SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- What do kolaches, bread and jam, and a rodeo have in common? Two are yummy and one isn’t? The point is that rural communities can survive and thrive by being uncommon.
On April 1, the Midstates Community and Economic Development Conference will focus on the “Power of Partnerships.” Fifteen communities throughout Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota will share their stories of how they achieved success in what can only be described as an uncommonly random assortment of community projects. What the communities did in common was to identify what made their community special and used their assets to create strong partnerships to achieve goals.
Conference participants will have a chance to learn the “ABCDs” of how to replicate these community successes from a noted expert in the field of Asset-Based Community Development. Luther Snow is the author of three books and numerous articles that urge communities to take a “glass half full” approach to community development. Snow’s keynote presentation will be “Connecting Assets to Actually Getting Things Done” and will include a hand-on exercise in asset mapping.
Another special focus of this year’s conference will be on providing ways for youth to participate in the leadership of community development efforts. Luncheon speaker Joseph Piearson of the Iowa Council of Foundations will speak about the organization’s “Youth Philanthropic Initiative” and how the initiative is promoting youth involvement as an untapped asset in community development.
“This conference is based on partnering agencies and individual volunteers working to help plan it, and sponsors making donations so that the conference can remain affordable. Representatives from communities that are speaking share their success stories with other rural communities, including sharing their contact information so others can learn and carry out similar plans,” said Sherry McGill, Iowa State University Extension education director for Woodbury County. “It has been a successful conference for many years and we usually have about 200 people attend. There is a lot of networking that goes on all day and the people who come from communities usually bring several people so they gain all the ideas from all of the break-out sessions to take back to their communities.”
The Midstates Conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday, April 1, at the Marina Inn in South Sioux City, Neb. Early-bird registration for the conference is available until March 20 at a reduced price of $35 ($45 after March 20), which includes lunch.
Registration forms and a brochure can be downloaded at: www.extension,iastate,edu/NR/rdonlyres/D97D3D9B-FBF3-4EDA-A747-17AC0C0162B5/95158/MidstatesBrochure2009Final.pdf For more information, contact Sherry McGill, Iowa State University Extension Woodbury County, (712) 276-2157, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Midstates Conference is designed as a networking and educational opportunity for community leaders, business leaders, mayors, city council members, county supervisors and commissioners, state legislators, development groups, Chamber of Commerce representatives and community volunteers.