How might the collaborative creation of monuments affect conceptions of dignity in place in Appalachian Virginia? 

Monuments Across Appalachian Virginia (MAAV) provides resources to advocates and organizers in the region to create monuments that represent community-defined aspirations, challenges, or visions. By the end of 2026, MAAV will support the creation of 10 monuments that highlight collective struggles for the vitality of people and our shared environment.

As a socially engaged funder, provided with a multi-million dollar grant from the Mellon Foundation, MAAV seeks to set standards for equitable university-community collaboration. Additionally, MAAV offers technical support designed to help funded teams to implement successful projects by and for the community they represent, laying the groundwork for longer-term systems change.

I am working with MAAV as a Consultant to develop its participatory evaluation process. My work involves supporting awarded project teams to examine and address their own questions and document aspects of their creative process. I am also collaborating with the staff to document their ethical storytelling and engagement approaches.

Prior to my current consulting role, I worked from January to July 2023 to:

  • Work with groups to critically engage inherited symbols in Appalachian Virginia in order to create the next generation of monuments that elevate stories of grassroots movements. I developed facilitation guides and materials to create an arts-based community engagement process.

  • Advise on and support strategic planning, arts and culture strategy, project design and management, administrative leadership, and initiating and sustaining community partnerships.

If you’re in Appalachian Virginia, check out the project’s Call for Participation. Get in touch at maav [at] vt [dot] edu.