- Author: Mary Gordon
- Date: February 14, 2023
Many years ago, the Missouri Rural Health Association saw an unmet need for rural Missourians and took on the task…
Lincoln County, about 30 miles north of Twin Falls, is an extremely rural county with three small towns. Shoshone, Deitrich, and Richfield have a combined population of less than 2,500 people, and probably 10 times as many dairy cows. The county has a robust agricultural tradition, where about 18% of the land is devoted to farming and 76% is preserved as federal land.
Because of its sparse geography and small population, public transportation wasn’t an option until 2022, when Karma Metzler Fitzgerald began Lincoln County Connections. The van service, run on a wing and a prayer and large heaping of Karma’s optimism, has been connecting seniors with health care, students to college, and young residents to the youth center that Karma also established.
In October 2022, Lincoln County was awarded one of NCMM’s Community Mobility Design Challenge planning grants. Karma’s hope in applying for the grant was that the county could pause and take an in-depth, comprehensive look at the transportation needs in the county and determine how best to address them.
Lincoln County’s planning grant is one of 38 NCMM has awarded since 2013. NCMM’s approach to these grants is not the usual “here’s a check, give us a monthly report on how you spend it.” Instead, NCMM works very closely with each community it chooses using the human-centered design approach. This entails doing in-depth research within the community and using the insights from that research as the foundation for conceptualizing potential solutions. The three most promising solution concepts are then probed for weaknesses through testing assumptions embedded in those concepts, until the community learns which is the best choice. They are then on the path for NCMM’s second and third phase grants which leads them to pilot that solution.
In the Lincoln County interviews, NCMM learned several key factors that had to be acknowledged and addressed for the planning grant process to be a success:
Stay tuned for a later blog to hear about the solutions Lincoln County has developed and tested.
Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Sage Kashner (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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