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July 2019

South Dakota - Tatanka Ki Owetu

Tornado on Pine Ridge Reservation, SDTatanka Ki Owetu, the Renewal AgrAbility Project on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota had a busy month of June. The rains have finally slowed down enough that area farmers and ranchers are able to get going. Corn is way behind. The team has been out assisting clients developing their sites and on-the-ground, low-cost AT solutions that fit the clients' budgets and under-developed infrastructure as well as their disabilities. The state of disrepair and unmaintained nature of clients' built environments (homes, roads, outbuildings, neighborhoods) and the weather (including a large tornado, several hailstorms, and a very late season frost June 10th) continue to make the team's initial focus the prevention of secondary injuries and thus, site-development.

Client's original site before developmentA recent client's situation has brought to the front another aspect that many of the project's clients struggle with and that is the overall state of disrepair and dysfunction in their communities, i.e. the social and physical environment within which they're trying to start their small farm. Site developmentThis client's site is an urban area and the client wants to transform their back yard into a small hoop house production site. However, there's no barrier between access to their site and the community at large (i.e. no fence) so the client struggles with theft, vandalism, and domestic violence, and emergency services events aren't just a daily occurrence; they're an all-day occurrence. This larger socio-environmental awareness directly impacts the client's stress levels and overall mental and behavioral health. So the AgrAbility team has to balance out their efforts to assist the client in the development of their site, decreasing the chances of secondary injuries, while not stressing them out too much by the change to that immediate environment and also with the client's concerns and stress about theft, vandalism, or just domestic situations from outside impacting themselves and their site.

Hoop house started using repurposed materialsThe team has found an old fence, and volunteers will be assisting in putting it up to give the client some control and comfort. In addition, the team is working with donors who are looking to help the client with motion lights and with the Oglala Sioux Tribal Police Department to patrol the client's area more now that the site is being developed. The client's site is accessed only via a poorly maintained alley way that's rarely been patrolled by the police in the past yet is a common call for police. The team works diligently to find the clients low-cost, often free and/or re-purposed materials for their site's development while also turning some of that material into free AT for their operation.

Submitted by Tatanka Ki Owetu - The Renewal - Pine Ridge