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Lindsay Knotts on Her Love of Appalachia and Its Collective Strength

Lindsay Knotts on Her Love of Appalachia and Its Collective Strength

By Eman Quotah

Lindsay Knotts is TheCaseMade’s managing director of impact strategies. She brings together partners who want to do big things to address our nation’s most pressing challenges and who have a passion for investing in a better future.  

Lindsay started her career as a social worker in rural West Virginia. In Washington, she led policy at the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness and helped develop a federal strategic plan for preventing and ending homelessness.  

We talked to Lindsay about returning to West Virginia, the strength of Appalachia, and that thing Strategic CaseMakers™ always do first (hint: it rhymes with glistening). 

What do you love about where you live?  

I live in an old coal town in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia that's now an arts community and outdoor recreation destination. I truly believe it's one of the most beautiful places in the world. We have amazing rivers, waterfalls, farmland and wetlands, great hiking, galleries, and a world class bluegrass venue. There’s so much to do and explore. And the people here are kind and creative. I grew up nearby and am proud to call this place home again.  


What’s your aspiration for your town?  

I’m excited about a future where all kinds of people from all kinds of places and backgrounds feel welcomed and nurtured here. Where we can continue to create more space and opportunity for new talent, ideas, and identities, and the kinds of resources that support them, like good jobs, quality health care, housing, and schools. Where everyone feels safe, valued, and nourished by their community.  

What are some of the dominant narratives you’re trying to change and obstacles you’re navigating?  

A dominant narrative here, like a lot of other places, is that if more people come here, there will be less for the folks who’ve been here for a long time. There's also a TON of opportunity for everyday folks to be talked back into the power they have to create change and a brighter future. We have a lot of examples of times when Appalachians came together to organize around labor or mobilized quickly to keep each other safe. There is so much collective strength we can tap into here. 

How are you making the case for your vision of a better future?  

In many ways, we're leading the way. This place is brimming with beauty, creativity, and possibility. We're putting a new spin on old trades, traditions, and places. And now, more than ever before, we're attracting new talent, ideas, families, and businesses. If we don’t act now, together, to make sure our community has what it needs in the long-haul to nurture everyone who lives here and comes in the future, we'll miss the chance for our kids to grow up in a diverse, dynamic place that prepares them for the world and to make sure small-town-Appalachia continues to be both beautiful AND a place where folks want to stay. 

What’s your favorite CaseMaking tool or skill?  

My favorite part about CaseMaking is listening. Always! Because I’ve recently moved back home, I’ve had lots of opportunities to listen to people as I build new relationships. Listening is the best way to understand the hopes people have for their lives, their children’s lives, and the community, what they're afraid of losing, and what they're willing to act on together. I’ve been inspired by the willingness people here have to show up for each other, over and over again, and to do hard things.    

What are you working on next?  

My preschooler attends a wonderful Montessori learning center in our community. I’m invested in making sure more families can participate in the program and that our kids can grow up in a community that's diverse and inclusive — where everyone has the chance to flourish and develop a love for learning and growing. 

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