The Authentic Pursuit of Community Growth The Case of SustainFloyd Woody Crenshaw Nonprofits that Work

A lthough we may be seen as new- age hippies in many ways, we are similar to the people who settled this land. Floyd residents are looking for something outside everyday culture. That lies behind SustainFloyd. SustainFloyd is young but a lot of other work preceded it therfore it took off quickly.We are an aspect of the community trying to fill a void. Floyd has some new people with new ideas who understand the importance of respecting what is already here which distinguish us from other small communities. Floyd is in the economic bottom ten percent of Virginia’s 105 counties. Local government lacks the resources for expansive projects. There are people who have put their own money, time, and energy into transformative things for this community to create a greater quality of life for residents instead of creating a destination for outsiders.

started SustainFloyd with those ideals in mind. We are trying to consider all aspects of the community, and you can’t affect one without affecting many others. Floyd Country Store has deep roots in the farming and artistic nature of this community. How do you move that into the 21st century without disturbing it? Those are the kinds of questions we ask. We want to create something authentic, alive, uniquely ours, not an artificial community that others will like. This is the test: How would our neighbors think about this? We are mindful about not unilaterally imposing our vision of progress. You take a step or two and figure out where you are going.With projects where we haven’t seen partnerships and support, we have backed off and regrouped. The feeling or notion that we know it all is dangerous. We must be constantly on the edge of truth, value, and need as opposed to our own ambition and skill. Without a sense of place and reverence for it and those who came before us, we don’t understand what needs to be done. And we impose our own inclinations on things. I have always been on the move, but when I came to Floyd, I really had a sense of home that inspired my involvement in community service. Success will occur with sensitivity to the needs around you. When we question our motives and ideas while bringing energy and enthusiasm to our decisions, we realize we are in it for the longterm. Detours are part of the journey – good things will follow.

SustainFloyd is a link in a community development chain. Initially, we worked on asset based development and the creative economy. We created and managed The Crooked Road andDowntownDevelopment, but these were not standalone developments. SustainFloyd started successfully because we mobilized governmental and foundational relationships. Early success taught us that we were on the right track. But we realized we were running ahead of the community. We had to be in step with it. Leadership doesn’t get outcomes if it is just a small group of people with good ideas and energy imposing an outcome

on the community instead of a partnership. SustainFloyd now asks, “What are our next steps for projects in partnership with our community?”We are in a reflective place right now.We have programs, we are doing things, but we are also doing an internal assessment. We are trying to develop a community that is proud of its identity with arts and culture as vehicles for community and economic development. SustainFloyd must effectively manage our essential elements: the forests, watershed, farmlands, culture, and natural resources. We

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