All the People, All the Places

The All the People, All the Places report provides a valuable landscape analysis for funders and other partners focused on the challenges and opportunities facing our small cities and rural areas.

Building relationships across diverse regions

The report was created by long-time activist, grassroots organizer, and philanthropic leader Ben Goldfarb, in partnership with Heartland Fund, and provides insight into the myriad of opportunities for rural and small-town civic engagement.

Created by
Ben Goldfarb, in partnership with Heartland Fund


Demographic trends

Many rural areas have struggled in the wake of economic globalization and automation. The report describes how decades of misconceptions and disinvestment have resulted in the unique challenges facing rural working families, ranging from the loss of rural jobs to the rise of public health issues.

However, the report shows that a new understanding about race, class, and democracy in rural areas and small cities can lift up great opportunities for engaging in multiracial organizing for change. Promising rural issues range from safe drinking water to ambitious climate change and economic development policy, and more:

  • Bringing manufacturing jobs back to many rural areas and small cities 
  • Supporting family farms to thrive in the face of agriculture monopolies
  • Innovative ideas for helping local retail and small businesses 
  • Reversing the boom and bust cycle of extraction-centered economic policies
  • Addressing public health issues like the opioid epidemic

Learn about rural voting trends

The report highlights unexpected voting trends in the wake of the 2016 and 2018 elections and provides insights for donors on key issues that activate rural people to participate in democracy for the long haul. Rural voters care about many of the issues that people in metropolitan areas care about, but these similarities can often go unnoticed, and underemphasized. The majority of rural voters feel the system is rigged in favor of the rich, they support offering free tuition to local community colleges and trade schools, and want Medicare to cover all Americans. All the People, All the Places shows that connecting with rural voters on these issues goes beyond messaging, requiring deep community engagement.

Political and cultural challenges outside of major metro areas are born from indifference and a lack of investment, not lack of opportunity or talent.

Your generous donation supports Heartland Fund to create tools and resources to help bridge the gap between philanthropy and rural communities.

Framework and opportunities for civic engagement

Our report acknowledges the connection between philanthropy’s withdrawal from rural and small-town areas, and fragile organizational and civic engagement capacity, while providing a framework for donors to reverse this trend. All the People, All the Places discusses the unique factors that go into rural organizing and notes there are genuine moral imperatives in these communities to drive change.