Western Leadership Institute
Through a competitive application process, the Western Leadership Institute (WLI) invites teams of community members engaged in local planning and growth management efforts to participate in intensive, four-day training workshops. WLI training helps citizens advance collaborative decisions to protect the places they love and build effective support for land-use and conservation initiatives that will shape their community’s future.
The WLI complements the Institute’s Western Community Stewardship Forum by addressing the need for cooperation between community members and government officials to implement community stewardship goals. The training focuses on local aspirations to preserve natural and cultural assets by:
- fostering collaborative decision making by local government and community members;
- empowering people to advocate for effective local land-use policies;
- increasing individual’s leadership skills and understanding of organizing tools; and
- creating a support network of leaders in the rural West committed to protecting natural and cultural assets.
From the Sonoran Institute’s summer 2008 WestWord newsletter:
Helping Citizens Help Their Communities
Seven community teams from four states converged in Salt Lake City in May 2008 for the Western Leadership Institute (WLI). This was the Sonoran Institute’s second WLI, a multi-day training in community leadership and campaign advocacy for engaged citizens working to enhance their communities.
Teams from Morongo Basin, Calif., Gallatin County, Mont., and Archuleta County, Colo., are focused on open space protection. In Montana, Missoula County’s team works to protect prime agricultural lands and promote local food. Ravalli County, Mont., is creating a water quality protection strategy. The Kootenai, Idaho, team is building public support for a new comprehensive plan. The group from Park County, Mont., includes youth leaders interested in promoting community development, particularly a dual purpose environmental education/skate park in Livingston.
Participants learned about team dynamics, facilitation, engaging the public in planning decisions, and strengthening collaboration. Experts discussed the importance of a clear, thoughtful strategy and effective communications. Teams departed with action plans and communication frames to immediately put to use.
In a recent High Country News story, Morongo Basin team member April Sall discussed the implications of a major energy transmission corridor planned for the Mojave Desert. And Missoula County’s Paul Hubbard was interviewed in May for a New West article, “In Missoula, Stopping Subdivisions from Eating Up Local Food.”