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     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:

  1. What community members want Plains and surrounding areas to be,

  2. Where the greater community of Plains seems to be heading, and

  3. 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:

  1. Sustainable growth,

  2. Recognition of fiscal constraints and opportunities,

  3. Housing needs,

  4. Town parks and recreation opportunities,

  5. Protection of natural, historical, and agricultural resources, and

  6. 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 (and a shared domain name of Community members may review, ask questions, and leave comments on the website. Outreach and participant inclusion will include:

  1. Community surveys/questionnaires 

  2. Virtual and small focus groups, public forums, and workshops

  3. Internet information sites published sources

Facilitator and Methodology 

     My role as Dr Bickenheuser is to:

  1. Facilitate the study outreach,

  2. Provide technical guidance as necessary, and

  3. 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. 

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