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Nelson County welcomes exhibit encouraging conversations on rural roots, future direction

Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 6:27 PM EST
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NELSON COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Inside the Nelson Memorial Library, a national traveling exhibit has parked for a little while.

“Crossroads: Change in Rural America” is on display. “Crossroads” explores changing rural America on a national level, but it’s meant to be a conversation starter for locals.

“We provide an exhibition, but those communities supplement it with information that’s local, whether it’s objects or artwork or photo collections,” said Robbie Davis, Museum on Main Street Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition Service project manager.

In Nelson, that’s taken on a variety of forms.

People are encouraged to place a push pin on a large map of Nelson to show where people live in the county. Those pins can also serve as markers for people’s favorite places in Nelson.

Interviews from local families are also on display, with answers to questions like, “What does rural life in Nelson mean to you?”

“We don’t always talk about what it means to be a Nelsonian and what context and what that means and a lot of that in Nelson County we love to share,” said Jessie Rutherford, board of supervisors chair.

And the conversations don’t end on Nelson’s past and present.

“We see Crossroads as a chance for these towns, for these communities to have conversations about what their future is going to be. So, look back at the past and think, where’s that going to take us?” said Davis.

“How do we protect the things that we love in the rural context of Nelson County but also ensure that future generations can afford to live here in Nelson County? Live their life, have a job, have internet access,” said Rutherford.

Nelson was hand-selected to host the exhibit because of the community’s stories.

“Crossroads” will be on display until April 17. The official opening is Saturday.

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