BY KATELYN CAMPBELL, ABANDONED PROPERTIES COALITION AND POLICY VISTA, THE HUB
I have always been fascinated by people who snatch the controls to their own destinies.
As a small child, I learned how to operate my family’s VHS player for the crucial purpose of watching my favorite movie, Mulan, at least once a day (much to my parents’ chagrin). I loved Mulan and wanted to be just like her: I idolized her transformation from regular girl to savior of China, and dreamt of the day when I would become President of the United States.
I think part of what struck me about Mulan as a four year old was how much it reminded me of the importance of making the supposedly impossible possible. At that age, I had already been made well-aware by my peers that girls belonged in the backseat, not the behind the steering wheel. Little did they know, I had already had plenty of practice driving my yellow pedal car and knew how wrong they were.
The lessons of self-reliance and resilience I learned from Mulan are ones I carried with me throughout my life as a scholar and an organizer. Combined with a heavy dose of classic West Virginia stubbornness, I muscled my way through college in Massachusetts as generally the only person from Central Appalachia in my classes, spending summers in West Virginia coordinating a summer program for youth in McDowell County.
It was in McDowell County that I saw people snatching the controls to their own destinies en masse for the first time. At Sky’s the Limit, I worked with a group of students and volunteers who were uniting three days a week to improve their community, whether it was making sure each child had accurate information about their bodies or cleaning up the local park. They did so with very little funding and and raucous senses of humor. Without the time I spent in Keystone, I would likely not have known how much love I have for the people of West Virginia.
With this in mind, I am overjoyed to re-join the Hub as the Abandoned Properties Coalition and Community Development Policy VISTA. I will spend the next year in service to West Virginia and to the Hub, researching and supporting the development of policies to help communities take control of their abandoned and dilapidated properties. Whether on the local or state level, I am so excited to get to work on the ground back home.
Want to get in touch? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.