Central Kentucky KFTC hosts #Kentucky Trivia

Posted by: Staff on July 18, 2016

The Central Kentucky Chapter of KFTC hosted their first installment of #KentuckyTrivia on Wednesday, June 29 at the West Sixth Brewery Green Room in Lexington. Kentucky Trivia, CKY

In partnership with Kentucky For Kentucky and West Sixth Brewery, KFTC members organized and created a fun space to learn and celebrate the best of these United States. Trivia hosts and KFTC members Chuck Clenney (also with Lexington Community Radio) and Meredith Wadlington kept the event lively and fun."This event was Kentucky edutainment at it's finest! It was so much fun hosting and we all learned a lot and, even though there was only 1 winning team, I think we all won in the end,” Clenney said.

Why "Black Lives Matter" matters

Posted by: KFTC on July 15, 2016

We are Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, a community of more than 10,000 people – Kentuckians – inspired by a vision, building New Power and a brighter future for all of us. For 35 years, we've been organizing for a just society, a fair economy, a healthy environment, new safe energy and an honest democracy.

We believe Black Lives Matter. We also believe that all lives matter; we've built an organization and a resume of accomplishments based on that principle. Together we act on that belief every day. We are motivated by our aspirational vision statement where we describe ourselves as "working for a day when Kentuckians – and all people – enjoy a better quality of life."

Like much of the country, we are devastated over the violence of the past two weeks. The deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police shootings followed by the shooting deaths of five policemen in Dallas – Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa – leave us heartsick. Words can't express the sorrow we feel for all the devastated families. We see the fear and anger that ripples out from the violence.

Though we are motivated by the fundamental truth that everyone matters, we know it is often necessary to focus our attention more clearly if we want to generate an intention and commitment to act, if we wish to create change.

As an organization founded in Eastern Kentucky by Eastern Kentuckians, we have made the case for 35 years that Appalachian people and communities have value and deserve respect – that we matter. As an organization with members all across Kentucky, we frequently remind allies and adversaries that rural people matter. Dismissed or disrespected in some national conversations, we sometimes have to declare firmly that Kentuckians matter.

Each of these and similar declarations of our community's value have been necessary. None of them detract from the truth that other lives matter too. None of them have generated a backlash against our members or our organization. And none of these ideas of our particular place in our shared humanity have been publicly rejected. Until last week.

Last Thursday, after the police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota, one of our staff made and displayed a Black Lives Matter poster in a window above our office. It was a personal gesture of solidarity and grief, intended to make the ongoing tragedies of black lives taken in full view, somehow less invisible. 

Then, after the shootings in Dallas, the backlash against KFTC over the poster was immediate and intense. The animosity and threat expressed toward us is but a small fraction of that experienced by people of color and others working for racial justice, but the intimidation intended was real and felt. Most of the vitriol is flowing through unaccountable social media, but some of the intimidation is more traditional. All of it is disappointing. 

Much of the vocal reaction and one small act of vandalism, sought specifically to use the phrase All Lives Matter to erase the message of Black Lives Matter. That only strengthens our resolve to remember and remind ourselves of the importance of Black Lives Matter.

“Black Lives Matter” matters because it focuses our attention on an urgent, immediate and centuries-old crisis. Violence against black people – state sanctioned or ignored – is so prevalent in our nation and across our history that we seem to have somehow accepted it as inevitable, even as we bear witness to example after example of gut-wrenching, deadly assaults. Perhaps we are numbed by the repetition, but our inaction looks like indifference … or complicity.

We are all witness to this tragedy, even if we try to look away. Each death, regardless of how distant, hits close to home and diminishes us all. And we are all responsible for creating the solutions that can put an end to the violence. But we can't solve the problem if we can't even bring ourselves to acknowledge it exists.

At KFTC, we recognize that we are – all of us – bound together. We believe that we can build a bright future together. Overcoming racism and halting the spiraling cycle of violence is but one of the challenges we all face, but it is a big one. Surely we can find the compassion to recognize – and the commitment to declare – the clear, simple, essential truth that Black Lives Matter. That will be a start.

Participate in direct action at the RNC & DNC w/ KFTC next month in Cleveland and Philly!

Posted by: Carissa Lenfert on June 20, 2016

 Kentuckians For the Commonwealth is sending three members to a series of actions at the Republican National Convention (RNC) and Democratic National Convention (DNC) next month. Our friends at Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ) are organizing a delegation of folks from grassroots groups across the country to be at the RNC and DNC and help speak up for racial, environmental, and economic justice through a series of actions. The event is called "It Takes Roots to Change the System: The People's Caravan." It is a call to action to confront the moment we are in and stand united and strong together. If you are interested in being a part of The People's Caravan with KFTC, see below for more details and a link to apply.

The Magic of the Open Mic Debates Series

Posted by: Kevin Cowherd on June 17, 2016

I know what you are thinking. “Really, what’s so magical about a couple of debates?”  Yes, we are only talking about 2 events and yes, the combined attendance was less than 100 people. However, the ideation and implementation of the Open Mic Debate Series is the beginning of something powerful.

Regarding Ideation, the focus of the May 17th Kentucky Primary was completely consumed by the U.S. Presidential race.  There was an anticipation of a typical low voter turnout for the state.  One way to combat this challenge is to remind people that local politics matter!  So many people are so consumed by the Presidential race that they neglect all the other offices and candidates that will appear on their ballot.  This lack of awareness of local races seems to be a factor in low voter turnout.  Therefore, maybe the key to increasing voter turnout is to better inform voters of local races that impact them more directly than the Presidency.

Successful and fun Shelby County KFTC Pie Auction & Chapter Annual Meeting

Posted by: Lisa Aug on June 17, 2016

Our fourth annual Pie Auction raised almost $1,000 for the Shelby Chapter. Sixteen pies, cakes and other edible goodies plus a hand-made summer garden wreath brought $810 plus another $155 in donations.  Two dozen members plus guests filled the Talon Winery Tasting Room, where samples of wines were also available. $965 made this our most successful pie auction yet.  The Talon Winery venue is a special draw, being a lovely building with country views yet conveniently located. Champion Fundraising Coordinator Ann Ellerkamp praised the Talon Winery staff for their help.

Our Work, In The Age of The Comment Section

Posted by: Tanya Torp, KFTC Vice Chairperson on June 8, 2016

No siren did ever so charm the ear of the listener as the listening ear has charmed the soul of the siren.

-Henry Taylor

My fingers were on the keyboard typing furiously. I would read a response, feel my blood pressure going up, and fire off another well thought out, reasoned, intelligent and passionate response to what I thought was ridiculous, reactionary, garbage. I was right. They were wrong. And, by golly, I was going to prove it.

But, after an hour, all I found was exhaustion, disappointment, anger and a feeling of hopelessness. How on earth had this conversation devolved into one of vitriol and fumes rather than substance and true discourse with someone I actually liked? Furthermore, how had I allowed myself to get to a point where I was staring at a screen, exasperated and sad, just plain sad, for the state of our world?

Bringing the budget home: Higher ed

Posted by: KFTC Staff on June 8, 2016

Kentucky’s state colleges and universities are reeling from Governor Matt Bevin’s unilaterally imposed 2 percent late fiscal year budget cut, and in the face of 4.5 percent budget cuts as of July 1, and another 4.5 percent cut again next year. (The state’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.)

Here are some impacts so far:

  • Morehead State University’s employees are on unpaid furlough for five days, and 65 positions have been cut.

  • The University of Kentucky is expecting to lay off 90 staff. UK also is rolling back its subsidies for county extension agents’ benefits. County governments, if they can, will be expected to make up the difference.  

  • Eastern Kentucky University is implanting a 5 percent tuition increase, a hiring freeze and reducing employee benefits.

  • Murray State University is eliminating 42 positions.

  • Northern Kentucky University is eliminating 105 positions.

  • And the Kentucky Community and Technical College system is losing 506 positions across the state.

Prisons won’t fuel innovation economy in eastern Kentucky

Posted by: Ada Smith on June 5, 2016

June 6 is the first Innovation Summit hosted by SOAR [Shaping Our Appalachian Region]. It’s a milestone for eastern Kentucky to have a state and federal platform that is focused on creative avenues for economic growth. In fact, innovation is the bedrock to our country’s 21st century economy and frankly eastern Kentucky has a lot to prove if we are to compete.

Support from the federal government has gone a long way in helping our region contribute to this country’s innovation boom. Unfortunately, that money has been slow in coming, or is being wasted on other things. For example, Congress, with the help of Congressman Hal Rogers, recently allocated $444 million to Letcher County – but the money won’t be spent on innovation or community-driven solutions. It will be spent on bringing a federal prison here.

Being an active bystander skill learned during a Green Dot training in Lexington

Posted by: Beth Howard on June 2, 2016

KFTC members learned about being an “active bystander” at a May 31 training the Central Kentucky KFTC Chapter sponsored with Green Dot Lexington.

“During the course of the evening, KFTC members enhanced their understanding of different intervention techniques that diffuse tension in potentially high-risk situations, and expanded their awareness on everyday ways they can advocate for community safety,” said Green Dot facilitator Meredith Swim.

Green Dot teaches that there are three ways to intervene in a violent situation – the Three Ds. The Three Ds are: direct, delegate and distract. Direct is directly engaging with the situation, but many of us might struggle to do that so we can also delegate to friends and family of the victim or the police. Or, we can create a distraction and de-escalate the situation.

Croeso i Seedtime! Celebrating Home & Global Community

From left: After Coal director Tom Hansel, DOVE Workshop Coordinator Lesley Smith, Tanya Turner, Elizabeth Sanders, and DOVE Workshop staff at the former coal board office turned women's education hub in Banwen, Neath, July 2015.
Posted by: Tanya Turner on June 1, 2016

This weekend we not only celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Seedtime on the Cumberland, we welcome (or croeso in Welsh) to Whitesburg, friends from very familiar looking communities in South Wales. Last summer my best friend Elizabeth and I had one of those rare, life-changing chances to visit another country, not as mere tourists, but as guests in the homes of musicians, artists, community leaders, and members of British Parliament. After days of travel on planes, trains, and buses from Whitesburg to Wales, we found ourselves rolling through hills that looked like home.


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