Thanks for friend-raising!

Urban Ambassadors celebrated their second annual (FRIEND)raiser in Windsor Heights last Sunday. The room was room packed with sustainability advocates and friends excited to honor Ambassadors who have gone above and beyond in sustainability projects over the last year.

“We wanted to recognize the people who are hitting the ground and making these things happen,” said UA board member Greg Van Den Berghe. “We had an amazing turnout for nominations.”



Deanne Bryce was awarded the Ambassador of the Year award is for her work creating the Pop Up Film Festival at HOQ in February as well as her support of Forest Avenue Outreach and work at The Wallace Center of Iowa.

“Deanne has been a faithful attendee of UA meet-ups. She always brings new ideas and life to whatever she works on and the event she did at HOQ ran seamlessly,” said Van Den Berghe. 

Bryce said she hoped to inspire other shy people to become advocates for sustainability in Des Moines. "You can just help by not necessarily being in the center of everything. Just caring, dabbling, and encouraging. If you're like me and you're shy or don't want to take the center stage, you can still do it." 

The Ambassador of the Year award is given to a UA member who exemplifies the mission and purpose of Urban Ambassadors. The recipient carefully considers how they can live sustainably in their every day life. They are active and knowledgeable in the community and work to bring people together. The recipient has made meaningful contributions to UA, its partners, and projects. 


Tim Goldman, Co-Coordinator of Faith and Grace Garden
Ralph Chiodo, President & Coordinator of Forest Avenue Outreach
Bill Gray, Des Moines Councilman, Forest Ave. Outreach
Ayssa Sheets, Prairie Sol Food Truck
Stephanie Jessen, Mo Rub
Deanne Bryce, Pop Up Film Festival at HOQ
Emily Toribio, For her work in making Ingersoll Live a zero waste event 
Sam Summers, For bringing boxed water at major outdoor events
Joe Tiretti, Food Resource Bank
Brian Schmitz, Forest Avenue Outreach
Jordan Kauffman, Forest Avenue Outreach
Lindsey Mabe, Forest Avenue Outreach
Katy Beary, Iowa State University Extension
Ray Meylor, Forest Avenue Outreach and Cherry Glenn Farm


Habitat for Humanity was awarded Project of the Year for their Tiny House Project. The organization built a tiny home with materials from their ReStore in January and displayed the home at Des Moines’ Better Homes and Gardens Show.

“They not only built the home and brought it to a new audience at the show, but they provided education on why tiny houses are important and what we can learn about them for sustainability,” said Van Den Berghe.

The Project of the Year is awarded to an Urban Ambassador who led a particularly novel or innovative seed project through completion. The project required a high level of coordination and effort to achieve and sought input from a broad cross section of community partners, including the Urban Ambassadors community to complete the project.


Forest Avenue Outreach
Kids Against Violence
Habitat for Humanity
Ingersoll Live
Blackbird Investments and Modus Engineering


Lutheran Services of Iowa was honored for their Global Greens Project, which provides refugees in Iowa with education, support, and land for starting small vegetable farms in the Des Moines metro area.

“This is an organization that really reached across their own mission to bring in support and help for refugee farmers in Iowa, not only in providing resources for growing food locally but how to market that food across all sorts of avenues,” said Van Den Berghe. They also bring resources like Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Beginning Farmer Savings Incentive Program to the refugees and help them work through processes they wouldn’t otherwise know about.”

“I feel lucky to be part of a group of people that cares,” said Zachary Couture, Global Greens’ Farm Associate. “I don’t think there’s any end to the benefits of what growing your own food can do for your health, mental wellbeing, your community and the environment.”

The Partner of the Year award is given to a business, organization or government entity that showed strong support for community building sustainability projects. The organization took special steps beyond their normal course of business to support a community-driven sustainability project.


Forest Avenue Outreach
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
Lutheran Services of Iowa, Global Greens Project
Drake’s Next Course Food Rescue
Trees Forever


 The event was also the launch of UA’s new Seed Project tool, which is an online platform for planning a sustainability project in Des Moines.

“Seed projects are something that may start as just a speck in the back of your mind. Maybe it becomes a big bold idea, or maybe it stays something rather small,” said Drew Maifield, the organization’s Vice President. “Urban Ambassadors job is to help you rally the troops and the resources to help you make your idea happen.”

The online Seed Project tool is in Beta but is accessible at For more information on the tool, visit this page.