As I slowly round out this decade of my life and look to the next, I have a deeper appreciation for the strengths and beauties of this region. Its faults and wounds lay in much starker relief, as well. And it is this dichotomy that has compelled me to devote even more attention to careful study of this place.
Over the past year, I have spent hundreds of hours attempting to understand the depth of what the South is currently enduring educationally and economically, especially the rural South. Heartened by the increased attention being paid to education outcomes in cities like Nashville, Memphis, and New Orleans while also wary of the long-term viability of proposed improvements, I’ve moved forward - researching (and researching) and talking with anyone I can. I’ve also been inspired by technological innovations that could deepen learning and increase economic engagement in rural communities. Over time, though, my understanding of what would be truly helpful and should therefore be immediately acted-upon within either the education or economic space has grown increasingly unclear.
Given all of this and the fact that I am now firmly planted in eastern North Carolina, I have decided to externalize this inner conversation in the hopes that doing so will bring clarity of purpose and action to me and others. With this blog, my hope is to bring attention to and instigate focused conversation around the unique educational and economic challenges facing citizens in the South, especially the rural South. There are numerous ways to frame the conversation; but I hope to frame it loosely around people, places, and ideas that are currently playing a role or could play a role in the continued progress of this region. And I aspire to write and engage not as an authority, but as a learner alongside many others whose thoughts and deeds will surely push the conversation forward.
Next time, I promise to explain the reason why I’ve chosen Greenfield Southeast as the name for this space.