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Student creates downtown Des Moines in Minecraft

A Valley High School student has recreated downtown Des Moines within the open-ended, world-building video game, Minecraft.

Sean Eddy, a 16-year old resident of Beaverdale, has spent the last three years recreating the downtown Des Moines area within the popular video game.

After recreating Stillwell Junior High School for a seventh grade school project, Eddy decided he wanted to pursue a larger Minecraft project.

“After that school year was over, I thought of the potential I had in building other things with more detail,” said Eddy. “Eventually I built 801 Grand intending for it to be an independent project like Stilwell, but it ended up turning into the project that is now ProjectDSM.”

“After I built 801 I started building the neighboring parking garages and once I realized I wanted to continue building downtown, I started a public server so my friends and others could joint to contribute to the project or visit,” said Eddy.

Since opening up a server the public in 2017, Eddy has spent much of his time on the project going back over previously built buildings and adding more specific details. 

In a video posted to the ProjectDSM YouTube channel, Sean Eddy showcases the downtown Des Moines landscape he’s created .

Going forward, Eddy says he plans to eventually expand the project east and west and begin to work on the Court Avenue District and Pappajohn Sculpture Park.

“Only two years have passed since that server was created, but the progress has been monumental,” said Eddy. “Notably, beginning last summer, I redid every building and road in the city to scale, so the 801 Grand I built initially no longer exists as I replaced it with a more detailed accurate model. I never thought when I built 801 it would be the beginning of a much larger project I would continue to work on 3 summers later.”

Eddy’s Minecraft server of downtown Des Moines is available to the public and to anyone with access to a Minecraft server.

Student creates downtown Des Moines in Minecraft | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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