[imgcontainer] [img:Screen+Shot+2014-09-30+at+12.04.10+PM.jpg] [source]Photo by Ryan Henriksen for the New York Times[/source] Signs in support of the diverse opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline project hang at the Harvest the Hope concert in Neligh, Nebraska. [/imgcontainer]

With a coalition of farmers, ranchers, Native Americans and urban environmentalists, Nebraska has become the center of opposition to the Keystone XL project. One farmer, Art Tanderup, recently hosted a concert, Farm Aid-style, on his ranch to raise funds to fight the proposed pipeline, which would carry heavy tar-sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

“I’ve told them, ‘You’ll have to haul me out from in front of that bulldozer, because I’m going to protect this farm,’ ” said Tanderup…Their land in the rolling hills of northeast Nebraska would be directly along the pipeline route.”

Around 8,000 people showed up for the concert, called Harvest the Hope, which featured Willie Nelson and ol’ Neil Young.


Minneapolis-based photographer Alec Soth dreamed up a small town newspaper and convinced a writer friend to tag along on road trips to find stories for each issue. The paper didn’t stay a dream for long. Soth and his writer friend started publishing these papers as special edition broadsheets. The latest issue, Georgia, is the last of the series. It’s a shame, because the photos are diverse, odd, and beautiful in a way that few actual have time to produce.


There’s a battle in South Dakota, as well as the rest of the nation, against consolidated school in rural school districts, but small schools continue to close. The merging of several small schools to make a larger one makes financial sense, but what’s often lost is the feeling of family that comes with attending school in a close-knit community.

“Our kids are being punished because of where they live,” said Robert Mahaffey, communications director at the Rural School and Community Trust. “They think, ‘It’s only six kids. It doesn’t matter if we close the school,’ but it’s a huge impact.”


Marion, Ohio, calls itself the “Popcorn Capital of the World,” but ConAgra, which produces Orville Redenbacher popcorn, is closing plants in Marion and nearby Morral next month. Marion will lose 146 jobs, but the city doesn’t seem worried, since there are other makers in town, the AP reports

“It was great to have them here … but that would be like, if one car manufacturer left, it would blow the whole legacy of Detroit,” said Kenneth Lengieza, planning director for the Marion City/County Regional Planning Commission.


NPR brings us a story about the Age of the City. Astrophysicist Adam Frank reports on research that explores how nature is adapting to the presence of cities, how rural and urban areas are interconnected, and how we can design nature into cities. Frank also refers to rural areas as “dark spaces,” a reference to the iconic “America at night” satellite image. It’s an evocative label, but, to our eyes, a bit condescending.

— Shawn Poynter


Forbes Magazine looks at two trends in the state of rural healthcare that could have a positive effect on rural residents:  using the Internet for health services and a wellness-based compensation model.


Early registration ends today (Tuesday) for the Virginia Rural Center’s Governor’s Summit on Rural Prosperity. The November 18-19 conference will be held in Roanoke. More information is here.

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