June 15, 2021

Rural Issues: Looking back to look ahead

Thanks to forward-thinking leadership at my local electric cooperative, the internet access available on our farm is faster and more reliable most days than the internet in my office in town.

The introduction of fiber-optic lines a few of years ago has had a considerable impact on communication and access from our farm to the rest of the world.

It is hard to believe it was just 85 years ago this past week that the Rural Electrification Administration was created to bring electricity to farms.

We have bundled together our internet, television, and phone services through our electric cooperative. Although we now have access to hundreds of TV stations, it is often the local PBS station to which we are tuned.

Those programs feature archaeologists digging and sifting through dry riverbeds in Africa, excavating 1,000-year-old ringworks in Ireland and searching for artifacts and ancient burial sites right here in the United States of America.

Arrowhead hunting was a shared passion in my family. From shards of pottery to hide scrapers, tiny spear arrows and massive axe heads — each find was a grand discovery.

My brother spent several years during high school and college working for the Illinois Archaeological Survey. Like a love of agriculture, a love of archaeology must be part of the genetic make-up in the Young family.

Archaeologists document and explain the origins and development of human culture and its evolution. It is rather amazing that pieces of bones and other artifacts can shed so much light on civilization.

Artifacts tell the story of how these people cooked, what they ate, how they ate, what they threw away, how they hunted, where they lived, and so much more.

The behaviors and even the beliefs of these early people can be determined by what they left behind. Burial sites tell the story of the religious practice and the cultural interaction with others who lived at the same time.

These people who lived more than 1,500 years ago depended upon one another as families, as clans, and as trading partners. They became organized and had clan leaders.

Archaeologists learn a great deal from the burial sites of leaders, but they also learn a great deal about the culture from how the “regular” people lived.

In a sermon at my church a few years ago, Pastor Brian told us that culture starts with regular people. Culture starts at the grassroots level. Ordinary people have the power to change culture. Jesus didn’t go to Caesar; he went to the regular people.

I hear from at least one person every day that is disappointed in the outlook, attitudes, values, morals, goals and customs shared by much of society today. If we really want to encourage and develop positive change, our local communities are the best place to start.

Cyndi Young-Puyear

Cyndi Young-Puyear is farm director and operations manager for Brownfield Network.