“Solutions for a Just Kentucky: A Youth Perspective” Executive Summary

“Solutions for a Just Kentucky: A Youth Perspective” Executive Summary

In 2016, KSEC’s Just Transition Working Group sought to uplift the voices of young people with the Solutions Tour Project. This project created space for young people in Kentucky, especially those from Appalachia, to collectively envision a new future. Additionally, the Solutions Tour projecthighlighted real examples of just transition and connected young people to skills and resources they could share with their communities. The Solutions tour was organized into five major components:

  1. Interviews with community stakeholders to identify leading just transition ideas
  2. Youth Assemblies, in partnership with the STAY Project, to engage young people in conversation
  3. Solution Spotlights, to take a closer look at solutions in progress
  4. The Solutions Survey, to allow young people to weigh in on which solutions they find most exciting and may want to be involved with
  5. The Solutions Summit, a 3-day event hosted in Benham, Kentucky to close the project and generate next steps

The Solutions Survey was intended to provide a youth perspective to inform our future just transition projects and to allow us to better advocate for community needs when meeting with decision-makers. The questions and their most common answers are represented in the table below.

Kentucky youth are a frontline community in the climate crisis. Just transition is not a theoretical conversation for us; it is a question of necessity. After more than a year of conversations, we can say that young Kentuckians have a vested interest in a just transition – and we are willing to work for it.One respondent put it simply: “How do we continue the conversation and turn it into action?”

Any solution that doesn’t address the root causes of these issues is a false solution that only moves the problem to another (usually marginalized) community.  We can say that any real solution will require the voices of young people, because our futures are at stake. KSEC’s membership and the young people who took the Solutions Survey identified unmet needs in three major areas: meaningful employment, infrastructure and access, and government accountability.

After the Solutions Summit, our Just Transition Working Group created a list of project plans that will allow us to connect, educate, and empower young people. These plans will guide us through 2019. They are:

  • Use the results of the Solutions Survey to empower the voices of young people in the region and get the attention of decision-makers in our communities
  • Build community among young people who have been displaced from Appalachia for economic, health, or educational reasons
  • Create accessible, peer-to-peer education opportunities for young people to learn skills and concepts they need to directly engage with the just transition in their communities
  • Learn from successful local businesses in the region who support a just transition and amplify their work

About Us: The JTWG is made up of individual students and non-student youth across the commonwealth that strive to promote a just transition to locally based economies that protect workers, their community, and the environment. We believe that through new economic models, energy efficiency and renewable energy production, and environmental reclamation, we can create thousands of good, green jobs in KY and provide an economy that will help keep recent graduates in our home state. We are building a network of support between the efforts already being made across the state and our peers in our communities and on our campuses by:

  • building grassroots support and knowledge for just transition among our peers and in our communities
  • supporting local economies through people’s cooperatives and reducing our dependency on outside industries
  • motivating our political representatives to endorse and support legislation that’s fair to all Kentuckians including the fair distribution of coal severance taxes

To join the working group or find out more about our latest projects, please reach out to Caci Gibson (they/them), KSEC’s Eastern Kentucky Organizer at cacigibson94@gmail.com or 1-606-231-6803.