As one NeighborWorks executive director quipped, "New rural America? What's wrong with the old rural America?"
We all like the old rural America. But as the Kellogg Foundation's recent series, Perceptions of Rural America, amply illustrates, our perceptions are outdated. All too often we allow fond memories and impressions passed down for generations to cloud our ability to see not only what is truly happening in rural America but what can happen.
In a very real sense this symposium was not about "out with the old and in with the new" but rather "here is a clarion call to recognize and encourage innovation so that what we all truly value in rural America can be preserved." Over 150 participants from 35 states, the District of Colombia, Indian Country and Puerto Rico, all engaged their colleagues and themselves in a series of lively discussions about the new rural America on December 10 in San Francisco.
The true value of any Symposium may rest not so much in the degree to which participants are stimulated in the moment, but the degree to which the content of the day adds value to the community development field over time. In that spirit, we offer this synopsis of the day. We are deliberately not trying to capture every stray thought but, rather, highlight those elements that are most likely to draw you into further inquiry.