Finding common ground at the Small Town Summit

Northern Plains joined over 250 other rural organizers and grassroots groups at the first ever Small Town Summit, hosted by United Today, Stronger Tomorrow, in Missoula in early June. Convened “by and for small town organizers,” the Summit created a space for rural organizers and leaders who frequently feel isolated from each other to share tools, tactics, and best practices. It was also a rare opportunity to dream big – to step away from the day-to-day of our campaigns and re-affirm our shared commitment to shifting power, changing narratives, and really listening to people in our towns and communities.

A core thread of the Summit was the sentiment that organizing in rural communities is unique – and that rural America deserves our time and attention. With Indigenous leaders, building trade workers, faith-based organizations, and rural organizing groups like Northern Plains in the room, we found common ground in our deep connections to our places and our shared belief that we are more powerful when we work together.

As part of the Summit, Northern Plains led an Ag, Farmer, and Food Justice Caucus for farmer and rancher attendees, and organizations doing work around ag and food issues. Member-leader Tom Tschida, a rancher in Bridger, facilitated the group, identifying some shared challenges and shared opportunities. It was a powerful reminder that we’re not alone – while our communities and the issues they face may each be unique, we’ve got a lot in common.

Thanks to Tom Tschida for attending the Small Town Summit as a member-leader of Northern Plains, and to United Today, Stronger Tomorrow for having us!

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