Rural Roundtable held

Published 6:30 am Monday, December 2, 2019

According to a release, Sister Simone Campbell, SSS (Sisters of Social Service), executive director of NETWORK Advocates for Catholic Social Justice and leader of Nuns on the Bus met with members of the Dillwyn community on Friday, Nov. 22 during NETWORK’s Virginia Rural Roundtable.

The roundtable, sponsored by activist group Friends of Buckingham, was the 14th in a national series of roundtables by NETWORK.

The release cited that for over 45 years, NETWORK has helped to “mend the gaps in federal policy by advocating for the 100%.” At Friday’s roundtable, Campbell met with representatives from the area in order to discuss rural experiences and environmental concern.

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The meeting took place at noon at Frida’s Mexican Restaurant in Dillwyn.

“When you look at a map of where health care, education, and the economy are all in trouble in our nation, what you see is that rural America is struggling,” said Campbell in the release. “I’m a city girl, so I don’t claim to know the answers to the rural challenges. But through Nuns on the Bus, I learned that local experience is the best teacher. We need to be educated. So NETWORK is launching a year of intensive listening so we can educate members of Congress about the rural reality. We have to learn from the experience of folks on the ground in rural communities. We need to understand not just their challenges, but also the innovative solutions they’ve created.”

Chad Oba

Chad Oba, president of Friends of Buckingham, explained that NETWORK reached out to their group in order to arrange the Virginia Rural Roundtable in Dillwyn.

“They had heard about us because we’ve been in the news a lot, even nationally,” said Oba during an interview with The Herald on Nov. 20. “So they thought that would be a good place to start to connect with us for us to serve as community partners for them, to be able to hear what our needs are here. So we see it as an opportunity for us to be heard, obviously, regarding the rural issues that we are facing here in Buckingham.”

Oba stated that the roundtable would serve as an opportunity for area concerns to be taken to a federal level, as NETWORK, a lobbyist group, will prepare a post-roundtable report that will be sent to government representatives.

Oba added that although Friends of Buckingham is heavily focused on issues of environmental justice like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and the proposed ACP compressor station, the roundtable featured discussions on other subject matter. Oba also stated that the group had invited other community members that could speak on matters such as education, mental health and broadband access.

“I’m very excited to meet somebody of her stature,” Oba said on Nov. 20 in reference to Campbell. “She’s done a lot of activist work on behalf of social justice across the county, and so to be recognized as a group worthy of hosting an event like this, I’m very grateful and very much looking forward to hosting.”