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One-by-one, sixteen local leaders from multiple neighboring
rural communities, courageously, yet with some hesitancy, walked through the
door of the community room. They did not know what to expect from this
gathering. They didn’t even all know each other. The group, representing city
councils, county commission, and economic development corporation, had been
personally invited by the county-wide economic development director to hear
from a special guest on the topic of how they could work better together to
make their region stronger.
As each leader entered the room the smell of pizza greeted
them, making them feel welcome. After some small talk while they ate their
pizza, the local leaders were asked to sit down at the tables that had
purposely been positioned into a large rectangle, so they could see each other.
The meeting began with introductions and each of them shared why they chose to
be a leader. The group was … Read More »
It’s a chilly day in December and cars and buses are lining the streets of Hoven, population 400. From a distance you can see the majestic church spires piercing the pale blue sky, a beacon to people traveling here from near and far. Affectionately known as the “Cathedral on the Prairie,” St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Hoven attracts many visitors throughout the year—but today over one thousand people will flock here to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season with “Christmas on the Prairie,” featuring glorious music from a variety of highly regarded choirs and the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra.
“A former priest, Father Lance Oser, started this tradition in 2003 when he reached out to the South Dakota Symphony and they agreed to come,” explains Mary Keller, lifelong Hoven resident and the event’s Choral Coordinator. “It is a work … Read More »
The community quickly came together to brainstorm ideas for re-opening the store. The first step involved forming the Tyndall Market LLC, an investment opportunity that allowed community members to buy into the ownership of the store for $35,000 each.
“It was explained that this is a high-risk investment with a good chance of little to no return,” explains Ron Wagner, community volunteer. “Everyone was aware that they could take it in the shorts on this deal, with no promises of ever seeing a dime of their investment again.”
Within no time, seven different local investors had pledged $35,000 each to re-open the grocery store, simply out of love for their community.
Next, community volunteers and businesses worked to clean, renovate and re-stock the store. Tyndall Market LLC began researching … Read More »
When the idea first originated, organizers thought the South Dakota Chislic Festival could bring several hundred visitors to the small town of Freeman, located in the heart of South Dakota’s legendary ‘chislic circle.’
It didn’t take long for that idea to explode into a massive first-year event that brought over 8,000 people to town last summer.
“It was beyond our expectations,” says event founder Josh Hofer, Community Development & Marketing Coordinator for the city of Freeman. “People just love chislic, so the event gained a lot of recognition in the media. That really helped it take off. Once we saw the excitement building, we started preparing for numbers in the thousands, but 8,000 was definitely a surprise.”
So how did a small town like Freeman pull off a huge event like the South Dakota Chislic Festival?
Volunteers. Lot and lots of volunteers.
Josh estimates there … Read More »
Emily Firman Pieper stole the show at the first Dakota Resources Rural X event when she proposed the Open X topic: “How can I get paid to be a volunteer?”
Her question was met with laughter and understanding from a crowd well-versed in the logistics of rural volunteerism. Every aspect of rural life is made better when a community has a strong core of engaged volunteers. Without them, our schools, churches, community events and overall quality of life drastically suffer. In a small town, willing volunteers are like gold—and sometimes just as hard to find.
In Flandreau, where Emily lives with her family, she isn’t just gold. She’s the entire gold mine.
“Somewhere along the line, something clicked,” she explains. “I realized I have a passion for making things happen. I love connecting with people. I enjoy solving problems. Volunteering doesn’t pay the … Read More »