By Jonah Arellano
What is the "rural is cool" movement? It's a way for rural Americans to use their voices to shape the future of their communities and local industries. The purpose of the movement is to highlight the positive impacts and contributions of individuals, businesses and communities in rural areas.
Earlier this year, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack sounded the alarm about some disturbing trends in rural America. In light of population decline, and fewer elected representatives coming from rural areas, rural America is at risk of becoming less relevant nationally.
But as we all know, rural is relevant. Vilsack has pointed out that rural America contributes innovations to technology, art, science and agriculture.
For example, more than 3 million American farmers have sold a total of $297 billion in goods, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Services 2012 Census. Rural American inventors include Idaho farmer Philo Farnsworth, one of the fathers of modern television industry, and Pam Turner, who invented the Spiral EyeTM Sewing Needle in Blaine, Minn.
The voice of rural Americans and their stories can help shape and determine the policies and services that protect and invest in rural America. More stories mean more accurate information about the needs of rural America for a better quality of life.
How You Can Get Involved
Share what's cool about rural communities on blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. All of these channels are great platforms to share stories and content about what makes rural communities wonderful places to work and live.
Use the hashtag #ruraliscool on social media posts, such as:
Video. Create a one- to two-minute video about what makes rural communities unique and what makes it a great place to work, learn, live and play. Post videos on YouTube and use the hashtag #ruraliscool in the video title. On the video description, include information, such as the community location, and state that the video features.
Photos. Share some photos of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Use the hashtag #ruraliscool when posting photos for all to see.
Blog. Blogs are a great way to share the rural lifestyle and community story. Create posts like weekly stories that highlight what makes rural communities unique—what makes them a great place to work, learn, live and play. Tag blog posts with "ruraliscool."
The movement begins with one voice. The more voices that are added to the movement, the more the movement can grow. Harnessing networks can grow the movement. Invite family, neighbors, customers, local businesses and community, and social media followers, viewers and readers to share their rural stories, too. Share others' rural stories to show your support and connection to their stories and to the movement.
Jonah Arellano is communications coordinator for NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.