In recent weeks, I’ve been on the hunt for a new home.

I’ve learned a lot as an aspiring first-time homebuyer, but I’ve got to come clean, Daily Yonder readers: the houses I’ve been touring, making offers on, and imagining as my own are not in a rural zip code.

In my time working for the Daily Yonder team, this has periodically weighed on my mind. What an imposter or fraud I must be to do this work – and write this note – from a city!?

I don’t know if I’ll ever completely shake that feeling. But here are some things that I do know:

  • Working for the Yonder has kept me connected with the rural people and places that have made me who I am today. Maybe you read the Yonder to stay in touch with your rural connections too. Early on in my career, I couldn’t fathom how the small town where I was born and raised could play a role in my professional journey. Today, my work at the Yonder gives me the opportunity to regularly celebrate my rural roots and draw upon them as a source of power and purpose.
  • My colleagues at the Yonder, most of whom do reside in rural zip codes, don’t hold my dual geographic identity against me. They are committed to building a broad, welcoming community of people invested in building a bright future for rural places, regardless of where they come from. Our work depends on connecting rural and urban, and everything in between, and communicating how we all depend upon one another.
  • Perhaps most importantly, the work of the Daily Yonder has helped me stay rooted in values and principles that transcend geography and the words we use to define it. As I begin striving to build a life around that house I’m seeking, the Yonder has kept me focused on the things that matter most: a meaningful existence focused on community, participation, and shared purpose, rather than the unending pursuit of personal plaudits, prominence, and material gain. Those lessons shine through no matter where you live or where you go.

Finally, I know it’s been a challenging year for all of us. My heart is heavy at the knowledge that I won’t be traveling north this Thanksgiving week to return to those rural places that will always be my first, most formative home. But amid everything we’ve sacrificed and lost in recent days, I am ever more thankful for the work of the Daily Yonder, and the sense of home its stories provide.

If you, like me, are a proud and thankful reader of the Daily Yonder whose zip code isn’t necessarily rural, I encourage you to make a contribution today. Our end-of-year NewsMatch campaign continues, meaning your donation can go twice as far until December 31.

Wherever you call home, thanks for reading and carving out a seat at the table for us. I’m grateful to be part of this community of people “Keeping It Rural” in all our smallest towns, biggest cities, and beyond.


Your contribution is appreciated.

Contributions from individuals are eligible to be matched up to $5,000 per individual from November 1 to December 31, 2020, to a combined total of $11,500. The Daily Yonder is a project of the Center for Rural Strategies, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Gifts may be tax deductible; consult your tax adviser for more information.