Have I helped you to make a difference in your own community or connect with your internal power within and your collective power with others? Consider buying me a coffee!
I've been building power throughout the Appalachian mountains of Western NC for a decade now. I was raised by this fierce village of hardworking, fightin' folks and my passion is using the fire that they instilled with me to weave together communities that have the skills, knowledge, and confidence to advocate for themselves and shape the world that they envision for themselves.
During my time I have had the privilege of collecting thousands of petition signatures, training hundreds of community leaders, connecting hundreds of neighbors across partisan divides, knocking on thousands of doors, and ultimately crossing paths with hundreds of folks across the great state of North Carolina. I acquired my Master of Social Work in 2018 with a focus on rural community organizing and social policy and have used the knowledge I gained to pioneer the Deep Canvass model in rural Appalachia as well as promote the use of evidence-based healing and organizing skills within the progressive movement.
Although I have been organizing for over a third of my life (10 years out of 28 at the time of writing), the vast majority of my experience in community organizing has been unpaid, voluntary work that I have done for free because Appalachia and rural communities like mine are often left out of the industrial complex that makes up the nonprofit and community organizing infrastructures. My memories are filled with working an 8 hour shift at the local brewery and then driving over the mountain to facilitate a meeting I had organized with folks in Haywood County before driving home to my rented singlewide trailer and preparing for a shift at the health foods store. Much like we see from our government and corporations, Appalachia and rural communities are also underinvested-in and misunderstood by the progressive movement space. The struggle for the voice of Appalachian and rural folks to be organized as a part of the movement to build power towards justice is not enough to stop me, and in fact I will keep organizing in my communities for as long as I live.
A few things that I feel pretty dang proud of that are worth noting:
- In graduate school I was recognized with awards for both my Leadership in Community Service by the Center for Service Learning as well as for the MSW Excellence in Service from the University's School of Social Work
- I represented the women of Appalachia at the State of OUR Union held by the Domestic Workers Alliance and others in 2018
- My organizing frameworks and experiences were used as references and case study in the book Organizing for Power and Empowerment by Jaqueline Mondros and Joan Minieri set to be published by Columbia University Press in 2022
- My experiences as an Appalachian millennial woman have been featured in an Oral History project conducted as Independent Scholarly Research by Mary Martinez at Western Carolina University set to be published as public record in 2022