In April, I posted a blog article on the practice of Appalachian hymn lining. In his autobiography, Man of Constant Sorrow: My Life and Times, Ralph Stanley describes hymn lining from the perspective of his own personal experience of participating in the practice in his younger days. He recounts, "Back in the early days, in the Primitive Baptist churches around southwest Virginia and eastern Kentucky, there was an awful lot of hymns to sing--I mean, hundreds and hundreds--and not a lot of hymnbooks around. Not too many could read much, and people were so poor they didn't have but one songbook, and that was the preacher's. They didn't know what words to sing, and the old preacher, well, he'd get up there and line out songs from the books and spit his tobacco juice right out, and that was doing something. The people would sing the words back, and they had the feeling to it. And the feeling grabbed me and it's never let go. I reckon I was about the only boy in Dickenson County who looked forward to going to church." In the opening pages of the book, Stanley allows his readers an opportunity to peer into the very beginnings of his music career, which began in one of those secluded Primitive Baptist churches in southwest Virginia:
"West Virginia billionaire Jim Justice made his fortune in coal and agriculture, and he is revered in his home state as the man who rescued the historic Greenbrier resort from bankruptcy. Worth an estimated $1.7 billion, Justice is a prominent member of the tiny West Virginia community of Lewisburg, keeping a modest home and finding time to coach basketball at the local high school. He ranks No. 292 on a list of wealthiest Americans by Forbes magazine, which estimates that his personal wealth has grown by $500 million in the last year."
" The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy has upheld its decision to administratively deny a surface mining permit on Ison Rock Ridge. The proposed mine, on more than 1,200 acres near Appalachia in Wise County, has been controversial since the company first filed a permit to mine there six years ago."
"Coal billionaire Jim Justice is a noble philanthropist who rescued The Greenbrier resort and was this newspaper's 2009 West Virginian of the Year. But not even he can prevent the relentless downturn of mining in Central Appalachia. He promises to resolve several debt suits pending against his old coal firms, and added: 'Our economy is really struggling, utilities are converting to natural gas, and you may be witnessing the death of the coal industry.' The decline evidently caused another 160 miner layoffs in Boone County by Alpha Natural Resources, which inflicted more suffering on the coal-dependent zone. This sad community loss follows several similar setbacks in coal fields of southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky."
" The coal industry's troubles have been well documented over the past few years, but West Virginia Coal Association Vice President Chris Hamilton said he believes the worldwide need for coal can provide the industry somewhat of a silver lining for decades to come."
"'Rails to Trails' is a national organization that takes former rail lines and transforms them into trails. The largest rails to trails project in the state is in Eastern Kentucky and officially opened on Saturday...Folks living in the area will not only get to get out and enjoy the trail but officials say they will also benefit economically as the trail will attract visitors from across the country."
"Flames lick at the roof of the coal mine, heat building and visibility dropping as smoke begins to fill the underground passageway. Then, with the push of a few buttons on a hand-held remote, the flames flicker out and the lights come on.This is the magic of the Running Right Leadership Academy, a $23 million training complex dedicated to teaching miners how to avoid injury and death in any disaster, and in one of the most dangerous work environments. Alpha Natural Resources calls it the only facility of its kind in the world, a place where crises can be created but controlled."
"Kyle Thacker's bloodline in the underground coal mines of Eastern Kentucky goes back decades.His grandfather Willard Thacker raised 16 children on a miner's pay, beginning in the days when the back-breaking job involved blasting down coal and loading it into carts with a shovel...Thacker and thousands of other miners are confronting the latest in a century of booms and busts in the Eastern Kentucky coal industry. This time, experts warn, the backslide looks permanent."
"When I came in, the town I perceived, was alarmed, by the people standing at their doors. At the first, I found myself quite shut up. My heart and head were dead as a stone, but when I came to the inn, my soul began to be enlarged. I felt a freedom in my spirit, and was enabled to preach with power to near two thousand people. Many were convicted. One was drowned in tears, because she had said I was crazy; and some were so filled with the Holy Ghost that they were almost unable to support themselves under it. This, I know, is foolishness to the natural and letter-learned men, but I write this for the comfort of God’s children. They know what these things mean."
"Hollow, an interactive documentary about the people and issues of McDowell County, WV, launches June 20 – West Virginia’s 150th statehood celebration day. The immersive, online experience is the brainchild of West Virginia native Elaine McMillion. She worked with a team of designers, programmers, journalists, filmmakers and community members to combine video portraits, user-generated content, data, grassroots mapping and soundscapes on an HTML5 site and an accompanying community tool to tell the story of those living in boom-and-bust areas."
"While most of us have known about the beautiful outdoors opportunities in Central Appalachia for some time, it seems that recently the region's tourism efforts have been really stepping it up. And according to research out of Oregon, capitalizing on the eco-economy is a good idea."
"Mike Hurley had a great opportunity: He could multiply sales and staff by converting his metal-stamping business from one that made brackets for the automotive industry into a top-tier supplier of satellite dishes to DirecTV. He also had a problem: Highlands Diversified Services is headquartered in small-town Appalachia, a place where big banks readily lend money for houses, cars and refrigerators but shy away from business loans. Louisville, sure. But not London, Ky., population 8,000."
"'We don’t belong to anyone’s political party. We don’t belong to anyone’s organization, and so we ought to have the freedom, then, to speak prophetically to both parties and to all parties,' says the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission."
"The Hiwassee River has a reputation as one of the finest trout fisheries in the Southeast, but that’s not why Jeremy Monroe and David Herasimtschuk came here last week all the way from Oregon. Instead of fly rods, they plied the river with an underwater camera."
"Using valuable food crops like corn and sugar cane to produce biofuels has been a highly controversial topic in the age of imminent food crises. But nobody is growing corn on the former strip mines of Eastern Kentucky."
"A federal magistrate judge recommended class-action status Wednesday for thousands of landowners in southwest Virginia who contend two energy companies cheated them out of tens of millions of dollars in royalty payments for natural gas they extracted from their properties."
"The presence of Union sentiment in East Tennessee was explained by the absence of slavery as well as the fact that the region was somewhat isolated from the rest of the South by the Appalachians and the Cumberland Plateau. But that same forbidding terrain also left it beyond the reach of even the most intrepid surveyors. The basic topography of the eastern Tennessee River Valley was fairly clear, but the complex contours of the Blue Ridge and adjacent ranges of the Appalachian system were still unknown, and only vaguely represented on maps on the eve of the war."
"Teach for America came to Central Appalachia three years ago, aiming to help school districts in the region find qualified applicants for hard-to-fill positions, and the organization is continuing to achieve this goal by helping two local school districts this year."
"Even as they knew their patients were dying, two doctors used rubber stamps to prescribe millions of doses of oxycodone to thousands of Appalachian customers, a federal prosecutor told a jury Friday. In a trial related to the nation's largest pill mill organization, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Schwartz said the defendants prescribed and dispensed millions of pain pills that killed nine people. Seven of the dead patients were from Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia."
"Officials of Pike County, Kentucky, announced this week that Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, will pay $4 million to settle a lawsuit the county and state filed in 2007 seeking damages for the addiction OxyContin caused "after the company aggressively marketed it to doctors as a safe option for pain relief," Russ Cassady reports for the Appalachian News-Express in Pikeville."
"The University of Tennessee is officially seeking bidders who want to drill natural gas wells on land it owns on the Cumberland Plateau...The university says it plans to use revenue from the lease to study the effects of fracking on the environment."
A stereotype is an incomplete or skewed magnification of a particular characteristic or set of characteristics generally expressed by a few within a given context or culture; those magnifications are then often disseminated through such mediums as words, actions, or visual portrayals thus propagating within a wider audience a “few represents the whole” mentality. In other words, a stereotype is “a set of inaccurate, simplistic generalizations about a group that allows others to categorize them and treat them accordingly.” A stereotype is developed by taking something that could be true about a portion of a given group, then creating “simplistic generalizations” about that group for others to feast on. We all hold to stereotypical assumptions whether we realize it or not. In order to proudly position ourselves above others we form, mold, or adopt inaccurate generalizations about people. The stereotype is then heralded through jokes or printed material, for example. Although thickly veiled, this is just another way in which fallen man demonstrates his insatiable appetite to idolize himself while demonizing his neighbor.
While we have an endless supply of stereotypes to choose from, there is one of particular interest to me for this occasion. Though my intentions at the moment are not to explore with any great depth the beginnings or unfolding of this stereotype, I do raise the topic in order to introduce the reader to the experience of the Appalachian migrant outside the rural mountains and inside urban settings during the Great Migration period.
"Appalachia is as diverse as the 13 states the mountainous region occupies. And yet when people think of Appalachia, many continue to picture an area settled or inhabited by descendants of the Scots-Irish who lived in isolation from the rest of the world. Dr. Katherine Ledford, program director of the Appalachian studies program at Appalachian State University, works to dispel that notion."
"For decades, most people had never even seen a jar of moonshine, let alone tasted it. These days, you can find it at stores and restaurants around the country thanks to loosened liquor laws and changing consumer preferences. Even the industry’s biggest distilleries are experimenting with moonshine."
"I took two of my children to the mall a few weeks back. After stocking up on sneakers and sandals, we stood in line to ride the carousel. I paid $2 each for their tickets, then the lady at the cash register peered over the counter at my daughter Penny. 'Is she a special need?' she asked me. I stammered something in response. 'Special needs ride free,' she said, handing me back my money."
"Spring rains cascade over the lip of the Norris Dam in a torrent of white foam and spray. A hundred yards downriver from this concrete waterfall, people stop at the little park to record the scene on their smart phones or digital cameras. It is an image made for a postcard -- a remarkable marriage of nature and technology. And a centerpiece of the Tennessee Valley Authority."
"There is a sublimity surrounding a man who, standing in ocular darkness, lets loose a torrent of flat-picked melodies made sacred by their time spent echoing in the heart of Appalachia. Some might think, and perhaps with good reason, that entire realms of reality were inaccessible to Watson. After all, blindness cuts man off from the great communion of visual perception."
"At school teachers and kids form a special bond; they become like a small family. A new school year will bring new classmates, teachers, and schools for kids who go to Cleveland and Elk Garden Elementary Schools in Russell County."