I’m Running For Social Media Senator for the Digital District of West Virginia! #goodforgood


Wait… you’re running for what?

I’m running for the office of Social Media Senator for the Digital District of West Virginia. No, it’s not a “real” office. West Virginia wasn’t a “real” state before we decided we were going to be on June 20, 1863. I’m creating this office – by speaking it into existence – to address real issues.

As Social Media Senator, my job will be to aggregate the voices of the people – as expressed in the “digital district” of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social channels – to decision makers in state and national government, and to show the people the results of my “lobbying” efforts through a transparent, social media-driven process.

Watch my video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OMXIK8VR6M&feature=youtu.be

How do you “win”?

In order to win the “election,” I need you to visit my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/crystalgoodnet, and sign my petition! I need at least one vote from every county, and representation from expatriates (native West Virginians currently living outside the state) and anyone that cares about West Virginia! 

What is the “point” of your campaign?

The most recent election showed us that West Virginia is ready for a change! I believe nothing is going to change until we change the conversation. The primary goal of my campaign is to leverage the power of social media for civic engagement on a mass scale.

There is a silent majority of West Virginians who care about the future of our state, but believe that they can’t make a difference in the political process. And, in a way, they’re correct. Right now, it’s a full time job to be a good citizen! Most folks don’t have time to go down to the capitol and lobby, or write their representatives about every issue they care about. Furthermore, there’s no channel for citizens to introduce new ideas into the process – we can only say “yes” or “no.”

I want to create an online “digital commons” where people can meet, converse, and express their ideas on issues that impact West Virginia’s future. I will aggregate those ideas, take them to the decision makers in Charleston and Washington, DC, and then use social media to educate the public about what actions their representatives decide to take.

What’s your platform?

The people are tired of yes or no, Republican or Democrat, pro this or anti that. I’m for GOOD ideas that move West Virginia forward. With that in mind, I support:

Technology – increasing access to it, and leveraging it to help people participate in the political process

New Industry – to revitalize our state’s economy

Civic Engagement – bringing the process to the people and encouraging ALL West Virginians to make their voices heard

Human rights – access to clean and safe drinking water

How will you “take office” after you win?

Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

In other words, I’ll speak it into being, and it will be so. Stick with me and see what happens next!

Please support the #GOODFORGOOD campaign: 

(1) Like my Facebook page (facebook.com/crystalgoodnet) and share the campaign videos and pictures I post!

(2) VOTE FOR ME by adding your name to this action.

(3) Donate to my campaign – even $5 would be a HUGE help. Your donation goes to spread the word about this campaign and help us build the infrastructure needed to execute on developing the digital district “Congress of Ideas”.
If you have any questions please contact our Good For Good campaign manager, Courtney Forbes 304-767-0093 or goodforgoodwv@gmail.com
Keep Good,

good for good


Affrilachian poet brings sympathy toward nature

How and Who can “Vote” in the Social Media Senator for the Digital District of West Virginia “election”?


Who can“vote”?   ANYONE who cares about West Virginia!

How do you “vote”?  Click and share this link:  https://actionnetwork.org/forms/good-for-good-crystal-good-for-wv-facebook-senator

Now have a listen to my idea and decide if you are Good For Good! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OMXIK8VR6M&feature=youtu.be

Polls are open 24-hrs a day until April 2, 5:00PM. No voter ID required.

Join the conversation. We appreciate the #goodforgood tweets and Facebook engagement.

business card

Photos by Chris Gosses
Campaign image and design by Mark Wolfe


Have you heard of the new ABC TV Show Blackish ?  In my Twitter, Facebook and list serve worlds it’s a frequent topic.  The show is loved and hated. It’s debated.  And, it’s creating dialogue that challenges our pop and media cultures.

Blackish is about a upper-middle class “black” family, with a father who is intent on raising his kids with some sense of black cultural identity. This comes in the face of contradictions and obstacles from various directions that insist his children be color-blind. Blackish is a good sitcom, I’m a fan. It hits home for me. blackish-e1410440798804

The show looks right into stereotypes not creating them – at least not to me. Blackish for the most part is superficially similar to parts of my life.  I connect to the show. I understand what it’s like to be the shows wife whose name is “Rainbow” all too well; to be the butt of family jokes on my blackness, my whiteness – or lack thereof.  I know what it’s like to live in a predominately “white” community and raise “black” children with a “black” man. My kids say they have a black and white mom. The standing joke is I order black but cook white.

I could give Rainbow a few tips, every now and then. Because you see there’s a lot more to my story that makes me very distinct from Rainbow’s family, the Huxtable’s or the Brady’s. You see, I’m West Virginian, a Mountaineer, as we say (Yes even if you went to Marshall University, you‘re still a Mountaineer, but that’s a whole different comedy)

Blackish challenges me to think about the images Hollywood portrays. Would Hollywood or Broadway writers even believe or imagine a professional black “hillbilly” female as the lead of a show or play? I doubt it.  But if we remove skin-color and all it’s superficiality and just imagine a upper middle class Appalachian family on your Thursday night sitcom, or in a Broadway play, it would seem far-fetched if not impossible.

I look at the world very differently and I feel stereotypes from many  different angels.  I know they come in black and white, in shades of class. The greatest of these stereotypes and experiences I feel is often in my Appalachian-ness.

“Are there really black people in West Virginia?”

“You sure are pretty to be from West Virginia.”

Ish- like that.

Most Americans impress me when they know that West Virginia is a state. There are many unknown facts about West Virginia that inform our American identities and icons.  For example, did you know many of the American cultural icons are Affrilachian (African American Appalachian) from TD Jakes, to Henry Lois Gates, Bill Withers and Steve Harvey and the famous Bricktop. They are not just Appalachian but with roots in West Virginia, my home state who left West Virginia, with all their teeth in tact. In fact, have you seen Steve Harvey’s teeth? He’s got the best choppers in the business.

Entertainment is one way for those living in Appalachia to get out of Appalachia. The list is long of folks who have contributed to the cultural landscape of America and equally long is the list of cartoon, sub-plots, characters and TV shows that perpetuate a stereotype of Appalachia as backwoods, poor, toothless and racists.

Entertainment is also an escape for those of us living in Appalachia to have a voice that reaches a broader audience. The problem, our stories rarely meet mainstream ideas of culture and if they do they don’t always foster a positive wider perspective of the Appalachian identity.

We need an Appalachianish.

In my world as an entrepreneur, poet and perhaps a bit of a local gadfly I can’t find any examples of a strong Appalachian family in pop culture.  The Clampets certainly don’t count. Although they do reflect some of the positive aspects of Appalachia it’s always as a sidebar to their ignorance and backwardness. A black Appalachian family?  Never. Not yet.

Yet, our American history is full of  examples of black Appalachian families. Legends like Nina Simone and Nikki Giovanni represent a Appalachian identity, place and family structures that have yet to be embraced as Appalachian heritage. In fact I think America would rather not embrace these cultural icons as an Appalachian. It might make them too complex. It doesn’t fit the mold of the identities with which people are familiar and comfortable.

The terrain to write new Appalachian American stories is a vast and wide as a mountain top removal site (did you know that some MTR mines like the Hobbit mine are as large at Manhattan?).  It seems impossible, too far-fetched to create a dialogue about the prosperity of Appalachia, its opportunity about as far-fetched as seeing a professional “Black” family on TV (post Cosby) yet that just what Blackish is giving us. In that, it’s not to far-fetched to expect to see Appalachian culture on display minus a Buckwild, Hew Haw or Deliverance theme one day on TV.

Shows like Blackish are challenging what it means to American in America.

As I listen to the social media debate about this show I see that many audiences are truly missing what this type of positive family imagery creates across cultures, how it informs underexposed white Americans that black American families are not all alike and that the American dream is for everyone. Blackish creates aspirations and supports the idea of healthy families and prosperity. It challenge excuses and seeks to create these ambitions for all families.

Black affluence is unsettling and even threatening to some Americans, just as Appalachian affluence threatens.  I’ll speculate here but I would wager this perceived “threat” of black wealth was the real reason the thriving black suburb of Tulsa, Greenwood, was literally bombed and burned to the ground by a “white” mob.

We are at tragic crossroads in America.  We can no longer continue to be distracted with the political conflicts of race, gender, religion and sexual preferences, while ignoring the universal needs of healthy families and the environmental issues around clean WATER.

Who gives a Ish what race you are or where you are from if you can’t drink water.

Ebola needs clean water to be eradicated. I can go on.  “Cause EVERYBODY needs clean water.

I don’t care what cultural identity you claim, or don’t. Raven Simone can be whatever the hecks she wants to be, she’s still a RICH American but and even she can’t escape the question of race or the environmental consequences of our energy extraction culture. As we say in in West Virginia, Well… that’s a deep subject. 

Fairy tales rarely come out of Appalachia but stereotypes often do and the latest adaptation of the James Dickey novel “Deliverance” to a Broadway play is a perfect example of how easy it is for others to profit from an Appalachian slander.


The play presented by Godlight Theatre Company is described as an adventurous canoe trip that spirals into a nightmare of horror and murder. Men stalk and are stalked by other men and the treacherous river becomes a graveyard for those without the strength or the luck to survive.

We all know what Deliverance is about and why it appeals, then and now, to American audiences – it takes extreme, slandered generalizations about an “other“ or a “them“, so that “we“ can judge “them” and feel better about ourselves.

Will we ever get out of our fear of positive sitcoms like Blackish or our fear of exploring the complexities of Appalachia as a way to see our American identities as a collective whole?

Deliverance on the stage does nothing for West Virginia, or Georgia, where the movie was actually shot, at least not my West By God Virginia self.  In fact, I fear it may hurt our currently healthy tourism industry, as well as hinder our ability to attract young professionals and families of various backgrounds.  Dickey’s novel is brilliant but it’s a shame that the film and it impressions have fueled a fear of West Virginia and other parts of the South, instead of highlighting the riches that are here too. To quote a line from Deliverance:

“I just believe,’ he said, ‘that the whole thing is going to be reduced to the human body, once and for all. I want to be ready…. I think the machines are going to fail, the political systems are going to fail, and a few men are going to take to the hills and start over….

Start over. When America is ready to start over and craves space and landscape, the mountains I see today will be more valuable than all the wealth coal has produced.  But will there be any hills or clean water? That story will be left for another poet to tell, perhaps in Appalachianish.

Are My Hands Clean?

The song, Are My Hands Clean from Sweet Honey and the Rock, tells the story of the making of a shirt from the picking of cotton to its purchase at Sears and all stops in between. It’s a song that helps you realize the human cost of where your clothes come from and asks, are your hands clean?

Watch video here

To a native of the heart of Appalachia like me, the song calls to mind how easy it is to forget when you flip your light switch, where your power comes from and the generally unknown and conveniently overlooked journey of coal.

Coal’s journey often begins in impoverished communities like Mingo County, West Virginia, where the chamber of commerce is made entirely of coal. Ironically, the sign in front reads, “Home of the Billion Dollar Coal Field”.


During the “boom years” in southern West Virginia several communities of educated and affluent black folks flourished. The boom eventually busted with the advent of Mountain Top Removal (MTR) or strip mining. In MTR mining the costly undertaking of messy work of digging underground is replaced by decapitating the mountains leaving landscapes that look more like the Moon than Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.

Upon extraction the coal is hauled away to be cleaned by chemicals. These coal cleaning chemicals, like the thousands of other industrial products are stored across America are in tanks. If storage tanks are left unregulated, they could present a future threat to the communities around them.

The Elk is the main water source for 300,000 people including the Governor as well as the majority of West Virginia’s black residents.

On January 9, 2014 in Charleston, West Virginia, a tank owned by Freedom Industries leaked a chemical called MCHM into the Elk River. The Elk is the main water source for 300,000 people including the Governor as well as the majority of West Virginia’s black residents. For several days we adapted and overcame the annoyance and dangers, like our forebears did for generations. Although the water ban has lifted many of us remain skeptical and fear the most fundamental resource for life.

This industrial “accident” in West Virginia can become ground zero for America’s renewable energy conversations, debates and solutions, especially as it relates to job opportunities, education and breaking poverty cycles.

This region has been plagued by a mono or duo-economy and an equally entrenched allegiance to this perilous economic state.

This region has been plagued by a mono or duo-economy and an equally entrenched allegiance to this perilous economic state. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, entrepreneurs are seizing the opportunities in Appalachia and across America with a eye on renewable energy innovation. There is also opportunity for energy leadership diversity in these traditional industries.

My alma mater, West Virginia State University, is an HBCU neighboring a chemical plant that once produced one of the world’s deadliest chemicals – MIC, of Bhopal India fame. I often wonder if African Americans had been more involved with environmental activism would that plant have been built beside our institution? I wonder where are they now?

Our history is expressed in the coal industry tag line “COAL- It keeps the lights on!” Indeed it has, but the future belongs to diverse energy strategies that can wash our hands for more entrepreneurs, advocates and leaders whose hands are clean.

A Picture By DJ D Nice Is Worth A 1000 Verses

It is foolish to say we are destroying the earth ~ cause everything we’re doing destroys us first.

– KRS ONE, The Gospel of Hip Hop

Crystal and the 9th grade crew, with boom box
Me and my 9th grade crew, with boom box

I was in the 9th grade when I first heard “Self Destruction” produced by KRS-One and D-Nice, members of the iconic hip hop group Boogie Down Productions. The charity single became the anthem of the Stop the Violence Movement, started in response to violence in the hip hop and African American communities.

Click here to read more at OHVEC.

Boom Boom The Poem Video

First came the Boom a video shot by Jeff Getner
and then the Boom Boom shot by Paul Corbit Brown and edited by The Web Theater.

The Web Theater

I hope you will watch these videos and be moved to share your voice in the dialogue for environmental “rights” and women’s “rights”.

One poem at a time. Small things matter….

Boom Boom,

Poem In Progress

I’ve been “crowd-sourcing” this poem Facebook and invite your edits. Please feel to post your thoughts, suggestions or rejections. I welcome your perspective.


Seventeen times
the age of a son.

It is his prayer a tarry of sorts
for the seventeen phone call he has yet to dial,
the seventeen games he didn’t attend,
the seventeen birthday cards he never sent.

seventeen times he chants mourning
the death of someone else’s son – 2012
dead at seventeen.


He weeps his own loss, for what it costs, he chants.
with his fist held high, he chants in the BLACK rally call.
Drawl string hoodie, he knows he is in a race.

He shouts it louder & LOUDER seventeen times to forgive himself for missing seventeen years.
How could I? He cries.


Signature on the petition – his name, reminding him of his fathers name
He shouts POWER TO THE PEOPLE in outrage and change.
He stands alone among thousands of fathers remembering the most unthinkable of tragedies,
in the dead
this dad, this beat…

This is his prayer for protection — to his own, seventeen times he calls it out.


He stops and pulls out his phone, he starts to follow, his own.
Reading seventeen times

It could have been me #justicefortrayvon

POWER TO THE PEOPLE he takes a step before he starts to run – he just wants to go home