Relationships are the foundation for a Just Economic Transition

Posted Nov 22, 2018, by Veronica Coptis


November 7th to 9th the Just Transition Fund Hosted their National Convening with grantees and speakers in Washington, DC. Folks gathered from across the country just after the elections celebrating some great wins and still aware of the work that is ahead to build just and sustainable communities. From listening to speakers and talking with attendees it is clear that all of our efforts to create communities where everyone has a living wage and is welcomed in their communities will be a challenging road ahead but everyone I connected with had inspiring stories to keep us moving forward.

Throughout the event, we learned from peoples’ experience on what has worked and what has not worked. Time was provided for us to build relationships together and see where each organization’s work intersects to increase the impact others organizations may have on their work. For example, talking with folks at Coalfield Development in West Virginia, I learned that they started their economic work improving homes in need of repair and that transition can spark from just making our community more attractable.  Last, we had some hands-on workshops on sharing our stories and how to influence the federal budget to apply skills back in our communities. I am really looking forward to using the drama triangle from Center for Story-Based Strategy.

Overall, one recurring theme kept arising in every presentation whether it was talking about working with labor, building political will, or economic development—it all boiled down to the strength of relationships. How strong our communities and movement will be going forward will be based on the relationships we can lay as foundations and the trust we can build to create truly just communities.


  • Veronica Coptis

    Veronica Coptis joined the CCJ staff in March 2013 as a Community Organizer and is now serving as the Executive Director. She grew up in western Greene County near the Bailey Mine Complex and currently lives in the eastern part of the county. Before joining the CCJ staff, Veronica served on the Board of Directors for CCJ and organized with Mountain Watershed Association. She received a bachelor’s degree in biology from West Virginia University. She enjoys hiking and geocaching at Ryerson State Park and other areas around Greene County with her husband and daughters. Read more about Veronica in a New Yorker Magazine profile at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/03/the-future-of-coal-country. Contact Veronica at veronica@centerforcoalfieldjustice.org.

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