I was just thinking
Here is a Map of Places we have successfully written projects since 1997
View USDA Awards since 1997 in a larger map
Typical Grant Scenario with Popper Commentary mixed in:
When the county-by-county census data for the year 2000 was completed a common theme ran through rural America. This data, like the vibrant colors exploding from the masters canvas elicits emotions, paints a powerful picture of a place that has been beset by bad news. This data when analyzed, quite simply reveals
bad news for rural America:substantial population loss in rural counties, an aging demographic and
declining fertility rates, deaths vastly exceed births, schools are closing, their contents auctioned, and families are selling the farm.
As I write to you today I am somehow both optimistic and pessimistic I am both hopeful and hesitant, I am both excited and forlorn. I want to tell you about the hope for technology in regenerating rural America and I want to tell you of a theory of the Buffalo Commons a 1980’s idea generated by Dr’s Deborah Popper
and Frank Popper, who at the time were both Rutgers University. I also want to speak to you of great intellectual and human resource development and of a development resource that is dying without this project.
The hope in technologic regeneration through distance learning, telecommuting and telemedicine is brought to you by people like me. Mine is a hope that main street of my distant past located in “Ruraltown” USA can be revitalized through technological means, that the children living in this local can experience the culture and the opportunity of those larger urban areas. That people who are sick in “Ruraltown”can receive medical treatment equal to or better than that offered, again to those citizens of larger more affluent urban area.
My “Ruraltown” main street had a Sears and a Montgomery Ward catalog store, 2 grocery stores, a bowling alley, 2 car dealerships, one Ford and one Chevy, a dry cleaners, a jewler, 2 ‘mom an pop’ department stores, 2
pharmacies, one with a soda fountain where kids could come for a milk and root beer concoction, called a Missouri Mule, 2 lumber yards, 5 restaurants(not counting the bowling alley which also served up the best cheeseburger and fries you have ever eaten, 2 barbershops, a drive in theater, a sit down theater and a domino parlor. Today, only 20 years later, there are only 5 of those 27 business left.
My “Ruraltown” produced a little wheat, a few cows and some broomcorn, yes that is the stuff used in your non plastic manufactured broom,but it also provided the fertile grounds of development for human capitol
unseen in the annuals of world history. A typical pool of this human capital includes some who went on to become the Vice President of a international management consulting firm which handles multi-billionaire dollar mergers between Fortune 500 companies, Professional Football Player’s, managers of oil company cities in the oil rich mid east, Ph.D.’s in Chemistry who continue to bring America’s best ideas to the marketplace. IT managers who keep the data flowing so that many can have access to the potential we see in technology, teacher’s who love our nations kids unconditionally, mother’s who serve the greatest calling of bringing up a new generation, Maintenance men who are the first people missed in their organization when they
happen to be gone.
Technology in America today rekindles the American virtues of Independence and Hope. Not an unusual occurrence in our country as rural America has often developed human capital unseen in the annuals of the world. It has developed capital which aspires to do great things for America and which prove again and again that people can come from small places like Independence and Hope.
Every community in this project could be “Ruraltown” or Independence or Hope. This project is about combining
the unique combination of technology and small town America to ensure that the pipeline that produces our most precious and valuable product, human capital, will continue to flow.
This project is about restoring to the communities in this project, any of which could be your “Ruraltown USA” Independence and Hope. It is about a group looking at a fabled past with a vision of a feasible future.
The Poppers original plan for the plains is to restore large chunks of Plains land to their pre-white condition; to recover the commons the settlers found in the l9th century. In short, the plan calls for deprivatizing much of the Plains: fences would come down, domestic animals would be removed and game animals stocked.
Their dream is specific to that area which in short is described by them as 1) the area between the Rockies and the tallgrass prairies of the Midwest and South, the Great Plains extend over large parts of ten states, from Montana and North Dakota in the north to Texas and New Mexico in the south, and into Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta in Canada. 2) as an area producing significant quantities of cattle, wheat, cotton, sheep, coal, oil, natural gas and metals. 3) as America's steppes- -windswept, nearly treeless and largely semiarid. Their expanse is mostly rural; the region's 1990 total population of 6.5 million --barely that of Georgia-- scatters across about a sixth of the United States.
Their dream is however a metaphor which extends to might mean getting the people out of the region, encouraging their coexistence with wildlife, or promoting economic development based on wildlife. People variously interpreted the metaphor as a general assault on their way of life, an evocation of a fabled past, a vision of a feasible future, or a distillation of what they were already doing. Many Plains people intensely disliked the commons portion of the metaphor, associating it with collectivism and lack of choice, but even so the strength of their reaction helped achieve some community-building.
Link to an Article about the Poppers and the Buffalo Commons