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Prairie Idea Exchange

Prairie Idea Exchange

Pull up a chair!
Time to have a taste of



The ingredients needed to make PIE fantastic:

1 Roomful of rural economic development professionals, gathering quarterly to share their knowledge and success stories.

5 topics (preferably juicy or spicy) that invite lots of interesting conversation.

1 or 2 facilitators to help stir the discussion.

A pinch of systems-thinking principles to make sure the ideas don’t fall flat.

1 network of community journalists ready to add reporting from their communities to the juicy topics.

1 magazine (available in print and online) that can provide a well-researched, well-designed space for the ideas that the PIE makers create.

More than 45,000 households in northeastern South Dakota and beyond to take in the fruit of the PIE conversations.

5 gatherings, scattered across the region, where community members can add a variety of flavors to the conversation.

1 website ( where the region can connect to cook up even more cool ideas.

The method to the PIE magic:

Bring together an established network of economic professionals (the Northeast South Dakota Regional Economic Developers) for an afternoon of conversation after their regular regional meetings. Have a facilitator direct the conversation around a specific topic, stirring so that particularly fruitful ideas emerge.

Have Dakotafire’s network of community journalists add some insights from local and regional experts, plus reporting from the region’s communities. Create interesting content, in the form of stories, photos and graphics, that help to foster understanding of those fruitful ideas. Put those ideas in Dakotafire magazine and send them out to about 45,000 community-minded households in the region. Host events in a variety of communities in the region and invite community members to give their own input on the ideas shared in the magazine.

Serve actual pie. Invite community members to continue the conversation online ( Record a video that can give people from elsewhere a taste of PIE. Put together one more serving of PIE on the chosen topic in Dakotafire magazine, with the input from the community included. Repeat four more times, using a different topic each time. Recognize that PIE makers will get better with practice, and they will start to work and think more as a team. Revise the recipe as needed to make the result even more satisfying. Enjoy the spicy, fruitful PIE!

Prairie Idea Exchange is a way to share fruitful, community-building ideas across northeastern South Dakota and beyond through conversations among economic development professionals, community journalists and the region’s residents in person, in print and online. Prairie Idea Exchange is generously supported by the Bush Foundation through a Community Innovation Grant and is being managed through a partnership between GROW South Dakota and Dakotafire Media, LLC.

How this issue came together: PIE & pizza IMG_8659

We’ve now held two Prairie Idea Exchange gatherings—one in September, focused on mindset, and the second in December, where leadership was the topic.

In the spirit of the Community Innovation Grant that is covering the costs of this project, these events are, in several ways, experiments: As we try out different ideas in conversation, we’re also trying out difPIE3ferent ways of holding conversations—especially as we figure out how best to harvest those ideas and share them with you in the following pages.

After the second PIE event, we decided to try yet another experiment: What would happen if we brought together a group of IMG_8667creative people—some of them journalists, but many of them not—to plan the magazine and develop the content? In one evening? Subsisting on pizza and leftover pie?

Well, some parts of our Dakotafire Design Night experiment worked; others didn’t. The process was messy, exhausting—and a whole lot of fun.

We hope you enjoy the result! 

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