At Dakota Resources, we want to help rural communities find practical ways to revitalize their community. Our Community Development work is grounded in these five proven asset-based approaches to help each community plan strategies that will complement the development of their community’s assets.
- Inclusivity. Be intentional about bringing new voices into the planning process to ensure the same small group of insiders will not be the decision makers for decades. Also, be intentional about recruiting new volunteers to prevent burnout.
- Community Approaches Leading to Regional Impact. Partner with surrounding communities. Many rural communities have a wealth of local talent and skills. Partnering with surrounding communities taps into a new pool of resources and strengthens both the communities and the surrounding regions.
- Leadership Development. Include present and future generations of decision-makers. Involving leaders of today and tomorrow ensures that a community will continue to move forward while maintaining a shared vision. This also ensures that there will not be a gap in local leadership when the present decision-maker resigns.
- Identifying and Building Economic Engines. Be intentional about expanding and strengthening the resources that create wealth for the community and its residents.
- Asset-based Development. Focus on the community’s assets — not the deficits or needs. These assets are the foundation on which the community should be built and then further developed.
With these five asset-based approaches in mind, we typically engage a community in a process that is grounded in what a community has, knows and does.
Building Community Capacity
The purpose of Dakota Resources’ Community Engagement is to strengthen relationships and expand participation in civic engagement leading to community vitality. The Community Engagement takes place in three phases.
Phase I – Community Voice
Small group community listening sessions are convened that include all sectors of the community with attention to age, socio economics, businesses, government, etc. Safe environments are created where people share their perspectives on what’s working well in the community and what could be better.
A town hall meeting is convened to share the themes that emerged from the listening meetings. A community change model is shared and discussed by those participating. Initiatives are identified. Each individual has the opportunity to identify the initiatives in which they would like to be involved. These individuals will constitute Initiative Teams.
Phase II – Community Action
A gathering will be held for all those who signed up for an Initiative Team. At the organizing meeting Initiative Teams will:
- Identify a Convener. The Conveners are responsible for communications, keeping the team on track and serving on the Core Team.
- Be introduced to tools to conduct further research into the assets, opportunities and needs relating to their initiative. Beliefs and behaviors that contribute to and detract from future success for their initiatives will be explored.
- Identify the purpose, resources, and barriers for the initiative.
The Initiative Teams will work together independently to establish priorities and strategies, and develop action plans and go to work.
For one year Dakota Resources staff serves as a coach to the Core Team (comprised of the Conveners of the Initiative Teams) providing support, resource development and accountability. Dakota Resources staff will meet bi-monthly or quarterly with the Core Team. The purpose of these gatherings is to share information and resources among the Initiative Teams and shared accountability.
Phase III – Community Success
Dakota Resources staff will facilitate two hall meetings, one at 6 months into the work of the Initiative Teams to report progress to the community, and another at 12 months to celebrate success and provide an opportunity to identify new initiatives.
The goal is to develop the capacity to support sustainable long term change and increased capacity for future initiatives.
After going through this process, your community will be ready to engage in the new action plan and be the change they want to see in their community.