Category Archives: Fighting for An American Heartland

Fighting for An American Countryside is a short ebook examining the plight of small town America, focusing on Minnesota: It also is a multimedia platform with video

Review by KEN KORCZAK

I was delighted to see a free Kindle book offered by Minnesota Public Radio News. As a resident of our far-flung rural northlands, the subject matter promised to be one of great interest for me – the plight of rural and small-town America.

I was not disappointed.

Written by MPR reporter JENNIFER VOGEL, this short book is perhaps more a very long, in-depth news piece than an actual “book” – but it is also multimedia vehicle because it embeds a series of videos throughout to support the text.

Alas, I am still slumming with my old first generation Kindle, so my device does not support watching the videos. Thus, I did not get the full impact of the information presented; so I warn other readers who are still in the “Kindle Stone Age” with me, unless you have the proper Kindle Fire or other device, you won’t be able to view the many video spots offered throughout.

I also navigated over to the MPR GROUND LEVEL web site to see if I might see the videos there, but could not find them – although I did not spend a lot of time searching.

(And one more mild warning to the general audience: The title is “FIGHTING FOR AN AMERICAN COUNTRYSIDE” – but it would have been more proper to call it the “MINNESOTA” countryside because the focus is almost exclusively here on the North Star State).

Anyway – In about 90 Kindle pages, Vogel skillfully provides a sweeping overview of the challenges facing rural Minnesota, and its small towns. She does a masterful job of highlighting an array of issues and challenges – shrinking and aging populations, dwindling tax bases, loss of schools and businesses, the flight of young people to big cities, rural health care challenges and even transportation and Internet availability issues.

She also zeroes in on solutions, and does so with some marvelous individual case study profiles. She introduces us to real people in small towns who are doing incredibly innovative things to breathe life back into their communities – from folks establishing cultural and art centers, to sustainable farming start-ups, renewable energy projects and various other innovative business models.

Author, Jennifer Vogel

Vogel finds a perfect balance between presenting the dire situations and enormous problems of a changing world to outlining a possible road map that might direct us to a brighter future.

So this is a terrific piece of work that I think will be inspirational especially to folks like me living in small towns — although I really hope folks in Urban America read it closely as well.

One last thing: I can’t think of a better person to be judging this work than myself.

I have worked as a newspaper reporter in every part of the state — in the far southeast corner at the Winona Daily News, the far northwest corner at the Hallock Enterprise, in the west at the Fergus Falls Daily Journal and right in the center of Minnesota at the Pequot Lakes Echo.

Take it from an aging burned out newspaper guy who has covered Small Town Minnesota on the ground and in-depth for years – Jennifer Vogel hits the mark with this terrific ebook. (I only wish I could see the videos).

Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, and served two years as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer. He taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years and is former communications coordinator for Minnesota’s Board of Water and Soil Resources. Ken is the author of:MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

Follow @KenKorczak