Rural Assembly 2015 Breakout sessions (3:00pm on Wednesday, September 9)


Getting Past Politics and Towards Solutions

 Room: Regency C

Presenter: Anna Claussen, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

 Co-presenter(s): Natasha Mortenson, Morris High School FFA Advisor and Ag Teacher; Andrew Rockway, Jefferson Center

 Description: This session will focus on the lessons from two Rural Climate Dialogues held in Minnesota. Both Dialogues spurred local climate change action plans, despite diverse beliefs among participants. Community participants will be present to share their experiences and outcomes. Through a simulation exercise, attendees will participate in the process of group deliberation that underlies the Rural Climate Dialogues so you can be better prepared to lead a Rural Climate Dialogue in your community. 


 The Next Good Fight: Balanced Copyright Law for Authors, Artists & Rural Communities

 Room: Regency D

Presenter: Mimi Pickering, Appalshop   

 Co-presenter(s): Josh May, Appalshop; Carlton Turner and Kevin Roberts, Alternate ROOTS; Lateef Mtima, Professor Howard School of Law, Director of Institute for Intellectual Property & Social Justice; Peter Jaszi, Professor, American University Washington School of Law, and co-author of Reclaiming Fair Use

 Description: The Internet challenges our copyright system in ways never anticipated, and rewriting copyright law for the digital age is an issue gaining traction in Congress.  Appalshop and Alternate ROOTS will lead a conversation exploring how copyright law can be fashioned to support rural creators, traditional cultures, and community development efforts.


New Perspectives on the Role of Arts and Culture Placemaking for Rural Development

 Room: Concord

Presenter: Savannah Barrett, Art of the Rural

 Co-presenter(s): Judi Jennings, retired, formerly: Kentucky Foundation for Women, Arts and Social Justice Funders Network, University of Louisville Women’s Center, and Appalshop;  Charles Fluharty, the Rural Policy Research Institute, RUPRI; Chris Beck, Senior Projects Advisor, USDA Rural Development; Shavaun Evans, Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition & Steering Committee Member, Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange; Cynthia Nitkin, Senior Vice President, Project for Public Spaces and CIRD; Bob Reeder, Program Director, Rural LISC; Nick Tilsen, Executive Director, Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation

Description: This session will feature a panel of cross-sector leaders sharing new perspectives on rural creative placemaking. We will frame a conversation on the centrality of arts and culture placemaking to rural communities with a brief introduction that opens into responses from the panelists.


Education and the Rural Economy

 Room: Lexington

Presenter: John White, national consultant, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach U.S. Department of Education (2009-2013)

Co-presenter(s):

Robert Mahaffey, President, Organizations Concerned about Rural Education (OCRE), and communications director at the Rural School and Community Trust, will discuss the implications of national education policy for rural schools, including e-rate and the need for broadband Internet expansion to give schools modern tools for learning.

Barbara Ludlow, National Coordinator for the American Council on Rural Special Education and Chair of the Department of Special Education at West Virginia University, will discuss what is needed to ensure students with special needs have successful transitions from high school to careers regardless of where they live.

John Carter, superintendent, Howard-Winneshiek Community Schools, Cresco, Iowa, is an advocate for using technology to enhance education so that students and teachers move away from static education practices and into forward thinking, 21st Century learning. Superintendent Carver participated in the first National Connected Superintendents Summit last year at the White House to share promising approaches to using digital tools for preparing students for success in future careers.

Yajaira Rivera, National Youth Assembly participant providing the youth voice in this conversation about the need to connect rural education to economic opportunity.

Description: Education and the economy are inextricably linked and improving both is the rural imperative — a critical challenge facing our nation. Four speakers will address the need to connect education, innovation and job creation in small towns and rural areas regardless of students’ backgrounds or current economic conditions.


Leadership Engagement and The Arts as Tools to Build Inclusive Rural Communities: A Cross-Community Perspective

 Room: Bunker Hill

Presenter: Stephanie Tyree, Director of Community Engagement and Policy, WV Community Development Hub

Co-presenter(s): Kevin Travis, Murray-Calloway County Endowment for Health Care; Pamelia Harris, Community Service Programs of West Alabama; Ada Smith, STAY Project & Appalachian Media Institute; Kendall Bilbrey, Coordinator, STAY Project

Description: Organizations and leaders in eastern Kentucky, western Alabama and western Kentucky are using creative tools to build communities that are inclusive, that build inter-generational partnerships and that focus on identifying and developing local leaders. In eastern Kentucky, organizations like Appalshop and the STAY Project (Stay Together Appalachian Youth) are using arts programs and regional leadership engagement tools to build strong local economies and create pathways to leadership for young people from the region. In Alabama, Community Service Programs of West Alabama are using a range of creative tools to build inter-generational programs that grow young leaders. And in western Kentucky, a collaborative Kentucky Arts Council grant has created arts programming for senior citizens that has sparked dynamic local engagement and surprising leadership development in the rural county of Murray. In this session we will hear about the tools and experiences of these organizations and discuss the similar challenges and opportunities that rural communities in the south face as they focus on building young leadership, addressing inter-generational conflict and building new, growing economies in small communities.


Public Policies to Bring Reliable & Affordable Broadband Service to Rural Communities

Room: Regency B

Presenter: Danielle King, Coordinator of the Rural Broadband Policy Group

 Co-presenter(s): Robert Tse, State Broadband Coordinator for USDA California; Phillip Berenbroick, Counsel, Government Affairs, Public Knowledge

Description: In this information & conversational session, presenters will discuss three timely policy issues that help rural communities access Internet and telephone services. The facilitator will explain how rural stakeholders can participate in advocacy efforts about these issues and educate policymakers. The presenters will discuss: 1) Lifeline – a national program that helps qualifying low-income Americans to pay for telephone service and could be expanded to include Internet service, 2) Tech Transitions – how changing the technology that powers our telephones can affect the reliability of telephone service in rural communities, and 3) First Net – the first national wireless broadband network designed to help communication amongst public safety organizations and individuals that respond to emergencies.  This interactive workshop is designed to provide participants with a working knowledge of rural telecommunications issues, and includes a conversational portion that helps participants to reflect on their personal experiences and apply these issues to their work.

Slides from Robert Tse

PK-Tech Transition slides

PK-Lifeline Modernization


Research and Data: Understanding Rural America

Room: Congressional C

Presenter: Roberto Gallardo, Mississippi State University and the Daily Yonder

 Co-presenter(s): Joe Belden & Lance George, Housing Assistance Council; Mary Olson &  Helen Simpson, Tri County Rural Health Network; Jean Willoughby, Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI)

Description: Quality data and research is increasingly essential to understanding and addressing rural conditions. Accurate and timely information can also greatly enhance an organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.  The breakout session will include:

  • Interactive examples of data clearinghouses, tools, and mapping utilities geared for the nonprofit user such as HAC's Rural Data Portal
  • How Tri County has moved from researcher-initiated to community-initiated research is a process that includes under-represented minorities, moderating deliberative forums, engaging researchers, and analyzing budget equality
  • RAFI’s use of innovative (and affordable!) big data and mapping tools to identify and address rural socio-economic challenges and opportunities