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Community development meeting set for Nov. 11-12

DENVER—The Ogallala Commons, an economic and community development initiative, will hold its second meeting at the Burlington Country Club, Nov. 11-12. The Ogallala Commons was formed a year ago by a group of organizations and individuals concerned with the continuing economic and social decline in the rural Great Plains.

“This project is intended to foster a self-sustaining, holistic approach to community socio-economic development in the Great Plains region that overlies to Ogallala Aquifer,” said Vince Shivley, project coordinator.

The purpose of the upcoming meeting is to examine several European models for community development, which integrate business with education, finance, infrastructure, and other aspects of community life. The two models that will be examined are those of Mondragon, Spain, and the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Both are noteworthy for their higher-than-average percentages of production from worker-owned cooperatives and the close working relationships and affiliation among cooperative, private, public and non-profit sectors of their economies. In addition to Shivley, the Burlington program will include speakers familiar with these and other cooperative models. Bob Mailander, who recently visited the cooperative system in Mondragon, is director of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) Cooperative Development Center. In addition, speaker Robert Williams,of the Van City Credit Union in British Columbia, has studied the Emilia-Romogna system in depth, visiting the area multiple times.

Other speakers include Bob Elliott, board vice president of CENEX/Harvest States Cooperative, St. Paul, Minn., Shannon Horst of the Allan Savory Center for Holistic Management, Albuquerque, N.M., and Bob Appel of Southeast Colorado Resource & Development Council, Lamar, Colo.

The meeting begins at 1pm Nov. 11 and will adjourn at 2:30pm Nov. 12. Anyone interested in community and cooperative development is invited to attend all or part of the meetings. Of particular interest should be the Monday evening round table discussions, which will include the following topics: livestock processing and marketing; alternative crops; wind, sun and energy farming, telecommunications; water use and conservation; and region-based planning.
For more details on the schedule and to register, please contact Rusty Sexton at 719-346-8486.

The Ogallala Commons receives funding from the RMFU Cooperative Development Center through a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant for rural development.