About The Meadowlark ProjectThe rural northern Great Plains region seems stuck in a bramble of seemingly intractable problems. These systemic problems that hinder the advancement of the region include:
If the region is to reach its fullest economic, social, environmental and spiritual potential it can no longer seek solutions to these societal concerns through the old paradigm of technical solutions. Restructuring or re-engineering strategies and reframing or rethinking our mental models is no longer sufficient. The solutions to these systemic problems lie at a much deeper level. We must also develop the collective will and spirit to change our beliefs and habits. To do this requires shared conversations, an open mind and heart, and thinking and creativity at a much deeper level than we have been willing to undertake in the past.
- continued migration of rural youth, both non-Native and Native, from rural areas to larger cities in and outside of the region in search of economic opportunity and cultural acceptance;
- ongoing racial divisions that prevent the region’s Native American and Latino populations from contributing their full potential to the economic and societal health of the region and perpetuate a view that the Newest Americans are needed solely for jobs others won’t take;
- hidden and insidious poverty that traps families in a paycheck-to-paycheck existence and a dependence on federal or state programs for survival;
- growing drug and violence problems in rural communities that come from isolation and despair;
- reluctance to change cultural norms to match the changing work environment; and
- a belief that the region should accept whatever the market determines and cooperation between governments, the private sector and civil society to build an economically, socially and environmentally stronger region is taboo.
The purpose of the Meadowlark Project Leadership Laboratory is to build living examples of systemic change and through these demonstrated examples create a vision of the northern Great Plains region as a place of opportunity for all people. It will do this by creating a team of committed, current and emerging leaders who care deeply about the economic, social and environmental future of the Northern Great Plains to work together to cause long-term systemic change in the region.
This initiative will strengthen the region’s and Northern Great Plains Inc.’s capacity to address the difficult issues confronting rural areas. This initiative could also become a model for rural communities and other rural regions in the country to use as they explore and develop their own strategies for change.
The Meadowlark Project has three objectives.
The Meadowlark Project will use the Leadership Laboratory methodology developed by Peter Senge (Fifth Disciple), Joseph Jaworski (Synchronicity), Adam Kahane (Solving Tough Problems) and colleagues from the MIT Leadership Center as a way of addressing deep, complex problems. The Leadership Laboratory methodology is an innovative, disciplined process that leads to systemic change. This proven methodology of tri-sector dialogue, focused research, directed learning experiences, use of scenario planning techniques, and implementation of living examples of systemic change can create a new framework for understanding what the future might offer on the northern Great Plains.
- The project will result in four to five living examples 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 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.
- Through ongoing public dialogue connected to the work of the Leadership Laboratory, Meadowlark will create a new public awareness of the policies, beliefs, habits and practices that are preventing the region from reaching its fullest potential in a 21st century economy.
To meet the 29 outstanding Lab Team members, click on “Who”. The team represents a microcosm of the region’s social system. Team members will include representatives from agriculture, youth, education, manufacturing, government, finance, the arts, urban and suburban areas, conventional and alternative energy, community activists, immigrant populations, the faith community, philanthropists, transportation and others who are committed to a sustainable future for rural life on the northern Great Plains. You’ll see the Lab Team has strong representation from the region’s Native Americans, Latino, and youth communities. Lab Team members will commit approximately 30 full days of time over the next two years.