Eastern Kentucky and the Central Appalachian region are full of assets. Beautiful and rugged terrain, rich history and culture, diverse and valuable hardwood forests, and skilled people are all important parts of the region’s identity.
While these and other positives define much of who we are, we face long-term and growing challenges.
Coal production in eastern Kentucky is at its lowest level since the 1960s, and the future of the coal industry continues to look gloomy. Lack of job opportunities across the region is an old and growing challenge. Environmental issues – water quality and forest health in particular – remain major problems. Too many young people are forced to leave and never return. Too many families are impacted by drug abuse.
A growing number of people recognize that we are in a critical moment. Today’s changing economic realities along with our long-term challenges have combined to create new urgency.
Fortunately, there is a rising movement across the region to create a new way forward toward a brighter future. We call this intentional effort Appalachian Transition.
This transition will require creativity and a willingness to work together through partnerships, and across lines that we don’t normally cross. It will take different ideas, voices and bold leadership. And it will need to be a varied, many-pronged approach that relies on the best of our past, our many positive assets and our hopeful determination to advance our economy forward.
Renew Appalachia is devoted to ideas for a more just, sustainable and prosperous economic future in eastern Kentucky and Central Appalachia. We are at a critical moment in our region. The time has arrived to talk about the coming transition of our economy, workforce and communities. This blog is a resource for that conversation.