, it
was given a new form and first made practicable by
this organization. It seemed to be just what the
business world was looking for, and immediately the
secretary of the club was flooded with inquiries from
commercial organizations. Scores of trade papers
exploited the plan and the Merchants' Trade Journal
took up the notion and developed it into a national
affair. It is generally known as the "Waukon
Idea." This project was undertaken for the sole
purpose of helping the local credit situation and
with no intention of securing publicity, but it
demonstrates that those things entered upon in good
faith for the benefit of the community bring in their
train advertising and other advantages for which many
community organizations strive.
The Kinds of Gatherings We
The spirit of fellowship and
brotherhood has been attained by acting on the
assumption that if people are brought together they
themselves will rub off the marks that indicate the
differences between them. Gatherings of the community
club are therefore numerous. The following will
indicate their nature:
1. The regular luncheons under the auspices of the
club to which all men of the community are invited.
2. Luncheons to which the farmers are invited. As
many as 500 have responded to a single invitation.
Farmers visit merchants.
3. Farm tours with the assistance of the State
Agricultural College. Merchants visit farmers.
4. Guest days. The club is host to the business men
of other towns, especially neighboring towns where
there is apt to be jealousy and misunderstanding.
5. Good fellowship auto tours. Members of the club
and sometimes their wives spend a day in visiting
neighboring towns. Picnic dinners and band concerts
are features of these days.
6. Community celebrations: Christmas, gala days, etc.
7. Governor's Day and other days when the city
entertains some distinguished guest.
Ready for a good-fellowship auto tour
A community club's activities should
be broader than mere material matters. Such a club
should encourage and foster refinement and culture of
every kind. One of the finest moves made by the
Waukon Commercial Club has been the permanent
employment of a community music leader. The home, the
church, the school, as well as the community in
general, have felt the genial influence of this man's
work. Prof. Charles A. Phillips has proved himself
just the man for the place.
The Things Accomplished
Altho the Waukon Commercial Club has
no paid officials and its fees are nominal, it has
brought thru endorsement and cooperation many
substantial material improvements. Those who knew the
Waukon of three or four years ago would hardly
recognize the Waukon of 1917. The following are among
the more important things accomplished:
-A fine system of boulevard lighting
-The establishment of a public hitching ground for
-Marking of all the roads leading to Waukon
-The establishment of a public rest room in the City
-Building of a $50,000 opera house where community
gatherings are held
-Establishment of an annual trade day known as
-Decided improvement in the municipal water-works
-Erection of a $75,000 high school building now near
-Securing important thru auto trails
-Taking over by the city of a fine library, now
supported by municipal taxation
The Opera House in Waukon
Built as a community enterprise thru the Waukon
These and other improvements have
created an atmosphere in which progress thrives.
Hence, business houses have been improved, churches
have been refurnished, many new and modern homes have
been elected. In short, Waukon has waked up, and this
awakening is largely due to the work of the Waukon