W e have heard the stories of failure, financial ruin, and indiscretion in nonprofits, but that is not the whole story. All is not loss, doom, and catastrophe. Across this country, nonprofit organizations of varying, stripes are finding success and bringing about transformation in their own context. This feature in Nonprofit Performance Magazine will provide a quarterly spotlight of the successes present within our communities. In this issue, we feature SustainFloyd, a vibrant nonprofit in the mountains of southwest Virginia where agriculture and artistic endeavors are the primary economic activities. First, meet Floyd, Virginia and SustainFloyd. Floyd, Virginia by the numbers: Floyd County comprises 382 sq. miles of • Blue Ridge Mountains land 2010 census: 425 residents (Town of • Floyd); 15,279 (Floyd County, including town residents) Approximately 13% of Town of Floyd • residents live below the poverty line Nestled into the majestic beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Floyd seems like a number of quiet towns sprinkled unassumingly across the country until you visit it. At the center of Floyd life, the Floyd Country Store has served for over a century as a meeting place for residents which now boasts a well established artisan and farming community to complement the longstanding bluegrass
Today, SustainFloyd serves as an intriguing model for public-private partnerships in small towns across the country.Through associations with local and state government agencies, local citizens and businesses, and like-minded nonprofits, SustainFloyd has encouraged renovation and development, and embraced the history of Floyd. It also looks toward other areas around the world for newmethods of community and resource sustainability, especially in creating and maintaining healthy rural economies. The community, recognized for its quirky mix of food, arts, energy, education, and living, partners with organizations likeThe Crooked Road music tour (a 330-mile driving tour connecting nine major music venues and 60 affiliated festivals), ‘Round the Mountain (a Southwest Virginia artisan trail),and multiple local programs, including the Farm to School initiative, and the Solar Wagon (a mobile tool for teaching Floyd residents about renewable energy). Through discussion, diligence, and design, SustainFloyd has become a prototype for a small town community nonprofit. www.sustainfloyd.org Now, meet Woody Crenshaw, craftsman and entrepreneur, of SustainFloyd. He is also the current and founding president of ‘Round the Mountain, vice-president of The Crooked Road, and vice-chairman of the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Commission.
and old time music tradition that the region has been known for. What makes Floyd so different is the pioneering nonprofit that is facilitating both progress and convention in this small community. SustainFloyd, a 501(c)(3), developed from a presentation by some 60 county residents with diverse viewpoints at “The Future of Floyd,” a November 2008 meeting arranged by The Floyd Fund, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of the New River Valley. In January 2009, a core group began meeting to develop a mission, board of directors, committees, and elected officers. Following a presentation in May with famed environmentalist Bill McKibben, the organization began moving forward on multiple initiatives including participation in the global 350 Action event, SplitRail, Floyd County’s first environmental festival, and the opening of the Floyd Community Market. Thirteen months after the initial meeting, SustainFloyd applied for 501(c) (3) nonprofit status, which was approved in March 2010. Things quickly escalated. By February 2010, the first executive director was hired, and in May, the Floyd Artisan Market and Floyd Farmers Market opened in the newly constructed Floyd Community Market featuring local arts, crafts, produce, breads, and cheeses.