KFTC Blog | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth


Conversation among members working on the front lines featured on KFTC Live

Posted by: KFTC Staff on July 20, 2020

Next episode: Wednesday, July 22 @ 1PM ET
Voting Rights

In fall 2019 KFTC started to explore the idea of a member-driven podcast series. Each episode would center women/Trans/Femme and voices of color and would be integrated with organizing and the work of KFTC members. 

These stories would lift up what’s happening in Kentucky, uncover our part in larger national stories, and help audiences imagine an equitable future and what’s possible when we organize. 

From the beginning we imagined each episode would be led by a host convening a group of people to have these discussions and allowing space for the audience to get involved. 

Since March we’ve leaned into this difficult moment and pivoted where we could. We turned to technology that would allow us to work safely from home, and the podcast became a live video broadcast. 

Using Zoom to broadcast live on Facebook, KFTC LIVE debuted on June 10, 2020, featuring co-hosts Cassia Herron, Tiffany Pyette and Shirlisa Arnold.

Once a month on select Wednesdays at 1 p.m. eastern time, Herron, Pyette and Arnold talk with an invited panel of Kentuckians about timely news and grassroots organizing across the state. Each episode has been enriched with music, centering meditations, and questions for the audience to consider and respond to.

Cassia Herron


 Tiffany Pyette


 Shirlisa Arnold

In addition to Herron, Pyette and Arnold, the first episode included guests Donovan Taylor and Lisa Garrison, all collectively representing voices from Louisville, Bowling Green, Corbin and Jenkins. The group discussed how their communities were showing up for the Black Lives Matter movement, highlighting that our statewide response to racial injustice was emboldened by decades of visionary grassroots organizing.

The second episode aired on July 1 featuring Herron, Pyette and Arnold plus LaToya Drake, Joy Girgis and Heather Kinney. Guiding questions included: “What would life be like if more people voted? What work did you do in this election that you are proud of?” 

The group discussed the creative and courageous ways Kentuckians showed up in response to an inspiring candidate and growing movement. And they invited folks to take action for voting rights. 

Stay tuned for the third episode featuring guests who have recently had their voting rights restored because of Gov. Beshear’s executive order, and learn about how you can get involved with the Kentucky Voting Rights Coalition.

Check on KFTC’s Facebook page for our episode schedule and to watch recordings of the first two episodes. Each episode is about an hour long.

Contact Caitlin Sparks at caitlin@kftc.org if you have feedback or an idea for the broadcast.

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KFTC leaders commit to Organizational Change Initiative

Posted by: KFTC Staff on July 20, 2020

As KFTC quickly approaches our 40th anniversary next summer, there’s much to consider celebrating. 

The organization – with origins in tax reform and a deep history and brand of Appalachian environmentalists – has grown to become the commonwealth’s premier group of grassroots social justice lobbyists and voting rights advocates. Across the country, KFTC is held in high esteem among our peers. 

We certainly have grown quite a bit, to the degree that we need a temperature check and a recalibration.

On May 28, Executive Director Burt Lauderdale, Chairperson Cassia Herron and Organizational Development Consultant Pamela Chiang made a presentation to the Steering Committee laying out the case to orient and organize ourselves toward an Organizational Change Initiative (OCI). The Steering Committee approved the proposal. 

Registering 170,000 People with Felonies in their Past - Starting with Training

Posted by: KFTC Staff on July 14, 2020

VotingRightsCoalitionMeeting7-10-20The Kentucky Voting Rights Coalition has just under 3 months to register some 170,000 people with felonies in their past who got their right to vote back through Beshear's executive action. We plan to do it through phone conversations, texting, door-to-door canvassing, mailers, PSAs, and more. But all that starts with training! Can you come out to learn more about how to help people navigate this process? If so, sign up below!

Scott County residents score victory against landfill!

Scott County residents attend hearing to oppose the proposed landfill expansion
Posted by: Beth Emery on July 3, 2020

This piece is written by member Beth Emery of Scott County. She and other members of the community led a fight against the Central Kentucky Landfill after it was proven there was illegal dumping in the landfill by the company that owns the landfill. Members in the Rolling Bluegrass KFTC Chapter joined the work in raising awareness about this issue, promoting and attending fiscal court meetings, zoning board meetings and more. The chapter is thrilled to be able to share what residents have won in Scott County, and celebrate their victory with them.

RECLAIM Act and AML pass the House as part of The Moving Forward Act

Posted by: KFTC Staff on July 3, 2020

Kentucky will have a better chance at seeing its $400 million backlog of mine reclamation projects move forward thanks to legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 1.

Both the RECLAIM Act and reauthorization of the Abandoned Mine Lands Program were included in the INVEST in America Act (a.k.a The Moving Forward Act), a broad bill addressing the country’s infrastructure needs.

"I am overjoyed that Congress is finally helping to clean up abandoned mines and polluted waterways," said Joanne Hill, a retired nurse originally from Harlan County now living in Pulaski County. "For too long, Kentuckians have been pleading for action with no response.”

Reflections on KFTC’s work in the 2020 primary election

Posted by: KFTC Staff on July 1, 2020

In so many ways, the primary election of 2020 was unprecedented. 

Booker not elected, but we're in this for the long haul

Posted by: KFTC Staff on June 30, 2020

Thousands of us across Kentucky were honored to work for an amazing, inspiring candidate, Rep. Charles Booker. And though he didn’t win his bid for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, he changed the conversation. He stood up for a bold vision and showed up for Kentuckians in times of crisis. He called out our broken system and called on all of us to build a brighter future.

It’s essential for Kentucky, our country and the world that we elect new leadership to the U.S. Senate in November, and we’re committed to helping make that happen. Once again, the eyes of the nation will be on Kentuckians. As we continue our work to register and mobilize new voters and have even more conversations, we'll be holding Amy McGrath to her commitment to learning from the Booker movement and centering Kentuckians in her campaign. She must hear from us, and we must work together to elect a new senator.

HEROES Act and Moving Forward Act are needed now

Posted by: KFTC Staff on June 30, 2020

The U.S. House has taken the lead on several bills that would provide immediate and long-term aid and jobs for people and communities hit hard by the pandemic and economic downturn. But unless Sen. Mitch McConnell allows the Senate to act soon, Kentucky communities will face devastating budget cuts to schools, health care, human services, infrastructure, public safety, unemployment insurance and more.

Specifically, the House has taken the initiative to pass:

  • the HEROES Act 
  • the Moving Forward Act or infrastructure bill (H.R. 2)

Signature Cures for Mail-in Ballots

Posted by: Dave Newton on June 25, 2020

Voting Rights Rally DayEven after the last polls are closed, there are a few things we can do to make sure every vote is counted in this primary election.

Some Kentuckians will hear from their County Clerks this week because their signature won't look quite look like the signature on file. They'll have the opportunity to "cure" their signatures leading up to June 30th. If they don't, their ballots won't count.

Blackjewel has environmental debts, bankruptcy court told

Posted by: KFTC Staff on June 25, 2020

KFTC and allies have asked a federal bankruptcy judge to consider the environmental liabilities created by Blackjewel LLC and its affiliate mining companies in settling the company’s bankruptcy case.

Blackjewel – the company that gained notoriety last year when it shut down while owing its workers unpaid wages – has unreclaimed mines throughout eastern Kentucky, as well as in Virginia and West Virginia.

In filings earlier this year, Blackjewel assured the court that the majority of its permits and reclamation obligations had been assumed by other operations, which would be responsible for maintaining and reclaiming the sites.

However, there has been no activity to transfer 149 of the 213 permits the company holds in Kentucky, research has revealed. In the meantime, environmental violations continue to grow at many of the sites.

“We’re alarmed by the fact that so few permit transfers have even been initiated, let alone completed. We’re also alarmed by high, and increasing, number of permit violations at the non-transferred permits,” stated the letter written by Mary Cromer with the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, based in Whitesburg.

KFTC members show up in big ways for primary election

Posted by: KFTC staff on June 24, 2020

KFTC members stepped up in remarkable ways this spring to participate in a unique election and support a true, grassroots progressive candidate – while looking out for each other.


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