Uncommon Communities

Uncommon Communities

Building a Sense of Community - Session XIII

January 12, 2018 · 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM

Uncommon Communities is a community and economic development program that marries the wisdom and methodology of celebrated community development expert Dr. Vaughn Grisham, professor emeritus of sociology and founding director of the McLean Institute for Community development at the University of Mississippi, with the award-winning Breakthrough Solutions partnership, under the direction of Dr. Mark Peterson at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. This comprehensive program will produce a group of community leaders who are equipped to assess, plan, visualize and mobilize citizenry to work together in the areas of economic development, education and workforce development, and quality of life and place—the critical elements of thriving communities—with an aim to help them become vibrant and sustainable in the 21st century global knowledge economy. Presenters for Uncommon Communities include practitioners, faculty and community leaders and are from Arkansas as well as Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina and Georgia.

Our pilot program focuses on five counties in the vicinity of the Institute: Conway, Perry, Pope, Van Buren and Yell. All of these counties are largely rural and have poverty rates between 17% and 23%; lost 1,249 jobs between 2007 and 2013; and have unemployment rates that are 109% of the state average. The Uncommon Communities model is designed to be scalable and replicable, and we intend to continue it statewide after a successful two-year pilot.

In addition to the statewide and national expertise provided in our carefully crafted series of bi-monthly development and training sessions at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute beginning on August 28, 2015, participants will have access to a broad network of resource people provided by the Institute and Breakthrough Solutions Partners. These resource partners will be available to help participants realize their on-the-ground goals between the sessions on the mountain.

Session XIII - Sense of Community  

Uncommon Communities, Session Thirteen will be held on Friday, January 12, 2018 at the Dardanelle Community Center, 2011 State Highway AR 22, Dardanelle, AR 72834. The workshop, offered exclusively to Uncommon Communities participants, will explore how to strengthen relationships within their community to spur economic development opportunities.   

Featuring special guest – David Leckey 

David Leckey is Executive Director of Orton Family Foundation where he guides the foundation in its mission to build stronger, healthier, and more economically vibrant small cities and towns across America with the foundation’s community development model Community Heart & Soul®.

He grew up in Van Buren, Ohio, (pop. 342) where he was imbued with Midwest friendliness that garnered him friends all over the world. Before joining Orton, he was Executive Vice President of Dane Technologies and President of its subsidiary, LEVO USA—a combined $20 million company based in Minnesota and Switzerland that he helped found. While he traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, and Australia, his heart was in small town America. A steadfast believer in the wisdom of local people, David launched rural programs for business development, job creation, and revitalization in his roles as a nonprofit and state government executive. He enjoys skiing, boating, and spending time with his family.

Friday, January 12 • 9:30 AM - Dardanelle Community Center, 2011 State Highway AR 22, Dardanelle, AR 72834

For more information, contact Program Officer Samantha Evans at 501-652-0330 or