Chapter: Madison County

Do you believe community members have an important voice in the conversation about Madison County’s future?

The Madison County KFTC Chapter is a place where you, a member of this community, can work with others on issues we care about. Over the past year our members have worked together to promote clean energy at the local level, register and educate voters, support a Fairness ordinance in Berea, and much more. We have more than 500 members of various ages and backgrounds, and we welcome new folks.

Our monthly meeting is a great opportunity to learn what we’re up to, express your ideas and find a way to get involved.

Recent Activities

STAY Together Appalachian Youth 4th Annual Summer Institute

The STAY (Stay Together Appalachian Youth) Project will host the 4th Annual STAY Summer Institute (SSI) from July 31 to August 3 at Camp Bethel in Wise, VA.SSI is STAY's largest gathering of the year and is open to 14-30 year olds from Central Appalachia, including eastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee, West Virginia, southwest Virginia, and western North Carolina.

The STAY Project is a diverse regional network of young people throughout Central Appalachia who are working together to advocate for and actively participate in their home mountain communities. STAY is about the need for communities now and in the future to have the basic human rights that everyone deserves no matter where they live, their economic background, their race, language, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or cultural background.

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KFTC's Voter Empowerment work in the primary election and beyond

Just as no two regions of Kentucky are identical neither are KFTC chapters’ voter empowerment work. Across Kentucky KFTC members prepared to get out the vote during the primary election with activities including registering voters, tabling events, canvassing door-to-door and phone banking.

Chapters were very creative about how they encouraged voters to exercise their voice in our democracy. The Jefferson County chapter organized an amazing Bike the Vote event that brought out a fun, diverse crowd. The chapter also canvassed the Smoketown neighborhood to talk to residents about housing and development issues while also encouraging them to vote.

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Member reflection: Bereans for Fairness has already made a difference

NOTE: Kate Grigg is an active member of the Madison County KFTC chapter and has recently left her position as Eastern Kentucky Organizer for the Fairness Coalition. She will leave Kentucky this summer to pursue her studies, and she offered up this reflection on her time working to pass a local Fairness ordinance in Berea.

Megan Naseman and Jeanne Hibberd at Berea Fairness forum in May of 2011

As I leave my position with the Fairness Coalition, I am reflecting on the story of Bereans for Fairness. I started this job as Eastern Kentucky Regional Organizer in September of 2012, but Bereans for Fairness and I go back to the spring of 2011, just after I moved to Berea and just as the debate for Fairness began. Do you remember the second public forum at the community school? Hundreds of people showed up, the majority of them wearing blue to show their support for Fairness. Bereans for Fairness was born and we have been at it ever since.

In September of 2011, we worked with the Fairness Coalition and Kentuckians For The Commonwealth to organize an incredible rally and march. Hundreds of people gathered in front of Union Church. People shouted in front of the Berea Municipal building where city council holds its meetings. That same day, the city council voted to re-establish the Berea Human Rights Commission (HRC), reportedly a “first-step” on the way to Fairness for Berea.

Fairness rally day

Since then, Bereans for Fairness has showed incredible stick-to-itiveness. It has been slow-going and, at times, painfully frustrating. Yet, we have continued to meet and organize and do our best to keep the Fairness conversation on the forefront. We have held welcome receptions for the Berea HRC, led anniversary marches, and organized summer picnics. We have attended city council meetings and had individual conversations with council members and candidates, our mayor, HRC members, neighbors and friends. We solicited support from local businesses; at current count, we have an impressive list of 32 Business Supporters for Fairness. We have shared powerful stories and letters about why Fairness matters to us. We have flooded the council and the mayor time and time again with messages of our support for Fairness in Berea. We have also taken our voices to Frankfort, lobbying for a Statewide LGBT Fairness Law.

Bereans for Fairness march to City Council meeting in September 2013

We are on the eve of having a first reading on an anti-discrimination Fairness ordinance in Berea. I am confident that this passionate, dedicated group of folks who call themselves Bereans for Fairness will not let up until we pass Fairness. What we are asking for is simple: basic civil rights that provide protection from discrimination in the areas of housing, public accommodations and employment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. No, these protections don’t already exist. Yes, they are needed. Isn’t it time for Berea to stand up and pass this ordinance?

As was expressed at a recent Bereans for Fairness meeting, the gift of the long struggle to pass this ordinance is the community of dedicated, caring folks who have formed around this work. I am grateful to have been a part of that. The ordinance will come; I know you will see to that. In the meantime, know that y’all have already made a difference.

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Silas House’s Same Sun Here is a book about and for KFTC members

KFTC member and Kentucky author Silas House published a young adult novel in 2012 called Same Sun Here, a collaboration with New York City author Neela Vaswani. The book is a series of letters between River Dean Justice, who lives in eastern Kentucky, and a girl named Meena, who lives in New York City. House talked with KFTC recently about the book.

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$2,000 raised at Annual Pie Auction

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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Chapter Feature:

Regular Meetings:

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Berea College Appalachian Center
205 N. Main Street
Bruce-Trades Building
Berea, KY 40403
Monthly Chapter Meeting

Join us on the fourth Monday of every month at 7pm (unless otherwise noted) for our Madison County KFTC Chapter meeting. We share updates about our work, make plans for upcoming work, and much more. Everyone is welcome, and new faces are encouraged!

Chapter Organizer:

Beth Bissmeyer
140 Mini Mall Drive
Berea, KY 40403
859-314-2044

Upcoming Events:

July 28

Madison County KFTC chapter meeting

205 N. Main St.
Berea, KY 40403

Join us on the 4th Monday of every month for the Madison County KFTC chapter.  It is a great time to plan local work, discuss local and state-wide work, meet new people, and much more.

July 31

4th Annual STAY Project Summer Institute

Wise, VA

Contact Tanya@kftc.org by July 13th to join the KFTC delegation with a full scholarship and travel assistance!