This story originally appeared in the Rapid City Collective Impact July 2017 Newsletter:

“The three original members of Rapid City Collective Impact’s Backbone team were recognized for their work during an Honoring Ceremony at the Mother Butler Center on June 24.

Gene Tyon and Dr. Ruby Gibson organized the event, which celebrated RCCI director Albert Linderman, facilitator Megan Odenthal and systems modeler Don Greer for their spirited, multicultural approach to bettering the community.

Tyon opened with a prayer and then told attendees that with the help of Linderman, Odenthal and Greer, this was the first time in history that “we have gotten to this level” in regard to Native/non-Native relations in Rapid City. He said he believes Natives will continue to have a voice here and be part of decisions here.

“It’s just awesome the way they’ve helped our community,” Tyon said. “I hope they come back and see how we’re doing.”

The three were brought to Rapid City – Linderman in the summer of 2015; Odenthal and Greer in the spring of 2016 – to facilitate the collective impact process. With RCCI now in its third year, designated the Year of Changing, the plan to transition the backbone organization to a local leadership team is underway. RCCI officially becomes a program of the Black Hills Area Community Foundation on Aug. 1.

Gibson told the few dozen people gathered at the Honoring Ceremony that Rapid City was ready for transformation. She said the ceremony was intended to be an honoring of Rapid City Collective Impact, which showed transformation is possible.

She called the three honorees “strong, active participants” and said they provided a place to make connections, have important discussions and even have tough conversations.

“After you’re gone, your shadows will remain with us,” Gibson said. “Your lights will remain with us.”

Long-time resident and nurse Bev Warne said she first met the team members during RCCI’s three-day community workshop in May 2016. She said they gave her hope, and through their efforts other groups started to talk.

“They made great in-roads,” Warne said. “And my hope and prayer is that it will continue … Those of us who are Lakota and older have an obligation to do this.”

Barry Tice, the director of Pennington County Health and Human Services, recalled his first meeting with Linderman, who interviewed dozens of people during his first few months in Rapid City. Tice said he expected it to be a conversation like so many others, but it wasn’t. Tice also said he thinks the community is on the right track.

“Sometimes it takes people from the outside to help us figure out what we’re missing,” he said.

Before the evening concluded, each of the three team members received a star quilt. Then a drum group accompanied attendees as they lined up to offer handshakes, hugs and heartfelt words to the honorees.”

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