Fellows Network

Shanna Ratner

Yellow Wood Associates, Principal

St. Albans, Vermont

Shanna is a researcher and trainer, with 20 years experience specializing in rural community economic development. Through Yellow Wood Associates, she works with federal, state, and local governments, foundations, non-profit organizations and others to explore development options and build client capacity to achieve shared goals. Her areas of interest include agriculture, forestry, and green community technologies. Shanna is creating a cooperative learning community of economic development consultants, incorporating principles of systems thinking and organizational learning.

Read Yellow Wood’s Winter 2013 newsletter.

In addition to consulting, Shanna’s current work includes training in the program “You Get What You Measure.” The program helps diverse individuals identify shared goals, understand what it means to make progress toward those goals, analyze indicators of progress in a systems context, identify key leverage points, develop measures of change in key leverage points, test underlying assumptions, create and implement measurement plans, reflect on their learnings, etc.

Through another project, Green Community Technologies, she and colleagues are developing a service that will assist small rural communities in assessing potential applications of alternative technologies to municipal infrastructure. This begins with assistance in creating an inventory of municipal infrastructure, assessing its condition in light of current and anticipated future demand, and prioritizing areas for further work. The further work includes an assessment of applications of alternative technologies, including comparative life cycle costing, and sharing of information with the public. The group also helps in finding financing and offer technical assistance. Part of the vision of the program is to look at every element of infrastructure in relation to every other element, rather than in isolation, and to consider approaches like source reduction as opposed to treatment.

Inspired by her experience as a Fellow, Shanna decided to work more collaboratively with other businesses that provide community development expertise, and she has recently developed an agreement with a highly respected firm with complementary skills. She is also using stocks-and-flows diagramming to develop a sophisticated theory of community wealth.

Updated March 2013.