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August 13, 2010

Thinking about the Midwest Rural Assembly

“Anyone who is passionate about the rural Midwest should plan on attending the Midwest Rural Assembly.”  I made that statement last year in a post about the assembly, and I want to repeat it again this year. If you are one of those persons, I hope I will see you in South Sioux City, Nebraska on August 16 and 17.

What is the Midwest Rural Assembly?
The Midwest Rural Assembly is an effort to gather people who are care about the rural Midwest and hold a conversation about its future. In many ways it provides an opportunity to regionalize and localize the efforts of the National Rural Assembly by “providing an opportunity for rural leaders and their allies to unite in a common cause, advocating for common-sense policies that improve the outlook and results for rural places, people, cultures and economies.” After all, rural means different things to people in different parts of the country.

Even within the Midwest, people have different ideas about what “rural” means and what needs to be done to build a vibrant future for our region. One of the things I like about the event is that the agenda is shaped by the people who show up and are willing to do the work. That’s a lot like how things get done in our rural communities.

What’s happening this year?
The program is being positioned around the four guiding principles of the National Rural Assembly:
1. Investments in our People; 2. Health of our People; 3. Stewardship of Natural Resources; and 4. Quality in Education.

Last year I met some great people from whom I continue to draw inspiration and ideas (i.e., Neil Linscheid, who I wrote about in my last post). Unfortunately, I was too wrapped up in a presentation and some other activities last year to fully engage myself in the conversations. Hopefully that changes this year.

What I’m interested in
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the role education plays in the future of our rural communities. Specifically, I’m interested in the ideas put forth in Hollowing out the Middle. I’d very much like to hear what others have to say about the concept that educators and community members over-invest in those most likely to leave our rural communities at the expense of those who are committed to staying.

I’m going to look for places where that conversation is most likely to emerge. If this year’s event is like last year’s, many good conversations will take place in the hallways between sessions. If this is a topic of interest to you, I hope you will seek me out. And if you know of places where that conversation is already taking place online, I hope you will share them with me. It would be great to have interesting food for thought before the assembly meets.

Details of the 2010 Midwest Rural Assembly
Website: www.MidwestRuralAssembly.org
Date: August 16 & 17, 2010
Location: Marina Inn and Conference Center (Phone: 1-800-798-7980)
Social Media: Be sure to follow the Midwest Rural Assembly on Facebook and Twitter as well.

This blog first appeared at Reimagine Rural. Written by Mike Knutson.

Ben Lilliston

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