“Our Time Is Now” is a “coming-of-age documentary following six rural New Mexican teenagers as they strive to finish high school, wrestle with personal challenges, and pursue their dreams.” The documentary is airing in various public television markets around the United States. It was produced by Littleglobe, a New Mexico arts nonprofit. The filmmakers created the  documentary in collaboration with students in eight high schools, who participated in filmmaking and storytelling workshops, screenings and discussions. A list of scheduled broadcasts around the country can be found here.

Closure’s Impact on Rural Housing. The gap in funding for rental assistance to rural, low-income residents, coupled with cuts in rural housing programs in last year’s sequestration measures, is creating uncertainty in the rural housing market.

“It’s a complicated structure: if you pull out one piece, the whole thing can fall down,” reports Kirk Kardashian in a post in the New Yorker website.

With the feds shut down, families that normally get rental assistance are on their own. There’s also a lapse in mortgage guarantees and direct lending from USDA (which Joe Belden covered here). And then, because of sequestration cuts from last year, USDA was already starting to run out of funding to help with rental programs for low-income residents.

It’s a thoughtful and welcome commentary, using for an example rural housing programs in nearby Vermont.  We’d love to see some more like this from the New Yorker.

.. And on the South Dakota Cattle Disaster. The federal government shutdown is complicating relief efforts in South Dakota, where tens of thousands of head of cattle were killed in blizzards more than a week ago.

The New York Times has a story in today’s edition:

“…While state and county agencies have helped clear roadsides and have provided burial pits, the federal government shutdown has only complicated the crisis. … Ranchers looking for guidance on how to document their losses with the federal Farm Service Agency, whose workers have been furloughed, are, as some here say, “plumb out of luck.” And the stalling of a farm bill in Congress has left many families skeptical about whether disaster relief will ever come.”

The Daily Yonder reported last week on the lapse of USDA programs that help protect ranchers from catastrophic livestock losses.

S.D. Catholic Church Merging Rural Congregations. The Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is planning to merge some parishes in rural areas, the diocese’s bishop has announced. The changes are the result of declining attendance, priest retirements and the loss of religious orders that provide clergy. The Argus Leader reports that no churches are likely to be closed but that regular services might be forestalled in some areas.

The changes will occur sometime next year. The diocese, which covers all Catholic churches east of the Missouri River in South Dakota, has been helping local congregations plan for the changes since 2009. “All the parishes developed an advisory plan for what to do if their populations became too small or if there were too few priests or ministers to serve them,” the Argus Leader says.

Discussion of Hunger in Iowa Part of Food Prize Events. More than one in four Iowans has gone through a period without regular access to food, an AARP public opinion survey reports. The poll was released as world leaders gather for World Food Prize Week in Des Moines. The Food Prize was established in 1986 by Iowa native and Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug. 

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