'After Coal' Forums connect mining communities internationally and bring out local candidates

Posted by: Lillian Prosperino on October 27, 2014

On October 7th, KFTC’s Letcher County Chapter paired with the Appalshop in Whitesburg, KY, and the After Coal project of Appalachian State University, to host a public community forum on economic transition, and a local candidate meet and greet reception. The evening reception began with informal conversation among the 80 guests and several candidates for local office, including the Mayor of Whtiesburg and a few city council candidates.  Mair Francis, founder of the DOVE Workshop, and Hywel Francis, a Labour Member of Parliament for Aberavon, Wales, traveled all the way to Whitesburg in order to discuss policies on sustainable community development in Wales and Appalachia. This was Mair and Hywell's first visit back to east Kentucky since sharing their experiences as the opening session of Appalachia's Bright Future conference in Harlan last year.

10014751_10152407948041623_297164187689692937_oMuch like economic struggles seen in Appalachia today, the coalfields of South Wales shut down 30 years ago – leaving mining communities forced to come up with strategic ways to rebuild their own economy. Mair and Hywel discussed what has worked for community development in Wales, what has been difficult, and how the coalfields of Wales can be compared and contrasted to the industry in Appalachia. Guest speakers to provide local anaysis and vision included Evan Smith, from the Appalachian Citizens Law Center, and Robin Gabbard from The Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky.

Clips from the forthcoming After Coal documentary about the years of exchanges between Wales and Appalachia kicked off the community forum discusssion. Guests from Wales went on to highlight some of the best practices in community regeneration, including the presence of a clearly articulated vision, and a thorough understanding of the strategies, priorities and resources required. Evan Smith, a Whitesburg native who often represents miners on justice issues such as black lung and mine safety, stated, “It takes a lot to fix an economy. There’s no silver bullet; but there are things we can be doing and things we could be doing better.”

Dr. Hywel Francis also emphasized the importance of community funding, education investment, and reclamation of environmental resources. Robin Gabbard explained, “The answers are in every little firehouse and post office in our communities. Not just the problems, but the strategies and what we’d like to see. To develop a place where our kids and other people’s kids want to have a life. Creating transferable leadership skills in our young people.”

When questions and respones were welcomed from the audience, Jared Utt, a local pastor, asked Dr. Francis how community members in Wales found hope in the early 80’s, when the mines shut down and people were out of work. “Fellowship is sort of the way that in great despair, people find hope in their work and struggle together – a sense of fellowship is immeasurably powerful,” Hywel said.

“Great hope is to be drawn from Wales – as long as we can plant gardens every year, and grandmas can play with their grandbabies; so long as we can imagine the community we want to live in, there is hope,” concluded Evan Smith. 

HigherGroundYouthThis event was the second in a series of three in eastern Kentucky this fall:  Homegrown Tourism was Thursday September 18 at the Elkhorn City Public Library, and Arts and Youth, with take place this Tuesday, October 28 at Southeastern Kentucky Community and Technical College Harlan Campus.  A 5 pm open reception with refreshments will welcome another visiting speaker from Wales. Candidates for local offices are, againg, invited to meet the speakers and public at this event. Visiting from Wales, Richard Davies, who directs the media program at Merthyr Tydfill College will present work created by his students and share lessons learned converting the old town hall into an arts center for the college.  Harlan County youth will share some of their work on the Higher Ground project as part of this exchange. 



0 comments view comments

Be the Change: Sign up to help build power this fall

Posted by: KFTC Staff on October 24, 2014

Be the Change!

0 comments view comments

Act now to cast an absentee ballot in November election

Posted by: KFTC staff on October 22, 2014

Take action NOW if you need to vote absentee in Kentucky

If you are registered to vote in Kentucky but won’t be able to get to your polling location on Tuesday, November 4, you need to act NOW to cast an absentee vote, either in person or by mail, in the upcoming election. We recommend in-person if you can manage that.

0 comments view comments

Paradise Waitin': A John Prine Hootenanny Benefitting Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Posted by: Beth Howard on October 22, 2014

For the second year in a row, folks gathered for a good, old fashioned hootenanny to the tune of John Prine at Paradise Waitin’: A John Prine Hootenanny benefitting Kentuckians For The Commonwealth on Saturday, October 11th at Willie’s Locally Known in Lexington. 

UntitledLocal bands paid tribute to folksinger and songwriter John Prine by putting their own touch to his songs all night. The event was sponsored by Willie’s Locally Known, WUKY, and West Sixth Brewing CompanyParadise Waitin' 2.

0 comments view comments

KentuckyElection.org has been updated for the November 4 election!

Posted by: Erik Hungerbuhler on October 14, 2014

KFTC's voter guide website has been updated with new information about candidate stances, voting locations, key links and other information to help you cast an informed vote in the election on Tuesday, November 4. We've surveyed candidates running for the U.S. Senate and House, state legislative races, and local races in Louisville, Lexington, Danville, Berea, Richmond, Georgetown, Newport, Florence, Covington, Bowling Green and more!

0 comments view comments

KFTC is "Powering Up" this election season

Posted by: Kentuckians For The Commonwealth on September 25, 2014

KFTC’s Fall 2014 Power Up webinar series is in full swing. These webinars will help members learn skills and opportunities to use this intense election season as a platform for KFTC’s values, frames, and vision.

We're recording these webinars on Monday evenings at 8 p.m. eastern. Join in to to participate in the discussion and have some good workshopping space, or find them here to watch them on your own time.

0 comments view comments

Central Kentucky chapter and allies celebrate Lexington's Affordable Housing Trust Fund

Posted by: Staff; Photos by Steve Pavey on September 24, 2014

Justice HouseOn September 11, members of the Central Kentucky KFTC Chapter stood with allies in the Lexington Fayette Urban County Council meeting and gave the mayor and council a thunderous round of applause – the council voted 12-0 to approve funding and oversight for a city affordable housing trust fund.

0 comments view comments

Shelby County pie auction fun and fundraising

Posted by: Lisa Aug on September 24, 2014

Shelby County Pie Auction September 18, 2014The Shelby County KFTC Chapter raised more than $800 at its first Pie Auction September 18.

About 30 people bid on 13 pies (including a cake and a cobbler), with winning bids ranging from $35 to $100. People also purchased KFTC shirts and hats and made direct donations.

KFTC members and friends who contributed pies went to the effort of making two of each: one for auction and one for tasting before the bidding began.  Goods included derby pie, chocolate pie, peach cobbler, Belgian butter cookie cake, chess pie, lemon meringue pie and others. During the tasting, the talented Susi Wood entertained the crowd with live acoustic music.<--break->

0 comments view comments

National Voter Registration Day

Posted by: Enchanta Jackson on September 24, 2014

With the voter registration deadline being only 11 days away, KFTC is vigorously registering voters across Kentucky. On Tuesday, September 23rd we participated in the National Voter Registration Day and hosted 16 voter registration drives across Kentucky!

0 comments view comments

Stanley Sturgill's press statement at the People's Climate March

Posted by: KFTC staff on September 21, 2014

KFTC member Stanley Sturgill was one of the speakers representing frontline communities who spoke today at a press conference kicking off the People's Climate March in New York City. Here is his statement:

0 comments view comments

Kentuckians taking a Just Transition message to People’s Climate March

Posted by: KFTC staff on September 20, 2014

Eastern Kentuckians participating in this weekend’s People's Climate March in New York City are carrying a clear message: We are at the forefront of the transition away from coal and we need to be put first as we go about building a new economy.

For Kimberly Shepherd, it’s about her daughter and her future. She is working toward a just economic transition so she can keep her family in the mountains.

“The solution is complicated. I don't think that there's one thing that can fix it, it'll take a lot of different things. But the resource we really have in Harlan County is our people and community,” said the Harlan County student and mother.

0 comments view comments


Subscribe to KFTC Blog