Pie and conversation about rural development—yes, please!
Dakotafire Media, Grow South Dakota, and Dakota Resources are hosting the Prairie Idea Exchange, a community conversation at the Dakota Event Center here in Aberdeen next Wednesday, December 9, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
What are we going to talk about? Regionalism:
The topic for this event is regionalism: How are we working beyond our communities to make the region better together?
Regionalism has been suggested as a way to help rural places succeed in a time of strained resources and depopulation. Many efforts at regional collaboration have been tried or are ongoing—but not everything called “regionalism” has worked.
“What we’d like to do is first recognize how much connecting beyond our communities is already happening, and then look at what is working with those examples of regionalism, as well as try to understand why some efforts at regionalism have failed,” said Heidi Marttila-Losure, publisher and editor of Dakotafire Media, LLC [Dakotafire Media, press release, 2015.12.01].
Where better to talk about regionalism that the Hub City, where Mayor Mike Levsen reminds us that his administration serves not only 27,000 Aberdonians but a regional community of 75,000. That regional attitude has a long pedigree in Aberdeen:
Levsen said he was taught well by former Aberdeen community leader Vi Stoia (1924-2008). Stoia was as tireless of a promoter for the region as he was for Aberdeen.
“At every planning meeting for an Aberdeen event, Vi would say, ‘Let’s think regionally,’” Levsen recalled with a smile. “He taught us well. I’ve always tried to use that approach to bridge any gaps between city and county matters, but Vi really made us think even bigger than that.”
“As a City Council, we can’t be thinking that just because our authority ends at the city limits that is where our interests and obligations end,” Levsen said. “Everything we do for Aberdeen has to be done with the idea that we are doing it for all of northeastern South Dakota” [John Papendick, “Aberdeen Historically a Regional Leader” Aberdeen American News, 2015.04.30].
Joe Bartmann of Dakota Resources will facilitate the Prairie Idea Exchange, so expect some World Café-style conversation, à la the Blue Ribbon K-12 panel public listening sessions that Bartmann facilitated last June. Also expect pie: Dakotafire‘s Marttila-Losure says that, true to the event’s acronym, participants will get pie.
Dakotafire uses these events to rustle up story ideas and promote conversations and action on rural revival. Wednesday’s Aberdeen event is the first one open to the public and the last in the series supported by a Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant. The conversation and the pie (!!!) are free, but to make sure there’s enough pie (!!!), organizers would like us to register online.