Cultivating Appalachia’s Abundance

Grassroots Appalachia works to sustain Appalachia’s greatest resource – her talented and resourceful people

LENOIR, N.C. — There is no denying that times are tough. The world in which our children and grandchildren are living is full of negativity and fear-mongering.

So, we fear scarcity. And many other things that lead to poverty of the soul, which is every bit as bad as financial poverty. Too many of us are listening to the wrong voices. I prefer to listen to those who recognize our abundance. In Lenoir and in all of Appalachia, we have abundance. We do have economic abundance. There is economic disparity for sure, but that can be rectified, including through a free-market approach.

That is the why we’ve established Grassroots Appalachia. We are a social enterprise based here and in Weston, W.Va. Our “bottom line” is not driven by profit, but by community outreach and engagement designed to improve lives. That includes supporting cottage industries that will help sustain families and our community. We also seek partnerships with those serving the poor, vulnerable, marginalized and disinherited in our community and throughout Appalachia.

Beyond working towards connecting those with plenty of money with those that could use more — and are working hard to earn it — we also recognize that Appalachia’s greatest abundance is her people. Our people are abundantly talented and resourceful. By telling their stories as we do through the Appalachian Chronicle, we fiercely believe that we can cultivate abundance — of money, talents and opportunities.

This is not the time to listen to the naysayers. True, we are in a season of what author Paul Hawken called “Blessed Unrest” in his 2007 best seller. The subtitle, “How the Largest Social Movement in History is Restoring Grace, Justice and Beauty to the World,” is even more relevant now. Referring to the people of the movement, he asked, “Rather than a movement in the conventional sense, could it be an instinctive, collective response to threat?”

The answer to that question is “Yes!” as the threats only increase.

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Grassroots Appalachia partner Barbara Volk of the West Virginia chapter of Herbalists without Borders teaching about the nutritional and medicinal value of “weeds” at the Sweet Springs Sustainable Living Forum in Sweet Springs, W.Va., Aug. 2019

He wondered also, “Can it successfully address the issues that governments are failing to: energy, jobs, conservation, poverty and global warming?”

The answer to that question is, “We must!” And we will. The movement continues to grow; Grassroots Appalachia is just another way to bring together the abundance we have to identify and address our challenges. We all have a role to play. Grassroots Appalachia has chosen a free enterprise model, believing it is the best way to encourage creativity and affirm the dignity of each person.

We partner with expert musicians, artisans, herbalists and others to provide training in the traditions, skills and culture of Appalachia. As the center of traditional music in Western North Carolina, music is rebounding and finding many additional venues in the city, county and region. So, there are many reasons to be hopeful.

Working with small, cottage businesses is just one way of tapping into Appalchia’s abundance and reducing our dependence upon mono-economies. “Main Street” will be back and play a significant role in moving us into a more sustainable economy. Just as Hawken identified, it is a grassroots movement. Hence, our focus is on working to support and strengthen that sector. We are confident that many others stand ready to do the same.

To learn more, contact us at

© Michael Barrick, 2021. The Appalachian Chronicle is a publication of Grassroots Appalachia.

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