As an architect from the Middle East, I came to United States to pursue a master’s degree. I was invited by Fulbright and Amizade to Williamson, West Virginia, to do community service. Williamson is a small town in Mingo County that recently experienced the impacts of coal mines being shutdown. As a result, the population declined from 10,000 to 3,000 citizens in the past few years. The town was in a critical situation until community heroes tried to find new hope. Through Amizade and Fulbright, I had a chance to meet these leaders and learned from them that it is not impossible to change a community whose livelihood has depended on coal into a sustainable, green one. I learned from these leaders that small actions can have huge impacts on the community. Actions like community farms, health care, building renovations and a CoalFields Got Talent show. It is like throwing small rocks in a calm lake; you start seeing ripples spreading and growing throughout the community.
“I believe we can make Williamson sustainable and green if we believe in it and start involving the community.” Darrin McCormick, Former Mayor of Williamson