The idea for the video started when Cedar Rapids was scheduled to host the Iowa League of Cities event. They wanted something that expressed what made Cedar Rapids such a special place.
“Andy [Stoll] gave me a call and said maybe I could capture the emotional view of Cedar Rapids,” said Courtney Ball, creator of Corridor Characters. “He liked how we could find profiles of people that normally weren’t profiled.”
Ball wrote the script, while Braden Kopf shot the video.
“We only had about 2-3 weeks to put it together,” said Ball. “Braden filmed like crazy.”
A city reinventing itself
One of the events referenced in the short is the flooding of 2008. That disaster has forever redefined the city and its residents.
“After the flood, I talked to my neighbor more in the first two weeks than I had in the two years before,” said Ball. “It forced everybody to work together and talk with each other.”
The flood became a catalyst for conscious community building and revitalization.
“A lot of people felt like Cedar Rapids was getting stale before the flood,” said Ball. “Afterwards, it was a time of renewal, a time to think about how we might remake our city.”
A history of diversity
One thing that may surprise viewers is the expression of diversity. Diversity isn’t something people associate with Iowa, but integrating immigrants into its community has always been part of the city’s identity.
“Cedar Rapids has a history of bringing in immigrants as a workforce,” said Ball. “[As part of the development process] we sat with a local historian and he filled us in even more about the history of people coming from the Czech Republic, people from the Middle East in the early 1900s. Today there’s a number of African refugees that come here. A lot of different cultures have been integrated into Cedar Rapids. It definitely has more diversity than I thought it did when I came here.”
Many people come to Cedar Rapids for the work and discover the spirit of the community later.
The video seems to have resonated with a lot of Cedar Rapids residents.
“A lot of people say, ‘This perfectly captured my experience of moving to Cedar Rapids and getting to know it,'” said Ball. “It’s definitely by far our most popular post.”
Ryan Pendell is the Managing Editor of Silicon Prairie News.