H2O-rganizing builds momentum in eastern Kentucky | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

H2O-rganizing builds momentum in eastern Kentucky

Building on the successes of the first Community Organizing & Water Testing Training held in Prestonsburg back in May, over 30 people gathered in Whitesburg this past Saturday to learn, share, and grow together. Katie, an attendee who lives a few feet from the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Hazard said, "we came here to learn about community building, and in a way that’s really what we did here within this whole group.”

DSCN0904Folks from 8 eastern Kentucky counties, including 3 generations from one family, shared their experiences of organizing and community science with one another. The goals of this gathering and similar ones have been twofold. Foremost was to learn water testing methods and ways community organizing can go hand-in-hand with water testing to empower and motivate people to protect the quality of their water. The other goal is to develop a group of KFTC leaders who come together from time to time to strategize and learn together about ways to use water testing and organizing together to drive change.

Before learning to test water, participants shared stories of the streams, creeks, and rivers that they care about, ones they’re worried about, and why water quality matters to them. Chris from Middle Creek in Letcher County said “I’ve got two kids. If it had just been me, I would’ve probably never got involved in this.” At the end of the workshop each participant took home a testing wand they can use to take basic, important measurements of stream health.Kevin from Knox County shared that “when you get together like this and hear people’s stories, you realize how important water is to all of us.”

In September, participants from the May and July trainings will come back together to check in, evaluate, and build a collective plan for moving forward together. As this process evolves, KFTC members and folks on the ground doing this work will guide the direction and development of an Organizing & Community Science program of work. Stay tuned for more information on this process and updates from the field!


Long time Letcher County member Herbie Smith shared some of the last thoughts of the day: “I’ve been thinking all day about the workers – and especially about the many miners who have been losing their jobs lately. It’s important to remember that we are on the same side. We may not always be on the same side with the companies. But we are on the same side as the miners and their families.” 

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