A Seat at the Table
Collaboration with Mckenna Graham
A Seat at the Table
This project is intended to address three major issues/needs that the city of Hazard, Kentucky faces.
1. The Economic Coal Debate
One can’t help but overhear the ongoing conversation of “How do we deal with the fall of the coal industry?” This issue has hit the city of Hazard hard. It has caused a difficult economic situation while taking the optimism and hopeful spirit of the citizens of Hazard with it. This issue has been divisive; one side seems to be holding onto the tradition of coal, while the other is ready to move on with hopes of redefining the city through new ideas for the future. These two perspectives, though conflicting, are valid in their own right. However, the two sides share more similarities than differences. Both say that they welcome new approaches to fixing the problem; the difference seems to be the attitude.
2. Kudzu Take Over
Kudzu is a highly invasive plant that covers a lot of Hazard, Kentucky. It has been spreading in the southern U.S. at the rate of 150,000 acres annually, "easily outpacing the use of herbicide spraying and mowing, as well increasing the costs of these controls by $6 million annually." Its introduction has produced devastating environmental consequences in Hazard and the surrounding areas, not to mention the financial burden of controlling it.
Like many rural areas of Kentucky, Hazard struggles with high obesity rates, especially after the coal industry decline. Limited access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food options has had detrimental effects on the overall health of Hazard citizens. Similar to the Greenway Project, promotion of healthier lifestyle choices would benefit the physical and emotional state of Hazard, Kentucky.
This project addresses all of these issues in one town-wide dinner party. A dinner table that stretches down the heart of Main Street will be constructed out of local materials. Every course of the dinner will contain Kudzu, and the conversation of the dinner will be directed towards bringing forth ideas to benefit Hazard’s future. Everyone loves food!
The dinner table has always been a place to set differences aside to gather and talk. The dinner table will serve as a positive place of inclusive discussion. It will be a comfortable place where EVERYONE can voice their opinion about what THEY can do to create the Hazard that they want to live in. It will also act as a community think tank in which people can offer suggestions about ways the community as a whole can foster positive change.
Even though many of the ideas may lack practical feasibility, it will redirect the attention to the community members as the future cause of change. Many similar ideas may come from people from opposing political sides, which will hopefully spark a conversation based on hopeful collaboration. By simply being asked their opinion, community members will feel a sense of empowerment towards the collective action and gain a bit more pride about being a part of a great push to better their town- thus raising positivity. This will help overcome the declining morale that the citizens of Hazard have been dealing with since the decline of coal industry.