Thunder Valley CDC is very happy to announce that we have been awarded the Bush Prize for Community Innovation! We are one of seven organizations selected this year. Now in its fifth year, the Bush Prize celebrates "organizations that are extraordinary not only in what they do but in how they do it. As models of true problem solving, they work inclusively, in partnership with others, to make their communities better for all."
A key element of our submission to the Bush Prize was really expressing how we approach the issue of inequity. We see this as a systemic issue that we have decided to combat by creating an "ecosystem of opportunity" in which we can build community both literally and figuratively. Our innovative approach includes not only constructing a 34-acre Regenerative Community, but also recognizing the interconnectedness of the challenges we face –– and therefore creating interconnected solutions. We have nine different programmatic focus areas –– Arts & Culture, Community Development, Food Sovereignty, Housing & Homeownership, Lakota Language, Regional Equity, Social Enterprise, Workforce Development, and Youth Leadership –– but our work is not solely restricted to running programs. In each and every focus area we also work to collaborate with others, both locally and afar, connecting our local stories and successes to movements across the nation and the world. We know that local solutions can have global impact, and we aim to continue working toward a better future for all with our Bush Prize award.
The three main areas we are going to focus this award on are our:
Community Building & Bunk House - This multifaceted space will offer a much needed gathering space for local community members. Designed through collaborative input from our local community and the architects at BNIM, this building is uniquely Lakota in its design and functionality. Whether hosting a birthday party, artist training, or a formal gathering, this building provides a beautiful space for local families to gather together.
Lakota Language Initiative - One of our largest Initiatives, our LLI contains seven different programs all of which are aimed at revitalizing the Lakota Language. Children who learn their heritage language have higher self esteem, higher graduation rates, lower rates of substance abuse, and lower rates of suicide. Additionally, we see the language as the blueprint for our culture, so this comprehensive set of programs aims to raise create fluent children & adults, but also to develop teaching curriculums & learning resources.
Youth Leadership Initiative - 50% of the population on Pine Ridge is under the age of 18. That means we have a moral responsibility to actively engage our youth in the creation of their future, engaging them to visualize what they want and providing the leadership training to help the achieve those dreams. We have two youth programs in two different locations on the reservation that provide mentorship, skill building, and stipends to young men and women who want to become role models and leaders within our communities.
The other winners include:
Appetite for Change
Hmong American Farmers Association
Saint Paul, MN
Latino Economic Development Center
Saint Paul, MN
Northfield Healthy Community Initiative
Vision West ND/Dunn County
To see the full announcement from the Bush Foundation, click here.
Many thanks to the Bush Foundation for believing in our work.