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Posted by on Jan 11, 2011 under

Pioneers Then & Now

This image was created by UNL architecture student Katie Johnston and was intended to symbolize her class’s role in the Albion community:

“I wanted to show our studio as the ‘pioneers’ of the 21st century.  The image is a photo-montage of the students in our studio in conjunction with the early pioneers showing how we differ from them in our efforts to ‘re-pioneer’ the city of Albion.  The pioneers on the left are uniform in position, all facing forward, tools on their shoulders, demonstrating their single-mindedness. In opposition, the pioneers on the right (our class) are showing a contrasting body language, exemplifying how we plan to approach this project in many different ways, including by looking to the past for inspiration and observing our surroundings to capture the essence of Albion.”

The term “re-pioneering” arose during conversations between Albion resident Paul Hosford and German environmental architect/professor Martin Despang.  Hosford and his wife Lori approached Professor Despang (then teaching at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln) for assistance in finding eco-friendly solutions to architectural needs in rural communities. The resulting approach to designing buildings with an eye towards both long-term energy efficiency and strengthening communities by creating inviting places for people to gather echoed that of the original pioneers and seemed to constitute a “starting over” in terms of environmental friendliness and sustainability.

Repioneering is not just an approach to architecture; rather, it is an attitude that can and is being used to address a range of problems facing residents of the rural Great Plains.

Although people in many places have been and continue to “re-pioneer” rural areas in progressive and innovative ways, this website is an out-growth of the deliberate efforts of people in Boone County, Nebraska, to draw upon the innovation and foresight of the original pioneers in preparing to meet the challenges of their future.  Thus this site offers examples primarily but not exclusively from the Boone County area.