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Welcome to the Forgottonia Project!

Our project seeks to honor the rich history of rural, western Illinois, and examine the social, economic, and political problems we currently face. This project is produced by students and teachers at Cuba H.S. located in Fulton County; 1 of 16 rural counties that make up Forgottonia. Our title, Forgottonia, refers to a tongue-in-cheek movement in the 1970s (you can learn more about Forgottonia by visiting our “Behind the Project” page).

The Forgottonia Project takes an inquiry-based learning approach to local history, government, and current events. Students follow their own curiosities and are encouraged to ask tough questions about some of the problems they see in their own communities. To help better understand how to address these questions, our rural, high school students research and identify informed experts to record their own podcast conversations with. Past participants have included:

Tim Kasser, Knox College psychologist, well-being researcher & author of “The High Price of Materialism” 

James Loewen, sociologist & author of Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism

Trenton Ellis, a rural sociologist at Black Hills St University & former Forgottonia resident 

Chris Merrett, Director of the IL Institute for Rural Affairs.

Chris Vallillo, well-known local musician, historian, and unofficial maestro of Forgottonia

Although many communities in rural America have endured an exodus of people and industries, they remain spectacular places to live (Check out our Forgottonia Profiles page to become more familiar with our 16 county region of Western Illinois; Also read this post about the importance of Notable Figures in Rural America).

Our hope is that by examining the history and issues our young people inherit, we will inspire citizens to be active participants in making our communities better places to live.  

It’s inspiring to see students tackle these issues head-on and engage with experts who don’t typically have an opportunity to communicate with a rural, high school audience. Put simply, if we are serious about addressing this new generation of issues facing Forgottonia, then we must take seriously our efforts to invest in our youth who inherit these problems.

“There’s this sense that people are not getting their fair share compared to people in the cities. They feel like their communities are dying and they perceive that all the stuff–the young people, the money, the livelihood is going somewhere and it’s going to the cities.¨

-University of Wisconsin political scientist Katherine Cramer on what she perceives is happening in rural America.
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