by Cara Cooper, KSEC State Organizer
Join KSEC for our first Solutions Spotlight on the Emerging Tech Industry as a part of our just economic Solutions Tour. You'll hear from folks at Mountain Tech Media + Appalshop's new Mines to Minds program. Find out more about these two awesome initiatives below!
Mines to Minds
Appalshop's Mines to Minds program was started to be a part of Eastern Kentucky's economic shift away from the previously dominated extractive industry. We are working with several area employers and the local community college, Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College (SKCTC), to train local people for local technical jobs that are growing. Through conversations with our partnering employers, three areas have been identified as high growth in our area:
In addition, we are creating opportunities for the public to learn new technology skills through a series of workshops. These include workshops including Adobe Premiere, Drones, Excel, and Networking Cabling.
Mountain Tech Media
Mountain Tech Media is a tech and design coop based in Whitesburg, KY. Founded in 2016, MTM specializes in digital video content, web design, social media management, and more, while also working to expand and develop Eastern Kentucky's tech economy. Our mission is to help organizations reach new peaks, while creating new opportunities for young professionals in EKY & Central Appalachia.
Izzy Broomfield grew up in Eastern Kentucky, and was raised to believe they had to leave the area to find meaningful tech or creative work. With the help of AmeriCorps NCCC and VISTA, and countless YouTube tutorials, they have built a skillset that allows them to live in the mountains and do the work they love. Izzy is passionate about mentoring the next generation of Eastern Kentuckian creative tech professionals.dit.
by Cara Cooper, KSEC Organizer
KSEC fights for a Kentucky where we can stay and thrive after graduation, where we don’t have to choose between putting food on the table and the health of our communities or our environment. That is why we are a part of the just transition movement. We believe that we can envision and build a new economy together. We also know that in order for the solutions to work for us-young people have to be a part of the decision-making.
This is how the Solutions Tour was born.
It started off as a survey . Reach out to the dozens of amazing organizations that are working on Just Economic Transition, find out what industries are being touted as the “best and brightest” ideas for the the region, then get young people to weigh in. KSEC’s Just Transition Working Group was pretty stoked about this idea. Imagine all the ways we could present the data (think infographics and social media all the way to presentations at local chambers of commerce) and all the new people we could bring into the conversation.
And then we realized;
If we are going to ask people to weigh in, they probably need some more information, like what is it like to work in that particular industry and what the heck just transition even means. We should also teach people about community participation and ways to get involved in local decision making that affects them, well you know, because surveys are never enough. Plus getting together in person is powerful. So we added in our Youth Assemblies on Economic Transition.
It also seemed important to note that the new economy isn’t in the future, there are real people building it right now (check out a few of my faves here, here and here).
So we added in our Solution Spotlights to highlight the stories of these emerging industries, meet the people making it happen and see how it could work in our home communities. In fact, our first Solution Spotlight is coming up real soon! We’ll highlight young entrepreneurs, new ideas, and opportunities in the technology, sustainable farming, local food, renewable energy, hemp, and creative economies that are popping up all across Appalachia over the next several months.
The KSEC Solution Tour is a way for us to reach new people and learn how we can support each other in not just talking about economic transition, but really taking a hold of our future and creating our own opportunities to stay in Kentucky. We are exploring ideas around hosting workshops of cooperative economic models and how to access resources and hosting a two-day gathering in the Fall. Let us know if there is something that you think would help you feel confident in building your own opportunities -OR- if you want to get involved.
By Caci Gibson, Eastern Kentucky University
I am new to KSEC, but I don’t feel that way after the Spring Summit. As a delegate, I started my year-long term late; my introduction was to help plan the Summit. I can’t deny I was nervous leading up to last weekend. I barely knew anyone and I was going to be sharing space with them for three days. What if they didn’t like me? What if I didn’t like them? What if I decided KSEC wasn’t the place for me? What if our plans fell through?
By Friday evening, my nerves had disappeared. Everything came together when we came together; we adapted and moved forward even when plans needed to be adjusted. Through collaboration, conversation, and reflection I learned more about myself and how I want to spend my time. As it turns out, KSEC is the place for me.
Nearly one week later, I’m still processing my feelings. The Spring Summit had two workshop tracks: environmental education and environmental activism, with the goal of expressing the importance of both. This gave me an insight into environmental activism that I haven’t had before. Environmental education has always been important to me and I have planned to pursue a career in the field for as long as I have known it was a possibility. I knew I’d figure out the details later (which really meant that I wasn’t quite sure where I was supposed to be). Activism always seemed like a foreign concept. In my mind, it was a narrow path that was open only to those with encyclopedic knowledge of the legal system and a willingness to delve into politics. Environmental activism and environmental education always seemed like separate fields, although they did support one another.
On the other hand, activism had always been in the background of my life. Growing up in Bell County, I connected deeply with my Appalachian roots. With the decline of the coal industry, I share a sense of anger and loss with my peers, family, and neighbors. For many of us in this region, the only way forward has only ever been to fight - a sense of resilience and solidarity deeply ingrained into my culture. As a result, I have always felt compelled to pursue a better future for Eastern Kentucky.
After reflecting on the Summit, I would express a more nuanced view that environmental activism and education are the same path - one that is broad enough for people with diverse histories, methods, and goals. Activists are educators, lobbyists, community organizers, politicians, concerned citizens, and more. Educators, in the same regard, are not limited to a singular mold. Educated citizens become activists when they feel empowered to advocate for themselves and their communities. With this realization, I feel like I’m one step closer to concisely answering the question “What do you want to do?” I am excited to be more involved with KSEC and to learn skills that will prepare me for work, both as an activist and an educator.
The Spring Summit left me feeling like I was part of a community - a community that is diverse, resilient, and hopeful. Now more than ever, I feel empowered to seek out opportunities to be a force for change. I look forward to attending Catalyst (KSEC’s summer training program for aspiring organizers) this summer as another opportunity for growth and perspective. In the meantime, I am exploring what my personal activism will be.