Our Philosophy

Ogallala Commons is based on a concept called the commons, an idea originating in late-medieval European societies, as well as practices that are utilized in communal resource management around the world. Ogallala Commons was initiated in 1999 as a resource development network for reinvigorating the depleted commonwealth in the High Plains region of the Great Plains, and continues to function according to that original vision. Ogallala Commons is situated at the center of the U.S., stretching from White River, South Dakota in the north to Midland, Texas in the south. To learn more read A Region Reforming,” a paper that delves into the philosophies that inspire Ogallala Commons, a definition of the commons, and a brief summary of how Ogallala Commons functioned in its first five–years, 1999-2003.


The mission of Ogallala Commons is to foster a holistic approach to community socio-economic development in the Great Plains region that is centered over the High Plains-Ogallala Aquifer. To accomplish this, Ogallala Commons employs a four-part methodology that we believe is fundamental for restoring health and wealth at the grassroots level, and for engaging and supporting local people in the processes of community re-visioning and redevelopment. The methodology includes:

1.  Working to weave together and organize a collaborative resource network that focuses on the Great Plains region.

a.  This network, woven between renewal organizations, as well as among individual innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders, will promote widespread ownership and participation in local communities.

2.  Working to build an educational outreach, a framework for ideas and knowledge templates, in the form of conferences and seminars that ask key questions, offer practical knowledge and resources, and address structural revitalization needs in the High Plains area.

3.  Fostering a sense of place in the High Plains, based on the promotion and celebration of community arts, regional cultures, and local histories.

4.  Providing leadership to re-vitalize resilient communities across the Great Plains region by reinvesting in the 12 aspects of commonwealth, the source of sustainable wealth generated from the resource base rather than rigid dependence on governmental or multinational sources

For more information on our methodology, see “A Region Reforming