Creative collaboration leads to promotion, fundraiser for Whitesville community project

Emily Sokolosky and Adam Pauley at Base Camp Printing
BY SATHIYAN SIVAKUMARAN, HUBCAP III VISTA, THE HUB

When you’re working on a major project for your community, it can often take many months and even years. There is something that can take away some of the challenges encountered in the pursuit of this achievement: collaboration.

In the case of the Clear Fork Rail Trail, we have seen the results that stem from cooperation across businesses, organizations, and government.

The Clear Fork Rail Trail project sprouted in 2014 from Whitesville’s participation in Turn This Town Around, a community development program administered by The Hub. Taking the initial idea that came out of working with the program, Adam Pauley, an engaged citizen, and Christy Bailey of the National Coal Heritage Area Authority, were able to co-write a successful application for an Abandoned Mine Lands grant from the WV Department of Environmental Protection for more than $2 million.

Fast-forward down the trail, and we’ve arrived at another recent success of collaboration as the project continues to gear up for the public. Over the past few months, Adam has worked with Emily Sokolosky of Base Camp Printing, a local letterpress print shop based in Charleston, WV, to create some exciting promotional materials for the trail with support from The Hub’s Communities of Achievement (HubCAP) program.

Base Camp print showcasing the trail

According to Emily, Adam’s enthusiasm and approach to the project made it easy for her to create the posters, postcards, and coasters he requested. “He came to the shop often and was able to point to things we had done in the past that he liked and that was really helpful to give me direction,” Emily says about the beginning of her work with Adam.

This kind of collaboration over a creative vision is best achieved locally.

Adam seeking out the talents of Emily and Betsy of Base Camp Printing helped develop a dynamic that led to creating promotional materials perfect for the Clear Fork Rail Trail.

Clear Fork Rail Trail is listed among West Virginia rail trails on a Base Camp poster

The creation of the promotional materials wasn’t something that happened overnight. It was a process requiring strong and consistent efforts from both parties. A four month process beginning in October before capping off at the end of January, the results progressed over time. “Rather than design it all at once, we would work on the design of one piece, print it, then move on to the next thing… But that also made it more fun, because we were able to hold something real in our hands and it kept us excited about the project,” Emily says about the work on the postcards, posters, and coasters. As they reached the finish line, this process allowed them to tie all of the materials together.

Eating, drinking, and buying from local businesses is becoming more of a theme and mantra in WV. So, how about collaborating locally?

In this case, where a lot of the work required visuals, there needed to be a lot of in-person or email contact. There’s a mutually beneficial element to these local collaborations, too. “We love learning more about each business and making friendships with the people we’re working with… It really gives us hope for the future and makes all of our hard work worth it,” Emily expresses.

An inside look into Base Camp Printing located in Charleston, WV.

As we see from Adam’s and Emily’s collaboration, local cooperation can create powerful images. With matching funding for the project, Adam and Emily were able to expand the scope of work to include more poster designs for Whitesville. The posters were sold to help raise money for additional community projects to happen in Whitesville.

Connecting the trail tourists to local businesses in Whitesville

The collaboration between Adam and the team at Base Camp display West Virginia at its best. They connected and communicated to develop something to accurately represent the Clear Fork Rail Trail, an endeavor that pushes Whitesville and the surrounding area forward. And through this collaboration, other projects in Whitesville can receive funds.

Adam sums it up perfectly: “We all benefit from working together.” We can’t argue with that.

Connecting the trail tourists to local businesses in Whitesville
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Parsons

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Message from our Executive Leadership Team

Fifteen years ago, stakeholders building up local communities and economies in West Virginia convened to map a coordinated strategy to systemically grow community economic development activity in the state. From the shared vision and collaborative leadership of dozens of strategic partners across the state, the WV Community Development Hub was born.

Since that time, The Hub has grown into the anchor community development organization serving West Virginia. We have built upon the original vision to create a method for rural, community-led development strategies that is uniquely tailored to the needs and opportunities of our state.

As we have grown and developed a proven model for success, our partnerships with community and economic development practitioners, funders, and committed West Virginia residents have been foundational to every element of our work.

Over the past two years, the team at The Hub has adapted to the unprecedented challenges our communities have faced during the pandemic by leaning into our core strengths to deepen our impact. The Hub remains committed to tackling persistent challenges, and we have focused our attention on the most impactful elements of our work.

We are supporting community leaders to advance their visions for local development, creating new pathways for engagement and leadership growth through our virtual training platform, and leading strategies that lift up voices of community leaders to move forward solutions to long-held challenges to growth.

If the past two years have taught us anything, it is that nothing about the future is set in stone. While the coming year may present enormous opportunities for advancement in our state, they will also inevitably require significant capacity building, shared strategies that are grounded in trust-based partnerships, and extended efforts to support the leadership development of individuals and organizations who have been asked to do more during a time of extreme stress and strain.

The services that anchor organizations like The Hub provide are even more critical in this time, and we expect our work to scale significantly in the coming years ahead.

We look forward to continuing to do the work of putting into action the vision and the shared strategies envisioned by that core group of community economic development practitioners and funders fifteen years ago.

In Continued Accompaniment,

– WV Community Development Hub
Executive Leadership Team

Stephanie Tyree

Executive Director

Amanda Workman Scott

Director of Community Engagement

Emma Pepper

Director of Strategic Network Communications

Katie Loudin

Director of Strategic Development

Montgomery

Residents participated in the Cultivate WV program to kickstart community and economy building. Read their community case study.

Smithers

Residents participated in the Cultivate WV program to kickstart community and economy building. Read their community case study.

Kingwood

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Lewis County

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Meadow River Valley Region

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Read their community case study.

Monticello Neighborhood of Clarksburg

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Watch their community documentary.

New Martinsville

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Read their community case study.

Systemic Change

2021 became a time period of catalytic potential as we saw years of investment into our core strategies to enact systemic change yield new results. Our strategic focus areas include policy, communications, and supporting the community economic development system in leveraging unique financing opportunities such as the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative and Opportunity Zones.

In addition, through our strategic policy support role within the Abandoned Properties Coalition, The Hub successfully advanced two key objectives: the creation of a statewide land bank at the West Virginia Land Stewardship Corporation and extension of the state’s Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit. 

Through the Opportunity Appalachia program, 6 catalytic community projects located in WV-based Opportunity Zones received $250,000 for pre-development technical assistance. Three projects received additional private funding as a result of program participation.

Community Coaching

In 2021, we accompanied 16 communities through our in-depth, professional coaching programs. In addition to leaning into coaching and financing opportunities offered through these programs, participating communities leveraged an additional $2.8 million in funding on their own for community economic development projects. While participating in our entry-level coaching program, Cultivate WV, Montgomery and Smithers realized momentum-building success through access to $40,000 in seed funding for projects like farmers markets, public art, wayfinding, community events, and development of a trail system.

Six communities, Lewis County, Kingwood, Meadow River Valley, Monticello neighborhood in Clarksburg, New Martinsville and Parsons, graduated the intermediate planning program Blueprint Communities* with strategic plans in place. We also launched a new round of HubCAP, our flagship community economic development program, in six towns located in the Monongahela National Forest region: Cowen, Franklin, White Sulphur Springs, Elkins, Marlinton, and Petersburg.

Elkins

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies. 

A core team led by Woodlands Development Group also participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Franklin

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

Marlinton

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

Petersburg

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

White Sulphur Springs

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

Charleston

A core team led by Crawford Holdings, LLC participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Huntington

Core teams led by Thundercloud, Inc. and the City of Huntington participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support community development projects located in Opportunity Zones.

Grafton

A core team led by Unleash Tygart, Inc participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Leadership Development

As hundreds of people began to engage in our virtual training activities in 2020, we saw a critical opportunity to scale and deepen our impact. This year, The Hub team developed an accessible, virtual platform with options for self-guided and group learning activities as well as professional coaching.

Kickstart Communities is now the crux of our efforts to bring new people into the work and grow their leadership. These activities now form the foundational stages of a Community Leadership Development Pipeline to move motivated residents from seeing the challenges in their communities to proactively collaborating to resolve them.

Cowen

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies. Read their community case study.