Cottonwood is one of only fourteen communities in Idaho selected to participate in the Horizons Program. Horizons is a community leadership program aimed at increasing prosperity in small rural and reservation communities (population less than 5,000) faced with economic decline and demographic change.
Horizons builds stronger community leadership; leadership is as important as good roads, great schools and clean water. Horizons embraces the entire community; everyone is needed and everyone has something to give. For communities to thrive, everyone must thrive.
Horizons is funded by the Northwest Area Foundation, whose mission is to help communities reduce poverty and increase prosperity in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon . Because the University of Idaho has been involved in the design and pilot-test stages of the Horizons Program from the beginning in 2003—with great success in Elk River, Kamiah, Orofino, Pierce, and Weippe—the institution has been chosen once again to be the delivery organization for this community leadership program.
A local steering committee has met 4 times since December to guide the development of this program. The first decision of the committee was to change the name of the program to Camas Prairie Horizons. The committee was very adamant that Keuterville, Greencreek, and Ferdinand all be represented and involved equally in the process so that all 4 communities benefit together. That attitude reflects exactly what the research tells us. Communities that learn to think and act “regionally” and use their resources and expertise collectively have a much higher rate of success in community momentum, action, and successful development. Recently, Chief Cochran wrote a letter to the editor of this paper detailing a very successful example of regional thinking and action among the EMS responders on the Camas Prairie.
The first segment of Horizons is Community Conversations. The goal of Community Conversations is for the community to describe what their community looks like when families are struggling to get by and what the community can do about it. To be meaningful and actionable, this kind of information has to come from all perspectives; age groups, income levels, political backgrounds, generational residents, newer community members—everyone must be heard.
Remember, for communities to thrive, everyone must thrive. Please join a Community Conversation group and meet just 5 times from February through March for 2 hours each time. Please contact Rene Forsmann at Prairie Middle School to register for a Community Conversation group. Mileage and child care will be reimbursed and refreshments will be provided.
University of Idaho Extension