Mtn. Talk: Firestarters
More than 50 million people call rural America home and millions more have roots there. It is a key part of the American story yet often left out. The National Rural Assembly, coordinated by the Center for Rural Strategies in Whitesburg KY and Knoxville TN, is a movement of people and organizations that believe rural America must be included in conversations about how we will feed, fuel, and enrich our nation going forward. The 2018 Assembly, hosted in Durham, NC, brought together 177 participants from 35 states who are working to achieve healthier, more sustainable and just rural communities while taking on the challenges and barriers that often stand in the way.
In this episode we hear from seven “Firestarters,” who kicked off the conference with their personal stories about the important and often courageous work they do to address issues in rural America.
The Firestarters include:
Liz Shaw, is the founder of the Citizen’s Connectivity Committee in southeastern Ohio. She started standing up for what she thought was right in high school. Most recently this grandmother has taken up the fight to bring broadband to rural Appalachia.
Magaly Licolli, is executive director of the Northwest Arkansas Workers Justice Center, which works on labor issues with the immigrant community, especially poultry workers.
David Toland, is the first CEO of Thrive Allen County, a nonprofit working to improve quality of life and economic conditions in Allen County, Kansas which has a population of 13,000. David started his presentation waving an empty pickle jar.
Joe Marshall, is the Founder and Executive Director of The Warrior Institute in northern California. Joe is a certified CrossFit instructor, whitewater guide, farmer, and Cultural Connections Teacher at Hoopa Valley high school.
Ashley Hanson’s organization, PlaceBase Productions in Grand Rapids, Minnesota uses town-square theater, karaoke, bonfires and musicals to bring communities together and address civic problems
Anita Earls, is the founder of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a North Carolina-based civil rights group that partners with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities in the South to defend and advance their political, social, and economic rights. Earls is currently a candidate for North Carolina Supreme Court,
Diana Oestreich is an Iraq War medic, and she spoke about how that experience informs her effort to help families in Iraq and Syria rebuild from war through the Preemptive Love Project.