by Jeffrey Stec
This video by Jeffrey Stec chronicles the closure of the Urban Appalachian Council and its rebirth as the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition. It includes interviews with Mike Maloney, Pauletta Hansel, Debbie Zorn, and Maureen Sullivan. It depicts the great loss to the community when UAC closed, and the bold organizational vision that emerged when UACC was born.
Almost three years ago, I facilitated a meeting that announced the closing of the Urban Appalachian Council. At the time, I observed to Mike Maloney was that no “secular” non-profit—meaning one without Appalachian identity—would be able to effectively carry the communal torch of their 50-year movement. Fortunately, the passion among the 40 or so people in the room told me that there was still plenty of human capacity to carry on the work, albeit in different form from the service-delivery model used for so long.
Over the past three years I’ve watched the movement continually reform itself like a flock of blackbirds shifting with the breeze of community input sought by the core group of leaders (Mike, Debbie Zorn, Jeff Dey, Nancy Laird, Maureen Sullivan, and Pauletta Hansel). They have been quite thoughtful in how to re-stitch the seams of their movement, listening to feedback, actively recruiting help while staying open to the possibilities brought by others. Now the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition serves Appalachians by connecting people who have similar interests or gifts to contribute to the broader community.
This video is my attempt to tell this story of healing and re-invention, one based in a deep sense of identity and unwavering commitment to improve the urban Appalachian experience for all. I hope my admiration for this community and these leaders shows in the video, and that you all gain a better understanding of what they are up to, and the opportunities now available to all Appalachians.