"Strengthening Appalachia: Sustainable Energy, Renewable Energy, and Energy Efficiency"


Dec. 4-5, 2014 / Benham, KY

Regional Gatherings bring the work of the Appalachian Transition Fellowship to a wider participant base, providing a space for folks throughout the region to convene and join fellows and host communities in sharing their work and learning from each other about efforts to advance a just and sustainable transition in Appalachia. 

Join the AppFellows, host communities like Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, UT Green Initiative, Alliance for Appalachia, OVEC, and folks working in sustainable energy across sectors throughout Appalachia to share and learn the current work happening in the region. The host community of Benham in Harlan County is happy to welcome you and spotlight the  Benham Energy Project.

The registration deadline is Nov. 24, 2014. 

Click here for more information or contact Elizabeth Wright at 865-356-1655 or at Elizabeth (at) highlandercenter (dot) org.

Featured Blog Post

(Never) Been Here Before

by Tom Torres

Tom Torres

Tom Torres

The only thing harder than talking about what you do is talking about how you got there. Looking back on three years of organizing, I feel like I’ve been everywhere but home. I spent the first 21 years of my life in Northeast Georgia. Then, in the summer of 2010, I started my work in the small piece of Central Appalachia found in East Tennessee. I had never been to Tennessee before and, if you had asked me then, I had never been to Appalachia either.
My parents are both from Central Mexico and came to the US with my older sister. When I was just a few months old, we settled in Habersham County, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. No one had to tell me I grew up in the South. This was Georgia; you just knew. I don’t think people know they’re Appalachian until they hear it from someone else. Doubly so when you don’t look like everyone else. Habersham was rural to me, but the real mountains always seemed somewhere else...
Living in La Jolla (spanish for “the jewel;” otherwise known as Pear Valley), I could identify with the people around me. We all grew up in that half-space of not knowing how to be, reconciling skills inherited from thousands of miles away with the demands of a life in the US. The shame of an egg-bean lunch brought to school in a plastic Walmart bag balanced with the love of a community. These images seem vibrant and clear now, but at the time were just unstated parts of my experience. It wasn’t until I spent time living someone else’s rural that I could really see the place and people that made me.

What is the Appalachian Transition Fellowship Program?

The Appalachian Transition Fellowship is a year-long, full-time, paid program designed for 15 emerging community leaders who are committed to working in Central Appalachia for the economic transition of the region. Central Appalachia is defined as West Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Tennessee, Appalachian Ohio and Western North Carolina. 

This program offers the opportunity to spend a year working within host communities to help foster cross-sector (education, nonprofit, for-profit, philanthropy, and government) partnerships, provide needed capacity to regional efforts, and build personal and professional skills. Through institutional placements, independently designed projects, training, and mentoring, the program gives emerging leaders and host organizations skills and networks needed to advance economic and social change in the region.

Central Appalachia is engaged in a period of economic transition. While the decline of previously stable industries such as coal and manufacturing bring significant economic instability, it also offers Appalachia the opportunity to focus on the long-term well-being of its people and its communities. This economic transition allows regionally-based industries to prosper while also protecting and supporting the environmental and social well-being of the region. The Appalachian Transition Fellowship (AppFellows) seeks to increase the connectivity and capacity of Appalachian institutions and leaders while building a collective analysis and seeding projects to change the systemic problems in our region, leading to a just and sustainable Appalachian economy.  

Introducing our Host Communities and Fellows!!!


Appalachian Citizen's Law Center, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC), and Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) / Fellow: Eric Dixon - Whitesburg, KY 

Community Farm Alliance, Foundation for Appalachian KY and Foundation for a Healthy KY/ Fellow: Mae Humiston - Eastern KY

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC), City of Benham and Christian Outreach with Appalachian People (COAP) / Fellow: Josh Outsey - Benham, KY

North Carolina

Carolina Textile District and Opportunity Threads / Fellow: Willa Johnson - Morganton, NC


Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACENet), American Electric Power, Athens City Government and Rural Action / Fellow: Carol Davey - Athens, OH

ReUse Industries, Ohio University Voinovich School and Rural Action Zero Waste Streams / Fellow: Zack Swick - Athens, OH


UT Dept of Sociology and Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development (SEEED) / Fellow: Tom Torres - Knoxville, TN


Appalachian Sustainable Development and Virginia Tech / Fellow: Derrick Von Kundra - Abingdon, VA

West Virginia

Mid Ohio Valley Regional Council, Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and City of Spencer / Fellow: Adam Hall - Parkersburg, WV

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Mountain View Solar and One Foundation / Fellow: Tyler Cannon - Huntington, WV

The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, Charleston Area Medical Center (CMAC) and Corey Brothers / Fellow: Joey Aloi - Charleston, WV

WV Center for Civic Life, WV Community Development Hub and WV PBS / Fellow: Catherine Moore - Statewide West Virginia


The Alliance for Appalachia and Virginia Tech / Fellow: Kendall Bilbrey