Rethinking Rural is a national network of millennials dedicated to creating resiliently vibrant communities. Rural is integral to the economic, social, and environmental health of our planet, and millennials are positioned to usher in positive change while celebrating rural life.
How We Work
In March 2018 Rethinking Rural (RR) invited 50 rural millennials nationally from multiple sectors to a 2.5 day symposium in Port Townsend, Washington. The purpose was to begin a conversation about what problems these rural leaders face in their communities, what they need to make positive change, and how a network of other young leaders could help them achieve their goals. The focus was on sharing best practices and profiling what communities are doing well that can be used as models for others. By working together towards economic resiliency and community vibrancy in multiple rural areas around the country, we can create a more unified and amplified rural voice, led by a new generation of community and elected leaders. In 2019 we joined together with The Rural Assembly to strengthen and complement each other’s efforts in to support rural communities.
At the event, leaders were able to network around their own projects and make connections that have endured post symposium. Since then, we have conducted interviews with our participants to determine future priorities and next steps. That led us to the creation of our four-year plan which includes three more symposiums, led by past participants in their own communities, focused around specific issues and goals: Nauvoo, Alabama in 2020; Indigenous Tribes, held in the Pacific Northwest in 2021; and another based on preceding events in 2022. These will be place-based events grounded in the cultures and environments they serve.
RR provides the framework, support, and network for symposiums, but also works with symposium leaders to develop performance metrics to measure success appropriately for the issues. We have and will continue to fuel and support our network through social media, monthly newsletters, and participation in projects and events led by network members.
RR is focused on engaging millennial leaders in primarily small rural communities with populations under 25,000. While the millennial generation is our focus we also rely on mentors and passing on wisdom from the generations before us and to the generations to come.