Rural Revival

HERE’S TO THE PIONEERS

HERE’S TO THE PIONEERS

In a recent road trip through Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, I realized the actual site of Little House on the Prairie in Independence, Kansas was just a mile off of my route and I knew I had to stop. I have to admit, it was a bit of a surreal moment. As I stood in front of the replica of that little log cabin on that windy day and looked at the land where the Ingalls family had settled, I couldn’t help but think of the parallels between their life as pioneers and our new generation of pioneering.

EPISODE 22 // SHELLIE HUGHES AND BOBBY BERTRAM OF OLD GLORY SCHOOLHOUSE

EPISODE 22 // SHELLIE HUGHES AND BOBBY BERTRAM OF OLD GLORY SCHOOLHOUSE

This week on the podcast we’re talking with Shellie Hughes and her dad Bobby Earl Bertram with Old Glory Schoolhouse in Monticello, Kentucky. You’re going to love hearing about all the creative ways they’re repurposing this old schoolhouse - and their fun connection to Magnolia in Waco, Texas. Plus a few fun stories from Bobby to keep us all entertained!

EPISODE 21 // BECKY WILBER OF WILBER FERTILIZER SERVICE

EPISODE 21 // BECKY WILBER OF WILBER FERTILIZER SERVICE

This week on the podcast we’re talking with Becky Wilber of Wilber Fertilizer Service in Cherokee, Oklahoma. If you’re thinking about moving back to rural America, this episode is for you. This is a really important discussion where Becky shares openly and honestly about her decision to move back to her hometown and help run the family business, and why she says it was one of the hardest - but best - decisions of her life.

EPISODE 20 // SCOTT STEBNER OF SCOTT STEBNER PHOTOGRAPHY

EPISODE 20 //  SCOTT STEBNER OF SCOTT STEBNER PHOTOGRAPHY

Scott Stebner is a nationally published agricultural photographer and videographer. Or, to put it more simply, Scott creates photos and videos of people with grit. Scott’s sharing about some of the amazing projects he’s been involved with, why he has started to focus more on video, and why he’s not afraid to fail. Plus you’ll learn how an unlikely ag background led to where he is today and has given him a really unique perspective.

EPISODE 19 // STEPHANIE BRADLEY FRYER, LAWYER AND CATTLE PRODUCER

EPISODE 19 // STEPHANIE BRADLEY FRYER, LAWYER AND CATTLE PRODUCER

Stephanie Bradley Fryer is a lawyer and cattle producer from both Stamford, Texas and Chattanooga, Oklahoma - who also happens to be a fifth generation landowner. This week on the podcast she’s telling more about how she makes it work splitting her time between two places, and how she’s established her place as a woman in both ag and law.

EPISODE 18 // CHRISTY JO OF THE STRAWBERRY PATCH AND THE FRUIT TEA CHICKS

EPISODE 18 // CHRISTY JO OF THE STRAWBERRY PATCH AND THE FRUIT TEA CHICKS

This week on the podcast, Christy Jo of The Strawberry Patch and The Fruit Tea Chicks is sharing about her journey of learning to express herself though art, which eventually led to these two fun, creative businesses that she started out of Hartsville, Tennessee (pop. 2,369).

EPISODE 17 // ROGER COWAN OF DOG TIRED GUITARS

EPISODE 17 // ROGER COWAN OF DOG TIRED GUITARS

Music has always been a huge part of who Roger Cowan is, and he's sharing how that led to the start of his company, Dog Tired Guitars, on this week's podcast. We talk with Roger about why he believes in charity work and music education, why the story behind the guitar is so important, and why he wanted his company to be rooted in small-town, rural America.

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: GLITTER AND RUST

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: GLITTER AND RUST

Can a rural town revive itself on trendy restaurants, or does too much focus on that aspect of a town become “glitter on rust”? Rural communities need jobs, healthcare, schools, and infrastructure. This is a perpetual struggle in planning rural development ideas. Each of our communities has opportunities for glitter that will attract new traffic, whether it be new restaurants and retail, tourism and cultural events, or something other unique feature. But can that glitter sustain a town?

EPISODE 16 // JOANNA ROBERTSON OF JOANNA ROBERTSON PHOTOGRAPHY

EPISODE 16 // JOANNA ROBERTSON OF JOANNA ROBERTSON PHOTOGRAPHY

If you are a creative in a small town, you’re going to love this episode of the podcast! We’re sitting down with JoAnna Robertson of Clarendon, Texas. JoAnna manages the Western Heritage Classic Ranch Horse Sale in Abilene, and operates a wedding and portrait photography business throughout the Texas Panhandle. She is amazingly talented and has had some amazing creative experiences, and we're excited for you to get to know her!

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: TRADITIONS AND HABITS

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: TRADITIONS AND HABITS

It’s important to tell the difference between “traditions” and “bad habits.” Sometimes, an idea is successful for a while, but after changes in populations, economies, or the world around us, that idea stops being successful. We can do one of two things: we can recognize that circumstances have changed and recalibrate our tradition to fit the new circumstances, or we can ignore the new circumstances and let our once-successful tradition slide into a bad habit.

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: PRIDE WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: PRIDE WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING

If a community can’t be inspired to look good for its most important event of the year, it’s unlikely to look good the rest of the year either. Once you establish the pride for your major events, truly setting a permanent, higher level of expectation in your community requires expanding that pride throughout the year. The true test of our community pride is what we do when the crowds AREN’T in town.

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: EATING WITHOUT AGENDAS

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: EATING WITHOUT AGENDAS

Our rural communities will not survive and thrive into the future without our people working together for the community’s big picture. Perhaps our best way to establish unity is over a meal of reconciliation, conversation, and hopefulness. Even if there’s no immediate, apparent tension in the community, there are still gaps to be bridged. How better to overcome those concerns than sharing a table together?

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: THE POWER OF A TABLE

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: THE POWER OF A TABLE

The surprising recent death of Anthony Bourdain brought a couple of topics into focus for me that I feel called to write about today. Men’s Journal wrote that Bourdain’s showed the unifying power of food — “how a shared meal can break barriers, challenge assumptions, and build bridges.” Crossing these bridges will bring together our people into a single unifying purpose, growing our community for a prosperous future.

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