Sustainable Berea Awarded a Federal Stimulus Grant

Many discussions are taking place around how to strengthen communities nation-wide. Sustainable Berea in Kentucky, the 13th official Transition Initiative in the US, was recently awarded a federal stimulus grant to do just that. Thanks to Richard Olson for sharing this story. Stay tuned!

Sustainable Berea’s mission is to “increase Berea’s resilience – its ability to withstand external economic, energy, and environmental shocks – by partnering with other community groups and individuals to re-localize our economy, food system, and energy sources while greatly reducing the city’s reliance on fossil fuels.” 

photoSuccess will require participation by the whole community, but SB’s membership rolls and a look at those who attend SB events indicates that some segments of the community are not participating including the Hispanic and Asian communities, low-income families, and youth.

Last spring Sustainable Berea saw a call for proposals for grants from the APPALSEED Compassion Capital Fund, paid for by federal stimulus monies and intended to build the capacity of local non-profits. Priority was given to organizations providing services to low-income individuals and families, the elderly, at-risk youth and other underserved populations.

SB was awarded a grant that it is using to conduct individual interviews, focus groups and surveys with segments of the Berea population who are often not involved with non-profit groups – especially ones involved with issues and projects that are advocated by transition towns.

We will be assessing people’s awareness and knowledge of environmental issues, their concern about peak oil and climate change, and what are the cultural and social barriers that keep them from joining non-profit groups and working with groups in the town to improve the quality of life. 

Data will be gathered this summer and a final report is due at the end of September. It is the aim of SB to provide a model for research and evaluation that other towns in Appalachia can use to help increase engagement by all members of their citizenry in community building. 

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Photos: (top) Sustainable Berea re-skilling workshop in September, 2009, on home food preservation and storage; (left) November, 2009, Berea Mayor Steve Connelly proclaiming “Edible Landscape Day”; (right) November 2008,  90+ citizens fill Berea City Council chambers to provide feedback on recommended actions by Transition Town Berea. All photos submitted by Sustainable Berea.

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