Enhancing Quality of Life In Southern Appalachia

Posted on February 28, 2017

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An Asset Based Community Development Planning Report

Lake Hiwassee

In 2016, The Hinton Rural Life Center in Hayesville, NC, in partnership with a number of community organizations, engaged in a project known as the “Partnering for Change” initiative. The Hinton Center contracted with the Center for Housing and Community Studies (CHCS) at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to: 1. provide technical assistance to the project; 2. analyze geographic, economic, and demographic data on the region and its inhabitants; 3. conduct focus groups, a multi-modal resident and client survey, and interviews with “key informants” to identify strengths and issues; 4. gather and compile a database of community assets; 5. produce an online GIS map of community assets; and 6. conduct a Community Action Planning session to review findings and brainstorm solutions.

mental health SW appalachia
Poor Mental Health in Last 30 Days

Over the course of 10 months (March 2016 to January 2017) the Hinton Center, The Center for Housing and Community Studies, and community partners examined the quality of life in Clay, Cherokee, and Towns counties. Eleven focus groups, 573 surveys, and 26 interviews were conducted assessing satisfaction in community members’ lives regarding physical health, family, education, employment, finances, environment, and more. Contributions were submitted by clients, service providers, community leaders, and citizens to the Community Asset Map in order to identify resources currently available for enhancing the quality of life and to expose gaps in service systems. The mission of the project was to identify, collect, and share this data and to build relationships and networks that will enhance collaboration.

Community Action Plan

The project is intended to establish an inter-agency collaborative and Community Action Plan (CAP) for the three counties. Ultimately, the goal is to improve the quality of life for all residents by enhancing opportunities for economic development and by finding ways to solve community concerns. Through a series of workshops with the “Partnering for Change” executive committee, the initiative developed a vision of the future that would address the issues impacting the community and result eventually in a “Thriving community with opportunities and choices for a better quality of life for all.” The Community Action Planning (CAP) process resulted in a set of recommendations and ‘next steps ’aligned with achieving this vision.

A full copy of the report is available at:

Enhancing Quality of Life In Southern Appalachia An Asset Based Community Development Planning Report

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