KFTC Blog

From Louisville to Appalachia: Celebrating Our Common Heritage

Posted by: Alicia Hurle on April 1, 2014

“From Louisville to Appalachia: Celebrating Our Common Heritage” was scheduled to be the first event of the Jefferson County Chapter’s Louisville Loves Mountains Week, a series of events leading up to the I Love Mountains Day march and rally at the State Capitol in Frankfort. Inclement weather led to the postponement of the event, but thankfully all of the performers and speakers were available to come out on March 17.  

“From Louisville to Appalachia” was a celebration of Kentucky’s African American heritage in Appalachia. Kentucky writers, musicians, and speakers were invited to share their work and personal stories in celebration of the unique natural beauty, ecological importance, and cultural heritage of Kentucky's Appalachian Mountains and mountain communities.


Cassia Herron, board president of Community Farm Alliance and Richmond, Kentucky native, emceed the event and also shared her family’s story of being tied to the land. Tarsha Semakula’s reading of her poem “I am Louisville” mesmerized the audience. Tarsha is a poet, writer, entrepreneur, and founder and executive director of The Buttafly Center, a community agency that is dedicated to the empowerment of women via education and training, communal resources, and personal development.

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Eastern Kentuckians work to guide Promise Zone process

Posted by: Tanya Turner on March 31, 2014

“The idea of the Promise Zone is encouraging,” said Elizabeth Sanders, Letcher County Steering Committee Rep., back in January. “We have a vision for a future for eastern Kentucky and know we have a lot of promise here in the mountains. If the resources from the federal government through the Promise Zone will coordinate with things like the SOAR Initiative and other existing and future programs, we may begin to see some steps toward the change the people of eastern Kentucky have been ready for and working toward.”


Since KFTC’s Appalachia’s Bright Future Conference in Harlan nearly a year ago, some big announcements and initiatives have surfaced to build wider support for a just economic transition in eastern Kentucky.

Governor Steve Brashear and 5th District Congressman Hal Rogers worked together to launch the SOAR initiative with a well-attended summit last December, and in January we welcomed the declaration of eight eastern Kentucky counties as federal ‘Promise Zones’. Since then, KFTC members have worked hard throughout the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly to lift up our best opportunities for statewide legislation and stay connected to all these efforts to guide the economic future of eastern Kentucky.

Last week KFTC members of the Harlan and Letcher chapters turned out for listening sessions to guide the regional plan of the federal Promise Zones. On Tuesday evening in Harlan, local members represented nearly a third of the 70 or so people who turned out at the Harlan Center. In the same room that hosted large group discussions at Appalachia’s Bright Future conference, Harlan countians shared a vision of hope and possibility.

Federal Promise Zone listening sessionVisions of parks, small businesses, trails and renewable energy made their way to large newsprint at the front of the room as a microphone was passed from table to table. Much of this spoken feedback was from young SKCTC students who traveled from the nearby community college campus with their entire evening class for the listening session.

Benham’s City Manager and longtime KFTC member Roy Silver shared the outline of an evolving "Benham Energy Project" collaboration between the city, Benham Power Board, COAP (Christian Outreach with Appalachian People) of Harlan, and KFTC. 

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KFTC members honored as Community Heroes

Posted by: KFTC Staff on March 31, 2014

KFTC members Tanya and Christian Torp are recognized among 50 Community Heroes in honor of Cesar Chavez Day, March 31. On the birthday of the late civil rights activist and labor leader, the Marguerite Casey Foundation’s Equal Voice for Families campaign is featuring on its website local leaders who are redefining poverty.

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Jefferson County Legislative Call-in Party

Posted by: Alicia Hurle on March 28, 2014

Earlier this month the Jefferson County Chapter of KFTC partnered with Network Center for Community Change (NC3) to host a Legislative Call-in Party focused on House Bill 70, the bill that seeks to restore voting rights to former felons who have paid their debt to society. KFTC members joined  NC3 members at their office to call the Legislative Message Line (1-800-372-7181) and leave messages for their senators and all senators asking them to recede to the House version of HB70. Members also took to social media to encourage their friends and family to do their part to support HB 70.

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$2,000 raised at Annual Pie Auction

Posted by: Cory Lowery on March 25, 2014

This past weekend, the Madison County chapter raised money in style. At the chapter’s annual Pie Auction, held in the basement of Union Church in Berea, chapter members brought pies to be auctioned off to raise money for KFTC’s citizen lobbying efforts. This year, KFTC split the proceeds with the West Virginia Water Project, an organization created to deliver water to the people whose drinking water was poisoned by the recent chemical spill around the state capital of Charleston.

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Eminent domain bill with broad support stalled in House

Posted by: KFTC staff on March 17, 2014

UPDATE: NOW STALLED IN SENATE. After nearly an hour-long debate on Friday, March 21, the House approved HB 31 by a 75-16 vote (see how they voted HERE). Rep. John Tilley and Rep. David Floyd argued passionately for the bill while several legislators representing the Bluegrass Pipeline partners argued in opposition. Now the bill is stalled in the Senate, where Republican leaders won't let it move.

Legislation to clarify that landowners have the right to decline easements for private pipeline projects across their land has been stuck in the Kentucky House.

After two meetings in February, the House Judiciary Committee approved a committee substitute for House Bill 31. The vote was 11-1 on February 26, with 11 votes being the minimum needed. Nine members of the committee were either absent or abstained from voting.

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A state Earned Income Tax Credit is gaining momentum!

Posted by: Kentuckians For The Commonwealth on March 17, 2014

A state Earned Income Tax Credit is gaining momentum! During last week's lobby day, members made sure that every legislator got customized information (thank you KCEP!) about how a state EITC would impact the people in their district. Most of this information was part of a larger conversation about the EITC's role within comprehensive tax reform like the Kentucky Forward Plan, and the opportunity in pairing an Earned Income Tax Credit with increasing the minimum wage in Kentucky.

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Happy Pi(e) Day! Celebrate with us next week in Berea

Posted by: Staff on March 14, 2014

Madison County pie auction and contra dance

Happy Pi(e) Day to all! For those who don't remember from their school days, Pi is a math term that has an infinite number of digits, but is approximately 3.14, so March 14 is known as Pi Day. There are plenty of ways to celebrate, but many festivities involve eating delicious pie, and that's just what the Madison County KFTC chapter will do next week when it holds its annual Pie Auction event in Berea.

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From KFTC's Economic Justice Lobby Day

Posted by: Kentuckians For The Commonwealth on March 13, 2014

The folks at KFTC's Economic Justice Lobby Day – twenty or so, and lots of great folks we've gotten to know from Women In Transition and Network Center for Community Change, and many first-time lobbyists – met the challenge head-on of working with at least four issues (in many more bills) that would impact Kentuckians' lives. It was a full day!

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Shining a light on Benham Power

Posted by: Sara Pennington on March 12, 2014

Benham Power Project -- March 2014On Tuesday, March 4, the City of Benham in Harlan County took a big step forward in charting its energy future. KFTC, along with the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) and MIT, presented research and proposals on how the municipally-owned electric utility in the town can save money on their power bills to their wholesale power provider, as well as help local residents and businesses save energy and money, and help stabilize the town's distribution grid. After the presentations, the town leaders were asked if they were interested in continuing forward with the design and implementation of the project and the response was an overwhelming "yes," with lots of great questions and suggestions shared that evening.

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