Collaborations in Coal Country Build Healthier Communities

Green For All Fellow Eric Mathis makes sustainability possible in the coalfields

Green For All Fellow Eric Mathis makes sustainability possible in the coalfields

How do you actually build a healthy community?  Green For All Fellow Eric Mathis believes economic diversification is a critical piece of the answer. As we have seen across the country, having a local economy rely on one industry can be devastating.  With this in mind, in his community of Williamson, West Virginia, Mathis led the installation 48 solar panels (11.27 kilowatts of clean power) on the roof of a local health clinic—right in the heart of the coalfields.  The solar panels are not only bringing renewable energy and savings to the clinic but they serve as a pilot project for a future that includes better health and good jobs for local residents. 

Meanwhile, Mathis’ friends and neighbors applied their talents to the goal of ensuring their community's health.  They came together to build Sustainable Williamson, and the results have been astounding. In a town where access to healthy food is an issue, and where 35 percent of fifth graders are obese, these residents created a community garden space and farmers market to improve food choices. In conjunction with Green For All Fellow Selim Sandoval, they secured a Federally Qualified Health Clinic (FQHC) planning grant to develop the Williamson Health and Wellness Clinic to serve low-income folks—a real asset in a county where 30 percent of residents live below the poverty line. You can read more about the incredible work of Sustainable Williamson in this recent Charleston Gazette piece.

Check out their new campaign video below to find out how you can get involved and make your community sustainable too. You can be part of the solution by downloading the Sustainable Williamson Community Action Kit to find out how.

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