New Energy and Transition News | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

New Energy and Transition News

Dear Appalachia

Photo of author Anne Shelby
May 15, 2014 at 01:35pm

With the author's permission, we are pleased to share with you this powerful poem by Clay County author Anne Shelby. She expresses beautifully the deep and conflicting emotions many Kentuckians feel about our home communities. The poem was first written for a National Public Radio program, State of The Reunion. A version of it was published in the journal Appalachian Heritage. Thank you, Anne!

Transition Stories: Whitesburg businesses build something together

May 12, 2014 at 12:58pm

One thing Amelia Kirby and David Fisher both knew when they opened businesses in downtown Whitesburg was that they wouldn’t get rich. They knew it was about something larger.

I. Summit City

When Kirby and her partner, Joel Beverly, opened Summit City Lounge in 2007, they had a feeling they were launching something that would be important for Whitesburg. But they had no clear game plan other than “a belief in having a space that whatever needed to happen in the town could happen.”

The town of about 2,000 in southeastern Kentucky lacked a “community convivial space” such as a bar or pub where cross-pollination of ideas and culture could occur.

“That is a really, really significant and underestimated piece of how community building happens in a lot of places,” said Kirby. “It puts people who would not necessarily be sitting together together in a space with usually the intent of finding some common ground.”

A Town Called Malnourished

April 3, 2014
Newsweek

Five years ago, Todd Howard did something to change things in Hippo. Just made redundant from his coal industry job, Howard became an entrepreneur-farmer in need of a market for the three acres of corn he planted. Along with a handful of other local growers, he resuscitated the defunct Floyd County Farmer's Market in nearby Prestonsburg, Ky.

From Louisville to Appalachia: Celebrating Our Common Heritage

April 1, 2014 at 02:32pm

“From Louisville to Appalachia: Celebrating Our Common Heritage” was scheduled to be the first event of the Jefferson County Chapter’s Louisville Loves Mountains Week, a series of events leading up to the I Love Mountains Day march and rally at the State Capitol in Frankfort. Inclement weather led to the postponement of the event, but thankfully all of the performers and speakers were available to come out on March 17.  

“From Louisville to Appalachia” was a celebration of Kentucky’s African American heritage in Appalachia. Kentucky writers, musicians, and speakers were invited to share their work and personal stories in celebration of the unique natural beauty, ecological importance, and cultural heritage of Kentucky's Appalachian Mountains and mountain communities.

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Cassia Herron, board president of Community Farm Alliance and Richmond, Kentucky native, emceed the event and also shared her family’s story of being tied to the land. Tarsha Semakula’s reading of her poem “I am Louisville” mesmerized the audience. Tarsha is a poet, writer, entrepreneur, and founder and executive director of The Buttafly Center, a community agency that is dedicated to the empowerment of women via education and training, communal resources, and personal development.

Eastern Kentuckians work to guide Promise Zone process

March 31, 2014 at 02:50pm

“The idea of the Promise Zone is encouraging,” said Elizabeth Sanders, Letcher County Steering Committee Rep., back in January. “We have a vision for a future for eastern Kentucky and know we have a lot of promise here in the mountains. If the resources from the federal government through the Promise Zone will coordinate with things like the SOAR Initiative and other existing and future programs, we may begin to see some steps toward the change the people of eastern Kentucky have been ready for and working toward.”


Since KFTC’s Appalachia’s Bright Future Conference in Harlan nearly a year ago, some big announcements and initiatives have surfaced to build wider support for a just economic transition in eastern Kentucky.

Governor Steve Brashear and 5th District Congressman Hal Rogers worked together to launch the SOAR initiative with a well-attended summit last December, and in January we welcomed the declaration of eight eastern Kentucky counties as federal ‘Promise Zones’. Since then, KFTC members have worked hard throughout the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly to lift up our best opportunities for statewide legislation and stay connected to all these efforts to guide the economic future of eastern Kentucky.

Last week KFTC members of the Harlan and Letcher chapters turned out for listening sessions to guide the regional plan of the federal Promise Zones. On Tuesday evening in Harlan, local members represented nearly a third of the 70 or so people who turned out at the Harlan Center. In the same room that hosted large group discussions at Appalachia’s Bright Future conference, Harlan countians shared a vision of hope and possibility.

Federal Promise Zone listening sessionVisions of parks, small businesses, trails and renewable energy made their way to large newsprint at the front of the room as a microphone was passed from table to table. Much of this spoken feedback was from young SKCTC students who traveled from the nearby community college campus with their entire evening class for the listening session.

Benham’s City Manager and longtime KFTC member Roy Silver shared the outline of an evolving "Benham Energy Project" collaboration between the city, Benham Power Board, COAP (Christian Outreach with Appalachian People) of Harlan, and KFTC. 

Shining a light on Benham Power

March 12, 2014 at 08:05pm

Benham Power Project -- March 2014On March 4, the

Great crowd and lots to learn at KFTC’s fifth annual Growing Appalachia conference

March 10, 2014 at 12:33pm

About 190 people attended KFTC’s fifth annual Growing Appalachia conference in Prestonsburg, a record for the one-day event focused on ways people in eastern Kentucky can earn or save money or grow a business through agriculture and clean energy solutions.

“What we are seeing across eastern Kentucky is nothing short of revolutionary,” said panelist Ralph Davis, who manages the Floyd County Farmer’s market. “People are returning to family farming. They are taking ownership of their lives and doing something new. Farming is an act of creation. And it is one of the ways this region can heal.”

Among the crowd were many students and teachers, including 15 middle schoolers from Letcher County, high school students from Floyd County, and college students from the University of Pikeville and Big Sandy Community and Technical College, among others. As a teacher from Letcher County explained, “We are just getting started this year with a garden at our school and have plans to build a greenhouse. We are all learning together and thought this would be a great experience.”

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