About two weeks ago, I worked on a story for one of my classes about the remote worker project that is going to be happening in three parts of the state – Lewisburg being one of them. It had a multiple-word name that I sometimes forgot – called the Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative, which I was pressed to remember. Now they’re calling it Ascend WV. I approve.
For background, it was funded from a whopping donation of $25 million from Brad and Alys Smith. They love the outdoors and the state – Brad is originally from here. It was decided that the generous gift of funds would be used to develop a program that would attract remote workers to live in our towns, love the adventure and use our resources.
I think it’s one of the most creative programs I’ve read about, and I’m excited to see where it goes.
Others don’t agree. And that’s fine, but I think that’s wild.
Often, the complaints are “what about clean water,” “what about poverty and addiction,” “what about broadband access.” Yes, those are issues that need to be addressed and fixed. Yes, they’re a crucial part of making our state better for those who live here. No one is claiming that those aren’t issues. Yet, I think we’re shifting the blame onto the wrong person. Those issues should be taken to Charleston and pushed onto every single representative that we have, while we expect nothing less than greatness from them. It shouldn’t be left to a couple who just wanted to donate money to create a program they thought would be beneficial.
Those accepted into the remote program will get $12,000 over two years, which I understand that some people find odd. It is a lot of money that could be used for natives of the state, especially those in need. But maybe, just maybe, it could be just the thing we need. It’s helping change the narrative that most outsiders seem to have of the state. Instead of poverty, opioids and anything else, it’s shown as somewhere that’s full of potential and adventure. Somewhere that people might want to settle down and create a life of their own. Somewhere that’s taken a little more seriously. It’s a new light and a new beginning, at least that’s what I believe.
I’m tired of hearing people complain that no one wants to help, yet complains when they do. Just because it isn’t the perfect solution doesn’t mean it isn’t something positive.
To me, at least, it seems some people get angry when no one is doing anything, but when someone does something, they still get distressed. Why? Because it’s not what they wanted. Which is fine. Everyone is allowed to feel the way they do and have it justified, but at least give a little credit.
When I was interviewing one of the directors of the program for my story, he twirled his arms in excitement as he reminded me of all the great outdoors and adventure that resides back in southern West Virginia. I couldn’t help but get excited myself.
What if everyone felt the same?
— Hannah Morgan, a native of Wyoming County, is attending WVU in pursuit of a career in journalism. Her email is at firstname.lastname@example.org.