Homegrown National Security Will Be Rural

[imgbelt img=Dylan530.jpg]At the 2011 National Rural Assembly, advocates and national leaders
discussed transportation problems, leadership, and the promise
of locally produced energy.

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9:00 p.m., June 28

A message from the Rural Assembly

you can read a (brief) version of it here.  They thought the country had lost its way after the Cold War, that America was trying to impose its will through force throughout the world and that wasn’t working.

They thought the U.S. needed a new way of thinking about itself in the world, so they wrote one. It’s called “A National Strategic Narrative.”

And it has a place for rural America.

Strength in the new world wouldn’t come with force and power, they wrote. The future would be won with strength and influence. And those would come with a country that was both prosperous and secure.

The best “defense” the country can have, they write, will come with good schools. And prosperity will be built with “access to and development of renewable resources — energy, food and water,” said Col. Mykleby.

“This isn’t a gloom and doom story,” Mykleby said. “There is a huge amount of opportunity out there. And there are huge opportunities out there in rural communities.”

“We need smart growth and smart power,” Mykleby told the National Rural Assembly, “and a new energy economy and a new agriculture economy. And smart growth has everything to do with rural communities.”                                                     — Bill Bishop

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5:30 p.m., June 28

Whose Turn to Be Mayor?

Rural America has strong leaders because we get so much practice, said Nancy Straw, with the West Central Initiative in Fergus, Minnesota.

That’s no exaggeration. Straw figures that that her rural counties need one elected official for every 88 people. In the suburbs of the Twin Cities, there is one elected leader needed for 40 times that number of people.                                                           — Bill Bishop

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5:00 p.m., June 28

Technology Slam

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4:40 p.m., June 28

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4:00 p.m., June 28

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3:20 p.m., June 28

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1:30 p.m., June 28

[imgcontainer left] [img:colleenv320.jpg] [source]Alex Bloedel

Colleen Landkamer, who directs Minnesota’s USDA Rural Development, told the Midwest Rural Assembly that rural innovators must find ways to get their ideas before the public.

Midwest Rural Assembly: Sustainability and Innovation in Rural Communities

“Our hope is to focus us first,” said Jim Kleinschmit to some fifty community advocates and policy-makers present at
the Midwest Rural Assembly’s first group meeting. Kleinschmit directs the
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s (IATP) Rural Communities
program. “As important as it is
to be part of these national groups, [those of us from the Midwest need
to] share stories among ourselves,” he said.

The regional group session focused on top-down policy issues such as
entrepreneurship, infrastructure, and sustainable development.

Primary
speaker and discussion leader Colleen Landkamer was appointed as
Minnesota State Director for USDA Rural Development by President Obama
in 2009, though she has worked in rural policy and advocacy for two
decades.

Since July 2009, just after her USDA appointment, Landkamer has worked
to invest $2.9 million in rural Minnesota in diverse areas including
infrastructure, housing, and job creation.

In the spirit of much of the discussion, Landkamer called for “creative,
out-of-the-box thinking,” citing a need for “being creative with how we
build our businesses in rural America [and] how we look at
infrastructure.”

Emphasis was placed on increased visibility of rural issues and
injecting this innovative thinking, a heavy dose of it, into policy
discourse. “I see great minds in this room. [The answers generated here]
cannot stay in this room. [We can have] great conversations, great
ideas, but it’s got to permeate out,” Landkamer said to the group.

To that end, Landkamer was highly enthusiastic when asked about
President Obama’s White House Rural Council, established recently on June 9. “[I’m] really excited about the rural
cabinet,” she said. “We’ve never had a president who has taken a stand
like that. I see [its establishment] as a huge opportunity, and it’s an
opportunity we can’t afford to lose. The more buzz there is about it,
the better off we are.”

After the introductory speech and several participant comments, the
larger group broke down into smaller topic-specific discussions among
those at each table. Issues addressed there included a call for
forward-thinking, structural changes in agriculture and food production
made by Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, Program Director of the Main Street
Project’s Rural Enterprise Center,

the non-partisan 501(3)(c) arm of the League of Rural Voters.       — Alex Bloedel

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Daily Yonder’s Bill Bishop, Alex Bloedel and Shawn Poynter
covered the three days of the National Rural Assembly in St. Paul, MN, a
gathering of 300 rural advocates and national leaders
June 28-30. Check the
following links for all the posts from
Tuesday, Wednesday morning, Wednesday afternoon, and from Thursday morning here and here.

Also, Center for Rural Strategies has compiled a library of
up-to-date materials on rural transportation, youth, broadband, native
nations, education, environmental justice, and more. Find those papers here.

A message from the Rural Assembly

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