GLAM interview with Christine Kinder, Raleigh County CED Agent, West Virginia State University/New River Gorge Regional Development Authority
BY SALLY DESKINS, EXHIBITS & PROGRAM COORDINATOR, WVU LIBRARIES
Last month, I introduced the new series I’m curating for the West Virginia Community Development Hub, featuring statewide people who work within galleries, libraries, archives and/or museums and collaborate with outside organizations, to hopefully gain some knowledge, share it with readers and help the state’s arts bloom! I was pleased to receive several ideas and hear from folks open to interviews and excited to discuss their own collaborations.
Christine Kinder was the first to respond as she recognized our own similarities—background in art and public administration with an interest, too, in community development. She shares with us about her diverse work as an Extension Agent with Raleigh County, assisting organizations and government with revitalization, where collaboration plays a key role.
SD: Tell me about your background and why you got into what you do.
CK: My background includes a BA in Anthropology, MA in Curatorial Studies and an MPA (Public Administration). My interests in art, creative thinking, and working with others are combined in community development work. Extension allows me to work in the field and talk to people, learn about others and what my community’s needs are.
SD: Tell me about your organization and your role/what you do.
CK: Through a partnership between WVSU and NRGRDA, I serve as the community development extension agent for Raleigh County. Through this position I work to assist organizations and local government with revitalization efforts.
SD: What are some ways you have or will collaborate with either outside organizations or groups?
CK: Collaboration is central to the projects I work on. An organization I work with closely, the Downtown Beckley Business Association (DBBA), is a great example of an organization using collaborative efforts to accomplish projects. The DBBA has been awarded a Try This WV mini grant for the past two years to encourage a healthy lifestyle through art and promote the Beckley McManus Rail Trail. The DBBA, the City of Beckley, ACTIVE SWV, Independence Middle School art students, Boy Scouts, MACS Toy Fund, YMCA, and volunteers came together to accomplish numerous projects including up-cycled bike art to promote the trail and an active themed mural to inspire a healthy lifestyle. This spring we will begin painting playground games and fun fitness trails on the rail trail to encourage kids and families to utilize the McManus Trail.
SD: Why is collaborating important to you and/or your position, and WV/society moving forward?
CK: Collaboration in community development work is effective in creating partnerships, awareness, building relationships, community pride, sharing limited resources, and creating innovative solutions to issues. Involving youth in community development projects helps instill community pride, awareness, and ownership of where they live. Collaborating with youth is especially important in our state where we struggle to retain our young professionals. Collaboration offers a chance to inspire youth, build awareness and pride about where they live, and give them an opportunity to be a part of positive community change.
SD: Any advice or tips for people wanting to collaborate—how do you approach people about it without knowing them? How do you think up such ideas?
CK: Attending/volunteering at events, attending workshops and conferences, public meetings… Many times I have been approached about projects that were shared through social media or they’ve read a story in the paper or online. I have also reached out to others to learn more about a project they’re working on and how I might be able to apply it to my community. Meeting new people and learning about what they do is the easiest way for a new project idea to form, thinking creatively about how different organizations might benefit from one another. Most communities in Southern WV share the same problems and want to see positive change. With limited resources it only makes sense for people to work together.SD: Hopes for future of WV?
CK: I am hopeful for the future of WV because of the wealth of creativity in our state.
If you want to share about your collaboration from a GLAM organization in WV, please get in touch!