The following is a summary of a panel discussion about poverty in Fulton County that took place March 23, 2017. The forum took place at the Canton Church of the Brethren and was moderated by Pastor Kevin Kessler. Panelists included Missy Kolowski of the Health and Wellness Clinic of Fulton County, Rolf Siversten Superintendent CUSD #66, Paster Monroe Bailey of the First Baptist Church, Brooke Denniston Executive Director of the YWCA, Paula Grigsby Executive Director of the YMCA, Rhonda Morgan from the Salvation Army and Teri Williams director of Spoon River Pregnancy Center.
This fifth and final post explores solutions and offers closing remarks. Listen online here or through our Forgottonia Project podcast (search “Forgottonia Project” on iTunes or wherever you find podcasts.
We previously spoke with Forgottonia native Dr. Trenton Ellis about job loss throughout rural America. In this interview Dr. Ellis mentioned factors like technology, globalization, and the lack of economic diversity as contributing to job loss. Since our talk with Dr. Ellis was so rich in material and we didn’t want to depress you by only discussing problems, we split our discussion in two parts. In this 2nd edition, we address plans of action and ask 2 essential questions; What can we do about factors impacting job loss and What interferes with progress in rural America?
While Dr. Ellis admits there’s no quick fix, the wisdom he offers comes not just from his academic background, but his personal experience growing up in rural America.
The following is a portion of the transcript from our interview with Tim Kasser about value pollution.
On this edition we return to our conversation with Dr. Tim Kasser, a psychology professor at Knox College who is no stranger to rural living. We were extremely fortunate to speak with Dr. Kasser, he is the well-known author of a 2002 book called ¨The High Price of Materialism¨ which explores the undesirable effects that living in a consumerist culture has. He´s also featured in Andrew Morgan´s 2015 documentary ¨The True Cost¨ which examines consumerism and the mass media; this film and 2011s ¨Happy¨ are both featured on Netflix and I highly recommend you watch immediately.
Dr. Kasser spoke with us about a topic he is very passionate, one that we´ll refer to as value pollution. He’s studied value pollution for over 20 years and finds, among other things, that there are some very harmful effects advertising in particular has on children. While this may not seem like an issue unique to rural Americans, perhaps rural areas are better equipped to deal with this problem due to our ability to organize and come together. Our essential questions today are why should we ban advertisements in schools and what would alternative, intrinsically-driven ads look like? We will do our best to tackle this important, eye opening topic and more on this edition of Forgottonia.
We’ve explored a number of topics revolving around social problems we face in rural America, but just because we’re studying problems in rural America doesn’t mean everyone is miserable. Rural places are awesome places to live and there’s endless amounts of great things going on. But here´s our essential question today – can one make the case that you are happier living in a small town than anywhere else? To find out, we were very fortunate to discuss this topic with author & Knox College psychology professor, Tim Kasser. Dr. Kasser is well-known for his research on happiness which he’s conducted over the past 20 years. He is the author of several book such as 2002s¨The High Price of Materialism¨ and has been featured in documentary films like 2011s ¨Happy¨ which explored reasons why even though the US has the largest economy, we rank just 23rd in happiest nations throughout the world.
From January 2016 to January 2017, the region known as Forgottonia lost approximately 2,775 jobs. To learn why, we sat down with Dr. Trenton Ellis, a rural sociologist from Black Hills St. University. Although he lives in Spearfish, South Dakota, Ellis is a native of Forgottonia growing up in Canton, IL and graduating from Spoon River College in 2005. After SRC, Ellis completed undergraduate and master’s degrees from Western Illinois University in Macomb. In 2009 he matriculated to South Dakota State University’s Department of Sociology and Rural Studies where he graduated with a PhD in sociology in 2015. In 2016 he was awarded an outstanding Teaching Award at BHSU.
The following is an excerpt from our interview with Dr. Ellis.
On this episode we wanted to share a cool experience we recently had in our psychology class. We were visited by the lovely Mrs. Karen Hahn a social worker from Psychology Specialists in Canton, IL. Karen’s visit is definitely consistent with our objective to examine the social problems we face in our own context of rural America; specifically these 16 counties in western IL referred to by many as Forgottonia. In fact if we want firsthand insights of what exactly the issues are and what it takes to overcome them, I’m not sure there’s anybody better to talk to then a social worker like Karen.
Part 1 – Karen’s Story (0 – 4 min)
Karen Hahn is a licensed clinical social worker at Psychology Specialists in Canton, IL. She grew up on a farm and was a good student throughout school. She wanted to be an accountant because they made money. She attended Truman State University to get a business degree, but discovered she had a passion for sociology. About 1.5 years later, she changed her major–despite her father’s protest– and got a degree in child and family health. From there she moved to Canton and worked at a daycare, with runaways, in the foster system, the college, and the community mental health system; all these places with a social service degree. Later she discovered a passion for working with hospice patients.
The following is an excerpt from our initial episode about Neil Gamm and the history of Forgottonia. Our guest was Mr. Larry Eskridge from the Canton Daily Ledger. Our essential questions asks “What was the Forgottonia movement about and how is it similar and different today?” ENJOY!