CDS 2017

The Community Development Society (CDS) and National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP) 2017 conference brought together more than 350 community development leaders and practitioners from across the US and around the world. The conference was an exceptional venue for sharing ideas, networking with peers, and to learn from thought leaders in community development that took place in Big Sky, Montana.

The joint CDS/NACDEP conference was the first time these two national organizations had come together. Dr. Lori Garkovich, CLD Professor, presented a paper on the framing of the Bluegrass Pipeline resistance and the creation of digital action networks to provide structure to the resistance. What most excites her about these meetings is the large amount of new knowledge and resources she receives. Dr. Garkovich commented, "I was introduced to a new Extension training program from the University of Minnesota on “Creating trust in our communities,” as well as opportunities for crowd-funding downtown redevelopment in rural communities. Who can’t love a professional meeting with presentations on the role of hip-hop in community development (and a demonstration), testimonies on the building of community at the Standing Rock encampments, and an amazing woman social and business entrepreneur who’s on-line business (Red Ants Pants – work pants for women) combined with a music festival that draws 15,000+ people to a town of 900 help fund a foundation focused on building leadership and community in rural Montana?"

Dr. Wes Harrison, Chair of Community and Leadership Development had the following to say about his first CDS conference attendance : "I thought the plenary sessions were thoughtful and well organized. The paper sessions and workshops showed just how diverse and relevant the field of community development has become. The issues ranged from community food systems, to community leadership, rural survival and development, community housing, environmental challenges, economic development and the role of the energy sector in shaping rural communities; [I] thoroughly enjoyed the conference.”

Melony Denham was also a first time attendee. She is the E-Discovery Program Director which won both the CDS Innovative Program Award and also an Innovation and Creativity Award from NACDEP. Denham commented, "We appreciate the recognition, but the honor truly goes to the K-12 teachers that use the E-Discovery curricula in the classroom to challenge students to be creative and develop product or service businesses while still in school."

Author: Sarah Caton
Contact: Dr. Bryan Hains |