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Areas of Agreement

Areas of Agreement

By Elia Powers
One of the most dangerous divisions in the United States is between urban and rural communities. The urban-rural divide runs deep. Resentment is widespread, and clashes over politics and culture can turn violent. One nonpartisan organization is trying to bridge the divide. This series examines a multiyear effort to help people on both sides build relationships, find common ground and take on systemic problems that impact everyone.
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Episode 8: On Political Violence
One year after Jan. 6, 2021, Urban-Rural Action and partner organization Lead for America took part in the first National Day of Dialogue. In this episode, representatives from both organizations discuss how they felt on the anniversary of the insurrection, how they define political violence, what they make of a recent poll showing that roughly one-third of Americans say violence against government can be justified, and what questions they would ask people who share that view.  Host: Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More: Urban-Rural Action ( Lead for America (  National Day of Dialogue (  Poll: ( 
January 09, 2022
Episode 7: Representing Rural America
In this episode, an interview with an author who is part of a cottage industry of books about the political and cultural forces shaping rural America. I asked him why he decided to write about Nebraska, who his audience is and why there seems to be so much fascination among people who live urban areas about the small rural town where he grew up. In part two of this episode, an interview with a rural resident who's heavily involved in Urban-Rural Action about the recent attention paid to rural America and why it can be difficult to engage people from these communities in initiatives that aim to bridge the divide between urban and rural. Host: Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More: Urban-Rural Action (  Rural Rebellion by Ross Benes ( Op-ed by Joe Bubman (
May 08, 2021
Episode 6: Reimagining Rural Community Colleges
Community colleges -- especially in rural areas -- often get little attention. But they are immensely important to their regional economies. In this episode, the Uniting for Action America economy team helps the nonprofit Education Design Lab on a multi-year initiative to create new pathways to postsecondary attainment and economic opportunity in rural communities.  Host: Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More: Urban-Rural Action ( Education Design Lab's Bridges Rural Program ( Zane State College ( "Old Muskingum" by The Wayfarers (
April 23, 2021
Episode 5: Life in a Local News Desert
Hundreds of urban and rural counties in the U.S. don't have access to credible and comprehensive information that helps residents make decisions about quality of life issues. These places are commonly known as news deserts. This episode explains the rise of news deserts and explores the consequences with a case study of Caroline County, Virginia. How has losing a local newspaper affected the community? How do people get access to news and information about COVID-19?  Host:  Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More:  Urban-Rural Action ( News Desert Project ( News Literacy Project COVID-19 resources ( Study: "Life in a News Desert: The Perceived Impact of a Newspaper Closure on Community Members" ( Tony Ares (
March 21, 2021
Episode 4: Dear Senator
Education funding disparities affect K-12 schools in both urban and rural communities. One report found that Pennsylvania schools are the nation's most inequitable. This fourth episode focuses on a group of state residents who sent to lawmakers a letter advocating for changes in the way they allocate money to schools.  Host: Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More: Urban-Rural Action ( Taking Action for Equitable Funding in Pennsylvania (
January 27, 2021
Episode 3: Understand, Then Be Understood
Dialogue alone won't solve complex societal problems. But complex societal problems are hard to address without constructive conversations across difference. This third episode examines proven approaches to having conversations on divisive issues. One common theme: Seek to understand, don't just seek to be understood. Host: Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More: Urban-Rural Action ( Solutions Journalism Network ( Amanda Ripley's "Complicating the Narratives" (
January 27, 2021
Episode 2: Everyone Eats
Food might be the ideal topic for people living in cities and rural areas to unite around. Lack of access to food affects all communities. This second episode examines efforts to reduce food waste and food insecurity. Host: Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More: Urban-Rural Action ( Taking Action on Wood Waste ( Urban-Rural Collaboration on Environmental and Food Justice (
December 02, 2020
Episode 1: America's Urban-Rural Fault Line
Experts describe the urban-rural divide as one of the biggest fault lines in the United States. This first episode explores some fundamental questions: What causes the division? Why is it getting more pronounced? Why do we resent people who don't live in the kind of places we do? What can be done to bridge the divide? Host: Elia Powers (@eliapowers) Learn More: Urban-Rural Action ( Research: "Divided By Place: The Enduring Geographic Fault Lines of American Politics" (
November 25, 2020