For Eastern Kentucky, the statistics are as familiar as they are disheartening: Over half of coal-mining jobs gone in the last five years; one-quarter of residents living below poverty level; and average per-capita incomes stuck at a fraction of the rest of the nation.
Last year, numbers like these prompted a New York Times reporter to write that Eastern Kentucky “just might be the hardest place to live in the United States. Statistically speaking.”
But people are not statistics. If you don’t live and work in Eastern Kentucky and know the people here, it can be difficult to imagine how things could change for the better. But, because of those people, the electric cooperatives serving Eastern Kentucky are convinced the region’s future is bright. All that’s lacking are the tools necessary for people—especially younger generations—to help themselves.