When Yours Rurally launched in February 2020 it was intended to be a side hustle, passion project, a small way to propel my values into action, and a way to engage in rural-related advocacy. Two weeks after launch, the U.S. announced its first COVID-19 death. The state of New York saw its first COVID-19 case on March 1st and by March 27th, the eight weddings and one Berkshires Farm Dinner that Yours Rurally was in contract to service via guests gifting were canceled. I was preparing to table the side hustle and to focus on my full-time job and on homeschooling my toddler who was no longer in daycare. But eventually, and fortunately, decided to pivot (2020 word of the year) along with thousands of other small-business owners throughout the country. By July, the focus remained on marketing Yours Rurally gift boxes to individual gifters like you and shifted from marketing to the brides and grooms to corporate decision-makers. The value in this shift was the opportunities to speak from my soapbox about spending power being political power and how corporations and organizations could choose to be impactful with their spending by gifting employees and clients in a thoughtful and beautiful way while supporting rurally based entrepreneurs, businesses and brands.

Given the collective and impossible circumstances of 2020, the year turned out to be comparably good for Yours Rurally, revenue wise. Most importantly, however, was the stillness, quiet, and intentionality that the year provided. Life became more challenging for sure but 2020 presented an abundance around accessibility. Everyone suddenly seemed more accessible and for me, that resulted in hours-long conversations, deeper understandings, and stronger relationships with Yours Rurally vendors and other rurally situated entrepreneurs throughout the country. We discussed economic challenges, wins, struggles, the Black Lives Matter movement, politics, policy, social justice, and swapped small-town stories.

By late August, the thought that kept running through my mind was "how can Yours Rurally evolve into being less of a passion project and more of an impact-driven entity?"

By late September, I was putting pen to paper - drafting a business plan. And having tons of conversations with smart folks who were willing to share advice, insight, and guidance. Tomorrow, Thursday, February 11th, one year and one week after the launch of Yours Rurally, we will announce and open the doors to a new, national organization. This is not the end for Yours Rurally. The beautiful gift boxes will continue to exist and additional offerings will come online this spring. Yours Rurally will largely be the same but will now have a home. Will share more details tomorrow. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for supporting and cheering on this mission-driven side hustle of mine. Your purchases, your referrals, and word-of-mouth marketing on behalf of Yours Rurally has been beyond the best. I am grateful and I hope that you will consider following along this new journey with me, with us.

Thank you again. More information to follow. Yours Rurally, Sherri

The United States Postal Service (USPS) remains under threat. Mail delivery continues to be massively delayed or outright stalled. And the politicization of the agency is still underway - amping up even, as the country prepares for Election Day. What a shame.

Pointedly, if the USPS loses funding and fails, rural America is in big, big trouble. The USPS is not only a national treasure but is also an absolute lifeline for Yours Rurally and for other rurally-based businesses throughout the country. In many rural communities there are no other shipping alternatives. Further, the majority of rural towns throughout the U.S. lack a local pharmacy therefore the elderly and disabled depend mightily on the USPS to deliver their necessary medications. If the USPS fails, this population will be left with no access to vital and potentially life-saving drugs.

Please keep buying stamps and please consider contacting your Senators and Representative to demand that the USPS be protected.

On Friday, August 21, Yours Rurally, in partnership with Urban Exodus, hosted a special and important event, "In Conversation with former Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) // Countdown to Election Day 2020." Heitkamp served in the United States Senate from 2013 - 2019 and now serves as founder of the One Country Project. During Friday's conversation we discussed the critical nature of the upcoming election and its potential implications for rural communities and rural livelihoods. Heitkamp highlighted key races that we should be paying close attention to in order to ensure that Democrats flip the Senate and maintain the House. We discussed the overall, current state of rural America and dug into specific policy issues - from the digital divide that is leaving rurally-based students behind to the impact that climate change is having on rural communities and rural farms and farmers. It was a candid and robust conversation, one that centered upon policies and topics that frankly receive little attention in the mainstream media. The replay is below and we encourage you to take a listen.

We also encourage you to learn more about and get involved with the One Country Project (OCP). The organizational mission is to reopen the dialogue with rural communities, to rebuild trust and respect and to advance an opportunity agenda for rural Americans. You can find OCP on Twitter and on Facebook. Also, check out the One Country Fund, the political fundraising arm of OCP. The One Country Fund was recently launched and exists to serve as a voice for rural Democrats while supporting Democratic candidates and showing a better path for rural America. Finally, if you find value in the conversation below, you will definitely want to listen and subscribe to the OCP podcast, The Hot Dish where Heitkamp serves up insight into issues affecting rural Americans with an array of guests. We have listened to each episode to date, and trust us, the podcast is worth your time if you care about the state and future of rural America.

"We cannot just simply let our rural communities continue to dwindle and to be challenged by addiction, to be challenged by low quality healthcare or by substandard education. We have got to step up and say that every area of this country matters". --- Heidi Heitkamp

Thank you to everyone who joined us live for this important conversation. We hope that it was illuminating for you in some way and that it inspired you to get / stay actively engaged on these matters as we lead up to Election Day 2020 and beyond.

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