On a post-hurricane assessment visit to Puerto Rico, LISC Rural program officer Anna Hurt learned that baseball fields around the island are more than just a place for a game, they are a vital resource that brings the neighborhood together and boosts local economies. Damage to community fields is still deeply felt throughout the island. In this blog, Anna shares the value of bringing sports and recreation into the disaster recovery discussion and the launch of Play Ball Again, a new initiative to revive 25 fields for 17,500 boys and girls across Puerto Rico. Last week, LISC celebrated the opening of two such fields, with support from Maestro Cares Foundation, Good Bunny Foundation, UNICEF USA, and Chicago Cubs Charities, and showed how communities like the one where Ana lives come together for the love of the game, and one another.
In an interview with Shelterforce editor Miriam Axel-Lute, Jim King of FAHE in Appalachia and Bill Bynum of HOPE in the Mississippi Delta, two longtime LISC partners, discuss the challenge of persistent poverty in rural communities. Investing in rural areas—and dispelling stereotypes about them—they argue, is critical for the health of the entire country.
Few people in the world of community development got their start as early in life as Lahela Williams, a 2019 Rubinger Fellow who serves as the deputy director for Hawaiian Community Assets. Williams was barely a teen when she joined the board of her homestead association, a group that promoted safety, education and other quality-of-life issues for the Native community where she grew up on the island of O’ahu. That first job helped lay the foundation of a career dedicated to nurturing Hawaiian community leadership, as well as financial and personal empowerment for her fellow islanders.
When natural disasters strike—as they increasingly have—there are profound differences between response and recovery in rural areas and urban ones. On the eve of the annual Rural LISC seminar (this year in Monticello, New York, June 4-7), vice president and Rural LISC director Suzanne Anarde published an article in Shelterforce about helping community-based organizations better respond when disaster hits, boost rural resilience, and support communities in preparing before disasters befall them.
In an op-ed for the Daily Yonder, Suzanne Anarde, VP of Rural LISC, and Matt Dunne of the Center on Rural Innovation take aim at pervasive media portrayals of a rural America in hopeless decline (witness a recent New York Times column by Paul Krugman). The challenges are real, they acknowledge, but far from intractable. We must take cues from small towns building innovative local economies, and invest strategically to spark sustainable development and growth in the heartland—for the good of the entire country.