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There’s a Progressive Silver Lining for Kentucky’s Economic Future

Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/KSECforOurFuture

(This report first appared in YES! Magazine, where Emma Eisenberg is a associate with the New Economy Reporting Project.)

In 2013, Libby Kelly was a first-year tyro at Eastern Kentucky University nearby Lexington with a passion for environmental probity but a cloyed attitude.

“I felt like there weren’t really any solutions to the problems the universe (and Kentucky) faced that we could tackle as a 19-year-old with no domestic power,” Kelly says.


Nonetheless, they were a member of the university’s environmental club, and it was there that a special thing happened. Cara Cooper, an organizer with the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, came to pronounce to the group.

Cooper gave the organisation the collection to launch an desirous campaign to pull the school administration to sign on to a Climate Commitment advocated by the nonprofit Second Nature, which has a thought of substantiating finish CO neutrality as shortly as possible. Kelly’s organisation worked diligently on the campaign, and in the finish they won.

“It was the first time we saw people my age with my knowledge wielding some of the power,” Kelly says.

These days KSEC is sponsored by the nonprofit classification Action Center Inc., and what it did to help Kelly and their peers is accurately the kind of support and tie it strives to offer young people via Kentucky. Allison Crawford, KSEC’s communications and growth director, says the classification was founded in 2007 when many immature Kentuckians met up in Washington, D.C., for the first inhabitant Power Shift conference. Many of the students hadn’t satisfied there were so many people from their home state who cared about environmental probity and sustainability, so when they got back to Kentucky they stayed in hold and started KSEC.

KSEC was designed to be a statewide network of tyro environmental organizations, yet it would be open to any immature person via the state. As a youth-led and non-hierarchical organization, KSEC creates decisions by consensus. It works with immature people ages 14–30, observant that the “student” in KSEC is rather of a misnomer.

In the first few years, Crawford says, KSEC member organizations focused especially on operative against the spark mining use of mountaintop removal, and ran successful campaigns to close down coal-fired boilers at Western Kentucky University and Transylvania University.

Then in 2012, some KSEC leaders formed at the University of Kentucky went to a Sierra Club weekend for immature activists and were galvanized to enhance their height and ambitions. They got a extend to bring in a paid organizer—Cara Cooper.

“Too mostly immature people are left out of the review or not taken seriously since the viewed thought that we miss experience,” Cooper says. “Young people know what we need for the future, and KSEC allows me to be a partial of joining people who are feeling unable and showing them that by operative together and grassroots organizing that we are actually impossibly powerful.”

Since 2013, Cooper has trafficked to colleges and universities around the state to help grow KSEC’s ability and sight immature activists in a extensive anti-oppression framework, which helps those who caring about environmental issues see that those issues are also connected to issues of secular justice, gender equality, and mercantile equality.

Crawford says that KSEC builds girl care to residence the impacts that environmental problems have on people. First, KSEC works toward a “just transition” divided from a coal-based economy for Kentucky and Appalachia. To this end, it educates immature people about opposite forms of economies and probable solutions already being implemented, like the use of solar panels on the roof of the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in the city of Benham, and the Mines to Minds program at Appalshop Media Institute in Whitesburg.

These forms of initiatives could be stretched to fill the blank left by the decrease of the spark industry, Crawford says, and KSEC is collecting opinions on the future of their state and region. “As the economy shifts, what immature people wish is not being considered,” she says. “We’re stuffing that gap.”

KSEC also is operative against the enlargement of fracking and healthy gas pipelines in Kentucky, hosting teach-ins and training volunteers to work against the Kinder Morgan Tennessee Gas Pipeline, in particular, which runs by Kentucky. KSEC’s domestic and policy arm also works with immature people to try to grasp the origination of some-more renewable appetite by legislation.

Finally, KSEC develops immature people’s care and grassroots organizing skills. The organisation now has 15 representatives representing campuses opposite the state from Morehead to Murray, and also is trying to get some-more illustration from high schools, technical schools, and village colleges. Staff from the executive KSEC bureau support member organizations in their on-campus work and offer resources and training on incomparable topics, such as how to classify or how to run a campaign.

Increasingly, Crawford says, KSEC identifies stairs toward achieving its prophesy of a just and environmentally tolerable Kentucky, and then offers its members ways to block into that movement, or provides them collection to start a specific campaign on their own. In that way, all the member organizations are operative in tandem toward a larger goal. KSEC also provides networking opportunities for groups to meet and work together, including a summer romantic training stay called Catalyst.

“This is bigger than what’s happening on these particular campuses,” Crawford says. “We wish to build a transformation of immature people, show the power, and make certain the voices are heard. This time calls for a big pull so we can be active rather than reactive. Our thought is to make the voices of immature people a statewide subject of discussion, so that politicians and leaders always make it a indicate to speak with immature people.”

Underneath it all is a bigger prophesy still: providing village and a clarity of rendezvous for on-going immature people so that they feel that staying in Central Appalachia for the prolonged transport is both economically and socially sustainable.

In this regard, KSEC is partial of a flourishing list of organizations by and for Appalachian immature people that are trying to fight outmigration and brain drain—others embody Stay Together Appalachian Youth, which strives to create a critical network of support and mercantile opportunities and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this summer; Young Appalachian Leaders and Learners, the cabinet of the Appalachian Studies Association privately for immature people; and It’s Good to Be Young in the Mountains, an annual weekend entertainment of Appalachian immature people in Harlan County.

“We wish to fight the account that creates immature people consider that they need to leave in sequence to be successful,” Crawford says. “We wish to tell them, It’s not hopeless, there’s other people that feel like you, you don’t have to leave to find them.”

(This essay was saved in partial by a extend from the One Foundation.)


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