Group asks for New Year’s resolutions for community

Amelia Holliday Staff Reporter aholliday@civitasmedia.com

January 21, 2014

HAZARD—New Year’s resolutions—nearly everyone in Perry County has probably heard this phrase in some form or fashion at least once since 2013 rolled over for 2014, and many have probably talked of losing weight or quitting smoking in conjunction with it. One group in the county, however, has taken a new approach to New Year’s resolutions by asking Perry Countians what their resolution would be for their community this year.

InVision Hazard, a nonprofit group formed last year to help revitalize downtown Hazard and the surrounding area, started a project last week to record community members’ resolutions in a video confessional set up at the Treehouse Cafe and Bakery on Main Street in Hazard.

“What we’re asking them to do is to really tell us what is their New Year’s resolution,” InVision Hazard member Les Roll explained. “I really thought of this as an opportunity for people to really think about what can I do for my community in the upcoming year, what do I see for my community in the upcoming year, how do I see my community changing, because we are a community in change.”

Roll, who, along with Treehouse owner Jenn Noble, set the confessional up to run for the rest of the month, said he hopes to record confessionals from anyone and everyone in the community.

“I can’t tell you the kind of person I want to do this because I don’t know all the people I want to do this. I want to have the random person off the street, people who haven’t been here for long, and people who have been here their whole lives,” he said.

Roll said there is no one answer for how to define a community, so those who record a confessional should define it however they think fit.

“You can define community as geographically Perry County, you can define community as geographically downtown Hazard, you can define your community as a group of people,” he said.

Though he said he’s not sure exactly what will be done with the footage once it’s compiled—whether it will become a documentary, commercial, or nothing more than inspiration for the group—Roll hopes it will at least open up discussions and possibilities to people in his community.

“It’s easy to fall into the trap of, the negative trap of we’re a community of can’t or won’t or don’t have, and I think that this is a chance for people to focus on what we can change and what we can do and thinking about making a long-term difference,” Roll said. “The point was to get people to think about it and less to worry about the finished product.”

InVision Hazard has much planned for the upcoming year, Roll said, adding that depending on the turnout the video confessional may be used again this year to hear more ideas from more people.

“I know that it’s going to be intimidating for people to be on camera, it can be really intimidating to think about long-term community change, but this is less about looking good on camera or being perfect or having the right thing to say or a clever thing to say or having the best idea—this is really about getting people to think about themselves, their role in the community and what impact they might be able to have on the community, and what impact the community might be able to have on them,” Roll said.

Amelia Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.