Wednesday, March 07, 2007

News

Donate a Penny to Rural Action Without Spending a Cent!
Submitted by Tori Patterson, AmeriCorps*VISTA for Development

Thanks to www.goodsearch.com, you can help raise money for Rural Action just by searching the Internet. GoodSearch, a Yahoo! powered search engine designed to give fifty percent of its profits to community organizations, will donate a penny to Rural Action for every search you do on their site.

The process is simple: go to goodsearch.com and enter your search term in the Yahoo! search field. Then enter “Rural Action” in the box beneath the search field labeled “Who do you GoodSearch For?” Select “Rural Action (Trimble, OH)” from the drop-down list, and click on “Search the Web.” It’s that easy!

GoodSearch estimates that an organization with 1,000 supporters who search twice a day could earn $7,300 in a single year. Rural Action staff members and VISTAs have been using GoodSearch for only a few weeks, and we have already earned $11.23.

Please help us in this simple fundraising effort by using GoodSearch daily and sharing this information with your friends and family, because all those pennies could really add up!

The Rural Renewal Strategy
Submitted by Katy Sulfridge, AmeriCorps*VISTA for Media

In the early 1980’s, social programming was looking bleak, at best, as funding for such programs was cut, in spite of the outrage from most of the country. The government strategy seemed to be that if they did not help the poor, the poor would help themselves, and the better off they would be. Unfortunately, that was not the case, and many social programs and services were in dire straights and looking for some kind of relief. In 1982, concerned citizens in the Athens County community and surrounding areas decided that they didn’t have to take it, and that they were going to fight back. These citizens formed a group called the Appalachian Ohio Public Interest Campaign. Over the next decade, the group went through some changes and transformations along the way. After some challenges and learning experiences, Rural Action was born out of the work that AOPIC had started, bringing back a sense of renewed hope to the region, thanks to the work of many volunteers and concerned citizens who refused to admit defeat.

Fast-forward 25 years. It is 2007, and Rural Action is still working hard to preserve its mission of promoting economic, social, and environmental justice in Appalachian Ohio. And in order to move forward, Rural Action is asking for help from area citizens once again.

In the mid 1990’s, AOPIC began drafting its Strategy for Rural Renewal, which has guided the work of Rural Action for more than a decade. In fact, the Rural Action Network, (now Rural Action Inc.,) was born out of the Strategy for Rural Renewal. Members of Rural Action and affiliated grassroots groups convened to evaluate Rural Action’s programs and to plan for the future. Recommendations included networking existing grassroots environmental and social change groups together and the development of a strategy for sustainable development that would encompass the work of citizens who were involved in both environmental and community-economic development.

Throughout the process of drafting, designing, and working through the original Strategy for Rural Renewal, Rural Action has had the support of dedicated partner organizations and community members who are dedicated to the revitalization of Appalachian Ohio. In 1995, Rural Action expanded involvement to include government, business, and religious leaders. A variety of approaches were used to get these other outside potential members involved. These included formal dinners, which were theme-based to attract the educated, influential power structure. Meetings were held in the outlying counties in order to gain the support of the citizens of the community. These were less formal, often potluck dinners. A series of conferences at Burr Oak and Lake Hope targeting government, utilities, educators, and religious leaders, and paid economic development professionals were held.

Over the past 15 years, Rural Action has accomplished many of its original goals in the Strategy for Rural Renewal, and in the process has brought more than $15 million into the region. But Rural Action did not accomplish these tasks on its own. It had the support of many concerned citizens from Athens County and beyond.

Rural Action is currently bringing the people of the region together again in order to write a new, updated Strategy for Rural Renewal. In keeping with methods used in order to produce the first Strategy for Rural Renewal, the process has begun with the telling of stories. Rural Action has been holding the first of many “house parties” throughout the region, where friends, family, and members have been invited to share their experiences with Rural Action, as well as their hopes for the future. Recent gatherings provided Rural Action with valuable insight from members and friends. They have also been pleasant ways for members of the community to get together for a few hours. “This is the best Sunday afternoon I've spent in a long time,” says Bob Borchard, a resident of Guysville.

The series of house parties will be followed by a Rural Renewal Conference that will be held in late spring. The conference will be the second step in proceeding with the new Strategy for Rural Renewal. Two hundred Rural Action members will be invited to attend the one-day Rural Renewal Conference. Attendees will break into groups by issue interests to brainstorm ideas for a better Southeast Ohio.

After the conference, attendees and other community members will form small task groups focusing on specific issues that they have identified (for instance, “Renewable Energy”). Working with Rural Action staff members and volunteers over a time period of at least six months, the groups will refine the “raw” vision from the conference, culminating in a new, comprehensive Strategy for Rural Renewal, which will carry the work of Rural Action into the next decade.

If you are interested in attending or hosting one of these house parties, or the spring Rural Renewal Conference, please contact Sara Peach at 740-767-4938, or sara@rurualaction.org. You can also receive ongoing updates about the process by visiting the Rural Renewal web page: ruralrenewal.blogspot.com.

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