Rural America

Rural America Contributors

John Collins

John Collins is the editor of Rural America In These Times. John lives in Northern Wisconsin in the town of La Pointe on Madeline Island in Lake Superior. Madeline Island is the spiritual home of the Ojibwe and the site of La Pointe, a former French outpost established in 1693 by French fur traders. La Pointe is in Ashland County, where John’s family settled in the 1880s.

John is also 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 and Idaho, for a total of 22 electoral college votes, and many majority black counties in the Deep South.) Weaver was also the editor of the Iowa-based Farmer’s Tribune.

In his 1892 book, A Call to Action, James B. 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.”

John, 31, graduated from the University of Utah in 2011 with a B.A. in English. From 2002 to 2006 he was a member of the indie rock band Controlling the Famous, which released the album Automatic City in 2006 on The Militia Group label.

Polly Howells

Polly Howells is a member of the Rural America In These Times Board of Editors. Polly is a semi-retired psychotherapist who splits her time between Woodstock and Brooklyn, New York.  She is a founding member of Woodstock NY Transition, a board member of Bioneers and Radical Joy for Hard Times, and a facilitator of the Pachamama Alliance’s “Awakening the Dreamer Changing the Dream” Symposium.  She also co-leads a yearly 5-day residential workshop for women, “Reclaiming our Lives, Reclaiming our Earth,” incorporating the work of Jungian analyst Marion Woodman, with whom she trained. Her two great-grandfathers were Midwestern literary figures, Ohio-born novelist William Dean Howells (1837-1920) and Chicago Tribune editor-in-chief (1864-1874) Horace White (1834-1916). 

Thomas Linzey

Thomas Linzey is a contributing writer to Rural America In These Times. Tom is the executive director and co-founder of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and serves as the organization’s chief legal counsel. CELDF provides free and legal services to community-based groups and local governments working to protect their quality of life and natural environment.  The organization also sponsors Democracy Schools, from which more than 3,000 citizens have graduated.

Laura Orlando

Laura Orlando is a member of the Rural America In These Times Board of Editors. Laura is the executive director of the Resource Institute for Low Entropy Systems (RILES), a Boston-based nonprofit concerned with health and the environment. She also teaches in the environmental health department at the Boston University School of Public Health. Laura grew up on a farm near Benton Harbor, Michigan. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Kendra Pierre-Louis

Kendra Pierre-Louis is a contributing writer of Rural America In These Times. Kendra is a Queens, New York-based journalist. Her work has appeared in Newsweek and Modern Farmer. She is the author of Green Washed: Why We Can’t Buy Our Way to a Green Planet (Ig Publishing).

Severine Von Tscharner Fleming

Severine Von Tscharner Fleming is a member of the Rural America In These Times Board of Editors, for which she writes the Rural Pop Vox column. Severine is the founder and director of Greenhorns, a national organization established in 2007 that promotes, supports and recruits young farmers. The group’s mission is “to retrofit the food system and to build a thriving agricultural economy, for healthy regions, healthy watersheds and a healthy farm culture.”  She is one of the editors of the book Greenhorns: 50 Dispatches from the New Farmers’ Movement

She is also the co-founder the National Young Farmers Coalition, and co- founder and board secretary for Farm Hack. Von Tscharner Fleming, 33, lives near the town of Essex in northern New York near Lake Champlain, which is geologically the sixth, and smallest, of the Great Lakes. She graduated from the University of California—Berkeley in 2007 with a degree in conservation and agro ecology. She one day hopes to own her own farm.