the vision
the design process
Who so green?
Help build it

The Rural Learning Center is a product of visionaries. Both organization and place, it is a platform for rural people to discover, teach, share and reimagine--together. In the midst of Miner County, South Dakota's quiet, remarkable transformation from dying town to place of hope and opportunity, this small rural community has become a living learning laboratory for innovative and sustainable solutions.

Now, as a centerpiece for the work in and out of Miner County, the RLC and dozens of partners are building a learning and demonstration center in Howard, SD. The Maroney Commons facility is a one-of-a-kind conference and training center - a living showcase of innovations in rural sustainability, a gathering place to share and experience rural community learning, and the home of an innovative workforce development experiment.

Maroney Commons' location in Howard makes sense: we will welcome rural communities to learn together in a community that has done the hard work required to make big changes. The location is also proximate to Howard's growing renewable energy industries. The facility will house an innovative renewable energy training program for students from local high schools and technical schools, as well as existing industry employees and incumbent workers in other fields.

The Center will be a centerpiece and showcase of the ongoing work and learning in Miner County, and a gathering place for rural communities to learn from one another about the issues that challenge them. The facility will include:

  • A conference center for workshops, events, and community gatherings
  • A green energy training program where industry meets workforce
  • On-site lodging
  • A programming and office center for RLC staff and partners
  • A community kitchen and local foods dining room
  • Cutting edge, hands-on green design principles and materials
  • The latest in renewable energy and efficiency technologies

The people of Miner County are working to create a place where people will Reimagine Rural together. Phase II of the Maroney Commons, which is owned and operated by the Miner County Development Corporation (MCDC), had its groundbreaking ceremony on September 2, 2009.

Maroney Commons includes a hotel and conference center (Windward Inn & Conference Center), restaurant (Forecast Restaurant), bar (Maroney's Bar), and fitness center (Miner County Wellness) and has been operational since August 2011.  To learn more about Maroney Commons visit their website at

Learn more about the Maroney Commons facility in Howard, SD: The design process (learn how we're collaboratively co-designing the facility), Why so green? (learn about the environmentally conscious features and what that means for rural communities), and Help build it (learn how you can join the effort).