"A Practitioner's Guide to Appalachian Futures" is an interactive map intended to confront the obstacle of narrative control. Appalachia has long been reduced by the mainstream media as a monolith of white conservatism—the land of poor, Trump supporting coal country.  But over the course of this semester, we learned that in asking “who is writing the story for Appalachia?” we were led to discover what perspectives and voices are not being heard.

    The idea for this map came in two parts. The first was a reaction to the strictly quantitative information available to us as we compiled our atlas. For instance, a map derived from census data tells one story of poverty in the region that, while true, conceals the networks of mutual aid, farmers markets accepting SNAP benefits, and kinship ties that one can only learn when talking to the folks who know their communities best. Our other inspiration came from a tactic used by the Letcher Governance Project—a group in opposition to the now canceled plans for the construction of a United States Penitentiary on a former mine site in Letcher Kentucky.  In 2016, they launched a twitter campaign that asked community members how they would envision the site in lieu of a prison. They used the hashtag #our$444 million in reference to the prison's projected budget.

    This map is built from a compilation of conversations with 9 practitioners, including organizers, advocates, artists, and researchers across 6 Appalachian states. We listened to their stories, discomforts, reflections, and visions for the future of the region as facilitated by a Green New Deal. We intend that this map be used by people new to and curious about the region, but also residents of Appalachia seeking some inspiration, or solidarity, in regards to what their home could be.


Dana Coester is editor in chief for 100 Days in Appalachia. Dana also serves as creative director for the West Virginia University Media Innovation Center where she leads the Center’s Innovators-in-Residence program.

Ashton Marra is the digital managing editor of 100 Days in Appalachia, helping guide the work of the editor, contributors and reporters, as well asproducing originally reported content. Ashton is a teaching assistant professor in the West Virginia University Reed College of Media.

Michael Farmer currently serves as pastor and director of Risen City Church Community Center in Charleston, WV and Chief Operations Officer for Step by Step.

Mo Kessler is a visual artist and community organizer from Kentucky. They are a founding member of the LIVLAB Artist Collective and the founder of the Shelter in Place (SiP), a residency program for visual artists engaged in community organizing and activism.

Ivy Brashear is the Appalachian Transition Director for Mountain Association. Her work, which includes storytelling, policy education and media relations, focuses on shifting the narrative of Appalachia as a critical aspect of just and equitable economic transition.

Garrett is a community scholar, organizer, and movement capacity builder based on the Southern Slopes of Pine Mountain on the border of Virginia and Kentucky.

Amanda Woodrum is a Senior Researcher at Policy Matters Ohio. She conducts research on the role transportation, energy, health and anti-poverty policy can play to promote a more sustainable and equitable economy in Ohio.

Elizabeth Wright is a native of Tennessee and works in Development and Communications at Highlander Center.

Marley Green is a Community Development Worker for Appalshop. He supports collaborative projects with community partners in Eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia, assists internal development and fundraising, and coordinates the cross-project Buildings and Grounds group.