Note: To watch Dee Davis’s closing speech in full, find a video here, or scroll down.
[imgcontainer] [img:dee-davis%2C-close-of-Rural-Assembly530.jpg] [source]Shawn Poynter[/source] Dee Davis, president of the Center for Rural Strategies, addressed the National Rural Assembly at the close its 2011 gathering in St. Paul, MN, with a message of dedication from rural youth. [/imgcontainer]
12:00pm, June 30
“Either I’m nobody or I’m a nation”
For all of the profound policy statements made by important officials and all of the productive collaboration done in conference rooms and around the dinner table over the three days of the National Rural Assembly, nothing spoke as loud or true as a group of kids.
A few years ago, Dee Davis said in Thursday’s closing plenary, he worked with a group of students at the National Rural Youth Assembly in Santa Fe. For one of the activities, the students were left without adult instruction to write their individual “policy statements” on poster boards around the room.
After they each writing their own statement, the students spontaneously composed this together:
We demand of ourselves a proactive and invested community that has quality healthcare, adequate housing, and enlightened education in a safe and sustainable environment. Where no person goes thirsty, hungry, or homeless, and every person is accepted no matter who your momma is. All these things done with love tell the story of our future in rural communities.
Now, Dee said, “as we move forward, we’ve got to think about how this story turns out. We need to engage with each other and find that purpose – find that purpose and keep going. We’re going to have to find a way to help each other through this [and] create the purpose in ourselves to move this thing forward.”
And so the National Rural Assembly 2011 Gathering came to a close, with a reminder that, as poet Derek Walcott wrote, “Either I’m nobody or I’m a nation.”
Daily Yonder’s Bill Bishop, Alex Bloedel and Shawn Poynter
covered the three days of the National Rural Assembly in St. Paul, MN, a
gathering of 300 rural advocates and national leaders June 28-30. Check the
following links for all the posts from Tuesday, Wednesday morning, Wednesday afternoon, and from Thursday morning here and here.
Also, Center for Rural Strategies has compiled a library of
up-to-date materials on rural transportation, youth, broadband, native
nations, education, environmental justice, and more. Find those papers here.