Asset-Based Community Development

See what’s possible when a network of rural communities comes together to define a new future for themselves. St. Paul, Virginia is a historic coalfield town that was stuck in economic decline, but is now embracing strategies that create opportunity beyond coal. Years of grassroots organizing and community engagement through initiatives like Clinch River Valley Initiative, The Crooked Road, Friends of SW Virginia, and UVA Wise have led to new possibilities for community-led development strategies. This cluster of small towns is leveraging their environmental assets for economic opportunity and community benefit. They’ve blended funding from various sources, including federal, state, and philanthropic entities. The latest example of their bold vision is the Clinch River Ecological Campus, which “will help provide education opportunities to learn about, protect and restore the unique ecosystems of the Clinch River while generating economic activity such as entrepreneurship, ecotourism, downtown revitalization and outdoor recreation opportunities.” This campus will help transform St. Paul into a hub for environmental education and asset-based economic development in the region. On this site visit, you’ll visit the future site of the Campus, see the vision and plans for the area, and explore the revitalized town of St. Paul, a once booming town that has used its abundant natural resources for community development.