12 Great Reads to Add to Your List

The Center for Rural Entrepreneurship shared its list of top reads of 2014. Included on the list is the Community Heart & Soul™ Field Guide recommended by Erik Pages, a CRE fellow and president and founder of EntreWorks Consulting, an economic development and policy development firm who said: "This is an excellent guide to strategic planning and community building for small towns."  

Thank you Erik!  Lots of great reads to add to our holiday wish lists! 

Here are the center's Top 12 Recommended Reads of 2014:

Recommended by Erik Pages, EntreWorks Consulting and Center Fellow: The Tyranny of Experts by William Easterly. While the book is mainly about international development issues, it's a useful caution that economic development is about individual choice and empowerment - not the latest scheme from so-called "experts."

Recommended by Don Macke: Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson. This book provides both a framework for exploring the innovation process and wonderful stories of innovation. Check out Johnson's program on Public Broadcasting.

Recommended to Deb Markley by Angela Lust, Amarillo Area Foundation: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. This book is a true story of innovation under the most challenging circumstances. Inspiring!

Recommended by Erik Pages, EntreWorks Consulting and Center Fellow: Community Heart & Soul Field Guide by the Orton Family Foundation. This is an excellent guide to strategic planning and community building for small towns.

Recommended by all Center staff: The Good Jobs Strategy - How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profit by Zeynep Ton. This book provides great case evidence that the race to the bottom need not be the rule as businesses struggle to be competitive.

Recommended by Don Macke: Owning Our Future - The Emerging Ownership Revolution and Journeys to a Generative Economy by Marjorie Kelly. For those of us engaged in entrepreneurship as a means to better economies, this is a must read.

Recommended by Erik Pages, EntreWorks Consulting and Center Fellow: Fueling Up—The Economic Implications of America's Oil and Gas Boom by the Peterson Institute, an economic impact study of shale energy. Not the most scintillating read, but great data that encourages us to be cautious and realistic about the "shale energy revolution."

Recommended by Travis Starkey, a millennial and educator in eastern North Carolina:  "Creative Class Counties and the Recovery." This Daily Yonder article shows the value of the "creative class" to the economic recovery in some parts of rural America. 

Recommended by Don Macke: The End of the Suburbs by Leigh Gallagher. This book provides interesting insight on the changing spatial demographics in the United States. 

Recommended by Deb Markley: Sources of Economic Hope: Women's Entrepreneurship. This Kauffman Foundation research report suggests why accelerating women's entrepreneurship might be the best thing we can do for the U.S. economy. 

Recommended by Don Macke: The Coming Jobs War by Jim Clifton. This book provides insight from the Chairman of Gallup and their unique international view of global competition. 

Recommended by Don Macke: What Then Must We Do? - Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution by Gar Alperovitz. Rooted in the value that economies exist to meet the needs and dreams of residents, this book provides insights worth considering as we engage in economic development.

Slow Democracy: Citizen-Powered Communities for the 21st Century

This is the first of a four-part series adapted from the book Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home by Susan Clark and Woden Teachout (Chelsea Green, 2012).

The “slow food” movement began in the mid-1980s with protests against the opening of a McDonald’s near the Spanish Steps in Rome, but it has since inspired untold thousands of supporters across the globe.

Slow food argues that fast food symbolizes much of what’s wrong with the world today. We’ve taken the goal of “efficiency” too far, advocates argue. We need to slow down and understand where our food comes from, and recognize our connection to agriculture, to communities, and to our natural systems. We have a responsibility to do so, for human, economic, and ecological health.

I was thinking about slow food while thinning carrots in my garden one weekend, listening to Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma on my ear buds. That’s when it hit me: the work I had been doing in community development was perfectly aligned with the efforts of the slow food movement. Local, human-scale, interconnected…the metaphor was inspiring, and it brought a wave of fresh, exciting ideas to mind. Slow Democracy!

I ran inside to test the idea out on my husband Mark. He seemed impressed, saying enthusiastically, “Slow Democracy? Great idea! Hey, I bet you could even get the domain name—!”


“Infinite Vulnerability” (for Maurice Sendak)

max_wildthings_279x180.jpgThe death of Maurice Sendak this week has gotten me thinking about why his books have made such an impact, and why as a nation we are registering his passing as a significant cultural loss.

I think, in large part, it’s because his books are not about a world in which there is obvious good or obvious evil, where the bad guys get outwitted and it all turns out okay in the end. His heroes are often misbehaving misfits of one sort or another who do what they can to escape the confines of their particular reality.

In short, he writes from a place of difference or disadvantage. We are invited to sympathize, and even root for, those least acceptable to society. For children, who are so often misunderstood, there is something very gratifying about this.


A Brief Note of Thanks

My father recently died after a long and full life. Over the course of the last few weeks, I was regaled with many a story of his contributions to his community. And as these stories piled in, I learned of others’ tireless efforts alongside his.

TeamworkHands_350x223.jpgAs I heard of the selfless contributions by these varied and numerous individuals, I couldn’t help but think of the communities the Orton Family Foundation has had the privilege to work with over the years. Time and again, I’ve been amazed by people’s unwavering commitment to assist the larger community in addressing issues of need and improving the collective quality of life.

Since 2005, Tammie Delaney has worked in Hayden, Colorado to help her town articulate a vision based on local values. Her (and others’) efforts resulted in a comprehensive plan and zoning regulations that embody thoughtful growth from the core out - successfully maintained despite a proposal to demolish a corner of Hayden’s historic district for new development - and an economic development plan encouraging growth consistent with the community’s values.


Not Letting “The Moment” Get Away

hand-reaching-soap-bubble_300x182.jpgWhile I would love to see the economy bounce back to what it was, I believe any further thinking along these lines is tantamount to the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand.

I don’t mean to suggest we should just give up; what I do mean is that if we expect things to return to the “old normal,” we’ll miss key opportunities to proactively prepare for the “new normal.”

With our life, culture and society transforming in fundamental ways, it behooves us to embrace this paradigm shift and challenge our old assumptions.


Staring at the Crystal Ball of Development in America

nexthundredmillion_kotkincover_278x423.jpgI work with people more than natural resources in our land use planning work here at the Foundation, so I sometimes miss the “purer” discussions around preservation or enhancement of a balanced, sustainable natural environment. That’s why I always eagerly await the next issue of Orion Magazine.

While the field of conservation has moved significantly towards the inclusion of humans in the discussion of and decisions about natural resources, the ethereal yet powerful spiritual elements of nature still find a constant thread in the articles, poetry and photography found throughout Orion.

Orion’s July/August was a different delight for me, however, as it looked at issues closer to home. It examines the interplay of climate change and peak oil and the responsibility of communities to plan accordingly and in a principled way.

The editors exhort the reader by asking, “When we take to the streets of our communities...shouldn’t we feel a sense of home that encompasses the past, the present and especially the future—a sense that our places are being made and remade to reflect the best of who we are and who we aim to become?” I’ve recently read two competing visions of how to answer these questions.


BOOK REVIEW - In Motion: The Experience of Travel

In his book The Experience of Place, the gifted writer Tony Hiss, offered us a new way to look at and appreciate place. In his latest offering, In Motion: The Experience of Travel, he does the same for travel.

Hiss, a Trustee Emeritus of the Foundation, is a truly lyrical writer with an incredible ability to draw information and inspiration from a highly diverse and extensive array of sources, and combine facts and philosophies to advance new insights.

In his new book, Hiss tells us how to reawaken our ability to experience travel and take it from something that, over time, has become familiar and even onerous and return it to an experience of higher awareness and true enjoyment. Developing the concept of Deep Travel, Hiss introduces us to this special type of consciousness. Deep Travel is a “bringer of novelty and the unexpected, a dissolver of boredom, even during an otherwise routine activity, like a trip to the supermarket.”


Open Source Democracy

jaredduval_nextgendempost_300x450.jpgJared Duval’s book Next Generation Democracy has just been released by Bloomsbury. Jared is on my Board, so I’ll admit my bias. But there’s no doubt his book is an important contribution to the evolving discussions on where democracy needs to go in our communities and our country.

Part educational and part advocacy, Jared’s engaging book offers a refreshing perspective on how the philosophy and field of open source software has shaped the “millenial generation” and its expectations of governments (and institutions). Being of the millennial generation himself, Jared is able to draw from his own experience and that of his contemporaries, as well as “baby boomers’” work and perspectives on the pressing topic of how to improve a system of government that clearly isn’t working.