Many towns in Southwest Virginia try to capitalize on recreational activities by playing off the natural landscape. Haysi, a tiny town, has monumental assets to back up such promise in its surrounding mountains and rivers. The Save Our Towns Example of Awesome story takes a look at Haysi's winning strategy of securing residents' agreement about where to focus tourism-and-marketing efforts.

In Pearisburg, a river also plays a starring role. This month's look at Mayor Robert Dickerson's economic-development efforts shows a novel effort on the part of the town to marry the New River to the best work of the local community of artists. 

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The episode's expert tip comes from the Procurement Technical Assistance Center, which helps town entrepreneurs learn how to land one of the biggest customers of all: the federal government.

Episode Seven also highlights the work of Nikki D'Adamo-Damery of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who heads the Appalachian Foodshed Project, which supports community food projects in western North Carolina, southwest Virginia, and West Virginia.

Save Our Towns was recently announced to have won first place in Best Community Affairs in an international communications competition. The series has generated thousands of views both on YouTube and on the resource-rich website. A bonus episode, to be released soon, focuses on lead-poisoned water in Flint, along with Virginia Tech engineering students' role in documenting the public-health emergency. The theme is abridgement of democracy in Flint and its lessons for other towns.

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