Who We Are

 

Sustainable Shenandoah Valley is a regional consortium facilitated by representatives from the following institutions:

 

Sustainable Shenandoah Valley is a Regional Centre of Expertise. There are similar organizations throughout the globe that serve as locally organized, coordinated, and self-directed networks of teachers, higher education representatives, members of the local business community, local and regional governmental officials, researchers, and other community members that facilitate learning, create platforms for local dialogue, and partnerships for sustainable development.

 

RCE’s have four main functions:

  1. Governance: Coordinate RCE activities;

  2. Collaboration: Ensure that the network is comprised of a representative group;

  3. Research and development: Ensure that activities and recommendations are supported by data and facts; and

  4. Transformative education: Reflect the aims of the region regarding sustainability in educational practices.

 

Geographically Sustainable Shenandoah Valley reflects the central valley counties of Augusta, Highland, Rockingham, Page, and Shenandoah. The total area of the RCE is 7,943 km2 (3,067 mi2) with an estimated population of 317,000. The Valley is classified as a rural area; however, there are two metropolitan statistical areas within the RCE, Harrisonburg and Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro, that comprise nearly 66% of the RCE population.

What We Do

 

A sustainable Shenandoah Valley preserves and enhances our unique educational, social, environmental, and economic resources to ensure the future well-being of Valley residents and our children.

 

This consortium brings together teachers, higher education representatives, members of the local business community, local and regional governmental officials, researchers, and other community members to promote:

  • Dialogue and educate the community on pressing local sustainability issues

  • Activities, events, and resources that increase understanding and awareness of how current actions can have implications for the Valley in the future

  • Opportunities that develop our knowledge, skills, and behaviors to ensure the vitality of the Central Shenandoah Valley

 

The Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, USA

The Shenandoah Valley is a longstanding physiographic and cultural region in the state of Virginia, United States of America; the region has a strong place identity for both the people who live there and for the United States generally. Geographically, the Shenandoah Valley represents the watershed of the Shenandoah River and is bordered by the Appalachian Mountains, the oldest mountain range on Earth.

 

As a watershed, the Shenandoah River Valley is significant because it drains to the Chesapeake Bay, the largest marine estuary in North America and the second largest in the world. Culturally, the Shenandoah Valley is renowned for its extraordinary natural beauty, for its role in colonial American history and the American Civil War, and for its considerable agricultural productivity. Farming is overwhelmingly composed of poultry, dairy, and beef cattle in family-owned farms averaging less than 100 acres (40 hectares). Employment is heavily concentrated in light manufacturing, services, and wholesale and retail trade.

 

Sustainability in the Central Shenandoah Valley

Sustainability challenges in the Central Shenandoah Valley RCE:

  •  As a watershed, the region continues to confront major issues with respect to local surface water quality and runoff to the Chesapeake Bay. Although significant improvements have been made within the agricultural sector, all sectors (residential, industrial, and agricultural) require continued stewardship in both water conservation and water quality.

 

  • The region is urbanizing, and land values are consequently rising. Changing land use patterns have resulted in the continued loss of agricultural land, open space, and natural areas. Maintaining regional biodiversity and green infrastructure is a challenge.

 

  • The rural history and culture of the region is highly valued by local residents. Sustainable development initiatives, especially with respect to economic growth, will need to maintain the integrity of this rural character and heritage, which currently feels a bit threatened.

 

  •  Agriculture in the Valley is composed largely of small family farms that are becoming increasingly non-competitive because of global forces and corporate agriculture. To maintain the agricultural basis of our rural heritage, the farm sector is transitioning to sustainable systems of food production with higher value-added products and commodities.

 

  •  We have a growing need to develop cross-cultural competencies and ways of more effectively integrating the cultural diversity of our communities, especially with respect to immigrants and the range of political and religious beliefs and values present in the Valley. These challenges give rise to opportunities for faith-based stewardship networks as well as community-based decision making that includes all area residents.

 

  •  Poverty threatens the well-being not just of the poor, but our communities at large. Meeting the essential needs of the poor—a criterion of sustainable development outlined in the Brundtland Report—is a regional challenge. Adequate health care, employment opportunities, and the affordability of post-secondary education are critical elements of this need. 

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