Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Future of Small Towns Online Idea Generator

-- from our friends at Minnesota Public Radio

Minnesota Public Radio Invites You to Contribute Ideas for the Future of Small Towns Online idea generator.

Your ideas for keeping small towns viable will inform discussion of Symposium for Small Towns in Morris, MN on June 7-8, 2005.

(St. Paul, Minn.) Minnesota's rural small towns have long defined the state's social and economic character, yet many are struggling to build a viable future.

The Internet and other communications tools are enabling some small towns to think up new and creative ways to survive. Tom McRoberts, director of the Center for Small Towns at the University of Minnesota-Morris says, "Often what separates a struggling small town from one with a bright future is a good idea and a core of people who have committed to it."

With this in mind, Minnesota Public Radio has created an online collaboration to generate enthusiasm and good ideas for overcoming the many challenges facing small towns. MPR invites anyone who cares about the future of small towns to visit the Future of Small Towns idea generator and offer ideas in a range of areas, including economic opportunity, people and health care:

Participants can help determine the most compelling solutions by rating and commenting on solutions offered by others. Many of the best ideas will be incorporated into the third annual Symposium for Small Towns, sponsored by the University of Minnesota-Morris and Minnesota Public Radio.

For more information about the symposium, go to:

Ideas and insights participants share will also help Minnesota Public Radio News track key and emerging issues facing small towns. "This is a great chance for us to tap the knowledge and insight of folks who live in small towns and who care about their future," says Andrew Haeg, senior producer and analyst for Minnesota Public Radio's Public Insight Journalism initiative. "That's going to pay off with stronger coverage of rural communities, and a much wider network of sources who can help us cover the news in the future."

A Partnership Between MPR and the University of Minnesota-Morris
Minnesota Public Radio is partnering with the University of Minnesota—Morris to present the third annual Symposium on Small Towns on June 7-8. The Future of Small Towns idea generator will advance the discussion before the symposium starts.

Michael Skoler and Andrew Haeg of Minnesota Public Radio News will be on hand at the symposium to talk about the role Public Insight Journalism will play in strengthening news coverage of communities across the state.

Public Insight Journalism
"The Future of Small Towns" online idea generator is an example of a new model for producing news coverage, known as "Public Insight Journalism." The Minnesota Public Radio initiative seeks to tap the vast expertise that lies in the collective experience and knowledge of the audience using a variety of techniques, to strengthen news coverage and to help shape programming.

Minnesota Public Radio's newsroom is transforming its culture and processes to regularly find and tap public insights to ensure it provides the smartest, most relevant reporting possible. The aim is to engage thousands of people in the newsroom's information gathering, to find fresh sources of expertise, to uncover new perspectives and to discover emerging issues and stories that are not yet on the public agenda.

Minnesota Public Radio® operates a 37-station radio network serving virtually all of Minnesota and parts of surrounding states and produces programming for radio, Internet and face-to-face audiences. Programs produced by Minnesota Public Radio and its national production and distribution arm, American Public Media™, reach 14.7 million listeners nationwide each week. Of those, more than 771,000 listen regionally, in Minnesota and surrounding states. With nearly 83,000 members, Minnesota Public Radio has the highest percentage of listener membership of any community-supported public radio network in the United States. A complete list of stations, programs and additional services can be obtained at and


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