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Next Dakotafire community conversation event is in Webster on May 29

Next Dakotafire community conversation event is in Webster on May 29

The second in a series of events intended to spark community and regional conversations will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, May 29, at the American Legion in Webster, S.D.

The event, called a Dakotafire Café, intends to get people talking about the topics presented in the latest issue of Dakotafire magazine, according to Dakotafire Editor Heidi Marttila-Losure.

The May-June issue takes an in-depth look at the increase in installation of drain tile in the eastern Dakotas.

“It can be a very contentious topic,” Marttila-Losure said. “The goal of the stories in the magazine is to lay out the whole system that the water is a part of—where it comes from, where it goes, and why it’s more of a problem now than it was in years past. We hope that if people start from a common understanding, we can have better conversations, and ultimately, we can make better land-use decisions.”

The event will start outside the building with a demonstration by Jeff Hemenway, soil scientist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Huron, S.D. He’ll use a rainfall simulator to show how different types of land use can dramatically affect how water moves on the land.

The event will then move inside to hear from Laura Edwards, climate field specialist with South Dakota University Extension in Aberdeen, S.D., who will speak about precipitation trends in the region.

The presentations will be followed by conversations in small groups, and finally some sharing of insights from those conversations with the larger group.

Joe Bartmann, a process host and community coach with Rural Weaver LLC in Montrose, S.D., will help guide the process.

The event includes lunch, with coffee provided by Bella Vita. The event is sponsored by the Webster Area Development Corporation.

Participants are encouraged to make plans to be there for the whole two hours, and to be there promptly at 11 a.m. so the rainfall simulation can get started right away.

Check out this video of the first Dakotafire Café event:

More information on is available here: The conversation can continue at this online forum space:

The Dakotafire Café events build on the work done by the Dakotafire project, which brings together community newspapers in the James River Valley of the Dakotas to address topics important to the region. Dakotafire stories can be found in participating newspapers, on, and in the bimonthly magazine.

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