Saving Appalachia
Ryan Weisser

Great coverage of complex challenge and the inspiring movement of millennials back to the mountains — it’s something I’ve been pondering over and postulating around for awhile now, so thank you! Also, to add to this homecoming for the heart, the extraordinary biodiversity and climate protection of Appalachia will continue to draw youngers (and elders) here — and will challenge the political structures of the region (which is a good thing). I think going leaving home is healthy, if for no other reason it’s sometimes necessary to gain appreciation for your home, the perspective you gain from stepping outside your comfort zone, and the world is made better when a caring kid from the mountains shares that into the world. For my part, I’ve lived and worked in Appalachian Va, Ky and NC for much of my life, but not without roaming outside and living in Ca, Mo, Az also. I felt that same isolation weird kids often feel in their home communities and the need to find validation and acceptance by leaving. But, no matter where I went, I longed for the “care for community” ethic that felt lacking in the urban places where people were flocking in search of acceptance and creative inspiration. It just felt very opportunistic to me -although I do appreciate the movements happening in cities towards social justice and building for the commons: there can be strength in weak ties. Tossing my hat into the ring of doing good in Appalachia ☺ My life mashup/career trajectory in environmental protection and sustainable economies and my love of home, mountains, and the people, combined with the inspiration of working with social entrepreneurs globally, brought me as a 50-something that actually does “get it”, to launch Accelerating Appalachia just a few years ago to solve for a post-extractive economy by supporting nature-based businesses in sustainable food, farming, forests, fiber, fuels. Growing an economy that honors people and place. We are excited to be among many folks seeking to build a better economy, and inspired at the hundreds of nature-based businesses growing up out of the compost of the collapsing industrial economy of Appalachia and beyond. We believe in connecting Appalachia and her urban hubs for the betterment of both, and that it’s okay and good to accept others from outside our region, too. Building a more regenerative, loving community and economy is a complicated challenge that will be solved in caring and complex ways. As my dear friend Wendell directed me, “Times are too dire to be anything but hopeful”.

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