Our organization was started through spirituality and through a challenge “When are you going to make a way for your people, are you not warriors? It’s time to stop talking and start doing”.
Our organization was founded by young people that had young families. Therefore youth have always been a key component of our work. We began taking youth to sacred sites as a way to learn more about their spirituality and Lakota culture, this trips continue today. We engaged youth in activities such as the E-Tanka cafe in 2008-2010 teaching youth to run their own business, an internet cafe.
Additionally we thought it was important to show that it was possible for people to come together and create space for gathering. Therefore we built a Community House from the ground up with a group of young people from the community. This space is still used today for prayer and community gatherings.
While this work was important and meaningful we believed that there was still something missing. When the youth went home they often were still dealing with issues such as overcrowded homes, lack of educational opportunities, access to healthy foods, spaces to hang out and be kids, and economic opportunity for their families. We recognized that it would take systemic change to bring an ecosystem of opportunity for the youth we were working with.
We launched into hundreds of hours of listening and visioning sessions with our community. We engaged youth, elders, political leaders, parents, together to plan a vision for our future. We challenged our community to think about what was possible instead of the challenges that would get in the way.
A story that always sticks out from our community engagement sessions is of one elder woman who said:
“That was the best meeting I have been to in my whole life”. When asked why she responded, “No one ever asked me what I wanted for my community, or for my life.”
We took all that information for our community and began to plan a Regenerative Community. We have made great progress on this community through finalizing a master plan. We have planned and launched programming to ensure that we are not just building a community but are building the capacity and opportunities available to the people that live here.