This plan is the first Regional Plan adopted by the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Thunder Valley CDC received a HUD Sustainable Communities Planning grant to facilitate the planning process for the regional plan. It aims to mobilize local partners for a streamlined regional development process.
This was a completely community designed process. Many community members never had been asked what they wanted their community to look like. We engaged children to elders in the process and incorporated the elements they wanted for their community. We spent two years designing the community with architects and planners who were committed to creating a plan that would make the community members proud to live in and be a part of this community. The completion of the master plan lead to the infrastructure funding secured. This was a major accomplishment for the organization as we worked to get grant money from the USDA to lower the lot costs of the homes for each family without straying from our goals of environmentally healthy infrastructure decisions. In June of 2015 the funding was announced from the USDA, which led to our ground breaking celebration.
Thunder Valley CDC was the lead applicant for the Promise Zone Initiative. Promise Zone is a designation by the White House to encourage the Federal Government to partner with and invest into high poverty communities. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation was designated the second tribal Promise Zone in the summer of 2015. Being designated as a Promise Zone is a way to help Thunder Valley CDC, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, local organizations, and the community implement the Oyáte Omníčiye Regional Plan, which lays a framework for sustainable solutions to issues facing our community.
Thunder Valley CDC has moved into implementation of programs and initiatives surrounding the development. One program is the Workforce Development Through Sustainable Construction Program. The Workforce Development Through Sustainable Construction Program trains and educates adults, 18 to 26 years old, in the skills and methods necessary for eco-friendly, sustainable home construction. Through classroom and hands-on training, participants gain the skills and experience necessary to join the construction industry, continue their education, and contribute to their local economy. We launched this program in January 2015 and now are in our third cohort.
In June 2015 we launched our Food Sovereignty Initiative. Through the Food Sovereignty Initiative, Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation will strengthen food sovereignty of the community through an enhanced local food system. This effort responds to recommendations from our recent Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Food System Assessment, which found that the current food system on the reservation does not promote community self-reliance and fails to provide nutritionally adequate and culturally appropriate food. We now have multiple community gardens, a geothermal greenhouse, and a poultry system with 500 chickens.
In 2016 we began construction on our first set of seven Single Family Homes. Fall of 2017 families will move into their new homes and become the very first families in our Regenerative Community Development. Not only are these homes extremely well insulated, reducing energy use & costs, but will also utilize passive & active solar energy. Air quality in the homes is kept clean with an filtration system, so homes will have low risk of mold or problematic dust.