Eastern Oregon University > Academics > Harmonizing communities statewide

Harmonizing communities statewide

Harmonizing communities statewide

EOU President Tom Insko speaks to students in the Urban-Rural Ambassadors Summer Institute in 2018.

Oct. 19, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – The Rural Engagement and Vitality (REV) Center—a program started by Eastern Oregon University and Wallowa Resources in January—has already embarked on a project to connect rural and urban Oregonians. 

“The mission of the REV Center is to connect EOU faculty and students with the regional community through meaningful projects,” said REV Center Program Manager Julie Keniry. 

The REV Center integrates community and campus life in a myriad of ways, including internships and off-campus employment. Recently, two students were hired to assist with a theatre project bridging urban and rural communities. 

The REV Center partnered with Sarah and Jack Greenman, who created the Urban/Rural Theatre Project. Based on a series of statewide interviews, conducted with help from EOU student interns, the project will showcase similarities and differences between urban and rural Oregonians and their communities. The project is already a year in, and the interviewing process will commence soon. 

“We think there’s a lot more that connects us than divides us…but there’s a lot that divides us and it needs to be spoken about and talked about. We believe in the power of telling someone’s verbatim story as a bridge for authentic community building,” playwright Sarah Greenman said. 

The stories, lifted directly from interview transcripts with real Oregonians, will be performed in a theatre-like setting. Greenman said she hopes to showcase what it means to come from a specific community.    

“We are on a mission to unearth various stories from all over the state about how our place in the state informs how we work, how we feel, how we relate– it’s how we build our families, how we run our businesses, and we are hoping to have a much larger conversation statewide about what it means to be in community with each other,” she said. 

The project will highlight struggles and perspectives that come with living in rural or urban environments and build a solid foundation for communication between the differing communities. The project is set to be completed in two years. 

By integrating EOU students and giving them real-world experience through writing and helping conduct interviews, the REV Center connects community and student life in order to benefit both parties.   

“If you want people to care about each other, you have to know their stories. Once you know their stories, you are creating a kind of intimacy… and once you start to care about them, you start to advocate for them, and you start to think about your world as connected to theirs, because it is,” Greenman said.

For more information regarding the REV Center, please visit eou.edu/rev

By PR Intern Emily Andrews