Building Capacities for Community Transformation: Iowa
By LaDene Bowen
The Institute for Decision Making (IDM) at the University of Northern Iowa has traditionally been a Midwest leader in community visioning and strategic planning. The institute provides community and economic development technical assistance and applied research to communities and organizations in Iowa and beyond.
Founded in 1987, IDM began five years ago to prepare rural community leaders for the new challenges of comprehensive community transformation through three major projects:
1. County-wide education about future weak signals and a parallel-planning process for county government.
2. The development of a core group of economic development leaders in a five-state region who were coached in new leadership concepts, connecting new knowledge to new resources and methods that relate to community transformation.
3. Ongoing incorporation of adaptive planning into IDM’s visioning and planning model.
With the assistance of futurist Rick Smyre and the Center for Communities of the Future, the planning project started by painting a picture of the 2028 future for community and government officials, community leaders, and interested residents. The adopted vision continues to be the driving focus of Black Hawk County government, and no budgets are approved until each county department submits short-term plans tied to the vision.
An excerpt from the county’s adopted vision statement includes the following passage:
Transforming How We Lead
By 2028, we help each other succeed by attracting and using a diversity of talents and competencies in a transparent manner. We develop talent of all ages, enabling effectiveness and collaboration in decisions and action. We think innovatively by linking ideas and people in new ways. We join with people from all neighborhoods to develop shared vision and learn of emerging trends. Together, we work to prepare our communities and governments to adapt long term, plan short term, and take action daily.
IDM’s second project was to become the Mid-Central Node for an evolving community and economic-development network to help new knowledge emerge. Six economic-development leaders from five Midwest states agreed to be a part of a leadership team for a Global Rural Network. The initiative attempted to create a network of individuals interested in the future of rural development, recognizing that, in this new economy, new skills and thinking would be required to be successful.
The third IDM initiative, ongoing, is to play a proactive role in incorporating many of the comprehensive community transformation concepts into IDM’s services to communities and organizations.
IDM has also made adjustments in its planning model to incorporate a parallel-planning process and to better position communities to embrace adaptive planning.
LaDene Bowen, a certified economic developer, is the associate director of the Institute for Decision Making, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa, www.bcs.uni.edu.
Free Email Newsletter
Sign up for Futurist Update, our free monthly email newsletter. Just type your email into the box below and click subscribe.
This is my last posting for the next few days. I will be taking my office apart so that we can move to our new apartment downtown next Tuesday. I will be unplugged and disconnected except by tablet. Expect me to be back in the saddle before the end of next week probably in time to provide you with some more headlines. In the interim these are the stories I share with you this week:
Today, literally thousands of alternative transportation vehicles are coming out of the woodwork and they nearly all have the same problem – no place to drive them. Most are banned from biking and hiking trails, and they are neither licensed, nor licensable, for use on the streets. I’d like to discuss some new possible solutions and why Colorado is poised to take the lead in the alternative transportation marketplace.
In a recent conference promoting not only their latest gizmos but their company's animating vision as well, Google executives declared they were working toward a future in which technology "disappears," "fades into the background," becomes more "intuitive and anticipatory." Commenting on this apparently "bizarre mission for a tech company," Bianca Bosker warns that their genial and enthusiastic promotional language masks Google's aspiration to omnipresence via invisibility, an effort to render us dependent and uncritical of their prevalence through its marketing as easy, intuitive, companionable.
Occasionally during meetings one of my staff – an avid birder – will elbow me and I’ll look up and glimpse a bald eagle. Each time, I am in awe. I live in Washington State, which is home to a plethora of eagles, where pods of Orca ply the waters near the San Juan Islands, and where roads are sometimes blocked by herds of elk.
In this month's Report on Business Magazine, a supplement that comes with The Globe and Mail, one of Canada's national newspapers, Stanford University's Mark Jacobson provides a best case scenario
According to The Hollywood Reporter, celebrity tech CEO Peter Thiel is upset that movies like The Matrix and Avatar make technological innovation seem "destructive and dysfunctional."
A team of researchers are asking the public to help them locate and count all the sources of CO2 coming from power plants on the planet.
Initial results from a selective breeding program at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany based in Cambridge in the UK, indicate the successful creation of a new super wheat.