In October 2015, Appalachian Voices, along with our partner group Virginia Organizing, hosted a series of eight community visioning forums across Virginia’s coalfield counties to gather citizens’ input that will be essential to informing the area’s economic development planning. We targeted our outreach to a wide range of community members with varying interests and backgrounds to ensure all voices are represented in this initiative, and more than 130 people attended.
In the next few months, we will publish an outline of all the ideas and launch an online, wiki-type crowdsourcing project. The goal is to both broaden the reach of the effort and get more specific details about how to act on those ideas.
Ultimately, we’ll synthesize the information into a “Citizens’ Roadmap for a New Economy” to help local governments, planning districts, and others secure federal and state funds for job training, infrastructure development, and other forward-looking economic development activities.
Additionally, we’ll prepare a presentation for the coalfield counties’ boards of supervisors that outlines the common themes and proposals emerging from the forums, and work with community leaders to deliver the presentations in each of the counties where forums are held.
Finally, Appalachian Voices will work with Virginia Organizing and our other partners to maintain the momentum created by the forums in a way that continues to build community-level power as the region pursues economic development strategies in the future.
>> Hear what Mark Caruso, Lou Ann Jessee Wallace and other local citizens envision for the future.