The first Quad Cities Big Table last spring elevated civic conversation and fostered new relationships, inspiring Quad Citizens to turn their ideas into action.
Natalie Linville-Mass and Rachel Thomas are two of those Quad Citizens. The friends attended separate discussions, but they each walked away with a similar wish: to see the region’s historic buildings and landmarks preserved and recognized for their significance on the local and national level.
Together, they founded a new nonprofit organization called QC Pastport.
“We were both frustrated by seeing our historical landmarks shuttered and torn down,” Linville-Mass said. “In Rock Island alone, we just lost Lincoln Elementary School, the (Rock Island County) Courthouse and Audubon Elementary School.”
QC Pastport will share the history and significance of the area’s landmarks, from the “well known” to the “hidden gems.” Interactive signage will be developed for each site, and visitors will be able to scan a code on each sign to access a smartphone app with more information, photos and details about other nearby historical locations.
The group also is exploring the idea of printing and distributing collectable “passports” featuring each location. They plan to launch in early summer with 25 area landmarks and gradually add more sites to its catalog in the coming years.
Their “momentum has snowballed” since the Big Table, and the organization already has established a Board of Directors and currently is pursuing donors and supporters.
“Involvement creates conversation, and conversation creates action,” Thomas said. “We see this as not just being a preservation and collaboration initiative but an opportunity to encourage younger Quad Citizens to learn about our history and get involved through volunteering or a career.”
A survey of the 5,000-plus participants in the Big Table revealed almost 40% of the tables discussed civic pride.
“Our community should take pride in having one of the most beautiful areas in the country — geographically, architecturally, and historically,” Linville-Mass said. “This endeavor will enable us to bring Quad Cities’ unique history to life, and there are some amazing stories to tell.”
For more information about QC Pastport, go to qcpastport.org or contact Natalie Linville-Mass at 309-786-5142 or Rachel Thomas at 309-235-2939.