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Posts tagged: Rural Tour

Listening to Rural Communities – A National Summit on Rural America

Cross-posted from the White House Blog

Tomorrow I will travel to Hillsboro, Missouri to host the Obama Administration’s National Summit of Rural America: A Dialogue for Renewing Promise. The event will feature a broad conversation with key policymakers and community leaders to explore the priorities and policies necessary to strengthen America’s rural communities. Read more »

Learning from the Growth of the Internet-Vice President Biden Announces New Broadband Grants

Those of us fortunate enough to have quality broadband service in our homes and workplaces know that it opens educational, business and entertainment opportunities that can only be imagined by those still living in a “dial up” world.  President Obama believes that all Americans should have access to Broadband, and today, through funding provided by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we made a substantial down payment on the drive to provide Broadband to communities that have little or no access to the technology. Read more »

Secretary Vilsack and Interfaith Leaders Participate in a Service Event in Rural Ohio

On Monday, Secretary Vilsack was in Zanesville, Ohio for a Rural Tour town hall focusing on green jobs and a new energy economy. After the forum, the Secretary visited Maple Terrace, a public housing facility for low-income senior citizens. He led an interfaith service event highlighting President Obama’s United We Serve volunteerism initiative. Secretary Vilsack joined local Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders to distribute energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs) to Maple Terrace residents.
Secretary Vilsack hands out lightbulbs at a Serve.gov event in Ohio
Secretary Vilsack reiterated President Obama’s call to service and talked about the importance of people of all faiths and backgrounds working together to solve our country’s greatest challenges. He also discussed the role of energy efficiency in the long-term sustainability of the American economy, including provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that promote green job creation. In addition, pointed out that many of the seniors at Maple Terrace receive a box of groceries each month from USDA through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

The event was co-organized by Eastside Community Ministry, a local ecumenical organization that offers an emergency food pantry, an after-school program, a clothing bank, and an emergency relief program; and Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, a non-profit group devoted to empowering a religious response to climate change and promoting energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.

Secretary Vilsack with Interfaith LeadersOhio families supplied the light bulbs for the event as a way to offset their carbon footprints. As compact fluorescent bulbs are more expensive than traditional incandescent bulbs, many low-income seniors would not ordinarily be able to afford the up-front cost of purchasing them. However, each bulb saves approximately $59 over its 5-8 year lifetime, so the long-term benefits of CFLs are remarkable. By purchasing CFLs for these seniors, donating families were able to both help people of limited income to save on their energy bills and offset their own environmental impact.

Monday’s event also served as a perfect kickoff to United We Serve’s focus this week on interfaith service. Eastside Community Ministry was the site of a July 1, 2008 campaign speech by then Senator Obama on the importance of faith-based and community organizations:

“You see, while these groups are often made up of folks who’ve come together around a common faith, they’re usually working to help people of all faiths or of no faith at all. And they’re particularly well-placed to offer help. As I’ve said many times, I believe that change comes not from the top-down, but from the bottom-up, and few are closer to the people than our churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques. That’s why Washington needs to draw on them. The fact is, the challenges we face today – from saving our planet to ending poverty – are simply too big for government to solve alone. We need all hands on deck. I’m not saying that faith-based groups are an alternative to government or secular nonprofits. And I’m not saying that they’re somehow better at lifting people up. What I’m saying is that we all have to work together – Christian and Jew, Hindu and Muslim; believer and non-believer alike – to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

Rev. Bob Davidson, Executive Director of Eastside Community Ministry, said: “The event was very informative. The residents of Maple Terrace deeply appreciated the savings they will receive as a result of using their new light bulbs.” Dr. Greg Hitzhusen, Executive Director of Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, added that “the event catalyzed a lot of excellent community involvement. Residents were thrilled to be able to meet Secretary Vilsack.”

Overall, this event was a great opportunity to highlight interfaith service and cooperation. It also allowed Secretary Vilsack to showcase the important role that energy efficiency can play in our economic recovery and the health of our planet.

Rural Tour Visits California’s Central Valley

Secretary Vilsack meets with business owners and United Farm Workers

Today, Secretary Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Merrigan met with leaders and members of the United Farm Workers at Monterey Mushroom, a company located on the edge of California’s Silicon Valley. The roundtable discussion involving 27 workers and eight growers is part of USDA’s ongoing effort to communicate with disadvantaged and underserved communities. The meeting began with a moment of silence for farm worker champion, Senator Ted Kennedy. Read more »

Rural Tour fostering a nationwide discussion on rural issues

Since the first event in June, we’ve been excited to see the Rural Tour generating really thoughtful conversation and debate on the issues facing rural America. At town hall forums across the nation, Secretary Vilsack and his counterparts across the government have met with large, sometimes overflow, crowds. They’ve been able to answer questions and engage in productive debate on the best ways to help rural America. Read more »

Vilsack Outlines Vision for our Nation’s Forests in Seattle Remarks

With Secretary Vilsack doing so much this month, I want to make sure everyone gets a chance to check out his great remarks last week on the future of our nation’s forests, and share people’s reaction. Read more »