Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hearing from the Next Generation in Rural Minnesota

I've received some emails about a link posted on The Rural Blog yesterday--and I'm excited to share this today. The MinnPost's series Rural Minnesota: A Generation at the Crossroads promises to be an extended and in-depth sequence of articles and online features that follow the state's rural youth as they think about college, careers, and whether they should stay within or leave behind their home communities. 

This project is guided by MinnPost editor Jeff Severns Guntzel, though he is clear in this introduction that the voice of these young people will be the communicating force:
Young people are rarely given the opportunity to narrate the rural experience. I was in the middle of a conversation with a small group of high-school students in the rural Minnesota city of Finlayson when I realized this. Maybe that's why everything they said seemed so fresh, even electric.

For weeks, I have been driving the roads that criss-cross the state like rivers. Up and down Highway 35, which starts in Duluth and ends at a stoplight in Laredo, Texas. Up and over on Highway 61, which needs no introduction. I've been on the tributaries, too — the roads that were unpaved until not that long ago and a few roads that still aren't paved. Many of the conversations so far have been in the north-central and northeast areas.

The young people who've carved out time in their busy schedules (I forget that the hustle begins at such an early age) have sat down for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to talk about their corners of rural Minnesota.
I will be writing more about this soon, but I really encourage our readers to head to the MinnPost and check out the articles, videos and interviews from the early stages of Mr.  Guntzel's project. As he says, there is something fresh and electric in their comments and perspectives; all of us would be wise to hear them out.