If there’s one thing we can say about the 2016 Legislative Session, it’s that it has inspired a lot of conversation and passion from West Virginians across the state.
It’s been incredible to see West Virginians get engaged (and in some cases enraged) about a long, varied and sometimes incongruous set of issues.
From RFRA to brunch to professional taxes to constitutional carry, people have been serious as a heart attack about the rights they want to protect, the ideas they want to see West Virginia stand up for, and the future they want to see our Legislature help build for our communities.
More than anything, what we have heard this year at The Hub is the voice of young people paying attention to the decisions their elected officials are making. They are really questioning what the thinking is behind the decision-making happening under that Golden Dome.
Is there something about this year that is different? Why does everything feel so amped up?
Maybe it’s because it’s an election year so the rhetoric has been turned to Level 10.
Maybe it’s because more and more legislators are picking up on the power of social media to amplify and catalyze their constituents.
For example, this “public service” message from Delegate Shawn Fluharty about the number of lobbyists versus legislators certainly caught our attention.
It was the first time we had seen a legislator make a handheld video commentary during the session. Is this the future we have to look forward to? It could be interesting!
Maybe it’s because we can literally watch and listen to more of it.
West Virginia Public Broadcasting has had a huge impact on how well people can stay engaged in what’s happening down at the Capitol.
Let us repeat that: HUGE. From video and audio streaming, to video archiving on Youtube of every session, to the Legislature Today and their morning updates – they’ve really stepped up their coverage this year and improved many of the access points. The Hub is not alone in noticing and appreciating the boost.
But whatever it is, people are upset, and they have been increasingly upset as the session has progressed.
WV Living and West Virginia Public Broadcasting have teamed up to talk with people about this frustration, and about how that frustration might translate into out-migration. Does frustration about political decisions really translate into people leaving the state? Is it a struggle to stay in this state sometimes?
At the tumblr page #TheStruggleToStay, they’ve captured tweets, instagrams, and videos from West Virginia residents talking about why it sometimes is a struggle to stay here – and why they continue to stick it out despite struggles.
We’ve always been inspired by West Virginians who recognize the struggle, and the beauty of purpose that comes from committing to a place and to a people whether there is struggle or not.
Over here at The Hub, we’re committed to our West Virginia, though we see the struggles happening large and small in communities across the state. And we’re excited to do that work with you, in your community whether you are experiencing #TheStruggleToStay or not.