Welcome to Making Meaning, a podcast that explores how and why the humanities are an essential part of our everyday lives. In this series, we hear stories from our nation’s humanities councils and leaders across the greater United States about the role the humanities have played during the pandemic and are playing in our recovery. Listen to the trailer in English and in Spanish translation. All episodes become available on Tuesday, November 9, 2021, wherever you receive your podcasts.

Ep. 4: By the Book: Connecting Rural Communities

Jenny De Groot, a children’s librarian on Orcas Island in the Pacific Northwest, reads some of her favorite books while sharing how her remote community found ways to connect during the pandemic. Dr. Chuck Fluharty, founder, President, and CEO of the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI), explores the future of rural and urban communities through a public humanities lens.

Guest Bios:

Jenny De Groot is the Children’s Librarian for Orcas Island Public Library (OIPL). She oversees the library’s Programming and Collection Development for children (infants to 12 years old). Jenny earned her masters degree at the University of British Columbia and her undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, both in the biological sciences. Having spent more than two decades as a biologist studying sea otters, harbor seals, and coastal cutthroat trout from Alaska to Washington State, Jenny enjoys connecting children with their natural environment through forest storytimes, Be A Birder! programs, and Summer Explorer programs in partnership with the local parks and non-profit organizations.

Read more about the Orcas Island Public Library

Learn about Humanities Washington and the PRIME TIME Family Reading program that Jenny De Groot’s library hosted. PRIME TIME Family Reading was created in 1991 by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH).

Chuck Fluharty is the founder and President Emeritus of the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI), the only US national policy institute solely dedicated to assessing the rural impacts of public policies. He also was founding Co-Director of RUPRI’s Rural Cultural Wealth Lab. Since RUPRI’s founding in 1990, more than 300 scholars representing 16 different disciplines in 100 universities, all US states and 30 other nations have participated in RUPRI projects, which address the full range of policy and program dynamics affecting rural people and places. A Clinical Professor-Emeritus in the University of Iowa College of Public Health and a graduate of Yale Divinity School, he was also a German Marshall Fund Transatlantic Fellow from 2007 to 2011. Chuck is the author of numerous policy studies and journal articles, has presented dozens of Congressional testimonies and briefings, and is a frequent speaker before national and international audiences, having delivered major public policy speeches in over a dozen nations. He has also provided senior policy consultation to most federal departments, state and local governments, associations of government, planning and development organizations, and many foundations.

Find out more about the Rural Policy Research Institute and take a look at its Comprehensive Rural Wealth Framework.

Voices featured at the top of the show: Ciera Fisher (Delaware Humanities), Sue Skalicky (Humanities North Dakota), and Dr. Artika R. Tyner (author of Justice Makes a Difference hosted by Minnesota Humanities Center).

Find out more about rural communities on our blog:

Donuts Ask Big Questions Too: Humanities Washington’s Cabin Fever Kids

Rural Rewards: An Economic Executive Director on the Strength of Small Towns

A Soundtrack for 21st-Century Rural Kansas

Michigan Humanities Explores the Urban/Rural Divide

Wallace, Idaho: History of a Small But Mighty Mining Town with Idaho Humanities

Total Town Makeover with Missouri Humanities

Caring Labor Sustains Life: Women’s Labor Activism in the Appalachian South

Rural Goings-on in Kentucky

The show is produced by LWC. Elizabeth Nakano is our producer and sound designer. Jimmy Gutierrez edited the series. Jen Chien is executive editor. Cedric Wilson is lead producer. Spanish translations by Virginia Lora. You can find more episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. 

Making Meaning is a podcast from the Federation of State Humanities Councils and is part of its “Humanities in American Life” initiative, which is generously funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Note: The opinions and ideas expressed in this episode are those of our guests and do not necessarily reflect those held by the Federation of State Humanities Councils or its funders.