The Impact of People and Institutions

Child poverty, rural arts and culture, philanthropy, youth initiatives – Rural Assembly sessions get participants thinking about their own communities and beyond. (Photos by Shawn Poynter)

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As the second day of the National Rural Assembly came to a close Tuesday evening, the Daily Yonder asked conference attendees to reflect on their work in light of the presentations they heard Tuesday.

Sessions included discussions on the role of philanthropy in rural work, rural child poverty, and the next generation of rural leaders.


Carlton Turner and Rachel Reynolds Luster both work to make creative spaces for artists in their regions.

Reynolds Luster, of the Oregon County Food Producers and Artisans Co-Op, founded the program to give local farmers and artists a place to sell their products and build community.

Carlton Turner is executive director of Alternate ROOTS, a Southern, member-based arts organization. The group serves as a regional and national resource for community-based artists and organizations.

“It sounds like we kind of have opposite sides of the coin in terms of the work that we’re known for,” Reynolds Luster said of her focus on a hyper-local arts organization and Turner’s work across the Southern region and beyond.  But the two talked about the rippling effect that individuals and institutions can have across communities and generations.


Robert Webb of the Rural Church Area of the Duke Endowment came to the Rural Assembly “to learn from other foundations and non-profits who are working in rural places about what it means to be inclusive and diverse in rural places, and how you go about that work.”

Webb attended the panel discussion about rural philanthropy, which included panelist Kathy Annette, CEO of Minnesota’s Blandin Foundation.

Webb and Annette sat down to talk about their respective work in regional philanthropy and discuss the day’s sessions, which included a keynote address by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. They also had ideas for rural groups seeking foundation funding.



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