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.