S2 – Episode 04: Chris Merrett, IL Institute for Rural Affairs – What are the Challenges to Running a Business in Rural America?

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. 

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

It is time for all Americans to confront the ideas of segregation and racism today and all over and remember that this is not an issue constrained to a specific time or a specific geographic location.  This is not a southern problem, this is an American problem and this is not just in the past, the legacy of housing discrimination and segregation is still present in many American neighborhoods and schools.  

S2 – Episode 03: Forgottonia Brewing – What Does it Take to Run a Successful Business in Rural America?

On this episode were fortunate to speak with some local entrepreneurs who not only started a new business in Macomb, IL, but they are kindred spirits because they named it “Forgottonia!”  Sean West and his partners Scott and Susan Park of Forgottonia Brewing in Macomb, share their story on starting a business and how they are incorporating Forgottonia history.   The essential question we asked is “What Does it Take to Run a Successful Business in Forgottonia?”  We hope you enjoy this conversation and if you have any questions or feedback we’d love to hear from you by visiting our webpage Forgottonia project.com.

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

Forgottonia Project Logo

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 …

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 to other blog and podcast topics around this topic). 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 our own neck of the woods.  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.

S2 – Episode 02: Sundown Towns – What is the Legacy of Sundown Towns in Rural America?

On this episode, we conclude our interview with Dr. James Loewen about his book "Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism." We asked 2 essential questions: What is the legacy of Sundown Towns? Plus, how do you conduct research in your own town? Dr. Loewen is a talented author, historian, and sociologist. He is …

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 …

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?