Networking session on fiber economy of WNC

Published 10:18 am Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mountain BizWorks Ag-Biz Program and HandMade in America team up to host Fiber-Talk. All interested fiber producers, fiber artists and fiber processor are encouraged to attend this brainstorming-networking session on July 19, at the Agriculture Economic Development Center, 156 School Rd, Mill Spring, from 6-8pm. This is a potluck event so please bring your favorite dish.
Fiber-folk are fiber producers, fiber artists and fiber processes. Fiber producers can be anyone who has animals and produces fiber products as well as all agricultural people that grow fiber products. Fiber artists are all the people working with fiber of any kind. This includes most artists and crafters working with fiber in any way. Fiber processors are all the people who process fiber.
At the June Meeting, Judi Jetson, director of creative economies for HandMade in America, presented a lively discussion about growing the fiber economy in Western North Carolina (WNC). Of the many topics discussed, the following topics were of particular interest to attendees: Appalachian Fiber Branding that will advocate for wearing and making garments from the local fibershed (150 mile radius), the development of Polk County and the surrounding area as a fiber cluster in the Appalachian fibershed, fiber entrepreneurship and fiber tours that support local fibe artists.
At the July 19 meeting, June Ellen Bradley will facilitate the group through a series of conversations designed to give community members the opportunity to express their views on how they would like to see a local fiber cluster designed. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. with breaking bread and networking. Judi Jetson will then present a mini presentation about HandMade in America that includes HandMade in America’s vision for how the Appalachian Fiber Shed Branding Project will affect the local fiber comunity.
Bradley will lead the group through a discussion that will provide attendees the opportunity to help shape the direction that the local fiber project will proceed.
The conversation will also include dialogue about how a versatile shared leadership of a local fiber group can help shape the way it will interact with the entire Appalachian fiber shed.
Mountain Bizworks Ag-Biz objective is to help connect the fiber community in Polk County to the resourses that HandMade in America offers.
“As part of the Ag-Biz Program,” said Jo Ann Miksa-Blackwell, Ag-Biz program manager, “We support the mission of HandMade in America and the connection fiber has to agriculture. It is our goal to make sure the animal and plant producers of fiber have a seat at this table and a voice in the future of the fiber arts in WNC.”
HandMade in America, a non-profit economic development group based in Asheville, has started an initiative to grow the regional fiber economy by focusing on craft artists and small businesses.
For more information, contact Miksa-Blackwell at 828-919-1000. This Ag-Biz project is supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant # 2010-49400-21817.
– article submitted by Jo Ann Miksa-Blackwell

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