Rural Montana Life Community Groups
The Town of [Wild Horse] Plains, in the Cabinet Mountians Valley of western Montana, was named for the thousands of wild horses grazing in the mild winter months a century ago. The residents of the Plains area are the members of community groups who vision, plan, and work together on community goals.
Research and needs assessments can help determine where and how resources may best be targeted, and program evaluations can indicate whether a particular intervention or approach works well in a rural context.
Town of Plains Visioning and Planning Study
Introduction and Goals
The myPlains 2030 Study is an eight-year inquiry and community-building effort. Community visioning is a process that allows residents, business owners, local institutions, and school students and staff to describe their experiences and ideas about the Plains community. Through a three-part visioning, the participatory process will engage the community in developing a consensus on:
What community members want Plains and surrounding areas to be,
Where the greater community of Plains seems to be heading, and
What actions need to be done to support or alter current trends to achieve a shared vision.
Ideally, the community's vision shapes and cultivates a sense of public ownership and buy-in for the Plains community's future. The visioning study seeks to provide for:
Recognition of fiscal constraints and opportunities,
Town parks and recreation opportunities,
Protection of natural, historical, and agricultural resources, and
A community understanding of the day-to-day use of artificial intelligence and solar energy in personal and business life.
The study will include the experiences and aspirations of participating community members in town and adjacent areas. This study is not a committee report to be voted upon—all stakeholders have a voice and ownership. The visioning study's overall goal will be to submit the findings to the residents and the Town Council of Plains for further development.
Project Outline and Tools
Broad, interactive public participation is essential for the visioning process's success and for building the necessary support to carry out the vision. The current status, notes, and upcoming events of the visioning study will be on RuralMontanaLife.org (and a shared domain name of myPlains2030.com). Community members may review, ask questions, and leave comments on the website. Outreach and participant inclusion will include:
Virtual and small focus groups, public forums, and workshops
Internet information sites published sources
Facilitator and Methodology
My role as Dr Bickenheuser is to:
Facilitate the study outreach,
Provide technical guidance as necessary, and
Reduce, categorize, and summarize community input.
The study's academic methodology is grounded theory (1) — a practical, time-tested way of profoundly understanding one's experience by (a) describing one's lived experience, (b) narrating the meaning of lived experiences, and (c) finding shared meaning and actions among community members. Public involvement in myPlains 2030 Study began this mid-March of 2021.
Charles W. Bickenheuser, OFS, EdD
About Montana, LLC
(1) Note: Grounded theory involves the collection and analysis of data. The theory is “grounded” in actual data, which means the analysis and development of themes and theories happen after data have been collected. Data collection is based on observations, interviews, and written and photographic associated with the study. Grounded theory methodology was introduced by Glaser & Strauss in 1967. The common themes and theories describe the goals and aspirations of this visioning study.