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The Liberty Rural Learning Cooperative was founded by the Grassroots Community Center in 2016 to preserve and support the unique qualities found in rural education, arts and culture.

Our mission is to implement projects that present alternative modes of preservation within diverse rural populations and to celebrate the rich cultural assets found in our small community. The Co-op’s first initiative, the Applied Rural Arts Program, focuses on four main areas; multi-disciplinary arts education and teacher support in rural schools; cross-cultural understanding; democracy in action; and ecological diversification. Workshops, events, and issue-based projects are produced around these topics to build pathways for holistic learning and where place-based educational practices can flourish. Our objective is to develop new learning experiences where rural cultural studies will thrive.

Applied Rural Arts Programs

Applied Rural Arts is a series of workshops, topics include; The Prairie Writer’s Workshop; Rural Musicology; Traditional and Contemporary Rural Art Forms; Museology and Archive Preservation in Rural Museums.

Our group has found that students educated in Eastern Colorado schools are rarely taught about rural cultural contributions to contemporary society which unfortunately dismantles their interest in exploring their rural roots. The study of Applied Rural Arts identifies unique local and regional cultural assets that serves as inspiration for new and creative approaches to traditional art practices based on the student’s authentic view of their own community. Formatted as workshops, a variety of topics are taught by community leaders and designed as learning experiences that fosters positive social engagement for both older and younger generations. Together, local teachers and citizens develop course materials based on creative thinking within a local context, this encourages active civic participation and personal reflection about the current and future realities facing rural communities. The classroom environments, or mainstreet learning labs, are public spaces that allow for the exploration of divergent views and support innovative methods of learning and presenting outside of school. It is our goal to build a strong sense of community through common experiences, learn and teach within a real world context and fully engage in the inquiry process, from problem to solution.

The Applied Rural Arts program pivots current day education practices from static and didactic to social and personal which becomes more useful and more meaningful for families in rural towns. For many citizens living in remote locales this shift can be significant because it offers equity in how and where we learn — hometowns become laboratories, farmers become teachers and main streets become classrooms.


Maureen Hearty
Kirsten Stoltz

Community advisors:

Debb Behrendsen, Hollyhock House Creative Space & Kirk Post Office
Amy Carbone, Fort Morgan Community College
Christi Herrick, Liberty School Board Member & Plains Co-Op
Judy Hill, Kirk United Methodist Church

Grassroots Community Center

The Grassroots Community Center of Joes, Kirk, and Cope, Colorado exists to provide a place where individuals, groups, and organizations can convene to engage in social and recreational opportunities, health maintenance and prevention activities, and educational and cultural endeavors.

Located on Mainstreet in Joes, Colorado
6671 US Highway 36
Joes, Colorado 80822

The Liberty Rural Learning Cooperative and its Applied Rural Arts program are generously funded by: The Gates Family Foundation, DeGroot Foundation, Arts in Society, Colorado Creative Industries, The Rose Community Foundation, The Yuma Community Foundation, the Eugene Nelson Foundation, and the gift of time and energy from many rural citizens living on the High Plains.