Coalfields Economic Transition Initiative
The decline of the coal industry places Appalachian communities, once heavily dominated by the industry, in need of fair, sustainable, and diversified economic development. We seek to improve conditions for low-wealth communities by changing the civic discourse that affects public policy and strengthening the capacity of communities and nonprofits to advance just-transition programs.
The primary tools with which Rural Strategies accomplishes this work are coalition building and communications, which includes message development and distribution, technical assistance and training, research and reporting, and building communications infrastructure that serves the needs of Appalachian Transition organizations. Learn more about our work through the initiative below.
100 Days in Appalachia
In collaboration with West Virginia University College of Media and West Virginia Public Radio, we launched 100 Days in Appalachia, a digital publication covering economics and politics of Central Appalachia. The project is a first step in building out a regional communications system that can deliver news and information about the Appalachian Transition to a diverse Appalachian audience.
We produce solutions-based research and reports on rural economic issues including:
- The Abandoned Mine Lands Reclamation Fund could be retooled to allow more support for economic and community development in hard-hit coal states.
- Rural areas with poor broadband access could benefit from a pilot project in which libraries lend wireless devices that connect students and others to the internet from home.
- Small towns in the Midwest have engineered recreational white-water courses in rivers that run through downtown. The effort has contributed to downtown renewal and addressed water quality issues. We know of one Eastern Kentucky town that is considering a similar project.
In addition to publication in the Daily Yonder, we have worked with more than 20 national and international news outlets to cover the future of the Central Appalachian economy. By providing background and sources for reporters, we helped shape stories to help them align them more closely to Appalachian Transition principles. Media involved in this activity have included the New York Times, the Washington Post, RFD-TV, Congressional Quarterly, regional newspapers, and numerous public radio news programs airing on national and regional networks.
Consulting and Strategic Development
Rural Strategies creates strategic messages and communication principles for groups working on Appalachian Transition, including nonprofit leaders, policymakers, and philanthropies including the following:
Some examples of consultations and coaching include the following:
- Appalshop Culture Hub
- Appalachia Funders Network
- West Virginia Community Development Hub
- Kentucky Valley Education Cooperative
If you are interested in working with us, through direct consultation and coaching, workshop-style small-groups, or plenary presentations, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.