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.

Of course, if you are not aware of the Institute (or IIRA as it’s often called) and what it is they do , then you’re likely to miss out on the experience and wisdom that Chris has to offer.  Thus, here are three takeaways I’d like to share from my interview with Chris Merrett and the IIRA. (*NOTE: You can listen to our podcast interview through the link below or search Forgottonia Project wherever you find podcasts).

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S2 – Blog 06: What Does it Take to Run a Successful Business in Rural America? Five Takeaways from Our Interview with Forgottonia Brewing

This month, we are exploring the topic “What it Takes to Run a Successful Business in Rural America.”  The following blog post features key takeaways from our recent interview with the owners of Forgottonia Brewing in Macomb.

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S2 – Blog 05: Sundown Towns and the history of segregation in the North

We are beyond excited to share this blog post from our new contributing author, Alyssa (Hall) Anderson.  Alyssa not only teaches sociology at Western Illinois University, but she is an alumni of Cuba High School and currently resides there as well (read her full bio below).  In this blog, she discusses the history of housing discrimination and racial segregation in the North.

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S2 – Blog 04: Sundown Towns: How to Research Your Town’s Sundown History

One of the things we enjoyed most about Dr. James Loewen book Sundown Towns, is how he encourages readers to do their own research.  This is also an outstanding opportunity to put into practice that history is something you do, not simply something you remember. Gather what evidence you can and determine for yourself if your town was a sundown town. The following blog post is advice from James Loewen about how to conduct your very own research.  

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S2 – Blog 03: Sundown Towns: What We Learned About Our Own Town

These past few weeks, we’ve been learning about sundown towns and the impact they’ve had on rural America today (Check out the links below). We were stunned to learn that our informed expert Dr. James Loewen (author of Sundown Towns & Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong”) spent many hours conducting research for his book right here in Forgottonia.  Although Dr. Loewen lives on the east coast and conducted research throughout the country, a large portion of his work focused on his home state of Illinois; including the communities of western Illinois, collectively known as Forgottonia.  Dr. Loewen poured over census records, studied maps, and visited with local historians, librarians, and anyone else willing to speak to him. We recommend you get a hold of the book to read for yourself. We’d also encourage you to check out the sundown town database on Loewen’s own website linked here – Loewen’s website – Sundown Towns Database.

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S2 – Blog 02: Sundown Towns: Why Studying Sundown Towns Matters

As mentioned in our podcast interview, Dr. James Loewen didn’t just write a book about  sundown towns, he wrote THE book.  He did a lot of research in small towns–especially in Illinois–which has enabled us to learn a lot about our own communities. (By the way, if you haven’t already, Loewen has a massive database on his website you should check out by following this link – Loewen’s website – Sundown Towns Database). But of all the questions we’ve asked, one stands out as most important; why does all this matter?  As we lean into this question, three overall themes come to mind that address why this research matters.

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S2 – Blog 01: Sundown Towns: What are Sundown Towns?

When Dr. James Loewen decided he was going to research sundown towns, he figured he might find about 50 or so of these communities spread across the country. To his surprise, he claimed to uncover more than 500, and that was just in his home state of Illinois! He estimates that at its peak in 1970 there were approximately 10,000 sundown towns throughout the country. So what exactly are sundown towns? 

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