About the Project


  • The name Forgottonia refers to a tongue-in-cheek movement during the 1970s that began largely because many rural Americans in Western Illinois felt policymakers were ignoring their region in favor of larger, metropolitan areas (check out our podcast about one of Forgottonia’s founders, Neil Gamm).
  • Although many communities in rural America have endured an exodus of people and industries, they remain spectacular places to live.
  • Our hope is that by examining the social problems our young people are inheriting, we will inspire citizens to be active participants in making our communities even better places to live.  


We’ve been fortunate to interview some pretty cool authors, scholars and activists and we let our rural high school students ask all the questions. Students spend time identifying topics, analyzing research, and structuring questions to submit to informed experts such as…

Knox College Psychologist Tim Kasser


Author of The High Price of Materialism and guest for Season 1: Episode 4 – Are We Happier in a Small Town, Episode 5 – Value Pollution: Why Should We Ban Advertisements in School?, and Episode 13 – Media & Children’s Well-Being: How is Screen Time Impacting Our Kids?

Author James Loewen


Author of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong and guest for Season 2: Episode 1 – What are Sundown Towns and Episode 2 – What is the legacy of Sundown Towns in Rural America)

And one of our favorites, Black Hills State Sociologist–and Forgottonia native– Trenton Ellis

trenton ellis

Guest for Season 1: Episode 3 – Why Are So Many Jobs Leaving Rural America? and Episode 6 – Education Puts Food on the Table: What Can We Do About Job Loss in Rural America)

Panel Discussions

The Forgottonia Project also organizes and facilitates panel discussions around key issues impacting rural America. Students typically submit questions, moderate the forum to promote civility, and share the discussion with the surrounding community. Check out our panel discussions from Season 1!

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  • Check out our ABOUT page for more information regarding who we are and how we go about our research. Please don’t hesitate to connect with us on Social Media or by visiting our contact page and leaving a comment. We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas for future episodes!

We believe that in order to change the world, you must start locally!

There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”

– Margaret J. Wheatley.
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