Happy New Year’s Eve, friends. As we bid adieu to this challenging and historic year, our team is celebrating some of the Rural Assembly’s best moments of the year – the conversations, writing, and performances that gave us hope, comfort, and courage.
Prairie Rose Seminole: Hope & Caution
I want to go to the before times… before grabbing a beer with a pal was social disobedience, before the only way I saw our kids was on a video call, before so many friends lost their jobs and businesses, and before hundreds of thousands of Americans died. The post with Prairie Rose Seminole from early February brought back her powerful speaking at the Rural Women’s Summit and strikes the right balance between hope and caution.” — Marty Newell, Chief Operating Officer, Center for Rural Strategies
Kyshona Armstrong: More in Common
It was easier than ever to feel our divides in 2020. The space between us weighed heavily on the heart and mind. On the one hand, there were the ways we stayed physically isolated and apart to keep one other safe. On the other, there were the deeper cultural differences in how we responded to the coronavirus pandemic, cries for racial justice, and an unprecedented kind of presidential election. When Kyshona Armstrong kicked off day four of Rural Assembly Everywhere with a performance of her song “More In Common,” it gave me so much of what I needed this year (and some genuine goosebumps to boot). It offered a reminder about the power of live music and the performing arts, and it renewed my hope that we can come together and bridge our divides, so long as we don’t despair. – Adam Giorgi, Director of Digital Strategy, Center for Rural Strategies
Pádraig Ó Tuama: A voice of peace
The interview the Rural Assembly’s Whitney Kimball Coe conducted with Pádraig Ó Tuama made a lasting impression on us.
“It’s hard to put into words sometimes, but there are people you meet, or hear talking, and they bring you a sense of peace, or hope. They seem to be able to slow down the very rotation of the world, making you sit down, even relax. I found that in the conversation with Pádraig Ó Tuama and it’s the one that stayed with me.” — Jan Pytalski, Associate Editor for The Daily Yonder
“When we’re doing our daily work in life, we tend to bore straight ahead. A great poet takes a look from the side, or behind us, and helps us all understand better the world around us and the work we do. I felt lucky to be listening to that interview, and I feel luckier still to have it tucked away in my memory.” — Chris Poore, Rural Assembly marketing coordinator
Rural Assembly Everywhere: Old & New
Rural Assembly Everywhere was a great chance for me to see and hear from some old pals like former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius and Danielle Allen, who is now thinking about running for governor of Massachusetts. But I also felt like I made a new friend listening to Whitney’s conversation with Irish poet Padraig O’Tuama. – Dee Davis, President of Center for Rural Strategies
Jackson: Covid, BLM, & the Mississippi flag
There were so many lovely, moving moments from the past year. One that stands out for me was the conversation between EB Blakney and Senator Robert Jackson. It took a close look at how the pandemic has affected communities of color, the Black Lives Matter movement, including the work of Rep. John Lewis, and the replacement of the Mississippi state flag. There was no other media that captured and connected all those stories like the Rural Assembly and Daily Yonder did.” — Teresa Collins, Operations Coordinator, Center for Rural Strategies
Broadband problems and possibilities
2020 was the year we saw the full implications of rural America’s expensive and inadequate broadband. The Rural Assembly’s broadband panel showed us the problem and possible solutions. — Tim Marema, Editor, The Daily Yonder
Poets, dancers, singers and more
“My favorite thing was all the interstitial videos at Rural Assembly Everywhere that gave a platform to voices that are rarely heard.” —Joel Cohen, Rural Assembly multimedia coordinator. Enjoy this performance from Becky Hill and Rui Fu and catch up on many other short readings and performances interspersed throughout our Rural Everywhere videos.