Some exciting thinking about the future of rural places is going on in Nebraska.
A recent conference worked on refining ideas for the formation of the Rural Futures Institute , which is born out of the University of Nebraska system. Here is how founders of the institute describe what they are about and their mission:
Today, globalization and other unprecedented factors and trends are changing our world at an ever-increasing rate. While this presents challenges, it also creates opportunities. For example, the rapid increase in world demand for food and energy provides growth opportunities for rural communities in Nebraska and the Great Plains. To succeed, the people — rural and urban, alike — must anticipate and take advantage of constantly changing environments. Change is inevitable; progress is optional.
The Rural Futures Institute (RFI) will provide internationally recognized intellectual leadership to assist rural Nebraska and the Great Plains in creating a resilient and sustainable future building upon a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. Drawing upon the resources of the University of Nebraska system and those of its partners, the RFI will help enable rural people and places find unique paths to their desired futures.
Good stuff! I look forward to drawing upon their work and ideas in the future.
… Starting now! The have a new website  up to talk about ideas that will drive their future goals and work. It’s a really well-designed forum site—check it out for that reason alone. Better still, read one of the topics they have listed and put in your two cents. I gave it a try: The topic was “Are rural communities open to new ideas? ” and here is an excerpt from my response:
[I]t is no surprise to me that people in the Dakotas tend to be conservative in their thinking — historically, that is what has been required to survive here. The growing season is so short that there is little room for error. People watched the big risk-takers fail and move to California.
By the way, we have our own forum here at Dakotafire , where we’d also welcome your participation! We are especially looking for people to talk about their stories of homecoming . Join the conversation!