The Black Appalachian Coalition hosted a series of listening sessions intended to center and uplift stories about community, opportunity, and infrastructure. The Pennsylvania session featured introductions from Melanie Meade, a clean air advocate and Zabriawn Smith, a community leader with Aliquippa Green. Bishop Marcia Dinkins, BLAC’s founder, moderated the discussion.
Black Appalachians have been historically excluded from conversations around regional infrastructure, both physical (roads, bridges, rail, etc.) and social (healthcare, childcare, schools, housing, etc). In many cases, federal infrastructure legislation has systematically harmed or discriminated against Black Appalachian communities. In pursuit of new infrastructure programs that deliver benefits, including economic access and mobility, the Black Appalachian Coalition and Ohio River Valley Institute invited Black Appalachians to share stories about:
- Past and present experiences related to accessing resources and the equitable (or inequitable) distribution of these resources
- Past or present experiences as a beneficiary or user of infrastructure, or conversely, lack of infrastructure
- Hopes or dreams for future opportunities (jobs, community projects, etc.) related to infrastructure
- Other narratives, asks, comments, or needs that come to mind for participants when they think about the infrastructure conversation happening throughout the country
Stories submitted online and shared during the listening sessions were catalogued by the Black Appalachian Coalition and the Ohio River Valley Institute to compile an interactive story map. Visit the Where We Are tab to learn more.