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From the Roots Up
An Occasional Update from Community Roots

Welcome to From the Roots Up, my new email newsletter. I plan to share this newsletter every other month. I’m writing this as I’m traveling home from North and South Dakota, my first trip to visit the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe. I’m excited to be working with my colleague Patty Cantrell of Regional Food Solutions, in Humansville, Missouri, to conduct a market analysis with the Tribe around food products like buffalo, walleye, honey and produce. Once that is completed, we will be working with the Tribe to choose one or two opportunities around which to explore a value chain.

Assessing and Planning Community Conservation Impact
My work with the Land Trust Alliance around assessing, planning and measuring community conservation impact is now completed. The Alliance was seeking a framework for thinking about community conservation outcomes. The community capitals approach, from my work with the WealthWorks framework, provided a useful way to think about community conservation impacts. You can find Assessing and Planning Community Conservation Impact at this address:  http://s3.amazonaws.com/landtrustalliance.org/publication/files/AssessingPlanningCommunityConservationImpact.pdf
This document contains a rating tool, as well as stories of community conservation related to each community asset.  Flexible Frameworks for Measuring Community Conservation Impact is in the design phase and will be released shortly.

Lower Mississippi River Foundation
I continue to work with John Ruskey of the Lower Mississippi River Foundation (LMRF) (and Quapaw Canoe Company). Over the past year, we have worked through a strategic planning process, developed a strategic plan, measures of progress, and a financial sustainability plan. We are currently working to finalize an externally-faced strategic plan to assist in their fundraising and membership efforts and to proceed with some executive coaching. The LMRF is focused on promoting the Lower and Middle Mississippi River through deep engagement.
 
Deep Community Conservation Stories
Over the past year, I’ve had the privilege of working with my colleague Judy Anderson of Community Consultants in Kinderhook, New York, to develop a variety of stories of deep community conservation for the Land Trust Alliance. Deep community conservation is about engaging individuals in experiences with conserved lands for days, weeks or months. Examples included programs engaging youth, veterans, the elderly, the hungry, cultural groups, the un- and under-employed, and others. Look for these from the Land Trust Alliance soon.

Town Forest Recreation Planning
I’m currently working with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation to facilitate a meeting of partners and stakeholders for a new initiative aimed at assisting town forest communities with recreation planning. This is an exciting initiative on which I’m happy to be working. 

Measurement Coaching around AmeriCorps Programming
Over the past year, I’ve been providing measurement coaching to the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC) in Western North Carolina around their AmeriCorps program, Project Conserve. The challenge for AmeriCorps programs, especially around land conservation and environmental programs, is how to measure changes in knowledge, attitude, and behavior. CMLC is particularly interested in supporting its members, through a guide or training, in developing their own effective surveys to measure the effectiveness of their programs. This will benefit not only CMLC in better understanding the impacts of the Project Conserve program, but will also benefit the members by developing their skills in surveys.

Best, 
Melissa

Happy new year! 

What I'm Reading:

Learning/Action Lab for Community Wealth Building
http://lab.community-wealth.org/?mc_cid=d28b3fba84&mc_eid=86efb730eb 
This page documents some interesting wealth-building work happening in Native American communities. 

Lakota Woman. by Mary Crow Dog. This was a wonderful book, about a Lakota Woman and her life. It was extremely helpful to do some reading, fiction and nonfiction, about South Dakota tribal culture to prepare for my trip to South Dakota. 

Being Dakota: Tales and Traditions of the Sisseton and Wahpeton, by Amos E. Oneroad, Alanson B. Skinner. This book talks about the history of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and some of their stories and traditions. 

Tool
The spider diagram is one tool that I use with many workshop participants and even clients. The idea is to think about your organization or community and rate yourself on the eight forms of capital: individual, intellectual, social, natural, built, financial, political and cultural. If you do this in a group, then you will get a wide variety of perspectives on your organization or community. It may also make sense to use this as a simple metric over time, by redoing it in a year or two, to see if progress has been made. You can find it at this link: http://www.community-roots.com/spider
Tool
The spider diagram is one tool that I use with many workshop participants and even clients. The idea is to think about your organization or community and rate yourself on the eight forms of capital: individual, intellectual, social, natural, built, financial, political and cultural. If you do this in a group, then you will get a wide variety of perspectives on your organization or community. It may also make sense to use this as a simple metric over time, by redoing it in a year or two, to see if progress has been made. You can find it at this link: http://www.community-roots.com/spider
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
–Antoine De Saint Exupery
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