OSMRE / VISTA Team Projects
Woodland Community Land Trust
OSMRE / VISTA: April Jarocki
Supervisor: Tonia Brookman
Address: 469 Roses Creek Road, Clairfield, Tennessee 37715
Voice Telephone: 423-784-5304
Web site: www.facebook.com/Woodland-Community
Bureau: Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE)
The Woodland Community Land Trust is a grassroots nonprofit community based organization founded in 1977 by the residents of Roses Creek to give people of the Clearfork Valley secure and affordable access to land and housing. The formal structure of the 501© (3) nonprofit and the informal association among neighbors makes the work of sustainable development engaging and challenging. Our mission is to acquire a land base that will allow for diversified housing options, sustainable income production opportunities, social and educational services, and/or a cohesive community development effort.
About the Surrounding Community
The demographics of the unincorporated towns of the Clearfork Valley (Clairfield, Eagan, and Duff) reflect the Appalachian geography and historic coal mining in the area. The total population for Clairfield, TN (37715) is 1,108 with a median age of 35.1. The average median household income is $13,929 (37.2% live below the poverty line). Sixty percent of individuals over 25 years of age have no high school diploma. Eagan, TN, (37730) has a total population of 68 with a median age of 38.5. The average median household income is $37,750 (0% of the population lives below the poverty line, a reporting we believe is inaccurate) Seventy-six percent of individuals over 25 years of age have no high school diploma. Duff, TN (37729) has a total population of 1,534 with a median age of 35.5. The average median household income is $20,925 (27.5% live below the poverty line). Fifty-five percent of individuals over 25 years of age have no high school diploma. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000)
On paper, things look bleak for the area, nearly 64.4% of our adults in Northern Campbell County do not have a high school diploma, 51.1% of our families are supported by SSI and 23% are supported by Social Security, 50% of new babies born in the local hospital are born with some form of drugs in their system.
For the last 40 or 50 years we have been looking at our community in terms of its needs, which has not gotten us very far. We need a new approach to our problems that starts with looking at the assets that exist in our community. This empowers people, drawing on the abilities and insight of local residents to solve a community’s own problems. By doing an assets inventory-what’s good about the community, we solicit the opinions of everyone to identify what makes us glad we live where we do, and build from there.
The OSMRE/VISTA will assist the organization with projects that have begun to take shape over the past couple of years but have lacked organizational capacity. The ACCT partnership will increase Woodland’s ability to develop economic projects that improve the quality of life and empower the residents of the Clearfork Valley to be self-sustaining, building a sense of pride in themselves and in their community.
Through the work of the OSMRE/VISTA position we will be able to reach out to a much broader group, research and implement developing economic activities, and assist in revitalizing a community that has long been forgotten. Woodland hopes that this project will supplement local individuals’ incomes, as well as become an income source for the organization, resulting in less reliance on grant funding. Success will be measured by the quality of projects up and operating, the difference a program has made in the lives of participants (through an increase in income and or a sense of pride in themselves), and partnerships formed and strengthened.
During the project’s first year, the OSMRE/VISTA will focus on providing organizational support to the monthly TN ACE meetings/workshops that explore supplementary income for community members, creating and implementing an asset inventory tool for the community, and locating funding to support Woodland Land Trust’s economic programs.