How do we express who we are to the outside world?
The Flint Hills has a rich cultural heritage celebrated throughout the state and the nation. The tall grass prairie has deeply influenced generations of indigenous tribes, ranchers, and rural communities whose livelihoods are grounded by the rhythms of the prairie. Today, the culture of the Flint Hills continues to evolve. As urban areas of the Flint Hills are quickly growing, a changing dynamic of work, of agriculture, and of rural and urban communities is affecting the culture of our people. Educational Institutions in the Flint Hills serve both as archives of cultural history and as critical resources to help find the best path forward and create a sound future for our youth. The beauty of the tallgrass prairie is expressed by the work of musicians, writers, painters, and photographers. The work of these artists has a significant impact on the economy of the Flint Hills; resources such as the Creative Arts Industries Commission can help foster their potential to shape the continued vitality in the Flint Hills. It is through our culture that we may interweave the similarities and differences of our communities, creating a vibrant tapestry of the new Flint Hills Frontier.
Goals for the Future
As we move forward together to address tough challenges with creative solutions, there are a multitude of cultural treasures and resources to draw upon. The culture of individual places, expressed by the gathering of communities who have loved that place for generations, may be celebrated as community members come together and envision the future of our region. The Cultural Goals for the Flint Hills Region are:
- Tourism: Develop positive images and attitudes of our culture to inspire and educate and to encourage tourism.
- Cultural Awareness: Identify, promote, and connect educational systems and institutions that promote cultural awareness.
- Youth: Retain and attract youth population due to opportunities and baseline attitude and awareness to attract diversity.
- Environmental Stewardship: Preserve the land based heritage through a culture of environmental stewardship and cooperative partnerships.
- Civic Engagement: Develop a high level of civic engagement and leadership.
- Recreational Amenities: Develop a wide variety of recreational amenities for residents (with environmental stewardship in mind).
- Celebrate Culture: Celebrate the culture of the Flint Hills, including the arts, identity, pride, history, ranching, farming, and local color.
Achieving Our Goals
Our diverse and context sensitive list of strategies developed by our devoted planning staff and committed citizens will help the Flint Hills Region be a sustainable and prosperous place to live, work, play, do business and raise families.
Website with Interactive Map and Cultural Calendar: Website of accessible information about the Flint Hills, potential partners include The Flint Hills Tourism Coalition and the Discovery Center. Interactive Map could include trails, events, historic sites, ecological information etc.
Public Access to Curricula: Collect and provide public access to curriculum materials. These would be curricula on the ecology, history culture and value of the Flint Hills. The Discovery Center could be a repository and vehicle to distribute this information.
Resource Network: Identify Partners and new collaborations. Entities that have a common cause, or complimentary needs, may not know each other in this large region. A resource network is a key part of this solution.
Expand Social Networks: Expand young social networks- Advertise Rural by choice and other professional networks for young families. Potential partners include KS Sampler, Extension Services, KS Tourism Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, Schools Churches and economic development organizations.
Innovation Hubs: Creative Innovation hubs orient regional business and education incubators toward attracting, young families; youth workforce investment.
Tourism Partnerships: Investigate regional partnerships for parks and recreation facilities and services. Develop a "Cultural Crossroads" tour by cataloging historic assets and putting a face to the stories. Work with quality-controlled, membership-based organizations to create broader awareness of Flint Hills opportunities.
Online Access: Identify ways to provide simpler online access or links with art galleries, etc. (one website for all Flint Hills activities)
Collect Existing Websites: Identify existing cultural websites.
Flint Hills Brand: Develop a cohesive brand for the Flint Hills.
Grant Information: Provide information on how and where to apply for cultural grants for your community.
Study Abroad Programs: Study Abroad and exchange programs in High School to share our cultures and host other cultures.
Intergenerational Collaborations: Increase intergenerational collaborations
Speakers' Bureau: Create a Speakers' bureau listing speakers and presenters who are willing to talk about preservation of the Flint Hills and the sensitive ecosystem of the Tallgrass Prairie.
Education of Partners on Value of Ecosystem: Educate potential partners about the value of the ecosystem and identify best practices, such as conservation easements, legislation needed, and key extension services available.
Research Practices: Increase research practices on environmentally beneficial, resource conserving and economically viable local agriculture programs using progressive technologies and market innovations. Emphasis on pest management and environmental biotechnologies, through the cooperative extension programs of local universities.
Increased Networks between Research, Tourism and Advocacy Organizations: Increased outreach and networking between the Sustainable Agriculture and Research Program at K-State, the state tourism bureau, and environmental organizations such as the Audubon Society.
Small Farmer Network for Best Practices: Create a network for small farmers to learn prairie conservation techniques and access to equipment and best practices for burning.
Develop Regional Leadership Program: Develop a leadership program similar to county leadership programs, i.e. Leadership Butler.
Welcome Wagon Events: Work with established civic organizations to develop Welcome Wagon events and packets, that tie to the regional brand and marketing.
Develop a Local Business Community Assets Survey for Employees: Work with local businesses to develop a regional 'entrance' and 'exit' survey for employees, to capture feedback on local assets and area deficiencies for future planning.
Inventory Current Opportunities: Inventory current recreational amenities.
Link Chambers of Commerce Calendars and Announcements: Regionally Linked Chambers of Commerce for a seasonal guide/ calendar of events and announcements and regional benefits for regional members.