Kodiak Archipelago Rural Regional Leadership Forum
No Community Left Behind
The Kodiak Archipelago Rural Regional Leadership Forum or “the Forum”, was established in 2005 as a way to develop the collective voice of Kodiak’s rural and Alaska Native leadership. We operate as a community of leaders who strive to incorporate our region’s Alutiiq values of respect for each other and our place while working to address the long-term marginalization of our rural and Alaska Native communities.
We meet on an annual schedule of in-person forums combined with dedicated virtual single-topic work sessions. Each in-person forum is normally 3 days and includes work sessions that focus on advocacy and community development issues such as education, economic development opportunities, fisheries access, energy and infrastructure needs, information on available funding opportunities, and dialogs with regional government, state, and federal legislators. Work sessions bring together community leaders with policymakers, agencies, and best practices to develop a collective regional path forward and are designed to result in defined regional deliverables.
The Forum is facilitated on a “deep democracy” approach where every voice is equal and a discussion process of individual to small table group to full Forum is utilized. This process fosters leadership as “quiet voices” can safely share in their small table groups while table group leaders present their groups’ findings to the full Forum. This builds strong consensus and contributes to the building of a resilient regional community. The entire model is driven by the collective voice of the region’s community leaders. And all projects that KALI undertakes are defined by the Forum.
In the 17 years since it has been meeting, the Forum had led to some remarkable accomplishments and KALI and the Forum’s work have been recognized on both the State and National level. This is demonstrated by KALI’s inclusion in the 2017 University of Alaska Statewide Conference titled “Fisheries Access for Alaska – Charting the Future” as a model of community engagement. KALI has presented its model and successes in venues that include the US Dept. of Health and Human Services 2022 National Indigenous Programs Conference, the 2022 and 2020 Alaska Food Policy Council Conference, presentations to University graduate programs, and others.
Our Alutiiq and Rural Community Values are incorporated in our Forum’s way of being and how we work with each other. And we recognize that long-term Forum and community success relies upon our ability to facilitate our own work session processes in our own way. Our Forum facilitation model is based on the work of Drs. Arnold and Amy Mindell and their definition of process work as the art, science, and the psychology of following the nature of individuals, communities, and eco-systems. By defining Forum facilitation as following the nature of our communities and leadership, we inherently are folding in our own rural and Alutiiq ways of being in our discussions and defined deliverables. As we say at the Forum, we work to speak the “Language of Community.”
But this type of facilitation takes training and experience and since its inception in 2005 the Forum has relied on one primary facilitator, Robbie Townsend Vennel. Through a generous grant from the Alaska Venture Fund, KALI is developing and providing a training program based on our 17 years of Forum work to individuals from our Forum family so that they can step in as facilitators in their own right. This comprehensive training program will involve webinars, in-person trainings, mentoring by Robbie and “student” facilitating at the Forum. Our first cohort is already forming to begin our journey in April 2023. The Alaska Venture Fund grant is also supporting documentation of the Forum process and why it is successful with the intent that we continue to learn from our history while making available our experiences to other regions in our State. Keep posted for our progress!