Community Resources & Economic Development
15 Apr

By Doug Arbogast
Tourism Specialist


If you’re like me, craft beer has probably become a fairly integral component of your travel experience. There’s nothing better than ending a fun day of activities with a local craft beer. I would consider myself a fairly typical visitor to West Virginia – I like to be outside hiking, biking, paddling, or just simply enjoying some peace and quiet in nature and I also appreciate a good, local, craft beer.

Have you ever thought about what role craft beer plays in tourism in West Virginia? Are other visitors beyond those passionate about outdoor recreation seeking out craft beer during their visit? How do craft breweries capture and share local identities? My colleagues and I considered this and decided to submit a proposal for a book chapter on this topic and lucky for us it was accepted! Our chapter titled “Life on the ‘Beer Frontier’: A Comparative Case Study of Sustainable Craft Beer Tourism in West Virginia” will appear later this year in Craft Beverages and Tourism, Volume 1 – The Rise of Breweries and Distilleries in the United States.
Daniel Eades and I partnered with Jason Kozlowski from Extension’s Institute for Labor Studies and Research to conduct a qualitative study of select breweries and destination marketing organizations throughout the state. With just 15 breweries in the state it is a prime time to study this industry which appears poised for growth according to national trends showing a steady growth in interest and consumption of craft beer in the U.S.

We specifically sought to analyze various ways that microbreweries have embraced neolocalism to promote complementary authentic cultural experiences and, consequently, raise their respective profiles within their communities and around the state. West Virginia’s craft breweries have quickly become central to local and state tourism economies as original, pivotal creators of neolocal identity formation by cultivating place attachment, historical appreciation, and growth of tourist destinations.

If you’re not familiar with neolocalism, Schnell and Reese (2003) described a disillusion in recent years in parts of the general public with the homogenous sea of Wal-Marts and McDonald’s that have rendered American towns virtually indistinguishable from one another. This trend has lead to the neo-localism movement, a term coined by Wes Flack, describing the movement of people to restore the local, unique, quality, and personal aspects to their communities.
Recent reports show travelers increasingly seeking neolocal experiences. For instance, the January 2016 edition of the State of the American Traveler Report indicates a Destination Excitement Index of 64 out of 100 for small towns, villages or rural destinations/attractions, which is a higher index than other destinations including U.S. National Parks, mountain destinations/resorts, theme or amusement parks, and desert destinations/resorts.

According to a study by Flack (2009), much of the appeal of a micro-brewed beer is that it is a rejection of national, or even regional, culture in favor of something more local. Interestingly enough, this parallels the purpose of the Real. campaign launched last year by West Virginia state tourism office, which focuses on real West Virginia experiences including a branding campaign focused on West Virginia’s truly unique assets.

Here are some highlight from our study’s findings:

• Craft brewers are using a range of innovative strategies to promote both state and local identities in their products.
• Outdoor recreation and craft beer go hand in hand (probably no surprise) with much more potential to promote the synergies.
• However, there’s more to West Virginia than outdoor recreation and the Wild and Wonderful brand stands for much more. You can learn more by visiting the Real. Wild and Wonderful West Virginia at
• Craft beer is an integral component of the diversification of the tourism product base in West Virginia.

You can experience craft beer in West Virginia through festivals like the Brew Skies Festival in Canaan Valley, brewery tours, or by simply stopping by one of our 15 breweries for a pint. I think you’ll find a tasty beverage and, in turn, a better understanding of how neolocalism is being manifested in West Virginia and how you can contribute to the movement. If you’re like me, the last thing you want to see in West Virginia is a homogenous sea of Wal-Marts and McDonald’s. Stay tuned later this year for the full chapter with additional insight into understanding neolocalism in West Virginia and the role of craft breweries.

5 Apr

Guess who's engaged!!

April 5, 2016

by Daniel Eades
Rural Economics Specialist

Hopefully it’s you!

Community economic development has a lot of different facets: my work relies on hard numbers to walk community and business leaders through a decision making process; Kelly provides strategic planning to community organizations; Robin maintains our online presence and organizes a breadth of individuals and organizations for events like our statewide Community Leadership Academy; Michael guides elected officials and volunteers through the detailed comprehensive planning process; Doug creates tourism development strategies by triangulating around the attitudes of businesses, CVBs, and residents. Our work involves different parties and draws from different theories of change but at the end of the day most of the work we do focuses on how we can engage individuals and groups in intentional dialogue around the future of their communities.

When governments are engaged with citizens (and we certainly hope they are!) they are doing conventional participation – this is your traditional announcement in the paper, Robert’s Rules of Order, public comment period, etc. This type of engagement is great for upholding public values, and it’s important from a legal standpoint – for example, for Mike’s comprehensive planning work to become a legal document the local planning commission has to follow certain rules that ensure they are engaging the public. Unfortunately, this type of engagement can be a bit stuffy, and unless leaders work hard to get citizens out, often the only people that show up are those who are really passionate, really scared, or really angry.

So, how can we get citizens more involved? And, what’s a more “engaging” form of engagement? Current theories of civic engagement suggest two options: “thick” engagement and “thin” engagement. Matt Leighninger, Executive Director of The Deliberative Democracy Consortium ( describes them like this: ”’Thick’ forms of engagement enable large numbers of people, working in small groups, to learn, decide, and act together?. People generally take part in ‘thin’ forms of engagement as individuals rather than in groups.” (

So what do these look like in the real world? And is one better than the other?

Thin Engagement

Thin engagement, or thin participation encourages you, as an individual, to share your voice. These are often simple gestures like filling out a survey, putting a bumper sticker on your car, or in digital age, clicking “like” or re-tweeting.

On the surface these may not seem like a big deal, but the low barrier to entry means they can reach a lot of people. For example, there has been debate in the state around House Bill 4012, the “West Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” Many in the service and tourism industries particularly are concerned that the law will make WV appear uninviting and unfriendly to tourists. In response, businesses across West Virginia, but especially in Charleston, have been displaying “All Kinds Are Welcome Here” stickers. Facebook posts by Paul Greco, owner of Charleston’s Sam’s Uptown Café and Boulevard Tavern reached 51,000 individuals and had more than 1,200 “likes”. The online success resulted in additional coverage of the issue by media outlets like the Charleston Gazette-Mail (

Sams All Kinds Welcome

In addition to awareness these campaigns can also be used to generate more tangible results like capital. This is the idea behind crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Crowdrise, etc. The best known example may be the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge which resulted in 2.4 million tagged videos on Facebook and $115 million in donations!

Thick Engagement

Doug presenting

Thick engagement, or thick participation enables large numbers of people, working in small groups (usually 5-15 people per group) to learn, decide, and act (Nabatchi & Leighninger 2015). These face-to-face meetings allow people to share stories and concerns, discuss strategies, and come up with concrete actions to address their problems. We’re big fans of this one in Extension!

Here’s a picture of Doug at the recent Eastern Panhandle Tourism Summit hosted by the Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan County CVBs. Roughly 60 attendees came together from across the region to discuss their assets, challenges, and strategies to promote tourism in the region. To keep things manageable and encourage dialogue we worked in county specific groups of 15-20 people. After small group discussions we reported out to the larger group to identify common themes. The end result was 3-5 strategies that each county could go back and begin implementing to promote tourism development in their county and the larger panhandle region.

So, which technique is better? Thin engagement can reach a lot of people, but we don’t know what they’ll do with that knowledge. Thick engagement produces actionable items, but it’s narrow in focus and takes a lot of time and resources. The examples above show the merits of both, and fortunately it doesn’t have to be an either/or option; in fact the most effective projects often incorporate elements from each style.

I’ve been working with Dr. Margaret Stout in WVU’s Public Administration Department on a neighborhood organizing and planning project in Fairmont’s Westside neighborhoods that is building coalitions using thick engagement and promoting the project using thin engagement. Members from three organizations, the local NAACP, the Fairmont Community Youth Development Center, and the Dunbar School Foundation, have been leveraging their social capital and bringing together business, government, and non-profit stakeholders from across the city and county. The result has been difficult, but honest conversations that are building trust and encouraging collective action to create the neighborhood’s future.

Group work Meeting

At the same time the newly created Westside Action Coalition, is actively using Facebook and hosting community events like their upcoming CommUNITY Cookout. These are thin engagement techniques that will expose their planning and development efforts to a broad audience and encourage future participation and support.

Fairmont Comm Youth Dev

How have you used thin and thick engagement techniques, alone or in tandem, to increase awareness and deliberation around the issues that are important to your community?

11 Mar

What should I blog about?

March 11, 2016

By Robin Frost
Program Coordinator


As the coordinator of this blog, my job is to keep it going. Sometimes our contributors have asked for ideas on what to blog about. After all, it can be tricky to think of a topic that will catch the attention of many.

I’m sure many bloggers have experienced “writer’s block” when it comes to what to write about next—whether blogging about business, personal life, a hobby, or an organization. So, I’ve developed a list of ideas that are general enough to work across many types of blogs.

Hope you find an idea that works for you!

  • Lists
    Lists are huge in an online environment! Give people short snippets that are easy to read, and the reader feels like they’ve gained something valuable in a short amount of time. Lists of facts, advice, do’s and don’ts, top ten lists, and favorites are among the simplest to compose. Note that I’m writing this blog in the form of a list!
  • What’s in the news
    ....and how does it relate to what you do? This recent post by Daniel Eades on our blog related a current piece of legislation to his job as economics specialist. Find a news item and use it as a jumping off point for your blog. Don’t be afraid to share opinions.
  • Observations
    Take a recent observation, share your perspective, and…poof! You’ll have enough for a blog. For example, my blog about Creating Effective Poster Presentations was inspired after I attended a poster session and noticed several ineffective posters and uncertain presenters.
  • Current research
    Were you recently on the road conducting field research? Tell us about it! Remember, an informal tone is easier to read. Keep it simple and share some of the highlights and what’s to come. Pictures are great, too.
  • Successes
    People want to hear about success. Share your tips for how you ran a successful project, meeting, or event, and tell how others can emulate your success.
  • Something you learned
    Whether it’s good, bad, or just interesting, share a fun fact that others can use. “Did you know?” or “I just found out?” may be a good way to capture your readers’ attention.
  • How life relates to work
    Did you recently use a tip from work at home? Say your kids were fighting and you used a conflict management tip from work. Or maybe your family was trying to schedule a party and you used a tool normally used in the office? New uses for old things can go a long way to attract reader interest.
  • How to’s
    Right up there with “lists” is “how to’s”. Readers want a quick and easy tutorial on how to do something. Don’t make them scroll through miles of text to figure it out. Share it in pictures, images, words, or even an infographic.
  • What’s new?
    Did you recently gain a new staff member? Move offices? Host a staff picnic? Expand your business? Your blog is a great place to give readers a peak into your office life.

To make sure your blog is read, ask friends and partner organizations to share it. Keep it short. Promote it on your website and social media pages. Of course, proofread (and ask someone else to proofread) before you post.

Perhaps most importantly, have a blog schedule and stick to it.

Happy blogging!

1 Mar

by Michael Dougherty, PhD
Community Planning and Development Specialist

Fence picture

In my work with the Extension Service, I have been involved in projects in more than 40 counties throughout the Mountain State. During the vast majority of those projects, someone will come to a meeting or a work session or a public forum and suggest that the community where I am working do whatever its neighbor is doing. On the surface, it seems to be a logical approach to imitate what has been successful in the next municipality or the next county. However, where and what your neighbor is can make a difference as to whether its ideas can be replicated.

The most obvious issue is that often the neighbor is in another state. Just over half of the counties in West Virginia (28 of 55) border another state – including a pair of counties that border two other states. In other words, nearly a million state residents are in a position where “one county over” is also “one state over.” While nothing herein is meant to say that good ideas cannot come from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, or Kentucky – often substantial differences in state law prevent those good ideas from being able to be applied in West Virginia.

The reason for these differences dates back to over 200 years. The 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reserves all powers to the states (or the people) not delegated to the national government. This allows each state to have its own take on what should be done and how it should be done on many issues. As a result, approaches to planning, development, and related matters have different incentives, different limitations, and different rules. So while concepts may transfer across state lines, it is much rarer for the details to be applicable.

Even within the state, however, comparisons between places can be tricky. On occasion, a locality may want to have legislation adopted on a particular matter that applies only to it. The West Virginia Legislature then usually passes a law with limited discussion that applies only to a place with a particular population (or population range). These laws generally create specific boards or give special permissions for certain activities. They make sense from the perspective of the requesting place because they are needed and they typically are not challenged in the legislature because of their limited impact. But years later, when the reason for the unique law that applies to only one place is forgotten, other places will want to know why they too cannot have those special permissions or specific boards.

There are similar situations among municipalities. For example, Class I cities (population in excess of 50,000 in the most recent decennial census) and Class II cities (population in excess of 10,000 but not in excess of 50,000) have the power to propose the creation of tax increment financing districts. Meanwhile, Class IV towns (population not in excess of 2,000) often are allowed to have smaller boards and commissions than cities because the towns have fewer people. In addition, the expansion of the Home Rule Pilot Program has resulted in numerous cities either charging a 1% sales tax or user fees to workers. The end result of all these different rules and regulations, municipalities next to one another may have quite different abilities respect to development regulation, fiscal capacity, and related matters.

So the next time you look to see what your neighboring locality is doing, remember to examine it a little more in detail to determine how – or even if – it can be made to work in your community.

16 Feb

by Kelly Nix, PhD
Leadership Specialist

What’s the point?

In a very busy society, we tend to be constantly bombarded by distractions. And, you have heard it said many times that we don’t get what we want because we don’t know what we want or where we are going. A Vision Board helps to identify your vision and get clarity around that vision. It helps reinforce daily affirmations in order to concentrate and focus on specific goals so you are able to keep your attention.

The beauty of creating a Vision Board is that there aren’t any rules and it’s real simple. But before you get started, you’ll want to determine if your vision will have separate boards/pages for each of your main goals or one board for all. And, if you want to combine your work and personal life all on one board or separate. This is completely up to you and there are benefits of each. It is how YOU want to visualize your vision. Regardless, you will find motivation by identifying and including treats on your Vision Board. Meaning, how will you treat yourself when you accomplish your goals?

Kelly Nix quote

Supplies Needed?

Really anything goes! You’ll want to start with a board of some sort. It can be a poster board, white board, cork board, flip chart paper, etc. Next, your images can be pictures that you draw, cut out from magazines or you find from other sources. Your board will also have words, quotes, etc. in order to affirm your intentions so markers, colored pencils or other writing utensils should be on hand.

The following will further explain how to achieve clarity, daily affirmations and focus in order to bring your Vision Board to life.


For example, to say “I want to be more involved in my community” is a great goal, but have you given serious thought to exactly what that means? Try to envision what “more involved in your community” looks like.

In order to create your vision board, think of images that represent specific details of being more involved in your community. This means narrowing it down to specifics.

For some, being involved in a community wide event with over 100 people might be what you are after. What does this image look like?
Others may be seeking to start a new committee to clean up the downtown area. What does this image look like?

Daily Affirmations

We must somehow find a way to limit the monkey mind (mind racing from one thought to the next) that we experience throughout the day. Affirmations are monkey mind’s worst enemy.

Once you dream your vision, the next step is to believe it. In addition to images, Vision Boards can include quotes, words, sentences or phrases that affirm your intentions. Affirmations allow you to communicate who you are and help you move away from limiting beliefs that you have about yourself. It helps you realize the possibilities.


Finally, another benefit to creating a Vision Board is to help you stay focused. How often have you experienced a positive new attitude about something in your life that you want to accomplish and within a short period of time that feeling leaves you? The excuses are endless – people and circumstances constantly pull you in a million directions at once. Sound familiar?

Your vision board will serve as a constant reminder of where you want to be, no matter what happens in your day. A vision board can work wonders toward keeping your mind focused on your goal, your attention on your intentions and your life headed in the direction you want it to go.

What will your Vision Board have on it? Plant that seed and watch it grow?


Members of CRED piloted a vision board activity, to help focus on their goals for the year.

2 Feb

Urban vs. rural tourism

February 2, 2016

by Doug Arbogast
Tourism Specialist

I spend a lot of time talking to community leaders across West Virginia about tourism and how it can benefit a community but also encouraging them to be mindful of the potential negative impacts tourism can have on a community. What I try to point out is that not all tourism is the same and some forms of tourism may not be appropriate for West Virginia’s rural communities.

Communities need to recognize the differences between mass-market tourism and sustainable tourism. Mass-market tourism is all about “heads in beds.” It is a high-volume, high-impact but low-yield approach. Mass-market tourism includes mega-hotels, theme parks, chain stores, and the new generation of enormous (4,000- to 5,000-passenger) cruise ships. Mass-market tourism is focused on quantity; it is also about environments that are artificial, homogenized, generic, and formulaic. In contrast, sustainable tourism is about high quality; its focus is places that are authentic, specialized, unique, and homegrown (McMahon, 2015).
Sustainable tourism is lower volume and lower impact, but has a higher yield.

Mass tourism
A classic example of mass tourism or quantity over quality at Lloret de Mar, Costa Brava. Tourism here is artificial, homogenized, generic, and formulaic. Photo courtesy of the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations

I was drawn to West Virginia because I don’t think there is anywhere in the world more authentic, specialized, unique, and homegrown. There is a growing trend among millennials and baby boomers to seek out authentic experiences when they travel. Media attention on the ‘authenticity’ of rural areas and a rural life that some see threatened by the expansion of large retailers (e.g. Walmart) and global food service chains (McDonalds) and loss of the traditional rural economic base (i.e. agriculture) has led to the search for the ‘unspoiled’ rural community, however, unfortunately it is exactly the unspoiled nature of the experience that results in rapid transformation of the resource base to accommodate increasing numbers of visitors (Gartner, 2004). We need to be clear that understanding and exploiting tourism for rural communities while trying to maintain a traditional lifestyle is a difficult process (Perry et al., 1986; OECD, 1994).

A focus group conducted in 2001 (Wilson, Fesenmaier, Fesenmaier, & Van) suggests the following 10 factors/conditions are most important for successful tourism development in rural areas:

  1. A complete tourism package
  2. Good community leadership
  3. Support and participation of local government
  4. Sufficient funds for tourism development
  5. Strategic planning
  6. Coordination and cooperation between businesspersons and local leadership
  7. Coordination and cooperation between rural tourism entrepreneurs
  8. Information and technical assistance for tourism development and promotion
  9. Good convention and visitors bureaus
  10. Widespread community support for tourism

No easy task for rural communities to do all 10 and do them well when capacity and resources are often very limited. CRED is working hard to provide research and training support to our rural destinations to help them develop and promote sustainable forms of rural tourism development. This is being embraced across the state.

Here are two examples of what we’re doing to support tourism in West Virginia.

  • This year CRED is working with the Tucker County Cultural District Authority to develop a cultural tourism plan. Corridor H has been finished to Davis, WV providing four-lane highway access to this remote and beautiful mountain region of our state. Anticipating a growth in visitation with better access, the destination leadership wants to plan for managed growth in order to maximize economic impact from tourism while maintaining the rural character and culture that make it such a special place. In essence, focusing on quality vs. quantity as McMahon stated doing their best to avoid artificial, homogenized, generic, and formulaic development.
  • CRED is partnering with the WVU Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Resources Program and Landscape Architecture Department to conduct resident and visitor surveys to assess attitudes and preferences for tourism development, stakeholder interviews, asset mapping, and site design in order to help guide them through a process to try to do it right and keep West Virginia Wild and Wonderful.
WV Tourism pic

West Virginia’s rural natural, cultural, and historic assets are authentic, specialized, unique, and homegrown, certainly not artificial, and should not be homogenized. How we decide to develop them into tourist attractions and share them with the world is critically important.

WV Tourism pic 2


Gartner, W. (2004). Rural tourism development in the USA. The International Journal of Tourism Research, 6, 151-164.

Lane, B. (1994). What is Rural Tourism? Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 2 (1-2). 7-21.

McMahon, E. (2015). Ten Principles for Responsible Tourism. Urban Land The Magazine of the Urban Land Institute. Retrieved from

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (1994). Tourism strategies and rural development. Retrieved from

Wilson, S., Fesenmaier, D.R., Fesenmaier, J., & Van Es, J.C. (2001). Factors for Success in Rural Tourism Development. Journal of Travel Research, 40. 132-138.

19 Jan

by Daniel Eades
Economics Specialist

The legislative session has begun and the first bill out of the WV Legislature is the “Workplace Freedom Act,” more commonly known as right-to-work. Proponents of right to work legislation argue that the laws promote worker freedom, and lead to decreased unemployment and higher wages. Unfortunately, data suggest that right-to-work laws are a lot less about economic development and a lot more about politics.

Right-to-work laws, which are in place in 25 states, are designed to prevent “compulsory unionism.” However, it should be noted that federal law (the National Labor Relations Act) already protects almost all private sector employees from any type of forced union membership OR payment of dues. That means that West Virginia workers, even those currently represented by a union (just under 12% of the state’s workforce according to the BLS), are not required to be union members or contribute dues for political, lobbying, or public relations activities with which they may philosophically disagree. To prevent free riders (where some individuals pay less than their fair share for a good or resource) workers may be required to pay an “agency fee” to cover the benefits they receive from collective bargaining agreements. Right-to-work laws would also eliminate this requirement, essentially letting workers gain the benefits of collective bargaining without paying for the administrative costs associated with the negotiations that got them the benefits.

If workers can receive the advantages of unions’ collective bargaining agreements without paying dues OR agency fees, there is little incentive for union membership – why give up a portion of your paycheck if the person working next to you gets the same benefits for nothing. This ultimately weakens the political and economic influence of organized labor and gives more leeway to businesses in establishing wages and benefits. Proponents of right-to-work legislation insist that the resulting business friendly environment encourages economic growth. Unfortunately there is little evidence that this is the case: the Congressional Research Service (2012), citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that workers in right-to-work states made an average of $7,000 less than those in non-right-to-work states (for what it’s worth West Virginia already ranked 48th in median household income over the 2009-2013 period, just above Mississippi (50th) and Arkansas (49th) both of which are right-to-work states). A study in the Review of Law and Economics (Stevans, 2009) found that right-to-work states reported higher proprietors’ income but lower wages and personal income for workers; the same study also found little or no gain in employment. Research (Eren and Ozbeklik, 2011) conducted on the effects of right-to-work in Oklahoma and Idaho found similar results – the law reduced union membership in Oklahoma but had no impact on manufacturing employment, per capita income, or wage rates; in Idaho manufacturing employment increased but there was no observable impact on per capita income.

If you listened to Governor Tomblin’s State of the State address you may have noticed that the economic development successes he pointed to had a common theme:

“Adivant chose to stay in West Virginia because of our strong business climate and a highly trained and experienced workforce?”

“This September, we joined officials from Procter & Gamble to celebrate the groundbreaking of the company’s newest manufacturing plant? more than a year before production begins, P&G has partnered with Blue Ridge Community and Technical College to create specialized training programs to meet workforce needs.”

“In 2012, we launched a new workforce training program called Learn and Earn. This program helps students receive classroom instruction and hands-on experience, while earning a competitive salary, and gives employers a cost-effective way to recruit and train new employees. We know this program is incredibly successful, and companies like Gestamp?[are] already seeing a real return-on-investment.”

“With the help of more than $40 million in federal grant funding, Workforce West Virginia is helping coal miners, their families and those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits find careers in growing industries. These programs help employers train workers their way at their worksites and provide up to $5,000 in tuition assistance for classroom instruction and on-the-job training.”

Rather than investing time and resources battling over a law that effects less than 12% of the state’s workforce, and which research suggests will have little impact on the state’s economy, West Virginians would be better served by smart legislative polices that impact those factors we know positively enhance economic growth: reducing economic leakages, constructing modern infrastructure, and most importantly investing in West Virginians through education and training initiatives that yield a skilled and adaptable workforce.

14 Dec

by Michael Dougherty


It is closing time for my blogs on time.

Throughout this year, I have shared some of my thoughts on the value of time and time management. I discussed how to do things just in time (March 31), how to deal with deadlines (May 27), how to control your own time (Aug. 4), and how to honor the time with others (Sept. 29).

The common thread running through these discussions is that time is valuable. After all, there is a finite amount of time. While there lessons were designed with the work setting in mind, they also apply throughout life. Thus it is important not only to be able to make the most of time but to ensure that time is not wasted.

There are 168 hours in a week. The “eight hour work day” takes up a minimum of 46 hours over the course of a week when commuting and lunch are included. The recommended “eight hours of sleep” each night translates into 56 hours weekly. Those two activities alone reduce the amount of “available” time each week to just 66 hours. Then out of that remaining time, you have to take care of taking care of yourself (eating, dressing, washing, exercising, etc.) as well as your residence and belongings (sweeping, scrubbing, cleaning, etc.). Add in any family obligations and responsibilities (children, older relatives, pets, etc.) and there are very few hours of “free time” in any given week.

It is that limited time you have for relaxation, recreation, renewal – and anything else of your own choosing such as working in your community. So when you decide to use your time and talents to make where you live, work, and play a better place, you want your time to be valued by those who are seeking your help.

In other words, when you are serving your community, you don’t want things to be delayed because poor planning led to matters not being ready at the set time. You don’t want people to miss deadlines because of poor prioritization and scheduling. You don’t want to feel overextended because the allotted time was too little (or too little help was secured for the work to be done in the allotted time). In other words, you want your time – the time you have decided to contribute to the community – to be treated as the valuable resource that it is.

To accomplish this, you must hold those who are organizing the community development activities accountable. You must make them aware – and you must make them respect the value of your time. Likewise, when you are the person in charge of the activities, you must remember these same tenets and value the time of those who are working with you.

If everyone values the time of others, then it becomes highly likely that their time will be valued for others. When that happens, we will have time to get a lot of things done—- and maybe even have a little time left over.
1 Dec

Minimize Holiday Stress

December 1, 2015

by Kelly Nix, PhD


Stress and depression can occur at any time in our lives. For many people, they occur during the winter months and around the holidays. There are many causes, including too many expectations, too many responsibilities, and commercialization of the season. Being patient and realistic, planning ahead, and seeking support can help prevent unnecessary stress.

The Nature of Stress
Stress is the body’s response to change, and it may lead to disease if not managed. Seventy to 80 percent of all disease and illness is related to stress. Stress is not the cause of disease, but its influence weakens the body’s physiological systems and allows the disease process to advance. In essence, when stressors are placed on the body, the immune system is weakened and becomes unable to prevent and fight disease. Stress is very individual. What bothers some people may not bother others. Often, the most stressful times of the year are during the various holiday seasons.

Two Types of Stress:

  1. Eu-Stress – good stress that helps you stay motivated and meet deadlines. For instance, you may have a completion deadline for a major project or you are preparing for a presentation.
  2. Distress – bad stress that causes you to become overwhelmed and tensed. For instance, you are caught in traffic and are late for an appointment or you have an illness that is becoming a financial strain.

What are some of the demands you find yourself facing during the holidays? Work, parties, shopping, baking, cleaning, caring for elderly parents or kids on school break, and scores of other chores may describe your list.

What holiday events or situations trigger stressful feelings? Are they related to work, home, relationships, or something else? And, what can you do to eliminate or change some of the events or situations to move through the holiday season more gracefully?

  • Tips to Help Prevent Holiday Stress*
    1. Recognize how you deal with stress
    2. Take care of yourself
    3. Manage your finances
    4. Learn to say no
    5. Ask for support
    6. Be creative and resourceful when limited on time (meet friends out at a local restaurant instead of hosting and buy cookies from a local bakery instead of baking)
    7. Change one unhealthy behavior at a time
9 Nov

Video series offers tourism development examples for communities

By: Doug Arbogast

Many communities in West Virginia are beginning to transition to service-based economies that increasingly depend on tourism. While economic growth is desirable, rapid and unplanned tourism growth can generate unintended consequences including congestion, unrealized economic benefit, and a loss of regional character. Our programs are designed to try to avoid that and develop sustainable economies in West Virginia.

Two years ago Daniel Eades and I applied for funding from a West Virginia University Faculty Senate Research Grant to develop case studies of community-based tourism in West Virginia. I got the idea from one of my mentors, Cynthia Messer from the University of Minnesota Tourism Center, based on case studies she developed of 4 communities from across the country for the National Rural Tourism Development Project.

According to the University of Minnesota Tourism Center, case studies are designed to help learners understand issues and problems sufficiently to come up with possible actions a leader or follower might take to address the situation. It’s also important to understand that a case does not provide the answers. Instead, the case study method engages participants in active learning by putting them in the shoes of people facing real-life (or simulated real-life) challenges and dilemmas.
What I liked about the National Rural Tourism Project case studies was that it introduced core values for communities and framed the conversation around these core values for successful community tourism development.

Successful community tourism development is built on communication, partnerships, a community vision, and a long-term commitment to bring that vision to fruition. It embraces five core values:

1. Maintaining Authenticity and a Sense of Place
2. Providing a Quality Experience
3. Economic Diversification
4. Transforming Obstacles to Opportunities
5. Shared Benefits and Local Control

We hired a School of Media grad student to record the interviews and produce the videos and began to make contact with community leaders to set up the interviews. We chose 3 communities that we felt had embraced tourism and been successful attracting visitors to their communities and would have a good story to tell.

Communities selected:


We found a great group of community leaders in every community very receptive to talking with us and very open about their experiences with tourism development. I have to say that I didn’t realize how much we would learn by listening to the community members tell their story and discuss their successes and challenges. After many hours transcribing and reviewing what was discussed in the interviews we picked what we felt were the best clips associated with the 5 core values, acquired or shot associated b-roll, and developed 15-20 minute videos.

We titled the resulting videos “Voices of Change” because it is the voice of tourism leaders in West Virginia discussing the successes, benefits, and challenges of tourism development in each rural community.


We hope that you’ll listen to each community’s story and think about what was accomplished, how they did it, who was involved, and what opportunities and challenges they are facing.

It is our hope that this project will highlight the opportunities and challenges communities face in developing tourism, identify important community and tourism development values to guide tourism development, provide other communities with inspiration and guidance on how to develop and maintain a quality community tourism industry that both maximizes its economic potential and preserves regional character.

You can watch the videos at We welcome your thoughts and comments.