Dave Cooper of Shalom Makers
Posted Jan 21 on shalommakers.com
It is a place of stark contrasts, awesome opportunities and some mysteriousness. A tiny speck in the midst of 1.7 million acres of natural, protected beauty, the little community is surrounded by mountains and blanketed by a one-of-a-kind National Radio Quiet Zone in which cell phones fall silent. It is a place of rich history; located in a county named after a Native American chief’s daughter: Pocahontas.
A scenic mountain railroad system with a station in the community carries the trademark from a popular family movie – The Polar Express. Tourists from as far away as Australia and Japan ride these rails.
The tiny mountain community, in the early 20th century, was at the center of thelargest shoe leather tannery company in the world. Clearly, this place lives at the crossroads of an aged past and a birthing future.
From the shadow of its robust past, Durbin, West Virginia, with its 124 households, a hearty group of dedicated townspeople, a handful of entrepreneurs, congregational leaders and one affordable housing developer, neighborhood revitalization is emerging from the collective vision and shared assets of residents and their connector leaders.
Durbin, West Virginia is participating in the Habitat for Humanity International Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. Asset Based Community Development consultant/coach, Dave Cooperof Communities First Association, worked with the Almost Heaven Habitat affiliate and over 60 Durbin townspeople for three days in a process of discovery, formation and visioning.
Next, Cooper facilitated a large gathering of Durbin townspeople in a creative, relationship-building process of developing community dreams into vision statements, discovering additional assets, and coaching local leaders in participatory planning processes.
The three day engagement facilitated by Cooper in this little mountain community of Durbin, West Virginia is one way to catalyze and commence Asset Based Community Development for Neighborhood Revitalization. However, the processes of building relationships, listening for and discovering assets, participatory planning, and working to achieve results from the plan require substantially more time and patience.
Durbin, West Virginia is a tiny speck of a community that, upon close inspection, yields a vast array of contrasts and awesome assets. Its residents are ruggedly committed to an improved quality of life in a revitalized community and they hold steadfastly to hope in a bright future.