You might not know it, but this is a photograph of hope.
It’s a photograph of determination. And of commitment, And of passion.
This is a photograph of West Virginians refusing to let the present and the future just happen to them.
I took this photo a few Thursdays ago, when The Hub staff and board spent a couple of days in the small city of Grafton, in Taylor County.
The Hub has been working with the people of Grafton since 2014, which is when the people of that city decided they wanted some help making positive change however they could, and became one of the first Turn This Town Around communities.
In Grafton, just like in the many other cities and towns across the state we have helped, The Hub didn’t come in with a magic wand and a million dollars. We didn’t parachute a Buffalo Wild Wings into the main street, and we didn’t just tell the people there what they wanted for their community. We asked them.
Far more powerfully, we showed the people of Grafton how to organize themselves, how to make plans and follow them, and how to recognize the assets they already had.
We empowered them to create their own future, and not to just accept one prescribed for them by outside forces who, well-meaning though they may be, aren’t going to still be in that community six months from now, 10 years from now, who aren’t going to grow up and grow old in that community, who aren’t going raise families there.
This photograph, above, is what this empowerment looks like. It’s a photograph of All Aboard Grafton.
The backbone of All Aboard Grafton is regular weekly meetings, just like this one. There’s no great trick to it – just a group of interested locals in a room together, sharing information about things that are happening in their community, and making plans.
It doesn’t sound particularly life-changing, does it? But you’d be surprised.
As simple an idea as this may seem, a regular meeting of locals is one of the most critical things a community can do in order to make good things happen where they live.
The creation of All Aboard Grafton is one of the lasting legacies of The Hub’s work there. It came about after we introduced local leaders in Grafton to our friends in Buckhannon who had just launched a similar initiative – Create Buckhannon.
Like Create Buckhannon, All Aboard Grafton has now created the necessary civic infrastructure for locals to create new things in the main street, throw events, cooperate, and to find funding and resources for big plans.
These kinds of connections are one of the many ways The Hub works to put local people in a position to decide what their community will look like. And it works.
“The Hub showed us how to talk with each other, how to work with each other,” says Tom Hart, one of the many locals behind All Aboard Grafton. “We wouldn’t be meeting today, or any of the days we have met, if not for The Hub.”
It’s why one of our slogans is Change, by you. (Not change, by us. Or, worse still, change, by them.)
As a Hub staff member, working every day to empower West Virginians to make great things happen in their communities is one of the things I’m thankful for this November.
If you are thankful for help The Hub has provided your community over the years, or just you personally, now is the perfect time to give thanks. You can make a contribution to continue The Hub’s work, quickly, easily and online!