RuralX 2022 Facilitates Conversations on Loving Where You Live
What does it mean to truly love where you live? Sometimes it’s an outward expression, like we see on “I Love NY” sweatshirts. Other times, it’s an inner meditation that we repeat to ourselves in moments when our minds and our hearts are missing a place that’s no longer our home. And still other instances, it’s a passionate resolve to put in the work necessary to make our places something meant to be loved.
Whatever the interpretation, loving where you live requires action, said Dakota Resources President Joe Bartmann in his opening address at this year’s RuralX.
“Loving where you live is not a passive experience,” Bartmann said. “It is a bold act, an act of deciding to do something or many things.”
This adage was only further cultivated throughout this year’s RuralX event, which offered both online and in-person experiences to meet attendees where they were – literally. A variety of speakers, including keynote speaker, author Melody Warnick, presented to in-person attendees on the first day of the event, which was held at Valiant Vineyards in Vermillion, South Dakota.
“We’re extremely honored and excited to host RuralX in Vermillion this year,” said Melissa Eberts, Communications and Tourism Manager for the Vermillion Area Chamber and Development Company. “The ability to celebrate what we have all done and energize each other and see what we can do for our communities was truly a perfect moment. RuralX allowed us to show off our beautiful downtown, the National Music Museum renovation, and the second phase of our housing development, Bliss Pointe II, that has played a part in Vermillion growing at the fastest rate over 50 years.”
Then, day two of the event, hosted at the University of South Dakota campus, featured a conversation withcommunity muralist Reyna Hernandez, Knowledge Camp breakout sessions, a keynote address from author Melody Warnick, and RuralX’s signature OpenX session, where attendees set the agenda in real time.
During her keynote address, author Melody Warnick previewed her upcoming book, If You Could Live Anywhere, which, according to Warnick’s website, strives to “help location-independent people find the right place to achieve success and happiness.” RuralX attendees received a discount code to purchase Warnick’s new book, which debuts in July.
Melody Warnick gives her keynote address titled “Small is the Next Big Thing” to both the in-person and online audience at RuralX 2022. Photo credit Lisa Aust Photography.
In her keynote address at RuralX, Warnick explained the concept of “anywhereists,” a term she coined to describe these location-independent people, such as remote workers or retirees, who have greater mobility to relocate to new places in order to achieve a higher quality of life. With the rise of so-called “Zoom towns,” where people reside in a place but work remotely, these anywhereists are essentially “amenity migrants,” Warnick says, chasing after amenities that offer recreation and relaxation.
In her book and in her address, Warnick examines a Facebook study that analyzed what made employees feel satisfied in their jobs and engaged in their work. This study found that three key ingredients contributed to higher job satisfaction and engagement in work: profession (meaning a sense of learning and growth in a career); people (meaning employees felt they had social connections and/or a mentor at work); and purpose (meaning they felt they were doing something good in the world and contributing in a meaningful way). When applying this study to place attachment, or the sense of affinity a person has to where they live, Warnick found that people are more likely to find purpose in a place than in a workplace, and that working hard to discover or to cultivate such a purpose might make life feel more joyful where you live.
“When I spoke at RuralX last year, I got the sense that the people in attendance are people who love their places and want others to love them, too,” Warnick says. “When I was invited to come back, it was a joyful yes – people like this are always my dream audience because they get that idea of why places matter and are willing to do the work to make their place even more lovable and attractive.”
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