Shifting Thresholds Update 2

Last week we participated in the Rural Futures Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska, a collaborative initiative led by the University of Nebraska to discuss the future of rural America, with a tendency towards Nebraska and the Great Plains.  The conference brought together 500 people from across the nation and world.  Anne participated in a panel discussion on the opening night of the conference which included other young Nebraska leaders.  We also presented some research for Shifting Thresholds in both the print and digital presentation exhibits.  Turn on your sound and check out the presentation above.

Creating this presentation was very helpful to further develop Shifting Thresholds.  The way that Sarpy County has been urbanized is largely reactive; reactive to policy changes, familial circumstances, and agricultural technology innovations; resulting in farmers selling land because they have no other choice and resulting developments take the form of 160-acres of former agricultural land.  We have developed a research methodology that will help us understand these generational shifts in ownership by creating separate timelines related to changes in legislative policy, tax codes, agricultural technologies, and agribusiness.  We will be able to draw relationships between these timelines and changes in ownership at specific moments in time.  By relating these timelines to the aerial photography, ownership maps, and information from driving interviews, we can begin to conceptualize how future development of the rural-suburban edge of Sarpy County can opportunistically anticipate some of these reoccurring trends.

Albert Pope says the following about the suburban-rural edge, “There can be no urban interior and natural exterior for the simple reason that there simply is no exterior to our ecology. There is only one environment and everything, every creation and every destruction, must be entered on the balance sheet. An urban system closed off from, and all but blind to the natural systems that support it creates an exterior capable of being abused with impunity.”  Check out the rest of this paper titled “Blue Archipelago” here.

We are really busy moving forward with these timelines in addition to continuing work on ownership maps, driving interviews, and aerial graphics.  In addition, will be engaging the public of Sarpy County in a site-specific workshop to discuss this research and where we hope to move the project in the next phase.  This will take place in July.  At this point we don’t know exactly how this workshop will take form, but we are developing ideas and have a design and development charrette planned for June.

We are still very actively seeking driving interviewees.  If you or someone you know lives, farms, or is involved in the community of Sarpy County and would be interested in participating in an interview, please email me at, so we can add them to the list of potential interviews.

If you didn’t see the last update about Shifting Thresholds Update please check it out here.