RuralX17 Encourages Rural Communities to Take Small Steps

Posted on July 27, 2017

Paula Jensen
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RuralX17, a rural economic and community development summit hosted by Dakota Resources and 34 sponsors, brought rural “movers and shakers” from across the Midwest together for two days of motivational learning, idea sharing and networking. The event was held July 18-19 at the Dakota Events Center in Aberdeen and included national and regional speakers, a block party dinner, OpenX break-out sessions and more. Vision sponsors of the event included The Bush Foundation, Horizon Health Care, Inc. and Touchstone Energy Cooperatives through the REED Fund.

RuralX stands for “Rural Experience” and was dedicated to helping connect rural change makers to valuable resources and like-minded people across the Midwest. The summit was inspired last year by Dakota Resources, a statewide organization dedicated to stimulating financial and human investment in communities that are invested themselves.

“We had a lot of people returning to RuralX after a positive experience last summer,” says Beth Davis, President of Dakota Resources. “We heard several RuralX success stories where people took what they learned and made things happen in their communities. This year our speakers emphasized gathering a crowd and taking small steps. I think that message really hit home for this year’s attendees.”

Keynote speakers for this year’s event included Jason Roberts from The Better Block Project, Deb Brown and Becky McCray from SaveYour.Town and Hugh Weber from The Potluck Society on South Dakota Public Radio.

In addition to hearing national and regional speakers, guests were able to create their own rural agendas and break-out sessions through an innovative OpenX concept. Over 20 topics were covered, from how to involve more youth in community development to overcoming community nay-sayers.

“You don’t have to take ‘no’ as the only option,” explained speaker Becky McCray. “Find a way around the word no. Gather a crowd of ‘yes people’ and do something small or temporary to test out an idea.”

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