By KSEC Staff
Just talking about our vision for the new economy is not enough, we’ve got to get to work building it. That’s what the Solutions Summit is about. Getting connected and learning how to be active in the just transition. Whether you’re interested in starting a small business, learn to be an advocate for initiatives in your community or just want to feel connected to other young people who can envision something better, the Solutions Summit has something for you (especially if you’re between the ages of 14-30!). Check out this line-up!
Friday night we’ll kick off the evening around 6pm at the Benham Schoolhouse Inn (out of towners-we’ve got you covered with rooms, just make sure you register) and we’ll get to know each other a little bit over dinner. We’ll wind down the evening making some collective art and have some late night options for our night owls.
Saturday will be jam packed with learning and meeting awesome people who are already doing the work to build a new local economy in East Kentucky. We’ll start the day exploring what it means for an economic transition to be just and what we want to see for the economy of our communities. In KSEC we define a just transition as a transition to an economy that is good for workers, keeps wealth in our communities, and protects our natural resources. From there we’ll have an awesome keynote speaker and a panel highlighting several community members working towards diversifying the economy through local food, finance, and small business. After lunch we’ll have some workshops to help you learn more about how to build grassroots power (Grassroots Power Building 101 and The RECLAIM Act) or how to build the new economy (Worker Owned Cooperatives and Small Business Support). We’ll come back together over dinner and then enjoy the music of The Woodsheep.
Sunday will be a little slower paced with a couple of options for the morning to check out some cool things happening locally in Harlan County or to watch some of great videos produced by young people through the Appalachian Media Institute. Then we’ll come back together for a chance to wrap up the weekend, exchange contact information with our new friends and talk about how we can support each other in staying involved in the growing just transition movement. We’ll close out the weekend with a final meal together and head home to get to work!
By Cara Cooper, KSEC State Organizer
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people tell me that renewable energy is great, but it just doesn’t work in Kentucky. What a joke. We know it does work and is already putting people to work all across the Commonwealth (just check out some of the awesome solar installations through this interactive map).
Caption: Renewable Energy is already working in all regions of the state. From left to right: KSEC members educating Senator Reggie Thomas about renewables in Murray, KY, Solar panels at the KY National Guard in Frankfort during a KSEC Energy Future Tour, Solar panels recently installed at the KY Coal Mining Museum in Benham, KY (see these at our Solution Spotlight event on June 10th)
For me, investing in growing the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors seems like plain ol’ good sense. Kentucky has a rich history of being an energy leader and providing electricity to power our country. As the coal industry dies we can continue to be energy leaders by making the transition to cleaner sources like solar, wind and micro-scale hydroelectric.
Not only can this emerging industry help to protect our natural resources, communities’ health and lessen the impacts of climate change but it can also create thousands of good jobs that our state needs. (According to a study done several years ago, with a number as low as 12.5% of our electricity coming from renewables we could create 28,000 net new jobs!).
If you are a young person, wondering how you will stay in Kentucky after graduation and find meaningful employment, or someone who’s family has been a part of the energy industry here for generations, renewable energy and energy efficiency jobs could be a good place for you and something you could feel good about doing.
Join us for our 2nd Solution Spotlight event (as a part of our ongoing Solutions Tour) to meet folks who are already hard at work building this emerging industry in Eastern Kentucky and learn more about what it’s like to work in the new energy sector and what it takes to get a job doing this work.
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 Tracy Blevins, KSEC Just Transition Working Group Organizer
Growing up in Eastern Kentucky, I had little hope for the region I call home. Like many communities in the area, my home town of Van Lear was built and later devastated by the coal industry. Many companies left Appalachia in the mid-20th century after coal extraction became less practical and profitable and local economies have been struggling to recover ever since. The region’s lack of career opportunities left me thinking I would have to move away to find success, a feeling to which many young Appalachians may relate. Some of us have even had parents and mentors advise us to leave in search of a better future.
I planned to escape Kentucky as soon as I graduated high school but financial and family circumstances led me to stay close to home. Through independent research and my Appalachian Studies classes at Morehead State University, I came to feel connected to a culture I had once rejected. From the the West Virginia Mine Wars of the 1910s and 1920s to the Harlan County strikes of the 1970s, Appalachia’s history is one of resistance against exploitation and environmental degradation. I gained a new appreciation for my home region, but most importantly I came to realize that modern Appalachians have the power to take back control over our own lives. In 2014, I got connected with KSEC, met other young people who shared this vision, and learned about the movement for Just Economic Transition. Through my involvement in KSEC’s Just Transition Working Group, I have committed to shaping Kentucky’s future for the better.
Last year, the Just Transition Working Group decided that we could best serve the youth looking to renew the Appalachian region by learning about their visions for the future. We believe it’s important that young people lead the conversation about Kentucky’s future because we are the future. From this idea, our Solutions Tour was born. The Solutions Tour consists of three parts: youth assemblies, solution spotlights and our solutions survey. Through the youth assemblies, we hope to bring together young Kentuckians to learn about successful models of transition as well as up-and-coming ideas that may help shape a just economy. We also want to give you a space to share your ideas for how we can work together to make Kentucky a better place for all. Our solution spotlights will allow you to experience transition in action. We’re planning to visit a technology development center and a permaculture farm among others. Stay tuned for those dates! Surveys will be distributed at our events, but you can also share your thoughts with us here.
Our next Youth Assembly for Just Economic Transition is on February 19th from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the University of Pikeville on the 6th floor of the Record Memorial Building. If you have questions or need help finding the location, feel free to reach out!
The Young Kentuckian is a blog of the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition where youth share their work and ideas for Kentucky's bright future.
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