I recently traveled to Port Townsend, Washington to attend the first Rethinking Rural symposium with 49 other millennial rural leaders from around the country. The “why” of the conference was to encourage a network of rural leaders that will push forth an agenda of growth and investment while remaining true to what makes rural communities special, unique and resilient. I was the only representative in the arts and spoke to the power of the arts to transform and be an economic driver for rural communities.

At the conference we considered:

  • The natural bounty of rural and its impact on place
  • Encouraging community diversity and minority engagement
  • Empowering the next generation of rural leadership by encouraging rural youth to invest time and energy in their home communities

Those of us who live and work in rural places know they matter – together we can work collectively on shared problems and lift all of our communities through a unified voice.

Rethinking Rural was the first step in a larger vision to create a network of impassioned and involved young rural leaders that will be guiding our small communities into a resilient and bright future.

‒ Juta Geurtsen, Community Development Director