Anthony Flaccavento works to grow strong and sustainable communities.
“Anthony lives with his three children and wife, Laurel who believes, “I just think he feels he was put on earth to do the best he can to get the earth to a better place, I mean to get the people to a better place and he has that vision.”
I am an organic farmer near Abingdon, Virginia, in the heart of Appalachian Virginia. I’ve been working on community environmental and economic development in central Appalachia for the past 28 years. In 2009 I founded SCALE (Sequestering Carbon, Accerlerating Local Economies), Inc, a private consulting business dedicated to catalyzing and supporting ecologically healthy regional economies and food systems. SCALE works with community leaders, farmers, foundations, economic development agencies and others in Appalachia, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and other communities, combining hands-on experience with a broad base of knowledge and education to provide partners with both vision and practicality in their work to build strong, sustainable local economies. I’ve written and spoken about sustainable development, ecology and economics, food systems, and Appalachian issues extensively and continue to do so today.
In 2012, I ran for the United States Congress as the Democratic candidate. Though I didn’t win the race, I was heartened to discover just how many people – coal miners, farmers, students and working folks – got excited about our message of building a just, “bottom up” economy. I am working to build on that broad base over the next few years.
Inspirations and Influences
Certainly, Wendell Berry tops the list of those who have inspired and influenced me. His steadfastness over 4 decades, and his remarkable insights into not only farming and rural communities, but our culture and economy, have shaped me substantially.
Additionally, the writing and work of Bill McKibben, Stacy Mitchell, Marjorie Kelly, Leonard Pitts, and extraordinary activists like Kimber Lanning in Arizona, Justin Maxson in Kentucky, and scores of everyday folks have given me both hope and better understanding of our problems and possible solutions.
“Community organizing folks tend to gravitate towards stopping bad stuff, and there’s plenty of bad stuff to stop. Don’t avoid that. Don’t avoid the fights, but remember that there are also opportunities. You will build certain allies by taking the tough stand and fighting the fights, but you’ll build completely different kinds of allies, and relationships, and partnerships by focusing on what you can do well, what can be done.”
Whether you’re just getting into it or whether you’ve been at it for 20 or 30 years, there’s just a lot of struggle points. You’re just worn out, or frustrated, or disgusted, or you think, “What the hell has my life added up to? I am a pathetic drop in the bucket.” But, be reassured that everybody, no matter what sort of position, goes through a lot of ups and downs, and there’s as many setbacks and low points as there are highlights.
Part of how you hang in there is trying to constantly keep an open mind and an open heart to things, because I think it’s really easy to get frustrated and disgusted. There’s a whole bunch of reasons, the political reality we’re in, the fund raising, the right wing’s steady rise to power in legislatures and in the media. There’s plenty of reasons to be down, there’s no doubt about it. At the same time, we can be re-invigorated by fresh thinking, by young people, by totally different analysis, by new understandings about the issues you’re working with. So I think we can be intellectually and emotionally reinvigorated at almost any point in life.
Field of work: Environmental/Food Justice
Find Anthony: http://www.ruralscale.com/
Photo Credits: sheila turner