It is a difficult thing in the rural state of West Virginia to be able to point to a single subject and say “That’s the root of the problem, that’s what’s caused all of this damage.” As a child of the Appalachian state, this is a quandary that I’ve been trying to solve myself for a very long time. For some people, the answer may be “coal” jobs, or the absence of them. For others, it’s the poor level of education. The segmented geography of the thousands of mountains that limits community and commercial development. The positioning of neighboring states that like Maryland and Virginia that use the unequal development of the West Virginian economy to be the supply chain of the nation.
Whatever the cause may be, the fact remains that West Virginia has been left to despair.
The state has the highest level of population loss due to young people leaving for better opportunities, the highest epidemic of toothlessness, and ranks in the top 10 most depressing places to live, it’s given us no presidents, it has an enormous prescription drug epidemic, and the moment you are born in the state you inherit the public perception that you are married to your cousin, sister, or dog.
So you can see where I’m coming from when I say that it is a challenge to put a name to the cause. However, all of these conditions all share a common denominator I call “Depressive Unfulfillment.” Why strive for more when you’re born to be destined for less? Why learn if you know you’re stupid?
I know that I’m only one man in a nation of many, but my goal to help solve this poly-problem issue is “Educational Empowerment.” A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is a Life Skills Training facility would be the “business” medium that I would use to reignite the people’s passion in who they are – to give them the educational and experiential skill sets to have a deeper sense of fulfillment and development. As a West Virginian who is speaking from experience, education leads to empowerment which leads to opportunities and ultimately solutions to one’s problems.
With this being an organization that is more of a non-profit mixed with a social entrepreneurship, the layout might actually lean more towards shareholder during the infancy of the organization to focus on building the company, it’s assets, and it’s shareholders. As time passes and the model proves sustained, it will be preferable to adapt to a more stakeholder oriented platform. However, in this generation’s technology age, the supply would mainly be intangible education via MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) and the Internet in general. New technologies like this can help accelerate business models like ours that may have failed in the past without it.
Overall, whatever the issue may be with West Virginia, be it coal, drugs, depression, etc, education can greatly effect, and oftentimes revitalize, the people of the mountains to where we can once again live free as our motto declares: Montani Semper Libre!