Appalshop artists and organizers collaborated with county residents to create new theater, film, music, and radio pieces about the search for a sustainable future. As residents shared stories, they recognized how many values and dreams they shared—across generational, geographical, political, religious, and other divides—and began building a cooperative network they soon named the Letcher County Culture Hub.
The Culture Hub became the first major test of Community Cultural and Economic Development (CCED): a new synthesis between Appalshop’s Community Cultural Development methodology, through which residents find pride and hope through community-based storytelling and arts, and Lafayette College, based in Easton, PA’s, Economic Empowerment & Global Learning Project (EEGLP) economic development methodology, through which residents discover latent assets in their communities and transform them into community wealth. In less than two years, with support from Appalshop, IA, and EEGLP, the Culture Hub has grown to 18 organizations, from volunteer fire departments producing solar energy to citizens collaborating with government to build county-wide broadband internet. The Culture Hub’s credo: We own what we make.
The culture hub is a change agent: toward a culture and economy where everyone belongs.
The Culture Hub’s eighteen current partners, convened and facilitated by community organizers at Appalshop, include community centers, business associations, artist and artisan organizations, volunteer fire departments, public and educational institutions, and for- and nonprofit corporations in the agriculture, tech, media, housing, and health sectors.
The Culture Hub is founded on the principle that every community has latent assets they can turn into new community wealth—but only if they can unbind their imaginations and tell new stories about themselves. (This principle is drawn from Appalshop’s collaboration with economists EEGLP and researchers at Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life.) The Culture Hub facilitates this process by bringing diverse partners together in an ever-growing network, allowing them to recognize and create new opportunities for development and enterprise, together.