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Is this thing on?
Attendees at the National Rural Assembly heard from a variety of speakers and upper-level White House officials Sept. 8-10 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (photo by Shawn Poynter, The Daily Yonder)

Is this thing on?

Top 10 quotable moments from National Rural Assembly 2015

In order to be heard, rural advocates must amplify their voices through powerful, impactful statements.
At the 2015 National Rural Assembly, held Sept. 8-10 in on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., rural ideas were shared amid peers and top-ranking White House officials alike.
A focus on youth in planning the infrastructure, healthcare, education and other systems emerged as thematically important to the 160 rural advocates present.
Eloquent speakers from across the nation invoked a sense of urgency on these topics and others. Over the course of the next several days, we will more fully articulate the discussions at the Rural Assembly, by expounding on these and other memorable statements. These “top ten quotes” are listed in no particular order.
  1. “I appreciate that you put your money where you think the major issues are and problems are. Fair enough, but you know what? This is the place where the solutions are.” ~ U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, to philanthropists, on investing in rural America, versus other locations
  1. “We, as a nation, cannot afford to have our rural communities disconnected, because the fiber of this country is knitted together by every single community. And, in fact, while we have communities where populations are small, America does not have small communities. Every community matters in this country.” ~ U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx
  1. “Rural is not a smaller version of urban. It’s a place where those most in need of health care services realize health disparities.” ~ Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association, on solutions to rural hospital closures
  1. “We are constantly in that process of trying to form a more perfect union, and USDA has to be a part of this, and rural advocates have to be front and center on this, because this is a place of opportunity.” ~ U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, on USDA’s recently announced support of the LGBT community
  1. “Modernizing the internet will enable rural, poor people to apply jobs, complete scholarships for college … and, lastly, monitor our healthcare online. These are essential tools, to be able to participate in the 21st century. The internet, for rural residents, has the capacity … to dictate if there is a solid plan for our future generations. The internet has the potential to create social and economic opportunities, which can give … our youth … a reason to come back to rural America.” ~ Danielle King, Program and Research Associate for the Center for Rural Strategies
  1. “There has long been a body of research showing that the (Earned Income Tax Credit) has been incredibly successful at lifting up—economically—struggling, working families, and getting more people to go to work. The higher your wages, up to a certain point, the higher your tax credit, so it is a very powerful work incentive.” ~ Ellen Nissenbaum, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities
  1. “About half of the kids who grow up in that rural place, they’re going to end up in that small town or that county, and that half—to be perfectly candid—they’re not necessarily going to be those who have … the best education. … So, if you’re focusing on people, which are the greatest resources for the future, then invest in those kids.” ~ Doug O’Brien, Senior Advisor, White House Domestic Policy Council
  1. “Someone once said that philanthropy is the risk capital of social change, and rural America is being short-changed on social change by philanthropy.” ~ Rick Cohen, writer, consultant and columnist for The Nonprofit Quarterly, during a plenary on closing the philanthropy gap
  1. “I always want to maintain my complexities. … I never want to feel too comfortable, to be too simplified or too defined. The challenge is that it is human nature in our increasingly overwhelming society, to simplify the complexities.” ~ Anna Claussen, Director of Rural Strategies, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
  1. “You’re helping this country be extraordinarily independent.” ~ U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, to farmers
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