Michael Dougherty

For those of you who have been involved in the Community Development Society for a long time, the name Del Yoder probably rings a bell. He was quite involved in the Society until his retirement from West Virginia University about 15 years ago or so.

Unfortunately, Del, 83, of Morgantown, WV, died Jan. 30, in Bali, Indonesia. He was hiking in the green hills near Ubud when he slipped at the rim of a deep ravine and was instantly killed. Delmar Ray Yoder was born in Kalona, Iowa. He is survived by his wife, Linda; three sons; and four grandchildren.

An early volunteer experience at Calling Lake, Alberta, Canada, set a pattern for his life. After receiving a degree in biology in 1961, from Eastern Mennonite University, Del and his wife went to Timor, Indonesia, where they managed a program of village-level agricultural education and community development. This program introduced a high-yield corn seed that helped the early season food shortage.

Del earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Wisconsin before going to work at Iowa State University as an Extension Community and Economic development Specialist. His next appointment was at West Virginia University in a similar role. During the years in WV, he created Owl Creek Farm, where he did mixed farming and rescued and restored old log buildings. He is best known for his strawberries. He was a member of the Clinton District Volunteer Fire Department. Del was an officer in the Community Development Society, a member of the Rural Sociological Society, active in the North American Strawberry Growers Association and a regular participant at the Creative Problem Solving Institute. He was a lifelong member of the Mennonite Church.

A remembrance service was held in Bali on Feb. 3, attended by friends from many nations, followed by a cremation. A celebration of his life will be scheduled later in Morgantown. Donations in his memory are invited to two of the many causes dear to his heart: care for the environment and teaching peace for a better world. Contact The Nature Conservancy, at nature.org, or the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, at emu.edu/cjp. Condolences may be sent to the family at: 640 Goshen Road, Morgantown, WV 26508-2431.

Three State Marketing Program Honored

Longing to be home is a common sentiment. However, marketing home is a not-so-common way to stimulate development. Marketing Hometown America is the focus of three-state effort that recognizes the uniqueness of each small town and facilitates local citizens in creating a plan that is designed to attract new residents.

The team from North Dakota State University Extension (NDSU), South Dakota State University Extension (SDSU), and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension (UNL) collaborated in a USDA NIFA-funded research project to determine what causes people to move to small towns. The team then used those results to help develop marketing plans for a pair of small towns in each state.

The results so far are the development of different plans based on the uniqueness of each community. Community coaches are encouraging the beginning stages of implementation with each one taking a different path. For example, one pilot community hosts a small private college is working to bridge the gap between the students and the community through new activities and improved communication methods. Another place reached the realization that it was part of a mini regionof small communities that should ban together. That is now starting with an online contest to name themselves and the development of a common community calendar.

Shaun Evertson, the Steering Committee Chair for the Kimball (Neb.) Recruitment Coalition originally thought this would be like many other efforts he had seen over two decades – start strong but quickly fizzle out. He soon realized this was different: “In a nutshell, the program led our Kimball participants to a place where they could agree on a single, generalized goal that of marketing our community to newcomers. With that goal as an accepted measuring stick, sorting ideas and prioritizing projects became far simpler. Being able to ask “how does this help market the community to newcomers?” made it much easier to keep an eye on the prize and not get bogged down in minutia.”

Marketing Hometown America places the creation of a marketing plan in the hands of the community who knows its assets the best. It allows this to be done in an informed way and at an affordable price. It moves marketing a community away from a standardized approach and makes it unique for each community by requiring the participants to identify the assets that are around them. This empowers the community to work together toward their desired. This moved people from bridging social capital through transformational social capital, to bonding social capital where action occurs.

The team was led by Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel at UNL, Kathy Tweeten at NDSU, and David P. Olson at SDSU. A discussion guide to aid communities was written by Jodi Bruns of NDSU, Kari O’Neill and Peggy Schlechter of SDSU and Burkhart-Krissel of UNL. It was done in conjunction with Everyday Democracy, an East Hartford, Conn.-based organization which provides tools for positive community change and utilized its study circle program model. Reviewers of the guide were Randy Cantrell at UNL, Tweeten at NDSU, and the Hot Springs, S.D. community team.

Others involved from the three universities include Nancy Hodur, Sharon Smith, and Helen Volk-Schill of NDSU; Kenneth Sherin at SDSU; and Anita Hall, Connie Hancock, Charlotte Narjes, Rebecca Vogt, and Becky Brown at  UNL. Also working on the project were David Peters of Iowa State University and community members Becky Bown and Tyler Demars of North Dakota and Irene Fletcher of Nebraska.

This program also received the Excellence in Teamwork Award from the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals.

The photo shows members of the Marketing Hometown America team being presented the award by CDS President Bo Beaulieu. 

Missouri Community Arts Program Honored by CDS

Economic development is often more art than science. In the case of one program, the economic development focused on art. For doing something beyond the usual, the University of Missouri Extension Community Arts Program was honored with an Innovative Program Award from the Community Development Society.

The program is based on the Community Capitals framework. It builds on existing community assets, connects to public issues, includes broad participation and partner perspectives, and develops effective youth and adult leadership through education and training. The program utilizes the “arts” as a vehicle for community and economic development, builds community capacity and strong community leaders around the arts.

Everything started with a 2010 meeting that brought parties together to frame a community arts program that would engage the university campus, extension, and communities. This three-way partnership continues to define the program. Formal project development started in 2012 as six communities held experiential workshops to develop plans for engaging the arts to create vibrant, sustainable communities. 

In early 2013, the program announced Lexington as the pilot community. Since then, Missouri University Arts faculty and students, along with community development extension specialists and community leaders, have developed an architectural and history audio tour that builds on an appreciation of Lexington’s strengths. The tour has been carefully planned to increase tourism spending and bring in new businesses and residents.

Utilizing the arts in this way has already led to increased civic engagement. The program has hosted a session on arts council development and two development and donor education workshops. Through early 2014, Lexington residents have contributed 1,167 volunteer hours valued at $22,173; launched a gifts and endowment fund to expand and sustain community arts programming which secured $1,850 in its first six months; and leveraged $1,400 in‐kind contributions. The city has also experienced an enhanced overall image, launched two new art businesses, held seven art shows and is developing an art gallery in partnership with regional artists and a nine‐county tourism alliance. Lexington is becoming a stronger, vibrant community where people want to live.

“The Community Arts program is innovative in bringing together university faculty and students to work closely with community teams in developing programming that employs the arts to enhance the cultural, social, and economic life of the community. The program also help enhance leadership capacities of community members as they come together to plan and organize projects that will meet the needs of their particular community, ” said Suzanne Burgoyne, a Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor of Theatre, who works with the effort by using arts programming addressing health issues in communities.

The program team includes from the University of Missouri Extension: Lee Ann Woolery, the State Community Arts Specialist; Mark Porth, a Regional Community Arts Specialist; Letitia Johnson, a Community Development Specialist; Shelley Bush Rowe, the Regional Director for the Northeast Region; Mark Stewart, the Regional Director for the East Central Region; and Mary Simon Leuci, the Community Development Program Director.

University of Missouri Faculty working with the program include: Jonathan Kuuskoski, an Assistant Professor of Music; Matt Ballou, an Assistant Professor of Art; William Lackey, an Assistant Professor of Music; and Suzanne Burgoyne, a Curators Professor of Theatre.

The photo shows CDS President Bo Beaulieu presenting the award to Mary Simon Leuci and Lee Ann Woolery.