Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Longtime journalist reflects on conference designed to build non-coal economy in Central Appalachia

Journalist Al Smith, who has written for community newspapers in Kentucky for 50 years, recently attended the Appalachia’s Bright Future Conference, a three-day event in Harlan, Ky., that focused on improving the economy and jobs in Central Appalachian coal country without having to rely solely on coal for resources. Smith wrote an opinion piece about the conference for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

"This was a meeting of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, citizens who know how bad things are in the mountains, that their traditional 'boom and bust' economy in the coalfields may never 'boom' again," Smith wrote. "But instead of running away, or surrendering to despair, they think they can have a bright future —'if we build it,' say their leaders."

Smith stressed that the KFTC, which numbers 5,000, is not fighting a war on coal, but for transitioning away from coal, especially in regions where coal is no longer viable. They are working on "building local economies through arts and culture, a local food economy, land and stream reclamation, supporting entrepreneurship, sustainable forestry, expanding broadband Internet access, and affordable housing," writes Smith.

Smith quotes how Dee Davis, director of the Center for Rural Strategies, summed up the initiative: "It is not who out there we can blame for our troubles. It's how we can take responsibility for ourselves and this place." (Read more)

We wrote about the conference Tuesday.

Willie Davis, son of Dee Davis, also attended the conference, and writes about his experiences for the Daily Yonder.  

CoLab Radio also attended, and wrote a piece about the conference.

No comments: