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More than 1,200 missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: A pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; and concerns that proposed changes to 'Green Card' rules favor the wealthy.

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Creative Job Alternatives for Young People in Appalachia

A coalition of groups known as the National Rural Assembly is working to harness the energy of young people in less-populated areas. (WV Dept. of Tourism)
A coalition of groups known as the National Rural Assembly is working to harness the energy of young people in less-populated areas. (WV Dept. of Tourism)
October 3, 2016

CHARLESTON, W. Va. – Part of the future for young people in Appalachia could be homegrown, according to a coalition of groups working to build the future of rural America.

Dee Davis chairs the National Rural Assembly, a coalition of more than 500 organizations behind an initiative they're calling "Kids, Climate, Connection."

According to Davis, rural states like West Virginia are facing serious challenges, but many of their younger residents are eager to build new businesses and make other efforts to help.

"There's a lot of opportunity in rural communities for restoration economies - that is, fixing things that are broken," said Davis. "Maybe they're dealing with issues of pollution, illness or addiction. Young people can be of service; they can make a real difference."

Davis acknowledged many rural factories and mines may have laid-off their workers. But in the future, he said, people will be able to live where they want to live, and do their jobs from the laptops they carry - which means rural communities can work to attract them.

To build on this hopeful vision, Stephanie Tyree, director of the West Virginia Community Development Hub, said the state should work to harness the entrepreneurial spirit of many young people here.

She mentioned there are policies in areas like education and finance that can help.

"There has to be a pipeline, so you have to be developing entrepreneurial skills from a young age," said Tyree. "And then, there have to be support mechanisms, right? So, how can we support emerging entrepreneurs who come with debt?"

Tyree sees opportunities in what she called "creative place-making" – instead of looking for conventional employment, she explained, young people may choose to create jobs for themselves as they stay rooted in the land and the region.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV