Southern West Virginia is one of the most impoverished regions in the United States. It is often also considered one of the most isolated. The region’s strong historical ties to the coal mining and railroad industries as well as its deep religious and union heritage has placed the area in a unique position with respect to the examination of community organizing. In the modern era of political change (e.g. increased ideological polarization and the transition of Southern West Vir-ginia from a democratic to republican stronghold), cultural change (e.g. continued progress for marriage equality and increasing power of ethnic and racial minorities), and technological and economic change (e.g. globalization, social networking) Southern West Virginia community or-ganizations are serving as means through which communities and residents can find their voice, adapt to these changes and fight for their rights in the face of threats to their continued margin-alization. This paper examines the transitioning cultural values of Southern West Virginia, the continued social and economic problems facing the area and civic organizing techniques being employed to unite the two.
Keywords: Community Organizing; Appalachia; Rural Studies; Community Development