Field Engagements

CSG serves as a connecting hub for equitable rural community and economic development. We design and facilitate action-inducing peer learning among rural practitioners, national and regional organizations, and policymakers. We build networks, foster collaboration, and advance best practices from the field.

Thrive Rural Open Field

Thrive Rural Open Field sessions are relaxed virtual gatherings where practitioners and leaders from rural and Native nation communities can meet, share stories, swap lessons, and build community.

Join us and hear practical techniques from seasoned practitioners that you can implement in your work. Sign up for our mailing list to make sure you’re invited to our next gathering!

People stand in rural forest. Woman in pink vest has professional camera and records another woman and tree stumps.
Changing the Narrative: Building Trust Through Rural Media

Insights on how we can promote accurate rural narratives and increase local media to build trust and new relationships across geography.

Bank on street corner in rural town
Four Learnings to Improve Rural Capital and Credit Access

What are some of the major capital and credit trends right now for rural practitioners?

People walking with children on their shoulders
Naturally Balanced: What does it take to steward the land and grow rural prosperity?

Rural and Native communities have been stewarding the land for generations. Many are using new ways of growing nature and…

Field with wind turbines
Environmental Justice Practices & Resources for Rural Communities

Practitioner insights and resources on rural environmental justice, including ideas on just and equitable energy transitions.

Green landscape with icons and designs over it
Better Results: What does it take to build capacity in rural and Native nations communities?

Organizational capacity and technical assistance need to be carefully and intentionally strengthened in rural and Native nation communities to grow…

The Calm Before the Storm: Disaster Planning and Rural Resilience

Flooding, tornadoes, drought, wildfire, and other extreme weather events cause major disruption and damage wherever they occur and have potential…

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Thrive Rural Action-Learning Exchange

The Thrive Rural Action-Learning Exchange (TRALE) is an integral part of generating insights about what works and what’s needed to propel policy and practice toward producing well-being for more rural people in more communities and regions across the nation, especially in areas of concentrated poverty. In the TRALE process, CSG convenes a wide-ranging set of rural practitioners, advocates, policymakers, and others to produce needed breakthrough thinking on a selected “What will it take?” question. Each TRALE question addresses an “action gap” that stands in the way of changing systems and/or behavior critical to driving rural progress.

Our first TRALE process focused on six principles for measuring rural development progress to open and deepen conversations about better ways for funders and investors to design programs that consider lower-capacity communities’ realities, needs, and goals. Find the related publications below.

Screenshot of Measure Up: A Call to Action
Measure Up: A Call to Action — Executive Summary

This is the Executive Summary for Measure Up: A Call to Action. It highlights six principles for measuring rural development progress to…

Annotated List of Resources for Measuring Rural Development Progress

This Annotated List of Resources for Measuring Rural Development Progress is part of Measure Up: A Call to Action. It was developed and…

Reimagining Rural Assistance Network

The US flag flying in front of the Capitol building blurred in the background.

The Reimagining Rural Assistance Network (RRAN) is a focused, nimble, diverse coalition of rural development advocates, experts, and practitioners that came together in March 2021 in response to the significant expansion of federal funding. The group is composed of organizations such as Appalachian Community Capital, Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, California Center for Rural Policy, Communities Unlimited, Inc., The Brookings Institution, Housing Assistance Council, Region 5 Development Commission, Rural Community Assistance Corporation, and Education Fund. 

This work led to the creation of CSG’s Federal Resources page, which provides timely updates on federal resources and stakeholder input opportunities.

While RRAN works to support the Rural Partnership Program (as part of a smaller, negotiated Build Back Better or part of the 2023 Farm Bill), RRAN is also engaged in the potential reauthorization of the Economic Development Administration (EDA).

Rural Opportunity and Development (ROAD) Sessions

ROAD sessions highlight and unpack rural development ideas and strategies that are critical in response to COVID-19, for long-term rebuilding and recovery. ROAD sessions feature stories from practitioners and reflect and emphasize the full diversity of rural America. They spotlight rural America’s assets and challenges and lift voices and lived experience from a wide range of rural communities and economies.

The ROAD sessions aim to infuse practitioner stories and lessons into rural narratives, policymaking, and practice across the country, as well as to strengthen the network of organizations serving rural communities and regions. 

This programming is an effort of the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – in collaboration with the Housing Assistance Council, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Rural LISC, and the Federal Reserve Board.

Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group