Unapologetically Rural: Community & Culture

Sometimes the most meaningful impact is found by chatting with neighbors. We’ve found several great ways to connect with communities, as you'll see in this story from our 2014 Annual Report. What’s worked for you?

A living room set with a couch, an area rug, and some lamps sat just outside the library on the brick mainstreet of Lyons. It was a project kickoff allowing members of area communities to join in an outdoor living room and discuss community identity, history of their town, and more. Guests were invited to sit, enjoy a warm drink, and share their perspectives. This “Main Street Coffee” session started our arts-focused project the Byway of Art.

Imagine yourself sitting in the mainstreet living room. You’re watching curious passerbys be drawn in for a conversation about the future of their community. Other coffee and community discussions took place in the neighboring communities of Decatur, Oakland, and Macy.

We learned each community has a different personality. Decatur, Nebraska, a river town, is rambunctious and dynamic. Our own hometown of Lyons is modest yet strong. Oakland, a slightly larger community to the south, is independent and achievement-oriented. Macy, located on the Omaha reservation, is earth-wise and socially structured.

Each community will produce a work of public art special to their unique characteristics. These communities will have something beautiful, something powerful, to show friends, neighbors, and visitors alike in the coming year. We expect this project to be a catalyst for other creative endeavors within and around the communities involved, as well as a source of inspiration for others around the nation.

Highlights of 2014

  • Our trainings inspired 12 Nebraska Sandhill communities to create certified pollinator habitat gardens. These protect native bees and other pollinators.
  • In Fremont, Nebraska, our policy team organized a citizen coalition to fight a discriminatory housing ordinance.
  • In Columbus and Schuyler, tours of new and longtime businesses helped build social connections, creating an open and accepting atmosphere.
  • Community youth explained why their town was a good place to live through large canvas murals adorned with handprints and welcome messages.

You'll find more great stories showing the impact of you, our supporters, in the work we do in the 2014 Annual Report

Feature image: This outdoor living room in Lyons, Nebraska, created a cozy and informal setting for community members to talk about their hopes, visions, wishes, and opinions.