Theodore Roosevelt Created Foundation for Rural Sustainability
The centennial of Theodore Roosevelt’s “Country Life Commission” (CLC) of 1908–1909 offers an opportunity to showcase a cornerstone for sustainable rural community and economic development.
To commemorate the CLC’s work, Timothy Collins, assistant director of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) and Stephen R. Hicks, graduate assistant, developed a Website that traces the CLC’s legacy. The website can be found at www.iira.org/clc/.
Roosevelt’s CLC emerged in a turbulent time. America was being transformed from a rural, agrarian society into an urban, industrial society. Rural residents flocked to the nation’s cities seeking better opportunities. This was an alarming trend to some leaders, who saw rural America, especially agriculture, as the economic, social and moral foundation of the country.
The Report of the Country Life Commission, issued in March 1909, is rarely read now. Roosevelt’s biographers hardly mention it. In reality, the report is a gem. Some of its old ideas could shed some light on sustainable rural communities today.
The basic CLC idea was to get people together to talk about problems and opportunities, a basic step in community building. Rural schools and churches were central to bringing people together and educating them to build stronger communities. Community residents also would develop new businesses, such as cooperatives, to increase farm income and the quality of farm life.
Illinois Co-op Linemen Compete in Safety Rodeo
EnerStar Power Cooperative Lineman Russ Camp demonstrates the egg climb event (linemen climb a 30-foot pole with a raw egg in their mouths to demonstrate smooth climbing skills) at the 12th Annual Lineman’s Safety Rodeo. Camp placed third in the event. The rodeo featured 14 teams from across the state and 150 people attended the event. Held at Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) in Springfield, the rodeo coincided with a series of courses designed to help electric line personnel improve their work skills in safe and efficient ways. Several electric suppliers joined the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives (AIEC) and LLCC in co-sponsoring the event. Other events included the hurt man rescue, cable splice, dead end insulator change and a mystery event.
Co-op Members Flood Senate With Half-a-Million Postcards
Thanks to co-op members from across the country, 515,000 postcards were sent to their senators asking for fair, affordable and achievable climate change legislation. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Glenn English (left) congratulated Shelby Electric Cooperative President/CEO Jim Coleman and the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives President/CEO Duane Noland for “really responding.” Out of all the states Illinois co-op members responded to the grassroots call to action by sending in one-third of all the postcards. The postcards were personally delivered by co-op leaders from across the country in late September just as the Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbra Boxer, D-Calif., was set to introduce a greenhouse gas bill. Noland said the debate continues and co-op members still need to voice their opinions. He said an easy way to do that is to go to www.ourenergy.coop.
Bees Lost to Colony Collapse Disorder Threatens Agriculture
The topic of disappearing honeybees first cropped up in 2004. Thousands of commercial beekeepers across the U.S. and beyond were reporting in some cases that as many as two-thirds of their honey bees were flying away from their hives, never to return. What made the problem — dubbed “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD) — so unusual is that most traumas to bee colonies leave bees dead in or around their hives, not mysteriously gone altogether.
There was no concrete evidence pointing to disease or predation or of mites that tend to attack beehives. Some speculated that chemical contamination due to widespread use of pesticides might be to blame. But no smoking gun emerged and the mystery remains today.
Whatever the cause, CCD remains a real threat to agriculture. About a third of all American farm production is dependent upon the pollination efforts of commercially raised honeybees. Bees are key to Illinois specialty crops such as pumpkins.
Organic beekeepers have not experienced CCD, leading to speculation that overall greener management practices could be the answer even if direct causes are not determined. Meanwhile, efforts to genetically modify bees that are resistant to predators and pathogens could also prove fruitful.
Source: USDA Agricultural Research Service, www.ars.usda.gov; CCD Steering Committee Q&A, www.ars.usda.gov/is/br/ccd.
One-third of the agriculture industry depends on the pollination of bees. But the Colony Collapse Disorder is creating a “perfect storm” that threatens this tiny ag worker.
Congressman Phil Hare Receives Illinois Electric Cooperatives’ Public Service Award
At an electric cooperative meeting hosted by Spoon River Electric Cooperative in Canton, Congressman Phil Hare (D-17) received the 2009 Illinois Electric Cooperatives’ Public Service Award. The award was made in recognition of Rep. Hare’s dedicated public service to all citizens of the state of Illinois and for outstanding contributions to the rural electrification program.
President and CEO of the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives Duane Noland said, “Congressman Hare is deserving of our highest award. He and his staff listened to our concerns about the Waxman-Markey climate change legislation currently being considered by Congress. He co-signed a letter sent to the House leadership that voiced concerns that the legislation wasn’t fair to the members of rural electric co-op members in his district and across Illinois. He understood and addressed our fundamental issue of affordability. He personally wrote, and met with, House Energy Committee Chairman Henry Waxman regarding his concerns for the consumers in his district and he has been gracious in his support of Prairie State Generating Campus. While we still have significant concerns with the legislation, and hope to make improvements in the Senate, Congressman Hare’s assistance to our not-for profit co-ops and their members is greatly appreciated and we look forward to continuing to work with him in the future.”
“I am truly honored to receive this award from Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives,” said Hare. “Rural electric co-ops provide power distribution to over 70,000 of my constituents. I look forward to continuing to work with our rural co-ops to get Prairie State Generating Station online, ensure consumer protections are fully met in any climate change bill, and address their other legislative needs.”
Among those presenting the Illinois Electric Cooperatives’ Public Service Award to Rep. Phil Hare Saturday were (l-r) Spoon River Electric Cooperative’s President/CEO William R. Dodds, board members Terry A. Beam, Rep. Hare, Scott Parrish, Lyle H. Nelson, Bernard Marvel, Jack L. Clark, James C. Banks and Kathy L. Smysor.