Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Appalachian History, Donors Choose and Music To Soothe Our Souls

I want to encourage folks to support the Appalachian History project at DonorsChoose.org. To be honest, it was tough to pick just one. This particular project has life changing possibilities. Mrs. L's class needs 15 books on Appalachian history and culture. The transfer of cultural information is a crucial element in visualizing success in your future.

If you know that your ancestors journeyed thousands of miles and established themselves in a new country it does wonders to help young people to take the next invisible step. A well rounded cultural image helps to inoculate your from those that disrespect you and determine your worth just by looking at you.

I want to share two reasons why I think this is a good community investment.

The Foxfire Books

My high school was hooked on the Foxfire Books. You could learn how to skin a squirrel, camp out in the holla or read oral histories of life in Appalachia. The documentation was done by high schools students who went out into their communities and recorded the events, experiences and skills necessary to live in the region. Mind you, we were city kids and not a one of us had any desire to skin anything. But we did connect with the writers of the magazine and the book compilations.

I felt a connection because my grandmothers had to do similar things to feed their families. So when I would read about how much work it took to slaughter a hog and how every part of the animal was used I began to understand about real world reuse and recycle issues. Thirty years later Foxfire is still going strong. You can visit the current Foxfire's educational and cultural history project.

Bloggers Rally Against Media Presentations of Appalachian Life

If you think about it, what do any of us know about "Appalachian Life?" The Clampetts and Mayberry's Ernest T. Bass? How about Hee-Haw and Lil Abner? The Coal Miner's Daughter gave us one view but then you have a movie like Deliverance. That had to put a crimp in tourism for a few years.

Many of the above examples where created or fashioned by people who did not know anything about the area. Worse still, they played up or enhanced stereotypes that we hold to this day. I know that I get steamed when someone creates a TV show, movie or a so-called news story that bears no resemblance to the people that I know.

Fortunately, the Appalachian blogging community has step up to the challenge of presenting the view on their communities. Jessica Edwards had the opportunity to photograph a group of women being honored at the Believing in Ourselves: A Celebration of Appalachian Women.  Marie at Blue Ridge blog has got great photos and her almost daily Annie photos. Rebecca at Carpe You Some Diem displays her art work, her new hair cut and experimenting with Spam Sushi (no really, very popular in Hawaii)

Hillbilly Savants is a team blog that take the time to look at the small and the large picture of life in the area.  Redhen at Brambleberry Blog keeps it almost lyrical. The quality of the light of day, the food she has harvested and what she is doing almost reads like a prose poem. There is Mullet Pride at Mullets of Appalachia.

Not all of the residents are red to the bone; Some are but then you have Left Wing Cracker. Easy Bake Coven is waiting for you with her sense of irony and Raging Red is very blue – politically speaking. RedNecromancer, I don’t know where to start. From cultural attitudes about negativity to the explanation of what the word cracker means and what it really means when you have to deal with one.

I could go on and on. There is some damn fine writing and photography taking place up on and around the ridge. But I want to leave you with a musical balm that I hope will inspire you to drop some cash at DonorsChoose. We only need 11 more people to contribute $20 and one person to contribute $2.17. Do what you can but you have 28 days left to do it. Make that move!

This is a video of musicians Jayme Stone and Mansa Sissoko combining Appalachian and African styles of music to create a joining place. The song is called Yelemane.

Now after you’ve made your donation go on over to Jayme’s site and soak up more goodness.

CE Gena Haskett is still tapping her toes over on Out On The Stoop and PCCLibTech

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