The three of them decided to host a symposium in March of about 50 people for young adults who had proven themselves in rural communities, whether as entrepreneurs, elected officials, educators, community organizers, farmers, or health care workers. However, they needed funding to pull it off. They reached out to Craft3, a nonprofit that provides loans to strengthen the resilience of businesses, families, and nonprofits in Oregon and Washington. Thanks to a $2,500 sponsorship from Craft3, a $25,000 grant from Wells Fargo, and a $1,000 sponsorship from Jefferson Land Trust, they were able to put on the symposium and provide some travel scholarships.
“We had previously supported Port Townsend as it created a strategy for becoming more sustainable, and we were proud to provide another grant for Rethinking Rural,” said Stephanie Rico of Wells Fargo Environmental Affairs. “Rethinking Rural is about the next generation taking a leadership role in their community and making the world better. They want to make a positive difference, and we want to support that.”
What millennials love about going rural
Older generations, like Baby Boomers, are more likely than millennials to live in rural areas, according to the 2016 Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends (PDF). About 20 percent of millennial homeowners live in rural communities, according to the report. Almost half of millennial homeowners, or 47 percent, live in the suburbs, while 33 percent live in urban areas.
Millennials like Moore are hoping to buck that trend. Rural communities offer two characteristics she says are important to millennials: quality of life and affordability. These traits are important to Moore — and they’re important to some of her friends, like one who left a job with a major company to move to a rural area and start a business, solely for a better quality of life.
“Joy is really important to millennials, and I think rural communities offer that,” Moore said. “Over the last year or two, millennials seem to be getting more involved in politics and leadership, and it can be easier in rural communities. You feel you have an impact in a community of 2,000 versus 100,000 or more.”
But she knows there can be challenges, as well.
“I think if you don’t have a background of living in a small community, you can feel like you’re hitting your head against a wall because the status quo can be so engrained in society,” Moore said. “By connecting each other through Rethinking Rural, we can create that support network and share best practices.”