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Reframing Rural Wisconsin: At a Crossroads of Resilience, Reinvention & Renewal
October 18, 2022 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm CDT
Through his award-winning reporting, Rick Barrett has witnessed firsthand the obstacles, inequities, and struggles so many rural Wisconsinites have faced in the past two decades. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many of these challenges, but the realities of population loss, farm foreclosures, and economic and political divides had been accelerating in rural Wisconsin long before the pandemic further upended daily life. In this lecture, Barrett shares his journalistic experiences, focusing in particular on two issues that threaten both the rich rural heritage of the state and the promise of a more resilient future — 1) the accelerated decline of the dairy industry and its implications for a state well known as “America’s Dairyland,” and 2) the lack of consistent, high quality internet access known as rural broadband throughout greater Wisconsin. Ultimately, Barrett combines personal stories from his reporting in the field with proposed solutions for solving some of the many challenges facing rural Wisconsin in our contemporary times.