RM is a forum for insight, analysis, and debate about Mississippi’s critical long-term issues — run by and intended for the people committed to working on these issues in the future. RM offers a space for Mississippi’s emerging leaders to be heard, and, more importantly, to hear from each other. In short, we want the people who will shape the public policy of tomorrow discussing it today at RM.
Mississippi’s rising generation will inherit a state brimming with potential but mired at the bottom of nearly every national ranking in education, health, income, and social justice. With these challenges comes an opportunity to rethink the next generation’s approaches to the state’s problems. That process must begin with the people who plan to make a difference in Mississippi engaging in a vigorous public discourse about the state we aspire to create. (Read this introductory article, Only Honest Mississippi Spoken Here, for more about why that discourse is vital.)
RM offers a collaborative outlet to foster and disseminate new ideas for the state’s most entrenched problems. RM’s format will offer knowledgeable voices a forum for deeper insight and analysis than most traditional sources, fulfilling an important service for those who seek more substantive engagement with the state’s critical issues. In time, we hope RM will become essential reading for emerging policymakers and thought leaders.
Mississippi has few outlets for long-form discussion of policy and public affairs, and fewer yet that are not bound to contemporary political debates. RM is concerned with the implications of public policy on a 10-, 20-, 30-year horizon. We are particularly interested in the issues overlooked by Mississippi’s politicians and the traditional media. We aim to assemble the state’s best rising thinkers, writers, activists, politicos, etc. to, well, rethink our approaches to these issues. They will be given as much space as they need to express their ideas. Any viewpoint can receive publication as long as it is argued sincerely and supported by evidence.
The astute observer will probably notice some common threads among our contributors, at least early on. Most have a preexisting connection with me, the editor. Some grew up with me. Some I know from college. Some may even be related to me. The idea behind RM began in conversations among my friends about the future of the state. I found these conversations to be uniformly sincere and constructive, no matter the composition — partisan, racial, or otherwise — of the participants. The common desire for a more prosperous, healthy, and just state seems to trump all other divisions among Mississippi’s rising generation. Naturally, I have reached out to many of the participants of those conversations to solicit contributions for the site. Their knowledge, ideas, and passion should stand on their own. As the site grows, we hope to cultivate a wider group of contributors attracted by a shared commitment to addressing the state’s tough issues.
We’ve tried to organize the site around the content while retaining ease of navigation. Our home page will feature the latest articles, while the sidebar will lead you to the month’s most-read articles and our latest comments. We have sorted our articles based on type and topic. All of our content will fall into one of three categories: feature, analysis, or commentary. A feature article is a freeform exploration of an interesting and relevant topic; analysis is a sharp dissection of a specific issue; and commentary is a persuasive op-ed advocating a specific position or course of action. Our core issues are listed below, in the submenu: education, economics, health, justice, and society. Each of these issue categories will be complemented with more specific post tags, searchable from the top-right corner of the page.
The post you are reading right now inaugurates my personal blog, entitled “Thank God for Mississippi,” which will offer links, quips, musings, and perhaps the occasional rant. It will be accessible via the navigation menu and the homepage sidebar.
Feedback and engagement from readers is vital to our mission. RM‘s published content will merely provide the first words on a given subject; the last word will be left to you, our readers. Every article will have a dynamic comment thread attached. Our writers will be encouraged to enter the discussion to provide greater depth into their views. We will moderate comments to keep the conversation civil and germane, but we will be mindful not to interfere with vigorous-but-sincere discussion.
Each comment thread allows readers to monitor activity site-wide under the “Community” tab. We have also set up an open thread at “FreeThink Mississippi,” accessible from any part of the site through the navigation menu. FreeThink is meant to be a wide-ranging conversation among the RM community. If something is on your mind, please voice it there. If you feel that you can’t sufficiently express your thoughts on an issue in a single comment, we invite you to submit an article of your own. Check out the “Submissions” tab at the very top/very bottom of each page to find out how to do that.
Please help us grow by carrying the conversation to your social media accounts. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, then link to our content as much as you can. Tapping into the social circles of our readers is RM‘s best means of expanding the site and, more importantly, sharing the ideas that come from it.
The Winter Institute
Rethink Mississippi seeks, above all else, independence of voice and thought, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our patron, the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, and its namesake, the former governor. The Winter Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit organization housed at the University of Mississippi that works with communities in Mississippi and beyond to promote respect, justice, and equity. RM was conceived before its affiliation with the Winter Institute, but theirs is a natural home for our efforts in both vision and method. We both possess a relentless optimism about Mississippi’s potential, particularly when it follows the lead of its young people. We also share the belief that establishing processes for community dialogue and engagement will yield more progress than devotion to a single cause or point of view.
We are especially proud of our affiliation with former Gov. William Winter. His statesmanship and grace represent a model of enlightened leadership. Even in disagreement, his opponents could never question his loyalty or love for Mississippi. Gov. Winter understood that focusing attention on the state’s greatest blights — education and race — did not contradict that love. It proved it.
This is the aspect of his legacy that most embodies Rethink Mississippi’s ideals: Loving a place doesn’t mean ignoring its problems. It means trying to fix them.
If you have questions or comments about RM, or if you’re interested in writing for us, please email me directly at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you, and thanks for reading!