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Wisconsin Academy: New partnership between Wisconsin Academy and Portal Wisconsin highlights voices of rural Wisconsin

Contact: Jason A. Smith, communications director
Editor, Wisconsin People & Ideas

The Voices of Rural Wisconsin project is a new partnership between Portal Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. Working together, these two statewide nonprofit organizations hope to share the stories, thoughts, and histories of Wisconsin's rural population in their own words. Some of the collected voices will appear in print article form in the pages of Wisconsin People & Ideas, the quarterly magazine of the Wisconsin Academy, while others will be organized into searchable, thematic categories for the Portal Wisconsin audio archive, found at portalwisconsin.org/ruralvoices. The unique combination of print and audio allows for deeper and wider exploration of the themes important to our rural citizens: rural land use, health care, production agriculture, environmental stewardship, and much more.

This expanding collection of authentic and authoritative voices, collected by writer and reporter Bill Berry, represents a rich cross-section of Wisconsinites who work, love, and live for the land. "The vast majority of Wisconsin residents are removed from their rural pasts, if they ever had them at all," says Berry. "Today, roughly two thirds of our population lives in urban areas. Yet many of us share a deep and in some ways inexplicable connection to the land. We identify with it on many levels, and even though we live far from the day-to-day realities of rural life, we somehow feel as though we have some claim to our state's rich rural heritage."

The first in the four-part series of Voices of Rural Wisconsin articles appears in the spring 2010 issue of Wisconsin People & Ideas, and the project audio archive can be explored at Portal Wisconsin beginning April 16, 2010. "Ultimately," says Berry, "we hope students, teachers, and everyday people will utilize this resource as a means to connect with and better understand Wisconsin's rural culture and rural citizens."

Additional sponsorship support for the Voices of Rural Wisconsin project comes from Alliant Energy and the Mead Witter Foundation. The Wisconsin Academy thanks them for their support.

About the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters

The Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters connects people and ideas for a better Wisconsin. Founded in 1870, the Wisconsin Academy provides a place where people who care about culture, nature, and the challenges of our times can gather for fruitful discourse and meaningful action. Wisconsin Academy programs include the James Watrous Gallery at the Overture Center for the Arts, a gallery by and for Wisconsin artists; Wisconsin People & Ideas, our quarterly magazine about Wisconsin thought and culture; Academy Evenings, our statewide series of public forums; and the Wisconsin Idea, a public policy program—the most recent of which focuses on “The Future of Farming and Rural Life in Wisconsin.” Get involved in any or all of these great programs by becoming a member of the Wisconsin Academy. For more information, visit wisconsinacademy.org .

About Portal Wisconsin

PortalWisconsin.org is a nonprofit website created by the Cultural Coalition of Wisconsin to promote the state's culture, arts, humanities, and history. The site includes a statewide events calendar, news, virtual tours, streaming video and audio, a gallery of Wisconsin artists, course listings and much more. Visitors can navigate its content through a variety of means, including searches by keyword, subject area and date. Besides the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, the Cultural Coalition is made up of seven other statewide partners: Wisconsin Arts Board, Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin Humanities Council, Wisconsin Library Association, Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television and University of Wisconsin–Extension—Outreach & E-Learning.

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