Rural America

About "Rural America"

Rural America is home to families numbering 63 million people, 16 percent of the U.S. population. Those families are spread out over 72 percent of the country’s land area.  

In the next 20 years it is estimated that 400 million acres of the America’s rural land will change hands. This raises the question, “Who will control that land?” But with much of the nation’s press clustered in New York and the Beltway, such questions and the stories of the people living in the “hinterlands” are too often given short shrift by both commercial and independent media.  

Rural America In These Times corrects that deficit by providing a forum for the people and organizations in rural America that are on the frontlines of some of the most significant—yet most underreported—movements of our time. These include the ongoing struggle for an agricultural economy that is centered on people and dedicated to environmental sustainability; innovative experiments to create resilient communities; the development of inclusive economically viable economies; the creation of land-based livelihoods, and the rural coalitions that have formed in the myriad local battles against fracking, frack-sand mining and pipelines.  

Rural America has a rich tradition of community cooperation from which to draw inspiration, from the grange movement of the 19th century Populists to the American Agricultural Movement of the 1970s. This history helps provide an antidote to the Big Ag-centered agenda of 4-H, FFA (Future Farmers of America) and the Farm Bureau.

The only assumption Rural America In These Times makes about its readers is that they can read and that they care about the life of their community. This blog will strive to be a site of discussion, and to include voices from various sides of an issue. Communications research indicates that, rather than speaking to a choir, open debate in which doubts, fears and prejudices are freely expressed is the most effective way to get people to re-examine their own assumptions.

Rural America In These Times is written and edited to be accessible to readers from all walks of life, regardless of who they vote for or where they live. For example, some of our most ardent organic farmers hold a libertarian perspective. Rural America is where hippies and rednecks eat election night dinner together. The land and its care is the unifying project that helps smooth out this polarization.

Rural America In These Times covers Native communities and initiatives of the First Nations on both U.S. reservations the Canadian reserves. 

The perspective of Native peoples, who were for thousands of years able to thrive in harmony with nature, will prove invaluable as life on Earth experiences the ravages of climate change and environmental despoliation.

“Rural America In These Times” strives to overcome the existing rural-urban divide. The blog seeks to build bridges, facilitate communication and foster cooperation between urban people who understand the value of a healthy and sustainable agricultural system, and the farmers in our rural communities that provide food that we all eat. We cover the farm-to-table networks currently being developed and the challenges such enterprises face.

In its coverage of Rural America, this blog will also endeavor to provide the economic context of the day-to-day efforts of rural men and women to provide for their families. Few people know that a child who lives in the country is more likely to live in poverty than a child in urban America. Nor do they realize that 16 percent of rural people make up 41 percent of the members of the U.S. military. 

Rural people’s concerns are not only economic. It is our rural citizens who are bearing the brunt of fracking, mining, “beneficial” resuse and climate change, with its resulting droughts and other examples of extreme weather. Other subjects of current concern include the ascendancy of the patented GMO seed industry and runaway oil trains. The blog will also showcase promising local rural initiatives in both the First and Third Worlds.

Rural America In These Times does not reinvent the wheel. Valuable information and original research on critical rural issues is currently provided by the following organizations and outlets:

Our goal at Rural America In These Times is to reach a civically engaged audience of both urban and rural people—those individuals active in urban and rural communities, Native and non-Native, who are committed to sustainable agriculture and healthy rural communities. This blog’s mission is to provide the public service of helping make the issues that rural America is grappling with part of national discourse.

The editor of Rural America In These Times is John Collins, a former musician and carpenter.

John is the great-great grandson of James B. Weaver (1833-1912), the editor of the Iowa-based Farmer’s Tribune and the author of A Call To Action (1892).

Weaver was elected to Congress  in 1879, and in 1892 he ran for president as the candidate for the People’s Party (aka “The Populists”), a party that he helped found. Weaver carried Kansas, Colorado, Nevada and Idaho, for a total of 22 electoral college votes, in addition to many majority black counties in the Deep South. 

In A Call to Action, Weaver warned: “Corporate feudality has taken the place of chattel slavery and vaunts its power in every state.”

John wants to amplify the voices of rural America to make them heard. He says, “As Weaver wrote in A Call to Action, ‘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 James Weaver was a steadfast champion of America’s farmers,” says John. “Today, 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.”