Support Grassroots Sustainable Economic Development in the Coalfields!

I’m writing to ask you to take a step today that can help break King Coal’s economic stranglehold on coalfield communities in Southwest Virginia. By a few simple, digital steps, and three votes, you can help jump start grass roots efforts at sustainable economic development in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. Heard enough? Great. Go to Brighter Planet and vote for the Wise Energy and Sustainable Economic Development and Diversification Project. Need to know more? Read on.

WE SEDD, Green Jobs Now!
For years, communities in Central Appalachia, in parts of Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee, have been standing up to defend their quality of life, the quality of their environment and the prospects for a brighter and better tomorrow for their children and grandchildren. For over a century, the coal industry has maintained a mono-economic stranglehold on many places in Appalachia, a stranglehold that has held the coalfields captive to the destructive whims of King Coal.

Today, coalfield communities are fighting harder than ever to stop the destruction of their mountains. They are also opening a new front in the struggle against King Coal’s social violence.  From West Virginia to Tennessee, grassroots groups are coming together to promote a new kind of sustainable, and diverse economic development that keeps wealth at home, rebuilds our environment and supports our communities for the long haul. WE SEDD is one of these efforts, and it sure could use your votes

You can read more about some of these coalfield visions of sustainable development, among many other places, at Appalachian Transition Initiative, Appalachian Community Economics, Central Appalachian Prosperity Project. Below is a little bit more about the effort in Wise County. Haven’t voted yet? What are you waiting for?

The Wise Energy and Sustainable Economic Diversification and Development Project (WE SEDD) is a citizen led effort to diversify the coal dependent mono-economy of Wise County, Va by promoting economic and environmental sustainability, local and worker ownership, community-owned renewable energy systems and local economic skills. Together, in community, we seek to rebuild sustainable Appalachian communities.

Wise County, in Southwest Virginia, is one of a handful of coal-producing counties in Virginia. Already, over 25% of the County’s landmass has been destroyed by strip mining and mountaintop removal, and the coal industry’s hunger for ever higher profits promises the destruction of more of our community’s mountain heritage.

In the face of this destruction, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS) and other groups, have dedicated themselves “to stopping the destruction of our communities by surface coal mining, to improving the quality of life in our area, and to helping rebuild sustainable communities.” The Wise Energy and Sustainable Economic Development and Diversification project is an effort to achieve the final part of SAMS’ mission statement: to rebuild sustainable Communities in Wise County and Southwest Virginia.

Inspired by our friends and allies across Appalachia, like Coal River Mountain Watch, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Appalachian Community Economics and others, we are undertaking a collaborative effort to identify the skills and potentials inherent in the Appalachian spirit of self-sufficiency and self-determination.

WE SEDD will promote these natural Appalachian talents in order to foster a new model of economic development in Southwest Virginia that can break the mono-economic stranglehold of outlaw mining and fossil fuel dependency that today whittles away at the hope we hold for a brighter future.

Already we have held three “Wise Energy Forums” to discuss the challenges facing our regional economy, and to identify the possibilities for sustainable development. From these forums, we have taken the step of creating a directory of locally owned businesses, and identified an initial group of Wise County citizens dedicated to continuing the work of diversifying our local economy. From here we hope to identify skills already existing in our communities, connect the individuals with those skills to others across our communities, and connect them to trainings, funding and support to develop their own entrepreneurial passions.

By creating and promoting economic alternatives in the coalfields of Wise County, we will rise to the challenge so often heard in our community organizing efforts here: “I work on the strip mines because there isn’t anything else here. Show me something that can provide for my family, and I will stand with you for our mountains.” By encouraging the growth of sustainable, economic systems, we will ensure the long-term viability of our communities, and play our rightful part in the global struggle for Climate Justice and a brighter planet for our children. We are asking for $5000 to jump start the Wise Energy and Sustainable Economic Development and Diversification Project, Will you Help us Get there?


About marleymiles

Marley is a community organizer, landscaper, writer, photographer, hiker, drummer and many other -ers from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
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