Lessons from Wales spark ideas for community development in Appalachia’s new economy | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth
Release Date: 
Monday, September 29, 2014
Press Contact: 
Mimi Pickering

Lessons from Wales spark ideas for community development in Appalachia’s new economy
Public forum will be October 7 in Whitesburg

Additional Contacts

Tanya Turner, KFTC

Tom Hansell
Appalachian State University


Download photo of Hywel and Mair Francis

As eastern Kentucky works to diversify its local economy, which policies help build sustainable communities? Can eastern Kentucky learn from the experiences of other coal mining regions? The public is invited to attend a free event on Tuesday, October 7 at 7 p.m. in the Appalshop Theater in Whitesburg to discuss these questions with two guests who have been deeply involved in redevelopment efforts in the Welsh coalfields.

The coalfields of South Wales in the UK shut down 30 years ago, and former mining communities were forced to diversify their economy. As central Appalachian coal employment continues to decline, many are looking to Wales for ideas.

A 6 p.m. opening reception with refreshments will welcome the two visiting speakers: Dr. Hywel Francis is a Member of Parliament representing the Aberavon district, and Mair Francis is the founder of the Dulais Opportunity for Voluntary Enterprise, commonly known as the DOVE workshop. Candidates for local offices will be invited to meet the speakers and public at this event.

Evan Smith from the Appalachian Citizens Law Center and Robin Gabbard from the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky will also join the 7 p.m. discussion to speak about local efforts to build sustainable communities.

To introduce the forum, filmmaker Tom Hansell will present a short video clip featuring community development efforts in former Welsh mining communities from his documentary After Coal: Welsh and Appalachian Mining Communities. A former Letcher County resident, Hansell currently works with the Center for Appalachian Studies and teaches at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.

Ideas from Wales will be discussed at two related forums in eastern Kentucky this fall: Homegrown Tourism on Thursday, September 18 at the Elkhorn City Public Library, and Arts and Youth on Tuesday, October 28 at Southeastern Kentucky Community and Technical College Harlan Campus.

This free public event is sponsored by Appalshop, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC) and the Center for Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University, and is supported by a grant from the Chorus Foundation.

Hywel and Mair Francis were last in eastern Kentucky in April 2013 when they participated in the Appalachia’s Bright Future conference sponsored by KFTC. They have been collaborating with Hansell and others in Appalachia for many years.

Appalshop is located at 91 Madison Avenue in Whitesburg.