Executive Director, Center for Resilient Communities
It is humbling to serve as the Executive Director of the Center for Resilient Communities at WVU and to serve many visionary and committed grassroots leaders across West Virginia with our educational programs, action research initiatives and activities.
For more than 20 years I have conducted research in communities responding to regional economic crises in Central America and more recently in Appalachia. My community-based participatory research explores the central role of solidarity, mutual aid, grassroots initiatives and social movements in forging alternative rural development pathways in these regions and beyond. With my students and co-conspirators around the world I have contributed to a robust action research program and cooperative experiments at WVU which have evolved into the WVU Center for Resilient Communities.
In addition to my research, I teach courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. For undergrads I regularly teach our introductory World Regional Geography 102, Economic Geography 209, Rural and Regional Development 411, and our Professional Field Experience 491. I also teach graduate seminars in Political Ecology, Resilient Communities and Community Engaged Research. I also support students in directed readings in Diverse Economies, Environmental Justice and Space, Culture and Capitalism.
I have published in peer-reviewed journals such as Antipode, the Journal of Peasant Studies, Rethinking Marxism, Geoforum, Gender, Place and Culture, Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, Human Organization and Applied Geography. I have also authored numerous reports related to research conducted on food and farming in West Virginia. My research and that of my graduate students has been funded by Fulbright, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service, and Food and Nutrition Service, the Appalachian Regional Commission, as well as impact foundations such as the One Foundation, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, Sisters Health Foundation and more.
I am currently working on two books, the first a collaborative project focused on food justice experiments over the past decade entitled Food Justice for All: Equity, Solidarity and Social Action in West Virginia which is under contract with WVU Press. This book explores the problem of food access inequalities and tells the story of the Food Justice Lab which has created critical maps, tools, pedagogies and case studies that for advancing food justice coalitions at the local, state and regional level. The second is entitled Grounds for Solidarity: Coffee, Crisis and Cooperative Action which consolidates a decade of multi-sited ethnographic work studying in Nicaragua and the United States. This book explores how U.S. solidarity advocates, farming cooperatives and farmworker unions negotiated the effects of a civil war, coffee price declines, widespread unemployment, land inequalities and agro-industrial restructuring in the coffee trade.
Research Assistant Professor of Geography
Joshua Lohnes is a broadly trained human geographer well versed in theories of development, political ecology, and food studies.
He serves as a research assistant professor in the department of geology and geography at WVU advancing questions related to agri-food systems governance with an emphasis on the political economy of nutrition assistance programs. His PhD dissertation The Food Bank Fix: Hunger, Capitalism and Humanitarian Reason (2019) drew on a multi-sited institutional ethnography of emergency food networks in West Virginia to uncover the relationships between the state, private businesses and the nonprofit sector that maintain feeding lines in place and linked across space. He is building on this work to continue to study the moral, political, and economic place of expanding humanitarian food networks across the world and how these might fit within broader debates about sustainable food futures.
Josh directs the work of the Food Justice Lab at the Center for Resilient Communities and offers support to the Food System Development and Community Economies Labs. He is actively engaged with local, national, and international coalitions that seek to advance the right to food through principles of food sovereignty and food justice. He is passionate about popular education in the Freirean tradition of critical pedagogy and committed to participatory action research that advances more just and sustainable economic systems.
Mr. Boettner is the Development Director for the West Virginia University Center for Resilient Communities. A visionary and systems oriented professional with over 20 years of academic, planning, programmatic, and project development experience. Offers an in-depth and place-based understanding of priorities and the complex social and technical dynamics to develop forward-thinking yet practical plans, projects, and outcomes. A native of West Virginia with a focus on ideas that consider economic development while building and preserving natural resource stewardship, equity, and environmental regeneration and sustainability. Fritz Boettner has 10 years of experience in a wide array of food system development and implementation activities. Fritz holds an M.A. in Environmental Management from West Virginia University and former Principal at Downstream Strategies where he led the Land Program. Over the past five years he spearheaded the development of Sprouting Farms, a farm training center in Talcott, WV and the Turnrow Appalachian Farm Collective, a regional cooperative food hub to grow wholesale agricultural markets.
Community GIS Coordinator
Received a B.S. in Environmental Soil and Water Sciences and an M.S. in Hydrology and GIS from WVU. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Geography. Grace grew up in Lakewood, Ohio, on Lake Erie. Grace's entire life has revolved around water from a young age, spending most of her time outside, hiking, rowing on a river or lake, or running. In undergraduate, Grace competed on the WVU Women’s Varsity Rowing team. Grace’s research focuses on vulnerability and resilience and incorporating participatory GIS to enable communities to participate in the decision-making process around food access, water security, and climate change adaptation.