People look through the wreckage of their neighborhood after a tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma, on May 20.

[imgcontainer] [img:moore_tornado.jpg] [source]Gene Blevins, Reuters[/source] People look through the wreckage of their neighborhood after a tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma, on May 20. [/imgcontainer]

Disaster in Oklahoma – Today the nation is focused on Moore, OK, where a tornado left a trail of destruction two miles wide and seventeen miles long. At least 43 have died, and 230 have been injured. Governor Mary Fallin said this morning, that the storms were the “most horrific storms and disasters that this state has ever faced.”

The town of Joplin Missouri, which dealt with a similar natural disaster in 2011, has brought together a team of public safety officials that will be sent to help Moore and the surrounding area recover. Joplin also plans to pitch in in the coming days

Rural Center at a Crossroads – The fate of North Carolinas Rural Economic Development Center hangs in the balance as N.C. Senate Republicans take aim at defunding the organization. Proponents of zeroing out the institution say that the organization has become bloated and inefficient over the years, as their board of directors has grown to over fifty members, and the state has no control on how the money is spent. “There is a need to change how it’s set up, to streamline the process.” Says Sen. Harry Brown

However, the center itself says that defunding the organization would cripple rural development. The organization has awarded over $2 billion in grants and created 33,000 jobs since its inception in 1987. “Why would you want to defund it and do away with it? I’m afraid the special needs of rural North Carolina will get lost in that reorganization.” Says Larry Wooten, president of the state’s farm bureau.

A Crystal Clear Message – Today the Safe Water Network announced a new plan to use a Tablet-based water and health education campaign to improve the health of citizens in rural India. The campaigns primary objective is to raise awareness for safe water in rural communities, where clean water can be hard to come by. The campaign will use multiple regional dialects and culturally specific marketing content to reach community members and convince them of the need for clean water and it’s relation to good health.

The campaign is supported by the Merck Foundation, who has worked with the Safe Water Network for many years. “This initiative is an excellent example of a new way to use technology to improve access to clean water.” Says Danielle Manture, who serves as vice president of Global Safety & the Environment at Merck.

Schoolhouses Rocked – The state of Montana holds more rural schoolhouses serving a small student population than any other state. However, many of those schoolhouses are in jeopardy of fading away. The increased urbanization that hit the nation following the recession hit these schoolhouses even harder. Enrollment is falling as the rural population around them falls, and some small schoolhouses teach to fewer than ten students, with miniscule budgets. These schools will soon face the choice to close or consolidate.

Even though the situation looks grim, many that trust their children to these small schoolhouses say the they offer a superior education. Cathy Maloney, Butte-Silver Bow County Superintendent of Schools, even called them “hidden treasures.” Roxie Bulen, who teaches at a school house in the small community of Melrose also worries closing down the school may hinder the community.  “I think having the school is the only way for the community to grow,” Bulen said.

Home Sweet Home – Finally, if you are looking for ideas for a dream home and you don’t mind your closest neighbors being corn fields, this might be the house from you. Tucked away in the rural farm lands of Huron County in Ontario, Canada, this barn-ish looking abode offers a modern take on rural living, and is incredibly energy efficient.  Solar panels located on the roof power the whole house, and the water comes from a nearby well. Also, triple-glazed windows keep heat inside in the colder months, while offering a stunning view of the country side that stretches out for miles.

“From the beginning, the premise was a house that minimized impact on the environment,” Says home designer Lisa Moffitt, who helped build the home for her business partners mother. 

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