MHP staff recently had the opportunity to visit the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. We've been working there to help Thunder Valley CDC enact its community sustainability regional plan. This plan, called Oyate Omniciyé, honors the culture and history of Lakota people while striving to create a sustainable economic future for generations to come.
A significant element of this plan, a 34 acre "Regenerative Community" housing development, will provide Lakota families with homes, jobs, community facilities, and infrastructure. Current housing options are very limited on the Reservation (pictured left) and over-crowded housing conditions are the norm, with some three-bedroom homes occupied by twenty or more people. The plan seeks a new future with housing designed to meet current and future needs, while maintaining low operating costs.
The "Regenerative Community" project includes net zero green housing, which relies on superinsulated housing units and utilizes local building materials as much as possible. Four homes are planned to start the development, and each will feature a different type of energy efficient construction so that they can be measured and monitored for energy performance. The first home is under construction and features straw-bale wall construction (pictured right). The next building will feature Super Insulated Panels (SIPS) construction. The third will be an adobe-brick style home. Last in the series will be a conventionally framed home. All will have the same floor plan and super insulated roof system.
The opportunity for the Pine Ridge Reservation to work on a sustainability plan came about through an award from the federal Sustainable Communities Initiative to the Thunder Valley CDC. MHP has been selected as a technical assistance provider for this federal program, with support directed to rural and tribal grantees. MHP will continue providing technical assistance to Thunder Valley CDC as it works to achieve this visionary project.
In this 150 year anniversary of the Wounded Knee Massacre (about five miles down the road from the site of the planned regenerative community), it is so inspiring to work with an extraordinary group of people thinking, imagining, and then planning for a new kind of future for the Pine Ridge Reservation.
More to come!
-Bill Vanderwall, Capacity Building Manager, Minnesota Housing Partnership