'We're Making Change': Meet The People Of Des Moines

From helping veterans to raising families, these Iowans are working hard at fulfilling their dreams.

Des Moines, Iowa, was the 15th stop on our Listen To America road trip. We hunkered down in the Urban Dreams parking lot to talk to locals about their lives in Iowa. Here’s what they had to say:

“I run a nonprofit that connects veterans with resources to help them with the issues that often go along with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.”

― Lisa Naslund, 52, nonprofit founder

 “I’m an Iowan. I’m a Midwesterner. I love the values that we share ... I believe we’re making change.”

― John Campbell, 61, factory worker

“I was incarcerated for twenty years. I went in when I was 17 and got out when I was 37 ... I’m currently getting my life in order. I actually got two jobs now.”

― Joe Harrison, 38, Public Ally

 “One thing that bothers me a lot is that ― now that I’m homeless, and a lot of the homeless people that I have seen out here ― the fact that there are too many houses that are vacant and they could be put to good use.”

― Patricia Lester, 51, unemployed

“I just graduated with my master’s degree. I wanted to make a name for myself here in Iowa.” 

― Vanessa McNeal, 24, national speaker/film producer

“I found a lot of Muslims. I’m a black American Muslim. There’s a big Muslim community out here. Although there is some intolerance here in Des Moines and some racism, I think that it’s not as bad as in other places.”

― Elizabeth Scott, 37, student


 “I’m from West Africa, Liberia. Grew up in Africa. We was refugee there ... I came to Des Moines in 2015. I kinda like it.”

― Patience Harmer, 28, caregiver

HuffPost is hitting the road this fall to interview people about their hopes, dreams, fears ― and what it means to be American today.

“It’s an awesome place to have a family.”

― Amasha Manyfield, 24, customer service representative

“I am here because you can always keep a job here.”

― Meltisha Crawford, 26, business associate

“It’s a family place ... A lot of people are welcome here.”

― Porsche Lee, 29, dental analyst

 “My family was here and I like it ... People are friendly.”

― Marilyn Freerksen, 79, retired

 “I came to Des Moines to work ... I hate the Des Moines river because there’s no fish right now.”

― Dominick Marcott, 43, framer/homebuilder

“This is the city I was born in ... I rep it to the fullest.”

― Lawrence DaBarber, 36, barber



Best Scenes From Des Moines On HuffPost's Listen To America Tour