Klamath County, Oregon. Algoma, Wisconsin. Allen County, Kansas. Williamson, West Virgina. Garrett County, Maryland.
What, you might ask, do these places have in common? What they have in common is that they are all rural communities that have been recognized as Culture of Health Prize winners by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest health-related philanthropic organization in the United States.
These communities have decided that the status quo was not good enough and that they wanted a better future for themselves and their families. They all took different paths to change, but the one thing they all did was to decide, as communities, to try.
Willamson has a lot in common with Madisonville. It’s a coal town that had to adapt to a changing economy. To fight the decline of their community, the residents got together and identified their needs and, just as importantly, their available resources. They formed a community betterment corporation called “Sustainable Williamson” to coordinate their resources and their efforts to improve community healthcare, housing, energy sustainability, education and tourism. If you read the Sustainable Williamson action plan (Google it), it reads almost like you could scratch out “Williamson” and write in “Madisonville.”
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