*An important disclaimer from Angie Jordan: "I speak as an individual and not on behalf of [South District Neighborhood Association] SDNA. These are MY own, individual opinions. To obtain the opinion of SDNA, questions must be submitted to our Leadership Committee for Approval."*
You have heard IVHFH talking about collaboration in the South District of Iowa City and there is a lot of exciting work we cannot wait to share with you in the coming year! Through our work in the South District, we have had the privilege of getting to know South District resident, Angie Jordan. So many community organizations and groups operate successfully under the leadership of passionate and driven individuals and Angie is that leader for the South District. For the past two and a half years, Angie Jordan has started up and led efforts through the South District Neighborhood Association (SDNA) which includes the Pepperwood, South Pointe, Weatherby, and Grant Wood neighborhoods, and currently serves as the association's president. The SDNA recently became a 501(c) nonprofit in 2020 and continues connecting and engaging fellow residents in the neighborhood she proudly calls home. One surprising thing Angie shared with us, "I am not currently employed, formerly educated or trained to do neighborhood development! Everything I do in my neighborhood is 100% as an unpaid, constantly learning, volunteer-resident."
Angie was born in Iowa City and attended Horace Mann Elementary; when she was eight she moved down to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas where she grew up playing many varsity sports, was involved in theater, Destination Imagination, ecology club, creative writing, Girls State, and a part of high school Rotary Interact, Pentathlon, Honor Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, along with other service organizations.
Every summer she would return to Iowa to visit family and enjoy the many amazing things Iowa City had to offer for a kid, teen, and young adult. Angie went to Williams College in Massachusetts for undergraduate students and double majored in cultural anthropology and psychology with a cognitive focus. After college, through the Community Corrections Improvement Association with the 6th Judicial District, she designed and started Children of Promise Mentoring Program in Johnson County to serve youth with parents in prison. Before starting her own family, Angie would go on to be a family support advocate through the Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County and has served on the NCJC Board of Directors since 2017.
Angie has been a part-time adjunct instructor at the University of Iowa for 11 years teaching Team-Building on the University’s high and low ropes challenge course. She has also been a knitting instructor for the past seven years in her small business, Banjo Knits where she has taught group and individual classes at local yarn shops and at the Senior Center. Last year, she started a new LifeTime Leisure Skills class at the University--Beginner Knitting: Mindfulness/Patience.
During the past four years, she has founded and coordinated The Banjo Knits Project, an effort to increase the number of knitters in the world who practice mindfulness, patience, and kindness with themselves and others. Angie focuses this effort on underserved populations--low-income elementary schools, juvenile court services, emergency youth shelter, immigrant populations, parole and probation, and adults and children who might not be able to afford to take a knitting class in the community. She collaborates heavily with the fiber arts community in the Iowa City area. The Banjo Knits Project offers youth and adult programs, knitting support, silent auction fundraisers, and the opportunity to explore curiosity and self awareness.
In the recent past, she was the Administrative Coordinator at Inside Out Reentry before resigning to become Director Household and Online School Education Coordinator to her two children due to COVID-19. She has also been the Billing Department Coordinator at a local chiropractor and worked in local retail. Her volunteer service also includes Archibald Alexander Elementary School’s Parent-Teacher Organization, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
Angie is the mother of two elementary aged kiddos who keep her on her toes, and the wife of an Iowa City Firefighter who has served for 19 years. When Angie is not working or volunteering, she loves improvisation classes, going for neighborhood leisure bike rides, getting her "swole" on, knitting, playing board games with friends and family, or gardening in her backyard.
IVHFH: What originally brought you to the South District?
Angie Jordan: When my life-partner and I were looking to relocate from North Liberty to Iowa City in 2015, we wanted a larger, affordable forever-home in a neighborhood with tons of established amenities to raise a family. We wanted to be in a part of town that was very familiar to both of us, where we felt safe within and able to actively engage and be a part of. We also wanted our children to attend an elementary school where they were in the majority as children of color, where we knew the teaching staff.
IVHFH: As the President of the SDNA, what drives you to tackle this kind of work?
Angie Jordan: It’s important to share that I do not do any of this as work, I don’t get paid for the time, energy, knowledge, or skills that I bring to SDNA efforts. I was not trained or educated or hold any titles or certifications in neighborhood development. I believe that in some cases leadership is not sought after, it is placed on certain individuals because they are biased towards doing things that have not been done before.
It’s important for folks to know that for me, the neighborhood in which my family lives is an extension of our home. My life-partner and I want all the things we didn’t have and/or did have growing up that empowered us for our children. We want this in our neighborhood, in our home, so they grow up on a solid foundation knowing they’re important and valuable and know how to engage the challenges and beauty of life long after we are gone. We have a lot of “skin in the game” to consistently and sustainably engage and lift our neighborhood because it takes our investment of time, energy, knowledge, and skills and directly applies it to the future--our children. We hold a belief in our family that it takes a village to raise children. It’s important to both of us to bring our neighborhood, our home, into an awareness of the power it has and can create to be the change for a brighter future together.
IVHFH: What will the SDNA be tackling in the coming weeks and months? Is there one project or event that you are most excited about or most hopeful to get done over the next year?
Angie Jordan: I am most excited about the future of our brand-new neighborhood association committees. They are a step closer to ensuring initial neighborhood efforts continue and grow from within the actual neighborhood. There are many residents to engage and eager allies to integrate into the creating and maintaining of our neighborhood identity.
We have only just begun to scratch the surface of what is possible for our neighborhood. And, it is important we create a framework and process that can support our big ideas while genuinely and organically connecting residents to each other to see how interconnected we are. The development of the committees allows for more folks to come together within the neighborhood, practice and learn how to be a team working towards resident-led and identified goals. The more hands, the lighter the load.
The committees provide a safe space for residents to explore, develop, support, connect, and identify shared ways to dream, lead, and to get things done. I believe this will create and build trust and meaningful, lasting relationships between people who call the SD home.
I am most excited about the development of our committees as their efforts will streamline actions towards goals and dreams our neighborhood has had for many, many years even before I lived here.
IVHFH: 2020 has been a year that presents even more challenges for households to simply survive, and for communities to provide necessary resources. What is a major concern you have when it comes to keeping residents safe and healthy?
Angie Jordan: SDNA strives to focus on building and maintaining neighborhood identity through traditions while ensuring connection to each other and to the greater Iowa City area through individual connections and advocacy. It is so important that our voices in the South District can be heard and engaged to inform decisions that surround us in local government, our schools, and in other parts of the greater community. I believe the major concern and goals of SDNA have not changed but have been amplified by 2020 and that, in short, is lifting our voices to be heard and keeping our residents informed to ensure long-lasting safety and health within our neighborhood.
IVHFH: What do you think are some of the SNDA’s greatest accomplishments over this past year
IVHFH encourages you to learn more about the South District. SDNA is active on Facebook where you can stay informed and up-to-date on events that are always happening in the community. Or visit the SDNA website.