Voices of Change: Participatory Research in the United States and Canada

By Peter Park; Mary Brydon-Miller et al. | Go to book overview

design its future (e.g., what kind of ownership, educational system, politics, etc.).

There were also uncounted presentations at regional church meetings, some of which resulted in denominational bodies producing their own materials to educate their members about land ownership and taxation. In fact, church organizations played a very significant role in publicizing the findings of the study. In several instances they have also provided financial support for follow-up activities. There were also presentations by land study participants at numerous secular conferences in the region and elsewhere.

All of the above is important and contributed to the land study's success. However, it is still its use in political struggles and the model it provides for the empowerment of community people that make it unique. Most of the goals of the land ownership study have been met, though the battle over land ownership and taxation will be a long-term one in Appalachia. The Task Force was successful in amassing a significant body of information and making it available to the citizens of the region. It has provided a model that citizens groups can use to research land ownership and other issues. Local citizens and groups were trained during and after the study in obtaining information on land ownership and taxation. That training still goes on in some of the organizations described in this chapter. There is now a broader network of individuals and groups in the region working on land- related issues. While some of the original members of the land study network have moved on to other things, many others have joined the network through the work of organizations like KFTC, WNCA, and SOCM.

In sum, land study participants can feel some pride that most of the goals were accomplished to some degree. One could always hope for more action, a greater network, more empowerment, more frequent political victories, and so on. At this writing, it has not yet been four years since the completion of the land study. This chapter has documented much, though certainly not all, of what has happened since then. Its impacts are still being felt; some of them may not have even yet become apparent. It has now become a part of the popular knowledge of the region and of the collective and personal histories of the groups and individuals who made it happen. It is now one more link in the ongoing struggle to attain justice in Appalachia and the country.


NOTES

The Appalachian Land Ownership Study was a project of the Appalachian Land Ownership Task Force of the Appalachian Alliance, a regional coalition of citizens' organizations and individuals. Administrative details for the project were handled by the Appalachian Center of Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina. The research was coordinated from the Highlander Research and Education Center

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