Community and Educational Resources

This page provides resources for individuals, community groups, and educators to facilitate discussions around vital topics such as climate justice, democratic participation, and sustainable coalfield communities. Resources and organization links are included below, followed by adaptable lesson plans for introductory level college courses.

Community Regeneration

What does your community need?

Which local partners can help advocate for community needs?

Where can you learn new skills in your community?

Led by local women, the DOVE Workshop is a community education center in a former mine office. The Workshop was established during the Miners' Strike in Wales from 1984-1985 by women in the Miners' Support Group in the Dulais Valley. In addition to offering classes, DOVE hosts a diverse set of small-scale entrepreneurs, including a daycare, a community garden, and a cafe featuring local foods.
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth is a grassroots organization of almost 9,000 members across Kentucky. KFTC uses a set of core strategies, from leadership development to communications and voter empowerment, to impact a broad range of issues, including coal and water, new energy and transition, economic justice, and voting rights.

Homegrown Tourism

What are your community’s attractions?

What types of jobs could tourism development bring to your community?

What attractions could be utilized or transformed to attract visitors?

Built on a former mine site, the Glyncorrwg Ponds and Mountain Bike Centre attracts visitors from all over the world. This project was supported by the Valleys Initiative, a Welsh government program to regenerate former mining communities.
At first glance, Call of the Wild appears to be an eco-tourism business, providing outdoor adventures for visitors. However, to avoid the pitfalls of the seasonal tourism industry, Call of the Wild also runs a leadership development business, providing services for a range of corporate clients and offering permanent employment at a living wage for local people.

Creative Place Making

What is your creative outlet?

What community organizations support creativity?

What creative project do you want to see happen in your community?

Cor Meibion Onllwyn is a traditional Welsh Male Voice Choir. In this recording from the early 1990s, soloist Brian Connick offers a powerful rendition of "The Miners Song" which shares the same melody as "Life's Railway to Heaven" and "Appalachian Gospel Song". Some believe that the melody began as a Welsh hymn.
The Higher Ground Project is a participatory community arts project led by the Appalachian Program at Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College. Community members write, rehearse, and perform unique stories stories during each new production. Participants in Higher Ground rely on the power of local culture to bring diverse groups of people together to talk about the past, present, and future of Harlan County, Kentucky.

Opportunities for Youth

What do young people in your community do for fun?

To make money?

What would make young people want to stay in your community?

Red House is an arts and creative industries centre in Merthyr Tydfil. Supported by the Welsh government and regional funding streams, Red House emerges in an environment which has suffered years of economic decline. Red House seeks to become a catalyst for cultural regeneration, and fosters youth creativity. Image retrieved from PG Stage.
The STAY Project (Stay Together Appalachian Youth) is a diverse regional network of young people throughout Central Appalachia who are working together to advocate for and actively participate in their home mountain communities. The STAY Project is about the need for communities to have the basic human rights that everyone deserves no matter where they live, their economic background, their race, language, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or cultural background.

These lesson plans were designed for introductory level college courses.
We welcome your ideas to adapt these plans for other uses.

1. Sustainability Lesson Plan

This lesson plan offers an opportunity for students to discuss sustainable development using readings and videos.

First, have students read the following short articles:

Appalachian Journal – Helen Lewis

Flora and Flora’s “Community Capitals Framework”

“At its core, however, the regional movement represented a thoroughly modern effort to protect human rights and to spread the promises of security and freedom of want to a larger community of people…The problem in Appalachia, they came to agree, was not poverty or strip mining or health care alone; it was a pattern of corruption that had tainted the whole system.” (172)

— Ronald D. Eller’s Uneven Ground

Next, screen this 5 minute clip in class.

Then the class should be prepared to discuss the following questions:

Discussion Questions

  • What does sustainability mean?
  • What are ways your community (or school) is being sustainable? What are some ways they could improve?
  • Talk about the impact of “grassroots” movements. What do you believe “grassroots” means and how can this be a successful or unsuccessful means of change?
  • What are the keys to implementing sustainable practices into community businesses?
  • What are ways that you think Appalachia has been historically unsustainable? What future do you see for these practices/industries? What would you like to see?
  • What are some small scale ways that you can introduce sustainability into your life?


2. Diversity Lesson Plan

This lesson plan offers a video clip from Wales and from Appalachia as starting points for a discussion about diversity.

Begin by reading the quote and showing the two video clips to the class.

“The stereotype of Appalachia as a strictly white Anglo-Saxon region has been perpetuated by journalists, novelists, social scientists, and even many regional historians. Yet this generalization over-simplifies a more complicated — and more colorful — reality. Appalachia is not a homogenous region today, and, even historically, diversity has always been present.”

Rachel Ellen Simon, The Appalachian Voice (2014)

Use your class readings and the videos to discuss the following questions:

Discussion Questions

  • How would you define diversity?
  • Do you consider the area in which you live diverse?
  • Why is diversity important?
  • What are the keys to implementing sustainable practices into community businesses?
  • In what ways would increased diversity improve your school, you community, your region?


3. History Lesson Plan

This lesson allows students to compare and contrast the coal mining histories of Wales and Appalachia. Begin by reading the quote and screening the video clips below.

“The history of the valleys of South Wales and the mountains of eastern Kentucky is closely tied to the industrial revolution. High quality coal from both regions fed steam engines and steel mills, which helped Great Britain and the United States become dominant world powers. Immigrants flooded into these rural regions for the opportunity to earn wages in the mines.”

“The coalfields in South Wales industrialized decades before Appalachia, and much of the history of the Appalachian coalfields follows patterns set in Wales.”

After Coal

Use your class readings and the videos to explore the discussion questions.

Discussion Questions

  • Compare and contrast the history of coal mining in Wales and Appalachia.
  • What has been the historical impact of strikes in the region?
  • Discuss the nationalization of coal mining in Wales.
  • Do you think something like this would have worked in Appalachia? Why or why not?
  • Think about the impact “absentee ownership” would have on a different industry within your personal community.
  • Think about the history of unions in both Wales and Appalachia. What ways are they similar? What ways are they different?

4. Tourism Lesson Plan

Use related class readings, along with the quote and videos below to drive a discussion about tourism in former coal mining communities and communities in economic transition.

“Parks and natural lands provide opportunity for local residents to enjoy solitude, relaxation, and contemplation and to engage in desired recreational activities. In addition, they may add to the attractiveness of an area or raise land prices for those who live on their immediate borders. Alternatively, if recreation sites are seen to attract crowds of tourists and their resulting negative impacts (and these impacts outweigh the benefit of increased revenue), then the location of them near nonwhite or impoverished communities may represent environmental injustice. Therefore, not only must the problem of social inequity and outdoor recreation land use be considered but also the question of what type of land use is considered desirable.”

Michael A. Tarrant and Rob Porter (2001) (On behalf of the Travel and Tourism Association)

Use your class readings and the videos to explore the discussion questions.

Discussion Questions

  • Describe the type of community you come from. Is there a history of tourism in your home community?
    If not, do you think it would be a positive or negative addition?
  • In what ways did these communities in Wales use sustainable tourism to move beyond the loss of mining in their region? Do you think similar efforts would be possible in your community? Why or why not?
  • Is sustainability important when it comes to tourism?
  • Must tourism always be seasonal? What impact does seasonal tourism have on a community?
  • What are creative ways to combat any negative impacts of tourism?

5. Music Lesson Plan

This lesson offers an opportunity to explore music as a tool and outlet in coalfield communities.
Read the background about and watch Keep Your Eye Upon the Scale. Then, watch the video about Higher Ground and explore the discussion questions.
Keep Your Eye Upon the Scale

““Making music is a vital social function for many people who live in the region.” (xix)”

Fred C. Russell in Blue Ridge Music Trails

Discussion Questions

  • Do you come from somewhere with a strong musical heritage? If so, describe to your classmates how music was a part of your community.
  • How did music play a role in the strike movements in both Appalachia and Wales?
  • How have communities in Wales used music as a means of community building and healing after coal?
  • How have communities in Appalachia used music as a means of understanding coal’s impact on the region?
  • What are some modern examples of activist music? How are they similar to/different from the music in After Coal? In what ways can music inspire change?

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