Developing a sustained modern rural system

Ranging ... Virginia's Bland County Alternative for Visitors and Citizens

Getting Started

I do not know how to get the Gateway or the Initiative started. Many people have said "start small." Small farms, small markets, and general "dis-economies of scale" are all important problems and causes of other problems. A small start implies that there is no crisis and that there is plenty of time to make not-very-important changes. Diversity is needed to achieve stability, and that is in small supply. There may be foundation support or grants and they will be useful, perhaps essential. There is a real problem in convincing some foundations that not-for-profit funds should be committed to a concept that is for-profit-oriented funding of conservation, education, health, and improved quality of life. It is a novel concept and surprising when first read. There have been starts for similar activities with historical success, so I remain hopeful. Most things start with a good idea and a description and one or more people getting behind the idea, changing it a little, and then investing time and energy and funds, land, etc. in it. The more sound the idea, the less the risk.

Let me suggest several options and I hope they will stimulate others.


A local foundation can be created with donations and contributions made locally with tax benefits to contributors. The funds would be used to hire initial staff, implement System Central, planning, education and publications and outreach.


A small group of investors seeing the financial gains for the County as well as potential personal gains may meet and form the new corporation.

The County

The County may, with local banks, issue a line of credit for $1 million to a newly-incorporated Rural System.

It may also through regional and community development and industrial and community development groups, seek additions for funding (as suggested above) to move ahead the Initiative.


One or more major grantors (e.g., Gates, etc.) may see the national and international gains possible from Rural System and Ranging through reduced poverty, improved health, and improved land management.

The Barn Gang

Many successful companies have started small, started in the garage (as Microsoft) or in the barn. It can be imagined that in 2006 before the winter set in, a group met in the county, formed small special-interest/ special-talent action groups, affiliated by means of the Internet, met in homes, garages, or barns to get their particular enterprise started, affiliated with a forest cooperative and someone's land became the first Rural System Tract. Lands held by the county might be used in test cases. Several "gateway" sites were marked on a map and potential trail corridors on private lands sketched with willing private land owners. Affiliates were first contacted. Right Rural and The Base were formed and started.

A local group of businesspeople, with Tech students, faculty, and others may form several specialized groups (e.g., The GIS Group , GPSence).

The risks are high and failure can set back an otherwise very important concept for the future of the Western Virginia region. There has to be a strong start on a well-formed solution. The Initiative is such a solution ...a dynamic emerging system - for people, their communities, and their resources.

Robert H. Giles, Jr., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus
formerly of the
College of Natural Resources
Virginia Tech
504 Rose Avenue
Blacksburg 24060
Revised August, 2006

Perhaps you will share ideas with
about some of the topic(s) above.

Maybe we can work together
... for the good of us all
... for a long time.

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