Appalachia in transition


Published on

2010 Appalachia Funders Network Gathering

Published in: Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Appalachia in transition

  1. 1. White PaperAppalachia in TransitionBuilding Sustainable CommunitiesA Convening of Funders for Learning and CollaborationAbingdon, Virginia | March 10–11, 2010ConvenersAppalachian Regional Commission, Washington, D.C.Blue Moon Fund, Charlottesville, VirginiaClaude Worthington Benedum Foundation, Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaFord Foundation, New York, New YorkMary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  2. 2. Appalachia in Transition Building Sustainable Communities A Convening of Funders for Learning and CollaborationThe MeetingOver two days in March 2010, representatives from 25 philanthropic and governmental fundersin Appalachia took part in a landmark gathering in Abingdon, Virginia. The group met to shareinformation about the historic and current forces that are shaping Appalachia, along with someof the promising initiatives that are paving the way to new economic opportunity. The funderrepresentatives also began to discuss ways to collaborate, including the possibility of creating aregional funders’ network that could leverage resources and help increase prosperity throughoutthe Region.ConvenersAppalachian Regional Commission, Washington, D.C.Blue Moon Fund, Charlottesville, VirginiaClaude Worthington Benedum Foundation, Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaFord Foundation, New York, New YorkMary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, Winston-Salem, North CarolinaCONTENTSIntroduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Ron Eller, University of KentuckyTransition in Context . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Anthony Flaccavento, Consultant and Organic Farmer, Virginia David Carrier, Appalachian Regional Commission, Washington, D.C. Rory McIlmoil, Downstream Strategies, West Virginia Jim Baldwin, Cumberland Plateau Planning District, VirginiaEmerging Opportunities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Ray Daffner, Appalachian Regional Commission, Washington, DC Justin Maxson, Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED), Kentucky Michelle Decker, Rural Action, Ohio Kent Spellman, West Virginia Community Development Hub Gwenda Adkins, Elliott County Cooperative Extension, Kentucky Ted Boettner, West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy Burt Lauderdale, Kentuckians for the CommonwealthFunder Conversation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8Planning Team/Participants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
  3. 3. Appalachia is “not INTRODUCTION the other America… Appalachia is “not the other America… it is America.” At a gathering of philanthropic funders working in Appalachia, this it is America.” premise struck a chord. It was part of a dinnertime address by —Ron Eller, Appalachian Appalachian scholar Ron Eller, who gave the keynote remarks at a two- scholar day meeting of representatives from 25 funders—a mix of staff and board members of regional and national foundations and community funds, along with several governmental funding partners. The room buzzed with conversation. The funders had gathered in Abingdon, Virginia, to consider possibilities for collaboration, including the poten- tial for a funder network for Appalachia. If created, it would be the first such network for the Region. Appalachia is entering its third major transition of the past century, Eller told the group. With widespread attention on Appalachia as coal and other energy sources are in the national spotlight, there is a window of opportunity to chart a new future for the Region. But first, we must deal with the false assumptions about Appalachia found in popular culture— ARC-Designated Distressed Counties, 2010 that Appalachia is less socioeconomically diverse than other parts of the NEW YORK country, that it’s more isolated, that it’s “backward” and lacks modern P E N N S Y LVA N I A thought and culture. Eller, author of Uneven Ground: Appalachia since OHIO M A RY 1945, argued that Appalachia should not blame its people and the land LA WEST VIRGINIA N D for its challenges. Rather, the structure of the regional economy is what’s KENTUCKY VIRGINIA HART largely at fault—the inherent limits of past transitions that embraced TENNESSEE NORTH CAROLINA extractive industries and manufacturing characterized by absentee own- SOUTH C AROLINA ership and low-skilled jobs. Such economic development brought indus- trial job growth but neglected the development of people, communities, M ISSISSIPPI GEORGIA Distressed County ALABAMA and natural and cultural assets of the Region. In the current, third transition, Appalachia has the opportunity to do things differently, Eller contended. This is the era of sustainability, and Appalachia has untapped human and environmental assets. To prosper, new structures will have to be created to invest in people and communi- ties. Organizations need to link together around common objectives. If they do, and proceed with hope, energy, and a shared vision, Appalachia may even lead the nation this time.Appalachia in Transition—Building Sustainable Communities 2
  4. 4. “Appalachia is PANEL DISCUSSIONS—March 11, 2010 The next day’s discussion built on the themes of Ron Eller’s remarks. entering its third The planning team for “Appalachia in Transition” invited practitioners and regional experts to share insights about current economic, social, major trasition of environmental, and political trends and how local communities are responding. They wanted participants to learn about promising initia- the past century” tives to build a diverse economy, as well as challenges to expanding and sustaining such efforts. —Ron Eller, Appalachian scholar Transition in Context—Panel I This panel explored the economic, social, environmental, and political trends in Appalachia. How is national energy policy affecting the Region? What is the impact on local communities, including local and state politics, as the Region responds to these trends? Facilitator: Anthony Flaccavento, organic farmer, consultant, and founder of Appalachian Sustainable Development, Abingdon, Virginia Presenters: David Carrier, senior economist, Appalachian Regional Commission, Washington, D.C. Rory McIlmoil, research analyst for energy and climate change, Downstream Strategies, Morgantown, Virginia Jim Baldwin, executive director, Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission, Lebanon, Virginia “While Appalachia is Appalachia “is entering the best of times, and the worst of times,” said Anthony Flaccavento as he introduced the panel. Appalachia has a still different from the growing local foods movement and growth in the creative economy. Yet coal is “still king politically,” and there are huge disparities in land rest of the country, ownership and wealth. it’s a lot less different Economy David Carrier further described some of the current economic trends— than it used to be.” including the below-average rates of personal income (about 20% less than the nation as a whole), adding that the recession has caused the —David Carrier, senior econo- loss of 800,000 jobs in Appalachia, the same number of jobs as had mist, Appalachian Regional been gained since 2000. “While Appalachia is still different from the Commission rest of the country, it’s a lot less different than it used to be.” Carrier sees potential in several economic sectors: alternative energy, sustainable forestry, tourism based on cultural and natural assets, and trade devel- opment to export Appalachian goods.Appalachia in Transition—Building Sustainable Communities 3
  5. 5. Flaccavento added that there are opportunities for niche markets for local and organic foods. He cited a study that showed a potential $2 billion boost to the local economy if people in Virginia bought food from local farmers at least one day a week. “There will be a lot Energy Rory McIlmoil reviewed research that demonstrates that Appalachia of opportunity for must face the reality and urgency of the decline in coal production, which will significantly reduce jobs and tax revenue. Coal production Appalachia as the in Appalachia will decline by nearly 50% in the next decade because of higher standards in the Clean Air Act and Clean Air Interstate Rule, world shifts to market forces favoring coal mined in the western U.S., and the increased use of other energy sources like natural gas. He noted the cleaner energy.” opportunity to address structural issues, such as land ownership and corporate control, through the development of community-owned —Justin Maxson, president, energy. He cited examples of local Appalachian communities exploring Mountain Association for the development of wind energy, which has been successful in other Community Economic regions across the country. Development Community Collaboration Jim Baldwin described successful collaborative efforts coordinated by the Planning District Commission in southwest Virginia. A major initiative to create a 400-square-mile rural broadband network has allowed south- west Virginia hospitals, schools, nonprofits and government offices to have “the same online connectivity as anyone in America.” Since the network was created, information technology employers have situated in the region adding some 1,000 high-tech jobs. Baldwin described other initiatives where the district’s 19 counties worked together to create and promote cultural heritage trails, including the ‘Round the Mountain (a network of artisans) and the Crooked Road (historic music venues). Other successful collaborations have supported sustainable forestry and helped tobacco farmers transition into organic farming by developing farmers’ markets, building regional packing houses, and connecting farmers with local grocery stores and restaurants. Follow-up Discussion For the past century, Appalachia followed the rest of the country in adopting the economic philosophy of “comparative advantage.” The Region’s dominant industries, coal and timber, eventually became overused and undervalued commodities. Now, Appalachia has theAppalachia in Transition—Building Sustainable Communities 4
  6. 6. “We’re now shifting opportunity to create an economy that is more diversified and sus- tainable. “We’re now shifting to an asset-based economy, to maxi- to an asset-based mize what we have… the forests, music, farms, the wind, etc.,” said Anthony Flaccavento. economy to maximize Economic transition will require people, projects, and politics. The what we have... the Region is beginning to see new leadership and demonstration projects, but the most significant challenge will be political. The powers and forests, music, farms, structures in place still support traditional manufacturing and industry, and new economic solutions must compete with the old for scarce pub- the wind, etc.” lic support and resources. Another challenge is changing perceptions. —Anthony Flaccavento, organic People in Appalachia have been told they are among the poorest, most unhealthy, and most apt to fail. Many residents and leaders react out of farmer, founder of Appalachian fear and denial of coal’s demise. Networks of farmers, artisans, non- Sustainable Development profits and others can be an effective new tool, but they’ll need support to build confidence and competence. There is a need for a positive and hopeful story to be told, and a unified vision to be created. Emerging Opportunities—Panel II Promising efforts are underway across the Region to capitalize on Appalachia’s assets to build a regional economy characterized by opportunity, diversity, and sustainability. Participants learned about examples of local and regional intia- tives, what factors have allowed these to emerge, and what challenges remain to expand and sustain these efforts. Facilitator: Ray Daffner, Appalachian Regional Commission, Washington, D.C. Presenters: Justin Maxson, president, Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED), Berea, Kentucky Michelle Decker, executive director, Rural Action, The Plains, Ohio Kent Spellman, executive director, West Virginia Community Development Hub, Stonewood, West Virginia Gwenda Adkins, county extension agent, Elliot County Cooperative Extension, Sandy Hook, Kentucky Ted Boettner, executive director, West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy, Charleston, West Virginia Burt Lauderdale, executive director, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, London, KentuckyAppalachia in Transition—Building Sustainable Communities 5
  7. 7. “People were beaten Ray Daffner introduced the panel, expressing excitement about various ways nonprofits and communities are building on long-overlooked down by statistics and assets as promising growth sectors for the Region’s economy. He high- lighted ARC’s focus on asset-based development, particularly opportuni- needed something to ties around energy efficiency and renewable energy. He asked the pan- elists to discuss approaches to economic development, community devel- be proud of.” opment and civic engagement, sharing what is working and what else needs to be in place to take the work to scale. —Gwenda Adkins, extension agent, Elliot County, Kentucky Economic Development There will be a lot of opportunity for Appalachia as the world shifts to cleaner and renewable energy, said Justin Maxson. Other economic sec- tors—food and forestry—also offer potential for building on the Region’s natural assets in a way that encourages community wealth and environmental sustainability. What will it take for there to be a serious transition in the economy? He said the first challenge will be to get law- makers and others to agree that Appalachia is indeed in a transition, and then to shift public investment from the old economy to the new. Another key will be to build capacity and leadership to develop new expertise in local communities. Michelle Decker talked of Rural Action’s work in sustainable agriculture and water restoration, noting national trends emphasizing “local” and “green.” She says the Wall Street crisis and recession have people thinking that “small is beautiful,” opening the door for community-supported agriculture (CSAs), farmers’ markets, etc. Now the challenge is to scale up some of these enterprises—to link small farmers and green wood producers with urban markets. Differences in state policies and nonprofit infrastructure across the Appalachian Region create uneven progress in moving to scale. Community Development Kent Spellman talked of his West Virginia group’s work to create community leadership teams, focusing “not on programs but on process.” The capacity building most needed is to convene groups around community assets (like local foods or tourism), introduce and connect people, develop leadership, increase civic engagement, and provide ongoing coaching. In rural Kentucky, Gwenda Adkins helped her community to determine its assets—natural beauty, artists, peo- ple—and then build a community plan around those assets. “People were beaten down by statistics and needed something to be proud of.” Over several years, the community designed and built a culturalAppalachia in Transition—Building Sustainable Communities 6
  8. 8. This is “one of the center, built a handicapped accessible hiking trail (the first in Kentucky), and developed and marketed a five-county plan for eco- most important agritourism. She said the successes were possible after providing leader- ship training, taking community members on research trips to see what moments in other communities have accomplished, securing grants, and asking peo- ple for specific help based on their talents. Appalachia in the Policy and Civic Engagement past century... Ted Boettner described how tax incentives used to attract industries have been a poor tool for economic development. Industries often leave change is going to after multi-million dollar tax incentives have been awarded, taking the jobs with them and leaving little in terms of a trained workforce or happen, but what community capacity. More effective alternatives include subsidized employment and transitional job training. He cited successful programs will it look like?” in other states for using coal severance tax revenues to support economic —Burt Lauderdale, executive transition by creating permanent funds for economic revitalization. He director, Kentuckians for the noted that people and communities need to let their state officials know Commonwealth that they want and need these policy changes. Burt Lauderdale called this one of the most important moments in Appalachia in the past cen- tury and cited the need for broad, progressive commitment to a just transition. Change is possible, but it’s going to be hard. The extraction- based economy (coal) is not going to “go out quietly.” There are serious barriers of politics and power. And people’s fears of Appalachia without coal are real and must be addressed. The conversation should be built from the community level, not the state/federal level, and will require sustained efforts by broad-based alliances and coalitions. A collective vision is needed to inform a series of choices. He closed with this chal- lenge: Change is going to happen, but what will it look like? Follow-up Discussion There was a lively discussion of whether and how the coal industry can be included in the conversation about economic transition. Unions know that coal jobs are waning, and they are open to discussions on ways to develop non-coal jobs. Everyone agreed that the public sector needs to be at the table, and that solutions will require a restoration of the balance between public and private sectors. The public has become less trusting of government and looks to the market to solve economic and social problems, but the market does not support equity or environ- mental sustainability.Appalachia in Transition—Building Sustainable Communities 7
  9. 9. “We must restore the Appalachia’s transition will require a change in hearts and minds in the Region. A communication strategy is needed to share ideas and create proper balance more advocates. People are paying attention to green jobs and are more open to hearing about new ideas. There is an opportunity at this between ‘public and moment to coalesce around a vision and promote the conversation. private’ in order to FUNDER CONVERSATION both reign in the In an afternoon funder-only session, there was resonance in the room about the ideas and opportunities discussed earlier and about the future market’s worst possibilities for funder collaboration. In lively, small group discussions, representatives from the funders talked about the social, economic and excesses and to environmental values that they all share. There was talk of building wealth and a sustainable economy in Appalachia; developing social cap- achieve the social ital, hope and community capacity; and finding ways to create and and ecological goals retain an intact, healthy environment. we share.” Developing a common agenda based on such values could be a future goal, but the group discussed how that might be too big a step for now. —Anthony Flaccavento, organic Rather, according to session facilitator Vicki Creed, “it feels like the farmer, founder of Appalachian room is in the beginning stages of courtship.” Creed led the day’s final Sustainable Development discussion among the full group, and cited a recent GrantCraft publica- tion that outlines the four stages of funder collaboration: Courtship, Getting Serious, Commitment, and Leaving a Legacy. (This is based on observations of funder networks that have been formed in other parts of the country.) To move through and beyond the “courtship” stage, the group agreed that a first step is agreeing on common language to describe a vision for transition, specific goals and projects. (This document begins to create that common language.) Other starting points would be to invite other funders who might wish to be involved, to map “who’s doing what and where,” and to determine simple and effective ways to communicate and share information—perhaps through online social media, or through a series of learning conversations via conference calls. This information-sharing could be about grants, program strategies, co- funding opportunities, etc. There was also the suggestion of collaborat- ing on new research efforts, such as “straw research on how Appalachia might look in 20 years, if various different choices were made now.”Appalachia in Transition—Building Sustainable Communities 8
  10. 10. Creed noted that many such ideas have been described by GrantCraft in its publication, “Why and How Funders Work Together.” In the piece, collaboratives are described to typically include: information sharing, options for leveraging grants, mutually-developed structures and guide- lines, and attention to systemic solutions. All funder collaboratives are not alike, though, Creed said. Some are primarily learning networks, others are strategically aligned, and some use pooled funds for grants and initiatives. Based on what they had heard and learned at the Appalachia in Transition meeting, Creed asked if participants would like to further explore the idea of working collaboratively. An official vote was not taken, but there was widespread agreement among the funders to keep the conversation going, and to explore possibilities. One person said, “I’m completely comfortable in continuing the discussion. Just today, I found three potential collaborators.” To design the next steps, the group asked the funders on the planning team for the Abingdon meeting to work with three new volunteers, all listed below. The Steering Committee invites ideas and suggestions from participants and new partners. To provide input and guidance regarding next steps please contact: Becky Ceperley, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, Charleston, West Virginia, Shannon Cunningham, West Virginia Grantmakers, Weston, West Virginia, Ray Daffner, Appalachian Regional Commission, Washington, D.C., Wayne Fawbush, Ford Foundation, New York, New York, Terry Holley, East Tennessee Foundation, Knoxville, Tennessee, Mary Hunt-Lieving, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Stefan Jirka, Blue Moon Fund, Charlottesville, Virginia, Sandra Mikush, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, smikush@mrbf.orgAppalachia in Transition—Building Sustainable Communities 9
  11. 11. PLANNING TEAM FOR APPALACHIA IN TRANSITION Victoria Creed, Learning Partners, Knoxville, Tennessee Ray Daffner, Appalachian Regional Commission, Washington, D.C. Wayne Fawbush, Ford Foundation, New York, New York Mary Hunt-Lieving, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Stefan Jirka, Blue Moon Fund, Charlottesville, Virginia Burt Lauderdale, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, London, Kentucky Justin Maxson, Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED), Berea, Kentucky Sandra Mikush, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, Winston-Salem, North Carolina PARTICIPATING FUNDERS Appalachian Community Fund, Gaye Evans Appalachian Regional Commission, Ray Daffner Blue Moon Fund, Anthony Flaccavento Cherokee Preservation Foundation, Susan Jenkins Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, Mary Hunt-Lieving Community Foundation of Hazard & Perry County, Gerry Roll Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, Tim Richards East Tennessee Foundation, Terry Holley Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, Laura Rye Ford Foundation, Wayne Fawbush Georgia Department of Community Affairs, James Thompson Heifer International, Tom Dierholf Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, Millie Buchanan Kentucky Philanthropy Initiative, Inc., Mike Hammons Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, Dee Davis, Lavastian Glenn, Sandra Mikush New World Foundation, Heeten Kalan One Foundation, Tom Attar Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, Judy Sjostedt The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, Becky Ceperley and Sheri Ryder The Sugar Bush Foundation, Carol Kuhre and Hylie Voss USDA Rural Development, Vernon Brown (Kentucky) , Ellen Davis and Travis Jackson (Virginia), Robert Lewis (West Virginia) Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, Denise Ambrose West Virginia Development Office, James Bush West Virginia Grantmakers, Shannon CunninghamAppalachia in Transition—Building Sustainable Communities 10
  12. 12. RESOURCES Appalachian Transition Initiative website (collaboration of Mountain Association for Community Economic Development and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth)—data, resources and essays by a range of leaders on options and opportunities for transition “Funder Collaboratives: Why and How Funders Work Together,” a publication of GrantCraft “Socioeconomic Overview of Appalachia, 2010,” Appalachian Regional Commission,; other reports available at Uneven Ground: Appalachia since 1945, Ronald D. Eller, PhD., The University Press of Kentucky, 2008 “Imagining the Future of Philanthropy: Looking Back from 2025,” an article by Katherine Fulton,, and a related speech, Written by Sandy Lang On the Cover: View of Cold Mountain in North Carolina Photo courtesy of National Scenic Byways Online ( in Transition—Building Sustainable Communities 11