The colors and fonts and overall feel of our organization’s visuals have been meant to capture the grassroots, bottom-up philosophy of this creative organization. These have largely succeeded in giving us an authentic and unique brand. But we’ve struggled for years to really establish a true logo. We’ve tried hundreds of different concepts and had dozens of brainstorming sessions facilitated by multiple consultants only to come up empty handed; nothing ever seems to capture the breadth and complexity of our work while still honoring the bottom-up vibe so true to us still today. We’re sometimes guilty of trying to do too many things at once here at Coalfield… and this has maybe been true of our past attempts at logos as well. But today, I think we’ve finally got it! Much thanks to JJN Multimedia, a West Virginia company, for helping us get here.
The new logo has three triangles in it. These are deltas: the universal symbol of change. Their orientation illustrates how we at Coalfield Development go about shaping change. The brown on the bottom shows how we are rooted in the places we work. We are willing to get in the trenches with coalfield communities and do the hard, dirty work needed to claw out of poverty. The blue on top shows the big vision we have, the blue skies of a better reality on the horizon that we’re not afraid to dream of. Both the patient grit needed on the ground and the bold vision necessary for inspiration are important to our work. But a long-time problem in Appalachia has been a disconnect between the two. A quote in the foreword of The Stories of Breece DJ Pancake, written by Breece’s mentor James Alan McPherson1, perfectly captures this disconnect.
“I did not understand the focus of his life until I had driven through his home state, along those winding mountain roads, where at every turn one looks down at houses nestled in hollows. In those hollows, near those houses, there are abandoned cars and stoves and refrigerators. Nothing is thrown away by people in that region; some use is found for even the smallest evidence of affluence. And eyes, in that region, are trained to look either up or down: from the hollows up toward the sky or from the encircling hills down into the hollows. Horizontal vision, in that area, is rare. The sky is circumscribed by insistent hillsides thrusting upward. It is an environment crafted by nature for the dreamer and for the resigned.”
This is where the red delta in the middle of our logo comes in. Red is the color of boldness, action sparking, creativity activating. Coalfield not only has the patience and grit to dig in and work hard at the grassroots (the brown delta). We not only have the gumption to inspire new horizons (the blue delta). We are an organization always in motion, driving tangible progress toward our vision of Appalachian places and people unlocking their full potential, power, and purpose. We make plans become reality – having that “horizontal vision”. We take risks. We make things happen (the red delta). So many Appalachian people are burned out on meetings, planning documents, promises. We are understandably skeptical of the newest trends in community development – new bottles, same old wine. But we can’t become pessimists. We choose empowerment over apathy – having the courage to do things differently. And our new logo captures such inspiration perfectly.
1 Breece DJ Pancake was a remarkable author from Milton, WV. He only had one book published, and that after he tragically committed suicide. The book was nominated for the Pulitzer and remains in print today. Despite his short life, he was already compared to Hemingway and O’Connor by other major authors. His stories capture the often difficult reality of life in West Virginia better than any other I’ve read. He was a tortured soul, a master-writer, and true original with unique insight in to our place and our people.
Bottom up brown, beautiful horizon blue, revitalizing action red. And change at the heart of it all, change for the better.