John Collins is the editor of Rural America In These Times. He lives between Minneapolis and La Pointe, Wisconsin, a village on Madeline Island in Lake Superior.
La Pointe is a former French outpost that was established in 1693 by French fur traders. Madeline Island is the spiritual home of the Ojibwe. A part of the island is governed by the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians, the rest is under the jurisdiction of Ashland County.
John is the great-great grandson of James B. Weaver (1833-1912). A member of Congress from Iowa, Weaver ran for president in 1892 as the candidate for the People’s Party (aka “The Populists”), a party that he helped found. (Weaver carried Kansas, Colorado, Nevada, Idaho and North Dakota, for a total of 22 electoral college votes, along with many majority black counties in the Deep South, who citizens supported the Populists because of their opposition to the doctrine of white supremacy championed by the Democratic Party) Weaver was also the editor of the Iowa-based Farmer’s Tribune.
In his 1892 book, A Call to Action: An Interpretation of the Great Uprising. Its Sources and Causes, James B. Weaver warned: “Corporate feudality has taken the place of chattel slavery and vaunts its power in every state.”
John hopes to amplify the voices of rural America to make them heard. He says, “As James Weaver wrote, ‘As a rule, men and women in the private walks of life—the sufferers—are first to apprehend impending danger, and it is their sleepless energies which finally arouse the drowsy conscience of nations.’ ” Throughout his life Weaver was a steadfast champion of America’s farmers.
“Today,” says John, “the stories of people who live in our country’s small communities, native and non-native, are not being told. Both the independent media and the commercial media—social and televised—ignore an entire way of life.”
John, 33, graduated from the University of Utah in 2011 with a B.A. in English. From 2011 through 2014 he worked as a carpenter for Northwoods Construction on Madeline Island. From 2002 to 2006 he was a guitarist for the LA-based indie rock band Controlling the Famous, which released the album Automatic City in 2006 on The Militia Group label.
How Much Nitrate Is in Rural America’s Water?
On July 26, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) announced the launch of the their Tap Water Database: “Starting today, the vast majority of Americans can learn about every potentially harmful chemical in their... MORE
Rural America · October 20, 2017
Native Youth “Paddle to Protect” Minnesota’s Water from Another Enbridge Pipeline
On August 12, a group of six indigenous teenagers and four adults from different tribes in Canada and the United States met at the headwaters of the Mississippi River, in northern Minnesota’s... MORE
Rural America · September 9, 2017
Rethink This Iowa: Do Not Gut the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Since 1987, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture (LCSA) in Ames, Iowa, has been looking into ways to reduce the environmental impact of food production. Applying a scientific approach to ethical land use, the... MORE
Rural America · June 23, 2017
Wendell Berry Defends Rural America Against an Attack by New York Review of Books Writer
In the following letter to the editor, Wendell Berry—the 82-year-old Kentucky farmer, novelist, poet, humanitarian, environmentalist and all around agrarian icon—responds to a New York Review of Books... MORE
Rural America · May 10, 2017
American Cows are Eating Skittles and Other Reasons Why the 2018 Farm Bill is Important
In January, a flatbed pickup truck filled with only red Skittles crashed on a highway near Beaver Dam, Wis. This prompted the Mars Corporation to issue a statement explaining that the... MORE
Rural America · April 21, 2017
USDA Authorizes Emergency Grazing on Protected Lands After Fires Burn Millions of Acres in 3 States
Massive wildfires that began on March 6 have scorched millions of acres across Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Entire towns were evacuated, homes and farms were lost, and seven people died. Along the Texas panhandle, 340,000... MORE
Rural America · April 5, 2017
The Populist Fight Against Corporate Power Circa 1892
“Populism” (according to the most readily accessible digital dictionary) means “support for the concerns of ordinary people” or, defined even more generally, “the quality of appealing to or... MORE
Rural America · March 2, 2017
The Corporate States of America in Graphic Relief
In 2012, Steve Lovelace, an artist, writer and photographer based in Texas, designed the above map to accompany Corporate Feudalism: The End of Nation States—a self-published blog post in which he likens... MORE
Rural America · February 13, 2017
Farm Policy Watchdog Stands by Organic Farmers. Will Secretary of Agriculture Perdue?
In the United States, demand for organically produced fruit, vegetables, meat, milk and eggs continues to grow. According to the Department of Agriculture (USDA), organic products are now being sold in three out... MORE
Rural America · January 27, 2017
Trump Nominates a Secretary of Agriculture (and, No, It’s Not Wendell Berry)
Filling the last remaining vacancy on his incoming administration’s cabinet, President-elect Donald Trump has nominated former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue for secretary of agriculture. The announcement puts an end to... MORE
Rural America · January 19, 2017