At the bottom of this bowl of alphabet soup lies the origin of the push to put SWVA under the jurisdic-
tion of the National Park Service. The NHA brainstorm didn’t just start back in August of 2012, when a
few local newspapers discreetly announced some “public information meetings”. (There were twelve
meetings total, with about 30 attendees being the largest group.) The Crooked Road Heritage Music
Trail evolved from an Arts & Crafts Initiative launched in 2001 by Governor Warner that became
known as ‘Round the Mountain, SWVA’s Artisan Network. By 2006, Governor Kaine adopted
“Appalachia Forward”, a program that laid the foundation for getting funding through the Appalachian
Regional Commission, a federal-state-local partnership composed of the governors of the 13 Appala-
chian states and a federal co-chair.
In 2008, the VA legislature set up the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Commission. In 2010, they set up another non-profit, Friends of Southwes
t Virginia, to manage funds coming into each of the developing entities. The Commission then became a non-profit Foundation in 2011 and according to VA Code §2.2-2734
, the SWVACHF was established as a body politic and corporate. The purpose of the Foundation is to encourage the economic development of Southwest Virginia through the expansion of cultural and natural heritage ventures and initiatives related to tourism and other asset-based enterprises, including Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Center, The Crooked Road, ‘Round the Mountain, and other related cultural and natural heritage organizations and venues that promote entrepreneurial and employment opportunities.
When—and by whom—the decision was made to seek NHA status remains unclear. But in 2008, an
economic impact study of The Crooked Road was conducted by Sustainable Development Consulting
International, LLC, something that the National Park Service “encourages” in their NHA guidelines
is that The Crooked Road et al is the Appalachian Regional Commission’s flagship project, a
“creative cluster” in a “strategic series of projects”. And that their agenda is one of “Formulating A Sus-
tainable Economic Development Process For Rural America”. Sounds noble enough.
Only it’s not yo’ daddy’s sweat equity and all-American can-do spirit that will build this new rural economy for Southwest Virginia….it’s the Triple Bottom Line, the new-fangled business model that levels the playing field between filling a demand by producing a good product with equal parts social equity and environmental justice.
and that includes equity between species, along with mitigating your carbon output. As the report confirms,
TBL was borne of UN Agenda 21 and what became known as Sustainable Development.
The report credits the Conservation Fund for their efforts in creating the TBL model “embedded
within the strategies” of ARC goals. A non-government organization (NGO) involved in promoting
government control of land use since the UN Habitat I Conference in 1976 and part of the EPA’s Smart
Growth Network, the Conservation Fund is an ARC grant recipient.
The Ford Foundation, a major contributor to ARC, funded the report. The Ford Foundation is also part
of the Funders Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities. They are partnered with ICLEI
(International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives), the self-described implementation arm of
UN Agenda 21 and led the discussion on creating Sustainable Cities last June at the 20-year anniver-
sary of the Rio Accords.
The RTS report advocates for standardizing “Triple Bottom Line” Sustainable Development practices,
touting the Global Reporting Initiative. The Ford Foundation is a GRI supporter.
If this is not the new economic model that the rural voters of Southwest Virginia desire, it is time that
SWVA Counties defend the unalienable rights of their constituents.