When you travel a place by foot, your perspective shifts from outsider to insider. And once that shift happens, you become an advocate for your community. We've been traveling through the regions we serve to find the connections between these diverse communities as well as their unique needs. We've seen local economies dependent on the rise and fall of single industries. We've seen local economies built off of the community's proximity to protected places. Through otherwise inaccessible parts of our service areas, we have started to connect to the needs of various communities by foot.
We challenge you to do the same: travel some of the most beautiful and forgotten places in the Appalachian Basin by foot, and by doing so, become a natural advocate for those places and the people you meet along the way. We'll even support you in leading efforts to experience the Appalachian Basin by foot. Check out our Runner Sponsorship Program.
Across West Virginia
In September 2017, Patagonia funded our proposal to support Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services’ pro bono program and our rural outreach campaign. Some of the most difficult regions for us to reach effectively because of their unique geography are the central and southern regions of West Virginia.
To start our rural outreach campaign, our Executive Director, Emily Collins, and two women of legendary ultra-running status, Connie Gardner and Jenn Shelton, set out to run 300 miles through West Virginia over the course of 6 days during the Thanksgiving holiday of 2017. In doing so, they heard stories from small, rural hollow communities about their past, present and future relationships between their land and livelihoods. The current day and changing nature of that relationship created the template for us to provide necessary services to West Virginians to invigorate local entrepreneurship and develop land-based wealth for individuals and families within those communities.
Pittsburgh to Washington, DC
From March 5-9, 2018, we set out on a 5-day, 334 mile run from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, DC along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canalway. Starting at Patagonia's new retail store in Pittsburgh and ending at their DC store.
We saw how protected places, like the GAP and Canalway, have the potential to create vibrant and healthy local economies. We heard stories along our route about each community's history, their present day challenges and what they want for their future. We also saw that the communities we ran through - mostly born from the extraction of coal and harvesting of timber - are now connected by the protected trail system and accessible.
Here was our daily schedule:
- Day 1 (March 5): Pittsburgh to Ohiopyle, PA - 79 miles
- Day 2 (March 6): Ohiopyle to Cumberland, MD - 71.3 miles
- Day 3 (March 7): Cumberland to Hancock, WV - 60.3 miles
- Day 4 (March 8): Hancock to Harpers Ferry, WV - 63.4 miles
- Day 5 (March 9): Harpers Ferry to Georgetown - 60.7 miles
In addition to the gps tracker, you can follow us on Instagram at the @fairshakeels account.