An extraordinary set of Library of Congress field recordings from the 1930s and ‘40s captured the depth and breadth of American folk music. Folklorist and musician Stephen Wade revisits the South to tell 13 stories of the artists who helped define American identity while remaining virtually anonymous themselves.
Five years ago at his grandmother’s funeral, Matthew Fluharty reflected on the value of rural culture and what he might do to help promote and enliven it. Today, the “Art of the Rural” project relaunches its online work with a more powerful website and bigger ambitions.
The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed lowering the renewable fuel standard (RFS) for 2014. The change threatens to undo the progress we’ve made in decreasing dependence on foreign oil and slowing the emission of carbon dioxide, says Richard Oswald.
Problems with the website aren’t helping, but the worst impediment to healthcare reform for some may be fear of dealing with the medical system, writes a former healthcare “navigator.” Marina Sáenz Luna explains how rural communities like those in the Rio Grande Valley can lead the way in helping folks get covered and get well.
Deliver the taste of homemade chocolate-chip-and-raisin cookies to your holiday celebration with a gift to the Daily Yonder’s fundraiser campaign.
Who doesn't like cookies? Nothing says “I care” like a donation to the Daily Yonder’s online fundraising campaign. Unless it’s a batch of homemade cookies.
You can combine the two in this one-of-a-kind premium offered by our friend Amy Sterndale of Durham, New Hampshire.
Amy will bake you two dozen chocolate-chip-and-raisin cookies, in exchange for your donation to the Yonder. The cookies are reportedly extra gooey with a generous helping of chocolate chips, raisins and a super-special-secret-ingredient (don’t worry – it’s not a mind altering substance, and it’s perfectly legal in the United States and its territories, as far as we know).
If you live within an hour of Amy’s doorstep, she’ll deliver them to you. If you live farther away, she’ll wrap them with care and send them along straightaway.
This cookie goodness can be yours for a donation of $75 or more. Just put “Amy’s Cookies” in the premium line when you make your donation online.
If you’d prefer to give over the phone or by check, here’s how.
The only question we have is how many cookies Amy will need to bake to have enough to send 24 of them to another household – always a delicious dilemma with holiday baking.
Rural California counties seek in-lieu-of-taxes payments from state • Anti-federal-government sentiment spilling over into local and state government opinions, Idaho’s lieutenant governor says •RCAC looks for notable rural volunteers.
Photo by Cristina JanneyShayna Smith, right and Andrea Jergens, left, RNs at Mercy Hospital in Moundridge, Kan., view patient information at the hospitals nurses’ station. The photo illustrated a Gatehouse News Service story on the impact of the Affordable Care Act on rural hospitals. A common thread in the coverage of ACA’s impact is that rural health-care providers in states that refuse to expand Medicaid are going to have a tougher time than states that chose to expand Medicaid.
Rural California Counties Want State to Resume Payments. Now that California is projecting better days for the state budget, rural leaders want the Department of Fish and Wildlife to make good on money they owe counties with large state wildlife management areas.
The state owes 36 California counties more than $17 million for “payments in lieu of taxes.” This is for a program that compensates counties that have large chunks of land taken out of the tax rolls by the establishment of wildlife management areas.
The state has failed to make the payments for more than a decade.
“We look forward to receiving these long past due payments that are so critical to helping fund local programs, operations, and improvements,” said Nate Beason, a Nevada County supervisor who is part of the Rural County Representatives of California. That group is pushing the state to get up to date on payments and resume annual funding of the program.
“I'm used to living in the shadows,” said Paul Boyer, gazing at photos of himself that would eventually be displayed in public.
Paul was a participant in the Faces of Mental Health Recovery (FoMHR) project in Perry County, Pennsylvania. He spent more than 10 years in a state hospital for mental illness. His long road to recovery started with meeting Bill McHenry, the coordinator of a local Fairweather Lodge, which is a place where people with mental illness share housing and run a business together.
By participating in the FoMHR project, Paul would be moving out of the shadows in a big way: his 21-inch by 32-inch portrait would be hung from the porch of an arts council building in Newport, Pennsylvania. Displayed with eight other portraits of people in recovery from mental illness and their supporters (like Bill), these photos would declare the subjects to be the evidence that mental health recovery can and does happen.
All photos courtesy of I'm the Evidence/Mental Health CampaignJasmine Colbert (Perry County Council of the Arts creative programs director), Bill McHenry, Brendan Bayer, Leah Clouser, Shelley Bishop, Todd Stephens, Paul Boyer and Nikki Miller display some of the images that hung from the porch awnings at Landis House in the Faces of Mental Health Recovery art exhibit.
“It's important for people to hear about your difficulties, but it's even more important to hear about the possibilities,” said Shelley Bishop, my FoMHR co-leader, during the photography workshop that constituted the first stage of the project.
Support the Daily Yonder’s service to rural America and get a little something in return. It’s the 2014 Daily Yonder online fundraising campaign.
Sam shows off the Daily Yonder long-sleeved T-shirt, which is one the premiums available for a $100 donation. It’s getting to be the season for giving – and getting.
The Daily Yonder would like to help you do a little of both during our online fundraising campaign.
Give a tax-deductible gift to support the Daily Yonder’s coverage of rural news. And in return, you can get one of our nice little thank yous. There’s a bunch to choose from.
Sam (shown in the photo here) would like you to take a look at our long-sleeved T-shirt. (Sam is the son of our office manager, Teresa Collins. He’s a fourth grader. When he’s not modeling T-shirts, he likes archery and is on his school’s academic team.)
For a gift of $100, the T-shirt can be yours, just in time for those cold December days when a long-sleeved shirt can make all the difference.
Any gift of $25 and up receives a bumper sticker and a packet of seeds. And all gifts receive our thanks and mention in our list of donors. We think you’ll find the names on that list to be good company to keep. (The list is in the right-hand column on this page.)
Thanks for reading, and thanks for supporting the Daily Yonder’s mission of service to the people and institutions that care about rural America.
Congress will likely adjourn without a new farm bill • USDA will make loans for expanding mental health and addiction facilities • Worker and consumer safety concerns grow over “fast-track” meat inspections • TV ads perpetuate rural misinformation.
Dairy farmer Randy Lewis of Alamance County, North Carolina, hopes to preserve his farm – and the barn dance his family has helped produce for nearly five decades. Filmmaker Ted Richardson and Jason Arthurs are documenting Lewis’ work and play in the film “The Last Barn Dance.” Learn more here.
Farm Bill – Another Holiday Passes without One. Congress will adjourn for the holidays without passing a farm bill, reports Politico. Negotiators say they are optimistic on reaching a deal between House and Senate versions of the ag bill in January.
If this sounds familiar, we’ve heard a similar statement going all the way back to Independence Day. Congress has been trying (and failing) to pass a new farm bill since June.
Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) downplays concerns that delaying passage until after the New Year will create turmoil in milk prices, David Rogers reports:
The one constant is a continued fear of disruptions in the milk markets if there is no extension and the current dairy program is allowed to expire at New Year’s. But Stabenow said that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had assured the negotiators — in a phone call Tuesday — that there would be no reason for milk prices to spike if a farm bill can be put in place quickly in January. And that would be her goal.
Previously the sticking point in a new farm bill has been the House’s proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). But Rogers reports now that the conversation has shifted to technical considerations in the crop insurance program.
The Fargo Post reports that House and Senate negotiators have reached an agreement on SNAP cuts. U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota) says the cuts are closer to the Senate’s proposed $4 billion level than the House’s $40 billion in proposed cuts. He didn’t give a specific number. But Peterson said the cuts will still be a sticking point when the compromise legislation goes up for a vote in both chambers.
Loans for Rural Mental Health Facilities. USDA will make $50 million in loans available to rural health clinics that want to expand mental health services, Vice President Joe Biden announced yesterday.
Another $50 million from U.S. Health and Human Services will go to community health centers to expand treatment for people with mental health and addiction problems.
The White House announcement coincides with the first anniversary of the school shootings inflicted by a mentally disturbed person in Newtown, Connecticut.
A handful of corporations control the genetically modified seeds on which U.S. production agriculture depends. These patented plants help feed the world – and raise troubling questions about who “owns” life.
Photo by Daniel Acker/BloombergA pallet of seed corn from Monsanto Company, the world’s largest seed company, is a favorite target for groups opposed to genetically modified food.
Everyone should have an apple tree to pull ripe red fruit from, just to eat it on the spot. Here on the farm outside of Langdon, when I was growing up, we had more than apples. There were pears, peaches, cherries, strawberries, rhubarb... gooseberries, too.
We ate fresh picked food for free.
Under today's laws if someone had placed a foreign gene, different DNA, into the apple tree and patented it (as a Genetically Modified Organism--GMO), the fruit would no longer have been free.
That's because patent holders could demand payment before the apple was ours to eat. Selling seeds or seedlings could have cost everything we owned in infringement penalties rewarded to the patent holder by a court of law.
Consumers never pay directly for GE food. Usually its farmers who pay patent fees when they buy seed. But a few years ago in South America, when farmers refused to pay tech fees on seed, Monsanto got the right to collect a 'seed tax' at shipping ports before soybeans could be exported overseas.
Photo by Enrique Castro-Mendivil/ReutersIn 2011, Peru signed a 10-year ban on Monsanto.
Genetically modified organisms, GMOs, are the result of genetic engineering, GE, the practice of transferring DNA from one organism to another. In the United States today, most of the corn and soybeans grown are genetically engineered for resistance to certain weed killers, or to make them toxic to specific groups of insect pests. In most cases, the desired trait has been isolated, extracted from a bacteria, and inserted into cells of plants to be modified. That's how soybeans became resistant to the non-selective herbicide Glyphosate, and corn is able to kill root and stalk nibbling insects. Other GE crops have been created, like Flavr Savr tomatoes containing a freshness gene, and Golden Rice with enhanced levels of beta carotene.
Tarkio College was once the economic and cultural engine driving this Missouri community. Alumni and residents now try to maintain and restore the campus, while searching for a new role for the town’s biggest asset.
Tarkio College Alumni AssociationA volunteer repaints the campus bell. Leaders hope restoration and marketing efforts for the campus of the closed college ring in a new era for the facilities.Free to a good home: one gently used, mostly vacant, 20-building college campus on 65 acres in northwest Missouri. Fixer upper.
That’s one way to sum up present conditions at Tarkio College in Tarkio, Missouri. The liberal arts college established in 1883 by the United Presbyterian Church closed in 1992. From 1995 to 2004, the campus housed a private educational/treatment facility for adjudicated, at-risk youth.
Another way to think about Tarkio is my way, as a child of the 1970s Midwest: with the music of Brewer & Shipley and their 1970 album Tarkio. That’s the album that spawned their number one hit single, “One Toke over the Line.” But it’s the title song, with its lyrics about “trouble” while bicycling the Tarkio Road, that country-rocks through my head whenever I hear the name of the town.
Yet for others, the connection to Tarkio is both personal and pragmatic, tied to the economics and future of one small town, one small county and the former college so many both grieve and celebrate.
Ed Salmond, a local businessman, is one such. He is on the board of the non-profit Heartland Educational Institute, Inc. He was there for the lawsuit against the adjudicated school, which arose to address damages to the facility during that period. Now he wants nothing more than for the school to be in someone else’s hands.
Although mostly long-vacant since its closure more than 20 years ago, Tarkio College is still a lovely and appealing place. A pleasant and snug array of buildings arranged in a neighborhood of stately homes, which, if you don’t look too closely, all seem ready to inhabit tomorrow. The property description details the school’s attributes: “Some of the building uses include a library, dormitories, administrative offices, lecture halls, classrooms and a chapel. There are 64 beds in several dormitories. Room sizes include singles, doubles, triples and apartment-style rooms. The property is served by municipal water and sewer as well as natural gas, electric, telephone and fiber optic lines. An extensive maintenance program has kept the facilities in good condition.”
Courtesy of Linda SmithAlumni come from hundreds of miles away for work weekends to restore the campus. Here volunteers Mike Perry and Wayne Gelston work on pews in Leitch Chapel.
There have been nibbles of interest from at least 10 various trade schools and two-year colleges over the years, but Salmond said those plans have fallen short because of a “perception problem.”
“Everybody loves campus when they look at it. But most students have to have jobs when they are in college,” he said. “Our biggest problem is that there is no employment in our town for their students. The closest place where they can find employment now is in Maryville, 35 miles away.”
There are factories and other employers in Maryville, but representatives of interested colleges think that is too far for their students to drive for work.
“I try to make the comparison to a place like Kansas City, and how far you can expect to drive to get to your job in a place that size. But they can’t get past it,” Salmond said.
“The reality is, as far as I’m concerned, if we had a good prospect, we’d give them the campus. If someone would provide a good business plan and prove to us they have the financial wherewithal, we could make it happen.”