I am a Ph.D. student in Sociocultural Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. I work in the mountains of central Appalachia, a place where there is stunning natural beauty as well as an enormous wealth of natural resources–including coal, natural gas, and timber. As the coal industry in the region declines, the Appalachian wilderness is a tempting resource upon which to build a new economy. But how has the legacy of extractive industries impacted the Appalachian wilderness–is it even a “wilderness” at all? What kind of an effect does this have on those who seek to build a new, sustainable economy? My research looks at the tensions, challenges, and contradictions experienced by those who are working hard to envision a new future for Appalachia.