Solutionary Rail in 2021: Let's start tackling problems together

The Solutionary Rail project is gearing up for an especially impactful year in 2021, but to do this, we need your help.  Make a donation that will be matched HERE. Read our end of year letter below to learn more about why an investment in Solutionary Rail at this time can make a real difference to so many of the problems facing our country.

Dear Solutionary Friends,

Thank you for being part of a constellation of solutionaries who have helped us navigate this difficult year.  I want to catch you up on our progress on Solutionary Rail and share our team’s growing excitement for 2021.  

I recently learned that the National Grange published an essay I wrote, in the fall edition of their quarterly magazine, Good Day! The title as it appears in the magazine is “Granges urged to think of rail as part of climate solution” and it connects the dots on rural interests, agriculture, transportation, and climate change.  My initial title was Solutionary Rail and the Importance of Solving Problems Together. (Contact Solutionary Rail for a copy of the article.)

In the article, I refer to a conversation with Kevin Klenklen, former President of the Kansas State Grange. Kevin runs a business providing industrial hardware to railroads. We enjoyed a long and expansive conversation. We navigated the minefields of our differences by concentrating on our mutual curiosity about trains, rail’s importance for rural communities in particular, and the urgency of solving problems. At the end, Kevin said something that made a profound impression on me. He said, "I truly believe that every person desires and deserves the opportunity to think outside the box."  

I interpret Kevin’s words as an affirmation of the approach we have taken with Solutionary Rail: connecting the dots in multiple ways to solve intersecting problems.  Has there ever been a moment when it would be more justified to create millions of living wage jobs, rebuild the public health, energy and transportation infrastructure, and support resilient, regenerative local agriculture and economies? Never.  

Never in my lifetime has the rural urban divide felt more dangerous. We learned from the 2020 election that the division in the country isn’t really about “red states” and “blue states.” The maps clearly demonstrated that the actual division is between urban and rural communities. My sense is that globalization has left most people and communities behind, but none feel that crisis as distinctly as those in rural places. 

The divisive noise of partisan posturing and name calling needs to be replaced with listening and digging deep to solve problems together. My conversation with Kevin and many others like it have confirmed for me that Solutionary Rail has a particularly potent capacity to connect unlikely allies in a unique form of common cause. For this, I am deeply grateful and proud of our Solutionary Rail campaign, and I feel an urgency for expanding its reach. The time is NOW.  

We know that the pathway is not the past way. Instead, we are being called to an emergent way of being that is far more dignified, connected, and regenerative.  CoVD-19 has blown the walls off the proverbial “box” that Kevin mentioned. The “box” was always imagined, but the veil over that illusion has never been more thin. The walls of the imaginary box are evaporating, and our boldest visions seem more feasible, urgent and in some ways inevitable. 

NOW is exactly the time for our boldest visions, to listen deeply across differences - in order to tap into the deep well of human genius and creativity so that we can solve problems together.  As Kevin said, we desire that, and with your help, we will drive that.

This is the trajectory Solutionary Rail is on. It is how we are proceeding into 2021 and beyond.

And as ever, we can’t do it without you. 

With your help, this is how we are expanding our efforts to increase our impact in 2021:

  • We’ve hired Robert Colón, a young and brilliant Floridian who did his masters thesis on Solutionary Rail to be our liaison to the Green New Deal and similar efforts.

  • One of our star volunteers Mary Paterson has stepped up to lead the work on local and organizational resolutions, letters to the editor, and outreach. In 2020, one of our allies got the city of LaCrosse WI, an important hub on the Northern Transcon, to adopt a city-wide resolution in support of Solutionary Rail. Mary’s help will manifest similar resolutions.

  • I am participating in the Transportation Research Board’s Rail Freight Committee to increase considerations of the public’s interest in mode shift and electrification. 

  • We continue to pursue research data to document the external costs of long haul truck freight - examining wear and tear on highways, pollution, congestion costs, and more.

  • We will host many more Zoomcast interviews with current and potential allies and leaders from around the country and the world, as we did with Carlo Borghini of the EU’s Shift2Rail.

  • The deep work of building authentic relationships with unlikely allies, including the Rural Coalition, National Grange, tribes, labor, rural electric cooperatives, and others continues.

Solutionary Rail can make a huge impact, but time is running out on the climate clock. Help this project be part of a real and just decarbonization and just transition plan.

If you can, please make a tax-deductible contribution HERE or mail a check (made out to Backbone Campaign, our fiscal sponsor) and mail it to PO Box 278, Vashon WA 98070. 

Thank you for making this solutionary project one of the ways you make a difference.

With gratitude,

Bill Moyer, Director, Solutionary Rail Project

PS Some long time friends have generously created a matching fund to match the urgency of this moment.  This means that all donations (up to $25,000) made by December 31st will be doubled! Whether you donate online at or mail in a check - or transfer stock - you can double your impact.  Thank you for helping turn this pledge into needed funds that can help build Solutionary Rail.