Monday, August 3, 2015

08/02/2015 at 8:57pm

Two out of every three rural counties gained jobs between June 2014 and June of this year, according to data released last week from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The improvement builds on earlier rural job growth that occurred this spring, after disappointing job reports this winter.

The June figures in the current report show that employment growth continues and most rural counties are adding jobs and reducing their unemployment rates.

The map above shows county-level job gains and losses between June 2014 and June 2015. Urban counties that gained jobs are blue. Urban counties that lost jobs in those 12 months are orange. Only one in five urban counties lost jobs.

Rural counties that gained jobs are green. Rural counties that lost jobs are red. All counties outside metropolitan statistical areas are considered rural in this analysis.

To see the figures for individual counties, click on the map to activate it, and then click on the individual county to bring up employment data. If you have information about why your area is gaining or losing jobs, please leave a comment.

Job growth on the east and west coasts is impressive. Los Angeles County alone saw a job gain of over 114,000 in the last year. New York City had strong job growth, as did Phoenix. That urban job growth did not extend to Florida. Urban counties there lost thousands of jobs.

Rural job losses continued in the eastern coalfields of Kentucky and West Virginia. And while rural Texas and North Dakota led the way in job creation through recent year, those gains have now turned to losses.

Rural counties gained over 218,000 jobs in the last year. Urban counties gained over 2 million jobs. Urban counties were home to 86.4 percent of all jobs in June of this year — and these counties had 90.4 percent of all the jobs gained in the last year.

The unemployment rate in urban counties was 5.4 percent in June, according to the BLS. In rural counties, the rate was slightly higher, at 5.8 percent.

07/31/2015 at 7:11am

Photo by Jaynie Parrish Canada's National Aboriginal Day is an opportunity to talk about larger issues

Dozens of people, tribal leaders, and public officials (including Yukon's premier and the area's Member of Parliament) gathered around a fire in a prayer circle. It's the solstice, the longest day of the year, and National Aboriginal Day. For nearly two decades, Canadians have celebrated June 21 as a national holiday to honor the Inuit, First Nations and Metis people. 

"For me, National Aboriginal Day is a day of celebration, acknowledgment, and remembrance," said Jessie Dawson, a councilor with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation Government.

Especially this year. The recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission report chronicled what it termed as Canada's physical, biological, and cultural genocide against Aboriginal people. Yet the report said: "Despite the coercive measures that the government adopted, it failed to achieve its policy goals. Although Aboriginal peoples and cultures have been badly damaged, they continue to exist. Aboriginal people have refused to surrender their identity."

Dawson said that "report represents a break through in time and a new day for our people. It calls on our citizens to make peace. It gives us hope and a restored faith that appropriate measures will be taken."

It's that very debate, about what is "an appropriate measure" that Canada has yet to conclude. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission proposes one standard: "Reconciliation is about establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country."

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has updated its report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, saying that while Aboriginal women make up 4.3 percent of the population, they account for 16 percent of all female homicide victims. The federal policy agency once again said the overwhelming majority of those murders stemmed from family violence.

However First Nations advocates say the report is not broad enough because it does not include statistics from municipal governments. 

07/30/2015 at 7:45am

Photo by Rose Hoban Sheila Davies, former director of telemedicine at Albemarle Hospital in North Carolina, demonstrates how the telepsychiatry unit functions.

Editor's Note: This story first appeared in North Carolina Health News and is reproduced here with permission. 

When Cody Hand’s 3-year-old daughter fell and chipped her front tooth, he took her to the emergency department at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina But the doctor there was unsure what to do about her tooth, so Cody dialed up a friend who’s a pediatric dentist.

The doctor, dentist and Hand then did a FaceTime consult on Hand’s iPhone.

“It was a non-secure link,” said Hand, who happens to be the vice-president for governmental affairs for the North Carolina Hospital Association. “But that was OK with me. It was just a dental issue.”

“But it shows how telemedicine can work,” he said.

In many ways, most of the U.S. is behind the curve on using telemedicine. In the developing world, doctors have been doing X-ray consults via smartphone for years and the Native Health Service in Alaska has been using a form of telemedicine since the 1970s, when the NHS provided satellite hookups to every remote clinic in a Native village.

In North Carolina, telemedicine remains a health care resource that’s been underutilized. But it looks as if that might be changing. A telepsychiatry program is in the process of scaling up statewide after a successful pilot. More hospitals and more providers are getting wired to do things like stroke care from a distance, and the costs of getting set up are coming down.

But there are still roadblocks to widespread acceptance by physicians. That’s why telehealth leaders were at the North Carolina legislature last month – to ask for some help.

07/28/2015 at 9:55pm

All photos by John Tully Trip with Libby and Catherine to Cannon Mountain in Franconia, NH. Clouds covered everything south of Franconia Notch. The notch was socked in with clouds.

Photographer John Tully moved around a lot growing up. As the child of a military family, Tully lived in five different states before entering college.  These frequent moves meant that Tully often felt like an outsider, never fitting in to the communities he’d inevitably leave.  His series Smalltown Landscapes explores what Tully imagines his life might have been like if he’d grown up in one place.


Cleaning the roller coaster at Santa's Village. Jefferson, New Hampshire. 2011.


Daily Yonder: Where did you grow up? Tell us a little bit about your background.

John Tully: If I could, I’d say I’m from Bethlehem, New Hampshire, in the heart of the White Mountains. That is always the constant place where I return throughout my life. It’s a small town with a blinking light at the intersection with roads that lead on to mountains, to forests and rivers, and to so many memories. I guess a more accurate answer is I am a "military brat." But that’s kind of like writing off a lot of transitions that have shaped my life to this point. That’s the abbreviated version. I’m not sure where I’m from so much as where I’ve lived: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, Hawaii, California, back to Virginia, college in Missouri, Denmark, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Michigan and New Hampshire.


Swimming hole on the Ammonoosuc River. Twin Mountain, New Hampshire. 2013.


DY: Where do you live now?

JT: I live about a mile from the ocean on the shifting sands of the Outer Banks in North Carolina. For those who are unfamiliar, the Outer Banks is a chain of barrier islands on the eastern coast of North Carolina. We moved here a year ago after I got laid off from a newspaper and my girlfriend and I were ready to make some changes while quietly focusing on photography.


In partnership with the Canterbury Historical Society, Canterbury Elementary School students spend a day at the one-room school house in the town center. Students were encouraged to dress similarly to the time period. During recess, they played games from 1800's. The one room school house in Canterbury was built in 1844 and was last used in 1955.


DM: When did you first start taking pictures?

JT: I started with photography back in high school. In English class we had a project to shadow someone at a profession we thought was interesting. Photography seemed like a way I could experience the world so I wrote to a few publications in the D.C. area. My local newspaper was the one to extend an invitation. I was 14 at the time and they invited me to keep going back, so I did. When I got my license I was on my own covering assignments. I look back at my introduction being more about learning the technical, composition, light, instead of learning people.

My perception of photography has almost done a 180 since. I went through a phase where I thought photography could make a difference and that there was a definitive truth. Like so many others, I followed a path set by people before me: go to college, study journalism, do internships, enter contests, do workshops, learn, graduate, work at small newspapers, cut my teeth, move up. Routine. Security. Predictability. So I thought. Back then, my ultimate goal was to be a foreign correspondent. The world has changed. I have changed. I graduated college in 2008 right when newspaper layoffs were becoming rampant across the industry. I managed to dodge them for about five years.


07/27/2015 at 10:22pm

Frank Farrington’s Community Development, published a century ago, is recognized as the first book to use the term in its title.

It’s safe to say that whenever you have a group of humans living together in a place, you have some sort of community development going on. For most of our human existence, however, we never called it that.

History tells us that early colonists of the budding United States practiced various forms of community building, such as establishing governments, schools, libraries, and churches, building markets and roads, and even trying to attract businesses. During the 19th century, village improvement and beautification movements emerged, especially in the Northeast.

Shortly after Theodore Roosevelt’s Report of the Country Life Commission of 1909, interest in the idea of community began to emerge. Rural sociologists Dwight Sanderson and Robert A. Polson, in their 1937 book, Rural Community Organization, note that in the Readers’ Guide, almost no references to community are found before 1910, but in the next five years, the topic began to become something of a fad in both rural and urban areas. The first mention of community development in a book title can be traced to Frank Farrington’s Community Development: Making the Small Town a Better Place to Live in and a Better Place in Which to Do Business, published in 1915.

Farrington’s century-old approach to community development focuses on starting a business man’s group to do community projects. It is a virile (a word popular at the time), mostly top-down approach to men’s business. The village improvement society, led by women, is the handmaiden of the business group, important, but secondary to building wealth.

07/26/2015 at 8:47pm

Daily Yonder illustration If only farmers had technology like this.

“Is that gonna help you grow more corn?”

He was talking about my new 1985 model MS DOS 186 desktop computer.

He sniffed at my computer because of all the hype surrounding computers back then, and the fact that people can be sold a bill of goods only to learn later there’s more to it than that.

The computer helped me do things I was already doing – like bookkeeping and word processing – only faster.

But it didn’t make me a better farmer.

Times have changed since then. Unfortunately a lot of other things haven’t. Today’s mobile phones are more powerful than my first computer. Most of the farm tractors and trucks I own won’t run without their electronic brains. But while electronics play an almost irreplaceable part in modern-day farming, production basics all begin with the simple act of placing seed in soil.

Though not as fast, I can still do that with my bare hands.

About 10 years after my first computer was built, technology came to seeds in the form of genetic modification. Most farmers were quicker to adopt technology in their plants than in their tractor cabs. Like farm equipment, seeds all start out with a few basic components the origin of which go back to basics.

Corn is still corn and horsepower is still horsepower.

Though losses could be unpredictable due to weather or other circumstances, farmers saw value in plant modification immediately when ears of corn ceased being sheared from the stalks by little larvae called European corn borers. As borers ate, ears fell to the ground, gone to all but scavenging livestock because no farm machine built to date can collect them.

Technology has come only so far.

GMO corn killed corn borers with their first nibble, before they could bore through ear shanks. The trade off in that came with tech fees paid to patent holding seed companies, and the transfer of a unique protein, borrowed from a certain bacteria that ate through the gut of corn borers as they ate through the corn.

07/24/2015 at 7:32am

Photo by Vermont Bioenergy Initiative John Williamson, the owner and operator of State Line Farm Biofuels in Shaftsbury, Vermont, began processing his own biofuel in 2004 by experimenting with sunflowers, canola, mustard and flax seed.

Now he’s helping other farmers in his region make the transition to biofuel by sharing his knowledge and production capacity. Instead of producing just his own fuel, he’s helping others with biofuel production services.

He says his facility is “like a train that people can get on and off at any point along the process – at any station.”

State Line Biofuels operates a 300-gallon batch oilseed biodiesel production facility, providing biofuel and livestock meal for on-farm use. When he’s not processing his own biofuels, he offers various services that go into making different forms of biofuel. One farmer may take seeds to State Line to be cleaned, dried, or pressed. Someone else might want to convert used cooking oil into biodiesel. This open model creates more opportunities to do business and to diversity his income.

State Line Farm Biofuels provides combine (harvesting) services to nearby farms such as Clear Brook Farm and True Love Farm. They have even helped to harvest pennycress, an experimental oilseed crop for Tiashoke Farm in Easton, New York.

State Line presses oilseeds for each of these farms as well as Lawes Ag in Brandon, Vermont, and Wood’s Market Garden in Brandon, Vermont. Williamson also receives unique pressing requests for smaller scale producers, including soybeans for a sheep farm in Massachusetts and safflower for a cosmetics company in New York City.  The biodiesel processing equipment is used to make fuel for most of these and several other farms and also presses oil for food products.

State Line Farm Biofuels strives for a closed-loop system, meaning that all inputs are sourced from the farm and all outputs are recycled into the process or elsewhere on the farm. “We take a long view on biofuels while remembering simplicity, re-use and self-sustenance have a long history on Vermont farms,” Williamson said. “A hundred years ago all farms were growing their own fuel.”