Events from the People, Places, and Power Series

Fulton County Edition

Gallatin County Edition

About “People, Places, and Power”

Questions such as these have been on the minds of many Americans and Illinoisans lately:

  • In light of growing disparities in population density across the United States and divergences between the popular and electoral votes in national elections, should the Electoral College be maintained, modified, or eliminated?
  • What is the fairest method of drawing the boundaries of congressional districts?
  • What is the fairest way to distribute Illinois’s tax burden and public expenditures between the seven-county area served by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, which encompasses two thirds of Illinois’s population, and the remaining 95 counties, which span 380 miles from north to south and 210 miles from east to west?
  • What approaches to policymaking are most likely to yield results that satisfactorily balance or integrate the needs, priorities, and values of urban Illinoisans with those of rural Illinoisans?

What do these vexed questions have in common? All somehow involve the relationship between population distribution and the allocation of political power and public resources. Issues arising from that complicated relationship are both perennial and timely, recurring in one form or another throughout the histories of our state and our nation and showing no signs of diminishing.

In the late summer and fall of 2020, we’ll explore such issues in three The Country and the City video programs entitled “People, Places, and Power.” Each one will feature a location within Illinois where questions involving the relationship between population distribution and the distribution of resources and power are especially relevant.

About "The Country and the City: Common Ground in the Prairie State?"

Contrasts between rural and urban perspectives on society have manifested themselves prominently in the news in recent years, but they are hardly new. Aesop’s famous fable, “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse,” indicates that such contrasts were on the minds of Ancient Greeks two and a half millennia ago. Rural-urban dynamics formed a significant part of the culture of the Mississippian people who occupied much of present-day Illinois 700 to 1,200 years ago, and they have influenced seemingly every aspect of public life here in the Prairie State throughout its 202-year history.

Our social and political discourse appears to reflect deep divisions and oppositional relations between urban and rural Illinoisans, yet those who are familiar with both city neighborhoods and rural communities across the state sometimes comment that their residents’ needs, concerns, and values may be more similar than they initially seem. To what extent can rural and urban Illinoisans find common ground on issues that affect both the country and the city? That is the question examined by The Country and the City: Common Ground in the Prairie State?.

Developed in 2018 in conjunction with both the Illinois State Bicentennial and the Illinois tour of a Museum on Main Street exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution entitled Crossroads: Change in Rural America, this program series addresses issues significant to both urban and rural communities, drawing upon a wide variety of humanities methods and content.

Past Events

Cultural Sustainability and the Pursuit of Community IFree Press Coffee House – Tuesday, September 18, 2018, Pittsfield, IL 

“Cultural Sustainability and the Pursuit of Community II” – SIUE East Saint Louis Center – Thursday, October 25, 2018, East St Louis, IL 

“Land Use and Environmental Ethics I” – Illinois State Museum-Dickson Mounds – Thursday, November 15, 2018, Lewistown, IL 

Land Use and Environmental Ethics II – American Indian Center – Thursday, December 6, 2018, Chicago, IL 

“Local Law Enforcement & Community Relations” – AARC at Booker Washington Community Center – Tuesday, February 19, 2019, Rockford, IL

“Media Coverage of Urban and Rural Communities & Sustaining Positive Momentum” – Shilling Environmental Education Center at Scovill Zoo – Tuesday, April 30, 2019, Decatur, IL

“Social and Economic Impacts of Incarceration” – York Township Public Library – Thursday, May 9th, 2019, Thomson, IL 

“The Changing Local Media Landscapes of Rural and Urban Communities” – Du Quoin State Fairgrounds  – Thursday, May 30th, 2019, Du Quoin, IL

“The Country and the City: Christine Brewer and Noam Pikelny in Performance”Old State Capitol – Friday, August 9, Springfield, IL

View the conversations here.