Many Southerners rarely feel a sense of ownership for what takes place in their communities. Family and work demands, community problems with no easy solutions, uncertainty on how to get their voices heard, citizen apathy or alienation, entrenched leaders that oppose change – all are factors that tear away at the civic health of a community. Reviving and expanding the civic activeness of local people, institutions and organizations is a critical prerequisite for gaining traction and support for the tough choices that rural communities must make today. What the people of the rural South want are innovative ways to get involved, to share their insights and to make a difference.
The SRDC works with land-grant faculty and key partners to launch efforts that strengthen and facilitate people’s engagement in the lives of their communities. An important companion piece is research that uncovers key factors contributing to, or inhibiting, the emergence of civically active communities.