top of page

Improve Local Livelihoods

We serve as a bridge organization in collaborations to build local livelihoods, mutual care, community resilience, and community wealth by meeting basic life needs through stewardship of local life commons. Our current and emerging work focuses on communities affected by environmental injustice and boom and bust economies – primarily in Indigenous communities, Appalachia, and the U.S. South. 

Our Theory of Change


The core mission of LiKEN is to help local communities and governments that lack professional planners, and are vulnerable to traumatizing waves of predatory extraction, devastating deindustrialization, and unfunded legacy costs.  We hope to help build a cross-county, cross-sectoral web of support for holistic planning for community well-being.  This web of integrative planning and empowerment, led by youth, can become an alternative to the crony and patronage systems that entrench the ‘resource curse’.  The crony system has fewer and fewer jobs to offer, so there is a growing power vacuum.  There  is a potential leverage point here, to flip destructive national austerity policies and development narratives.  Our theory of change is to provide an alternative to the crony system, and to thereby leverage fundamental structural change.  Our core identity is to be a link-tank that builds trust and collaboration between scholars, local community practitioners, civil society organizations, local government, and regional / national service providers.


We are particularly concerned to build iterative, long term, and democratic collaborations to find holistic solutions to wicked problems of democratic governance. Wicked problems are problems that are difficult to solve because they are caused by vicious cycles that are hard to break. They are produced when multiple forces interact so that economic, cultural, political, and ecological forces amplify each other. Solutions must be as holistic and multicausal as the problems themselves.  

Empowering Communities and Individuals

LiKEN acts as catalysts for community empowerment and development, ensuring every team member’s contributions fuel our transformative projects.

Empowerment and Growth: We offer a supportive environment where staff members drive groundbreaking initiatives and shape our strategic direction. Your role here involves significant opportunities to innovate and lead, directly impacting the communities we partner with.

Community Collaboration: Our initiatives, such as the Appalachian Heirs’ Property Coalition, are geared toward revitalizing local traditions and promoting sustainable resource management. We deeply engage with communities, letting local needs and insights steer our projects, ensuring they foster genuine growth and resilience.

Knowledge Sharing: We seamlessly connect academic insights with real-world applications, devising educational tools that empower communities to effectively manage their own resources.

Together, we can lead meaningful change and strengthen community well-being.

bottom of page