The Sustainable Communities Program, formerly known as Wise Energy and Sustainable Economic Diversification and Development Project (WE SEDD), is a citizen led effort to diversify the coal dependent mono-economy of Wise County, Va by promoting economic and environmental sustainability, local and worker ownership, community-owned renewable energy systems and local economic skills. Together, in community, we seek to rebuild sustainable Appalachian communities.
In the face of the destruction of our mountains and our communities by the Coal Industry’s extractive economic practices, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS) and other groups, have dedicated themselves “to stopping the destruction of our communities by surface coal mining, to improving the quality of life in our area, and to helping rebuild sustainable communities.” The Sustainable Communities program is an effort to achieve the final part of SAMS’ mission statement: to rebuild sustainable Communities in Wise County and Southwest Virginia.
Inspired by our friends and allies across Appalachia, like Coal River Mountain Watch, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Appalachian Community Economics and others, we are undertaking a collaborative effort to identify the skills and potentials inherent in the Appalachian spirit of self-sufficiency and self-determination. This program promotes these natural Appalachian talents in order to foster a new model of economic development in Southwest Virginia that can break the mono-economic stranglehold of outlaw mining and fossil fuel dependency that today whittles away at the hope we hold for a brighter future. Under the name of WE SEDD, we held three “Wise Energy Forums” to discuss the challenges facing our regional economy, and identified the possibilities for sustainable development. Within this program we also held our first Appalachian Community Economic Series in 2010 and began growing organic produce to donate to the Appalachia Food Bank.
Through this program we are currently supporting the following projects: