12 Must-Follow Twitter Feeds for Rural Advocates

As a writer, I'm drawn to Twitter's 140-character limit. It is social media poetry: every word, every syllable counts. As a neighborhood practitioner, I've also found Twitter to be an invaluable place to find and share resources related to community flourishing. (You can connect with me on Twitter at @johnepattison.)

Below you’ll find twelve must-follow Twitter accounts on the topics of rural news and culture. I am passionate about rural communities. I think that following these organizations, agencies, and activists have made me a better citizen and advocate for my own small town.

Are you on Twitter? If so, what are some of your go-to resources?

Citizens Institute on Rural Design

Twitter: @rural_design

CIRD connects small towns to the resources they need to develop innovative design solutions to rural communities’ most pressing challenges. They give out several grants each year, but they also offer support through webinars, conference calls, a robust Resources page, and a great blog.

Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues

Twitter: @ruraljournalism

The IRJCI helps rural journalists grasp the local implications of national issues, helps urban journalists interpret rural news, and helps disseminate the best in rural journalism. Its Twitter feed, like its blog, is “a digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism from and about rural America…”

Rural Development Initiatives

Twitter: @rdiinc

This nonprofit helps rural communities in the Pacific Northwest identify and achieve the visions and goals they set for themselves. Important projects include the Regards to Rural Conference, Pasos al Éxito, and Wealthworks Northwest seminars. RDI has also been an important partner in the Ford Leadership Institute Program, where I serve as the Online Community Manager.

Center for Small Towns

Twitter: @CforSmallTowns

Though it is Minnesota-specific and based at the University of Minnesota, I've found much that is helpful and inspirational from the Morris Center for Small Towns. My hope is to someday attend their Symposium for Small Towns, which last year included presentations on rural migration and "Rewriting the Rural Narrative." A useful blog too, though infrequently updated.


Twitter: @ArtForceInc

I particularly appreciate Art-Force's emphasis on the importance of place: “America’s small communities—each distinguished by demographics, history, industry, natural assets, and cultural resources—need imagination to retool essential enterprises and downtowns.” They use their Twitter feed to share interesting stories and articles from the intersection of art and place.

The Daily Yonder

Twitter: @dailyyonder

The Daily Yonder provides breaking news, commentary, special reports, and compelling photography and multimedia, as well as commentary on how national policies may be affecting your rural community. I try to visit their blog at least once a day. The Daily Yonder is a publication of the Center for Rural Strategies (@ruralstrategies).

The Path Less Pedaled

Twitter: @pathlesspedaled

The Path Less Pedaled combines two of my favorite things: bikes and rural advocacy. The founders, Russ and Laura, are dedicated to growing bicycle travel into a "welcoming, mainstream activity." One of their primary messages is that bicycle tourism can be a huge boon for rural economies (see video below). I couldn't agree more. Check out their Instagram account too for gorgeous photos of bikes, bike gear, backcountry roads, fly-fishing, and a lot more.

Other favorites include:

  • Legal Ruralism (@legalruralism) – Well-written news and analysis of rural life and culture, with an emphasis on “legal realism.”

  • Art of the Rural (@ArtOfTheRural) – In its own words, "a collaborative multimedia organization with a mission to promote diverse, interdisciplinary narratives of contemporary rural arts and culture.”

  • The Center for Rural Affairs (@cfra) – A 41 year-old grassroots advocacy organization, the Center for Rural Affairs “works to strengthen rural communities, small businesses, and family farming.”

  • Jackie Mader (@jackiemader) – Jackie Mader is a report for The Hechinger Report, and she covers rural education for Education Week.

  • Rural Development (@usdaRD) – The Rural Development feed of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

See my full “Rural” Twitter list