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Meadowlark Project creates scenarios for the future - South Dakota Rural Enterprise, Inc. 2007 Winter Report

If the rural northern Great Plains region is to reach its fullest economic, social, environmental and spiritual potential, it can no longer seek answers to these societal concerns through technical solutions. The roots of our systemic problems lie at a much deeper level. We must change our beliefs and habits—and that requires shared conversations, an open mind and creative thinking at a much deeper level than we have seen in the past.

The Meadowlark ProjectThe Meadowlark Project is working to achieve this goal by bringing together a team of current and emerging leaders who care deeply about our joint economic, social and environmental future. Three representatives of South Dakota Rural Enterprise are on the Meadowlark Project team: President Beth Davis and board members Paul Batcheller and Christine Hamilton.

The goals of the project include creating four to five pilot projects that demonstrate how the region can make the kinds of deep changes that really affect the way our economy or society functions and thinks. Meadowlark will also establish an ongoing social network of current and future corporate, government, education and civic leaders who will have the capacity to continue working together in the coming years to affect the region’s future.

The Meadowlark Project is using the Leadership Laboratory methodology developed by Peter Senge (The Fifth Discipline), Joseph Jaworski (Synchronicity), Adam Kahane (Solving Tough Problems) and colleagues from the MIT Leadership Center as a way of addressing deep, complex problems. Scenario planning is a key part of this technique. The stories developed by the team will soon be available as a tool for civic dialogue that focuses on the future, not on the past or present where most debates have previously concentrated their attention. These are plausible “what-if” stories that describe alternative paths toward the future. They are not predictions, but rather a reminder that we have the ability to choose our future instead of simply letting it happen to us.

The working titles of the four stories are

  • There’s No Place Like Home
  • The Good Lands
  • The Big Empty
  • A Tech-No-Color World
The stories will be available to read soon online at and through a link from the South Dakota Rural Enterprise website, along with discussion guides that will assist communities and organizations in hosting discussions about the stories. The Meadowlark Project stories show us future possibilities which depend upon the choices we make today in communities from Belle Fourche to Elk Point.
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Sioux Falls, SD

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