We’ve Been Keeping It Rural for 100 Weeks, and I’ll Raise my Glass to 100 More

Welcome to the 100th edition of this here, Keep It Rural newsletter, friends. And whether you were one of the original 100-ish subscribers or you just signed up today, I want to say that I appreciate you all and wish you a wonderful spring afternoon. Thank you for reading my rants and commentaries, and sending me feedback. I hope you find this newsletter valuable, and that you’ve learned something new along the way. I certainly have.

The world was very different 100 weeks ago. The Covid-19 pandemic and our now ongoing coverage of it was still fairly new. While some rural communities had already been slammed by the virus, many others were still weeks or even months away from spiking local cases. Most schools were closed down, as were many retail shops, drinking establishments and restaurants, the NCAA basketball tournaments, and pretty much the entire tourism industry.

We had a very different president and a very different political reality. It was an election year. Congress was digging deep to shovel cash into the economy — giving people larger unemployment payments (a process with a lot of hiccups and delays for many) and some modest cash sums. But mostly Congress was stimulating the big corporations and private enterprise, helping a lot of them to make serious bank while we all were trying to navigate the biggest public health crisis and economic calamity of our collective lives.

Fast forward to now, and Keep It Rural/Daily Yonder fans will not be surprised that “rural residents were more likely than urban residents to report losing a job, working fewer hours, and being late with payments of rent, mortgage, and other bills,” during the pandemic, according to a recent survey conducted by the Population Association of America presented at a congressional briefing last week.  

The same survey found that “rural respondents were more likely to have tested positive for Covid-19, live with someone who tested positive, or have a close friend or family member outside their household who tested positive,” as well as being “more likely to have a family member who was hospitalized for Covid-19.” Ouch.

The pandemic has loomed large in all of our lives while we’ve pushed send every Tuesday afternoon on Keep It Rural for the past 100 weeks. And through it all, the Daily Yonder staff (particularly Digital Editor, Caroline Carlson, and Digital Strategist, Adam Giorgi) have helped me with word nerdery, formatting, recruiting, list management, kindness and various and sundry other means of support. My ballcap is tipped to them today, in a slightly northwesternish direction from my home in the North Carolina Blue Ridge toward Minnesota where they both live. (And of course to the whole Daily Yonder team, and our publisher, the Center for Rural Strategies.)

Okay. I know. Enough sap. Get on with it.

Rural Reading List

I like to think of the rural reading list as the rice-and-beans portion of the Keep It Rural newsletter. You come for the razzle-dazzle, but you stay for the sustenance.

Commentary: No One Is Coming to Help

A powerful Daily Yonder commentary from Dr. Edwin Leap, a practicing emergency physician working in small and medium-sized hospitals in South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina.

In Face of National Apathy, Local Groups Lead Rural Democratic Efforts

Keep It Rural reader and rural Massachusetts political consultant Matt Barron with some solid analysis in the Daily Yonder about Democrats upping their game in two states with millions of rural voters.

Best Days Lie Ahead for the Rural Economy

Minnesota’s state head of USDA Rural Development, Colleen Landkamer, profiling one of the hardest working agencies around. I’ve been seeing the same type of thing from state directors of Rural Development all over the country. Shout out to whoever was smart enough at USDA to put this strategy together.

Agriculture Runoff Is Leading Cause of Water Pollution in the U.S.

Informative profile on water pollution caused by agriculture in FERN’s Ag Insider. And, yes, when industrial livestock sewage and over application of rowcrop fertilizer is exempt from the Clean Water Act, this is what we get.

One More Thing: Math Nerds United for Newsletter 100

We’re throwing convention out the window for newsletter 100 because this last section isn’t rural news or culture, really. But I know lots of good rural folks who enjoy fun, and here’s the thing: sometimes I do math for fun and enjoyment. In thinking about writing 100 newsletters, I started thinking about that number itself… Anyway, here’s some math things about the number 100, with cross-references for your inevitable “what on earth does that mean” questions:

Thanks for indulging me in a bit of nostalgia and silliness today, Keep It Rural readers. And once again, I really do thank you for following along. Have a wonderful Tuesday, wherever you happen to be.

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