Appalshop is in its fifth decade using cultural organizing and place-based media, arts and education to advance social justice, environmental sustainability, and economic equity.
Located in the central Appalachian coalfields in Whitesburg, KY (population 2,500), Appalshop enlists the power of art to document, interpret, and revitalize the traditions and contemporary creativity of Appalachia; to tell stories the commercial cultural industries don’t, challenging stereotypes with Appalachian visions and voices; to support communities’ efforts to achieve justice and equity; to promote cultural diversity, pluralism and human rights as positive social values; and to participate in regional, national, and global movements toward these ends.
Making Connections is a project of Appalshop’s Community Media Initiative (CMI) and WMMT-FM. The multi-media platform is a hub for sharing news, stories, and information highlighting both opportunities and challenges for building a healthy future for Appalachia’s people and its land. Recent radio features include the potential closure of 9 post offices in eastern Kentucky’s Letcher County, a grassroots citizens’ organization opposing proposed school consolidation, and potential income opportunities from non-timber forest products.
In their partnership with the Center for Rural Strategies, the Making Connections team will work to develop a regional communications strategy centered on building support for the release of additional Abandoned Mine Lands Funds as a cornerstone for increased investment in an Appalachian restoration economy.
Making Connections exemplifies Appalshop’s theory of social change because it is built on the belief that in order for healthy, just and equitable economic development to occur within the Appalachian region, residents have to be at the core of creating, articulating and insisting upon the solutions. For this to happen many steps are necessary, and projects like Making Connections plays key role in that process.
Safeguarding fragile resources
Institutional solutions, market mechanisms
—Jenny Williams, Professor at Hazard Community and Technical College and a leader of Pathfinders of Perry County
"When I listen to mainstream media news, I wonder which America those reporters are covering. It's not my America. Certainly it's not my Appalachia. If sepia-toned photographs had a sound, it would be the sound of mainstream media stories about this region. But WMMT is different."