In January 2010, the Center for Rural Design at the University of Minnesota held the First International Symposium on Rural Design. Symposium attendees from 17 academic disciplines, government, nonprofit organizations, Extension, and professional practice came from across the Midwest and Canada—including from nine NCRCRD member institutions—to lay the foundation for this new field. The symposium focused on issues of rural areas in the three ecoregions comprising the entire Midwest, parts of other US regions, and most of populated Canada (the Temperate Prairie Parkland, Continental Eastern Broadleaf Forest, and Laurentian Mixed Deciduous-Coniferous Forest provinces).
In a post-meeting attendee survey (82% response rate), 85% of attendees were either satisfied or very satisfied with the symposium. A frequent comment heard was “I didn't realize there were so many other people interested in this!” To sustain the momentum created by the symposium the development of a web-based social networking site will nurture the beginning construction of an organization dedicated to rural design. The site is a space for members to initiate discussion around topics of interest; form research teams around those topics; share data and knowledge; problem solve; post publications, event information, and information about members’ work—among other uses.