10 Obstacles Facing Community Builders: An Introduction to our “On Community” Series

"We live in an unprecedented era, when community is under siege from a variety of forces, & the negative ramifications of that are continually mounting." John Hallwas, On Community: A Crucial Issue, a Small Town, and a Writer's Experience ON THIS EPISODE We begin our series on the book "On Community: A Crucial Issue, a …

Oral History of Forgottonia – Railroads in Western Illinois: Gavin Johnson’s Interview with Local Railroad Enthusiast Bill Leitze

ON THIS EPISODE "The railroads depended on population and product. The population and product depended on shipping. The railroads became the most valuable method of shipping, particularly for landlocked areas like Illinois." -Bill Leitze As part of our Oral History in Forgottonia series, Cuba High School senior Gavin Johnson sits down with local Railroad enthusiast, …

Oral History of Forgottonia – Mining in Western Illinois: Braxton Humphrey’s Interview with David Lidwell

ON THIS EPISODE "The two most dangerous occupations were agricultural, and mining. I was raised on a farm and worked on the mines." David Lidwell As part of our Oral History in Forgottonia series, Cuba High School junior Braxton Humphrey interviews former miner David Lidwell, about his knowledge and experience working in the mining industry. …

Oral History of Forgottonia – Experiencing a Rural School Closure: Cooper Leonard’s Interview with Retired Principal Daryle Coleman

"The community did the best they could with that school, rather than let it sit vacant." Daryle Coleman ON THIS EPISODE As part of our Oral History in Forgottonia series, Cuba High School sophomore Cooper Leonard interviews Retired principal, Daryle Coleman, about her experience with the closure of the Red Brick School in Smithfield, Illinois. …

S4, E5 – Forgottonia and the 2020 Census: What the Numbers Reveal about Population, Education, Poverty, Race, and more

On this episode of the Forgottonia Project, we summarize what the 2020 census reveals about Forgottonia. This episode serves as the podcast edition of our previous post analyzing census data: Forgottonia Profile: The 2020 Census. CHS students helped create a mega document that summarizes important demographic, social, and economic patterns that persist throughout Forgottonia (check …

S3, E3 – What a Small Town Yoga Studio is Doing to Improve Well-Being in Forgottonia – Interview with Lyndsey Larson, Manager of The Breathing Tree

On this edition of the Forgottonia podcast we’re sharing a conversation about mental health in rural America with our friend Lyndsey Larson, the manager of a local yoga studio in Canton, IL called “The Breathing Tree.” Lyndsey is also a native and recent returnee to Canton, IL where she lives with her husband and their surprise triplets!

S2, E7 – What the Salvation Army is Doing to Help the Most Vulnerable Rural Americans

According to a study at Columbia University funded by the National Institute of Health,  4.5% of all deaths in the U.S. can be attributed to poverty (Link to research). And this was before the covid-19 outbreak! What is the cause of poverty? What does poverty look like in rural, western Illinois? What can we do to combat poverty? To help respond to these questions, we turned to Lt. Sarah B. Eddy of the Canton, IL Salvation Army. 

S2, E5 – Roads, Higher Ed, & Racism – Students ask the IIRA

On this episode, Chris Merrett from the Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs responds to questions formed from students at Cuba High School in Cuba, IL.  These questions reflect  a range of challenges facing small towns, not only in Cuba, but throughout Forgottonia. The essential questions our students asked Chris include the following:

S2 – Blog 07: What are the Challenges to Running a Successful Business in Rural America? Takeaways from Our Interview with Chris Merrett, Director of the IL Institute for Rural Affairs

What are the challenges to running a successful business in rural America?  There's  a thousand different ways you can answer this question, and the answer really depends on the community you live in.  But when it comes to who you should ask, I don't think there is any one better than Chris Merrett, the Director of the Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs.

S2, E4 – What are the Challenges to Running a Business in Rural America, with Chris Merrett, IL Institute for Rural Affairs

We are beyond pleased to share this interview with our friend Chris Merrett from the IL Institute for Rural Affairs.  Chris is the Director of the Institute, which is located on the campus of Western IL University in Macomb, IL.  The institute oversees research, outreach, teaching, and policy development that is comprised of 20 community development faculty and professionals.  He serves on the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council and is the Chairperson of Rural Partners, which has raised over $6 million in external grant funding to support community and economic development outreach and research.  Chris has researched and edited books on the topics of cooperatives and community development, and has published a range of articles on topics such as value-added agriculture, rural land use, social justice, and rural community and economic development.