United Tribes NewsSwagger selected for Great Plains leadership project
24 July 2006
BISMARCK (UTN) - Russell Swagger, Dean of Student and Campus Services at United Tribes Technical College, is one of 26 leaders from a five-state region in the northern Great Plains invited to participate in the Meadowlark Project: A Leadership Laboratory on the Future of the Northern Great Plains. The project is an intensive 18-month social change effort designed to find new ways to address long-standing, systemic problems in the region.
Selected members of the team represent a range of community interests (industry, agriculture, media, arts, government, religion and non-profit), the states in the NGP region (North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska), as well as the growing diversity of the region. Each participant has committed 30 full days of time over the next 18 months.
"I'm honored to be selected to serve on such an important project," said Swagger. "To have a voice in the future of our state and the region is a rare opportunity. I plan to be a strong advocate and positive role model for all people."
In his capacity at United Tribes, Swagger has been a leader in the college's long range strategic planning. He is an enrolled member of the St. Croix Chippewa Tribe of Wisconsin and has 16 years of experience in American Indian Higher Education. He earned a Masters Degree in Management at the University of Mary, Bismarck, ND.
The Meadowlark Project will approach its goal of demonstrating that the northern Great Plains can be a place of opportunity for all people by focusing on some of the most complex problems the region faces including: migration of youth from rural areas; on-going racial divisions; hidden and insidious poverty; increased non-resident land ownership; implications of global warming for our land use and water availability; impacts of rapidly changing national and global economic structures; and a belief that the region must accept whatever future the market determines for it.
"If our region is to reach its fullest economic, social, environmental and spiritual potential it can no longer seek new vitality through an old paradigm of technical solutions," said Jerry Nagel, president of Northern Great Plains Inc., the group initiating the Meadowlark Project. "Solutions to long standing problems lie at a much deeper level - at the level of our beliefs and habits. It's from this place that significant changes can be built. The people chosen to participate in the Meadowlark Project are the kind of bold and creative leaders who can learn and create together in order to surface practical pilot projects that will strengthen regional life."
At its first meeting in July, team members began constructing a map of the region's current realities and emerging future.
Future sessions will focus on problem areas, interview stakeholders, construct scenarios (several stories of what the region's emerging future might look like), identify key levers for systematic change, and design pilot projects that will demonstrate to the region that it is a place of opportunity.
The Meadowlark Project seeks three primary outcomes: the establishment of an ongoing social network of corporate, government, education and civic leaders who will continue to work together on regional change; the design of pilot projects ready for implementation that will demonstrate how the region can make deep changes to improve how the economy works and how society functions; and the creation of widespread civic dialogue to examine the policies, beliefs and practices which can help the region realize its full potential.
The project is organized by Northern Great Plains Inc. (NGP), a Fargo-based non-profit research, demonstration and convening organization committed to maximizing the potential of the northern Great Plains through multi-sector collaboration. NGP is partnering with the Sustainability Institute and Generon Consulting. The Leadership Lab Team will work with and learn from global leaders such as Adam Kahane, Hal Hamilton, Susan Stickley, Brian Arthur and others. For more information visit www.ngplains.org.
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