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Collaborative Action Labs

The Center for Resilient Communities invites its community of practice to the table of collaborative action. The purpose of our Collaborative Action Labs is to address the most challenging problems in West Virginia and beyond by connecting community leaders, scholars and students through action research and cooperative experiments.

By making new connections, pursuing new lines of inquiry and action, and finding shared strategies, we can change systems and institutions that hold us back. Collaborative action may take the form of campaigns, research, projects or policies within existing organizations, coalitions and networks. In other cases, it may take the form of establishing new community organizations or social enterprises led by participants.

The Center currently supports more than 15 community organizations through five collaborative action labs focused on food justice, health equity, food system development and community economies. Each year, the Center for Resilient Communities will help provide backbone support to these collaborative initiatives and more by providing research, funding, planning, facilitation, training and other forms of accompaniment support to groups involved.


Food Justice Lab

Contact: Bradley Wilson, Director

The Food Justice Lab is an experimental space for research and action focused on challenging food system inequalities. Our action research connects anti-hunger activists, farmers, community development organizations, governments, foundations and civil society advocacy groups to help us to make sense of the integrated and complex social dynamics contributing to injustice in our food system.

Learn more about the Food Justice Lab.

Food System Development Lab

Contact: Fritz Boettner, Director

The Food System Development Lab serves as a catalyst to promote food system change by training leaders, launching enterprises and implementing food and agriculture projects with our community partners, particularly in coalfield communities.


Health Equity Lab

Contact: Megan Govindan, Director

The Health Equity Lab is focused on wielding action research partnerships to promote equitable community health initiatives. Our action research connects community health advocates, public health professionals and policy advocacy groups to understand the complex social dynamics con-tributing to unequal exposure to health risks, uneven access to health care and efforts to increase resources that contribute to community and individual wellbeing.


Community Mapping Lab

Contact: Thomson Gross, Director

The Community Mapping Lab advances participatory mapping and data visualization projects that democratize access to knowledge and support community decision-making. We utilize Geographic Information Systems and web-based design tools to enable our partners gather, analyze and visual-ize critical information for social change. We work with community partners to develop people-centered maps through an experimental iterative process intended to enhance community conversa-tion.

Learn more about our food access resource portal, WVFOODLINK.

Community Economies Lab

Contact: Amanda Marple, Director

The Community Economies Lab draws on action research approaches to incubate the development of cooperative and community-centered enterprises. There are diverse economic experiments currently underway which seek to transform community life. Our research and incubator support alternative economic enterprises based on principles of care, mutual aid and solidarity.

Check out one of our first incubated projects, FIRSTHAND Co-op.