We believe that people understand their own places, environments, and communities in ways that are essential to good public policy and good science. Community needs are multi-faceted so projects must flexibly address diverse issues as they arise. But, our diverse projects are shaped by common frameworks drawn from lessons learned over many decades. Our platforms  are designed to scale up to wide geographies and state / national policy frameworks, and to scale down to serve local needs.

The Appalachian Land Study is a community / scholarly collaboration to provide accurate data about land ownership, mineral rights, and public revenues in Central Appalachia.  We seek to update the groundbreaking 1979-81 study that revealed that only 28% of land and 20% of mineral rights are owned by local people across six states. Since 2016, LiKEN has participated in a broad coalition of concerned citizens, practitioners, and scholars (www.appalachianlandstudy.com). The regional collaboration supports grassroots community members. With data on land, local community projects can address inequities of the past and start to build strong, vibrant communities with sustainable livelihoods.

LiKEN contacts:           
Betsy Taylor     Director@LiKENKnowledge.org
Deborah Thompson Dthompson@LiKENKnowledge.org

LiKEN is collaborating with high schools, community partners, University of KY, and Appalshop in story-catching about the special landscapes of the Central Appalachian plateaus—the forests, coves, waterways, and species that shape mountain life. Youth and elders in Appalachia share photos, memories and visions of the future. This intergenerational storytelling catalyzes community involvement in decisions about how land and resources meaningful to communities might be managed collaboratively. In August 2018, “Stories of Place / Martin County, KY” launched, coordinated by Sheldon Clark High School teachers, Nina McCoy (Martin County Concerned Citizens), Ricki Draper (Highlander Center fellow), Mary Hufford (LiKEN Associate Director), and Karen Rignall (UnivKY). 

LiKEN contacts:           
Stories of Place director: Mary Hufford              Hufford@likenknowledge.org

A powerful documentary exploring the challenges of Native Americans and other frontline communities living in proximity to fossil fuel extraction in the United States. The film follows 24 Indigenous community organizers and allies as they caravan across the lower 48 on the 2016 Protect Our Public Lands Tour For a Just and Renewable Energy Future. As the caravan winds its way across the US, the film introduces audiences to an array of environmental and human rights challenges through interactions with the Indigenous communities that bear the brunt of the health and pollution impacts of oil, gas, and coal projects. Ideal for educational, activist, and general audiences alike, PROTECT provides a platform for facilitating sharing and solidarity across cultures, generations, communities, and nations.


The Rising Voices program facilitates intercultural, relational-based approaches for understanding and adapting to extreme weather and climate events, climate variability and climate change. The program brings Indigenous and other scientific professionals, tribal and community leaders, environmental and communication experts, students, educators, and artists from across the United States, including Alaska, Hawai’i, and the Pacific Islands, and around the world, to assess critical community needs and to pursue joint research aimed at developing optimal plans for community action towards sustainability. Rising Voices acknowledges the inherent value of Indigenous knowledge systems and Indigenous science, adaptive practices and processes, honoring them equally with Earth sciences. 

At its core, Rising Voices aims to advance science through collaborations that bring Indigenous and Earth (atmospheric, social, biological, ecological) sciences into partnership, supports adaptive and resilient communities through sharing scientific capacity, and provides opportunities for Indigenous students and early career scientists through scientific and community mentoring. Further, it helps Western-trained scientists expand their observational skills, research paradigms, capacity to apply and translate findings, and ultimately their science. 

The program – through an annual workshop series, knowledge exchanges, trainings, and an active listserv – has facilitated the creation of new and continued intercultural adaptation partnerships based on respect, justice, equality, and reciprocity that address our changing climate.

It is administered by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research / National Center for Atmospheric Research (UCAR/NCAR) and the Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN), in partnership with Haskell Indian Nation University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office for Coastal Management.

LiKEN contacts: 

Heather Lazrus – hlazrus@ucar.edu      

Julie Maldonado – jmaldonado@LiKENKnowledge.org

For more information: http://risingvoices.ucar.edu


Central Appalachian Folk and Traditional Arts Program Survey and Planning Project is a project of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation (MAAF) in cooperation with LiKEN. With a talented team of 10 cultural workers, LiKEN will coordinate this comprehensive 15-month cultural study of traditional arts and practices in the 112 Appalachian counties of Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. The results of this study will inform the development of an Appalachian Folk and Traditional Arts Program designed to promote the understanding, recognition and practice of the diverse folk and traditional art practices present in Central Appalachia. The survey phase of the project will end in April 2020.  We welcome continuing input via our online data collection form, and look forward to staying tuned and in touch with all stakeholders.                                                               

LiKEN contact:

Project Director – Mary Hufford hufford@likenknowledge.org

The Kentucky Environmental Foundation is dedicated to connecting the lines between our environment, health, and economy, creating a sustainable system that incorporates advocating for policies to ensure a livable future for Kentucky and beyond.


In order to reduce overhead and pursue common objectives, the Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF) merged with Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN) in February of 2018. This has been an excellent partnership. KEF has maintained its own non-profit status as a 501(c)(3)  tax deductible organization under a Board of Directors who oversee the whole LiKEN network. Any contributions to KEF will be solely dedicated to KEF projects as described on our web page and in our letters of solicitation.


KEF – Progress continues to be made at the Blue Grass Army Depot in destroying the nation’s last chemical weapons storage site. To date almost 65 tons of chemical warfare agents have been destroyed safely. Efforts will continue with strong engagement of the local community led by KEF’s Director being a member of the Governor’s Commission and Co-chair of the Citizens Advisory Board.  https://www.kyenvironmentalfoundation.org/chemical-weapons/

KEF is also working with a diverse array of experts and economic development agencies to prevent a downturn in the Central Kentucky economy when the disposal project ends – leaving a significant number of highly trained employees in the region. https://www.kyenvironmentalfoundation.org/chemical-weapons/economic-stability-post-demilitarization/  

KEF’s Director also sits on the Steering Committee of the “Cease Fire” campaign, a national collaborative working to ban the open burning and open detonation of military conventional weapons and hazardous wastes. Progress in deploying alternative methods for treatment of such wastes has been accelerating on the heels of a National Academy of Sciences Report (directed by Congress due to efforts of “Cease Fire”  identifying safer ways to dispose of these materials. https://www.kyenvironmentalfoundation.org/initiatives/cease-fire/