A Glimpse at Our Interview With John Gaventa

“Communities in Appalachia and Wales can play a really important part in the movement for rethinking what we mean by economic development.” — John Gaventa John Gaventa started a video exchange between coal miners in Appalachia and Wales in 1974.  The After Coal project owes a huge debt to his groundbreaking work.  Gaventa is currently director of the Coady International Institute   at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. We were lucky to catch him in Virginia last week and record an interview for After Coal.  Here is a glimpse at his thoughts: “Change is an inevitable part of mining communities.  This doesn’t mean that we give up on these communities.  It means we need to think about using local strengths to create a different kind of sustainable economy.  The question is not: Coal versus no coal.  The question is:  How do we use community assets such as […]

No Rest: Welsh-Appalachian Exchange Continues at Cumberland River Headwaters

Compiled by Angela Wiley and Tom Hansell “It looks to me as if the history of the coal industry in Kentucky has followed the same lines as the coal industry in Wales. We’ve all had a hard time.” — Terry Thomas, former Vice-President of National Union of Mine Workers in Wales Carl Shoupe and Terry Thomas experienced the boom and bust of the coal industry on different continents in the late twentieth century. In the fall of 2012, former union leader Thomas traveled nearly 4,000 miles from the South Wales coalfields to “Bloody Harlan”, Kentucky. As Shoupe and Thomas walked through the town of Benham, Kentucky, they let their conversation wander like the curving roads of Appalachia. Their conversation continued a cultural exchange spanning decades — from the bitter mine strikes of the 1970’s to a period of uncertain transition on both sides of the Atlantic.  The discussion circled back […]

WMMT Features After Coal Production Team

New statistics released by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet show a staggering drop in coal production and a sharp rise in unemployment in the southeastern coalfields, particularly in Letcher, Harlan, Knott and Perry counties.  According to the report, “Eastern Kentucky coal production decreased in 2012 by 27.6 percent from 2011 to 49.4 million tons — the lowest level since 1965. Eastern Kentucky production has declined by 53.5 percent since the year 2000, and by 62.3 percent since peaking at 131 million tons in 1990.” Over 4,000 eastern Kentucky miners have lost their jobs since 2011, and many fear the coal jobs aren’t coming back, leaving many to ask the question, what comes next?  Scholars at Appalachian State University think there are lessons to be learned from South Wales, a major coal producing region which faced a similar decline over a quarter century ago.  WMMT’s Sylvia Ryerson has this report.