Participation Type

Paper

Presentation #1 Title

Voices from Appalachia: Oral History as Community Visioning

Presentation #1 Abstract or Summary

All too often, the story of Appalachia has been told by outsiders. As yet another instance of resource extraction, journalists and scholars have harvested the stories of the region to serve their own ends. The purpose of this project is to document the stories of the town of Appalachia in southwest Virginia—in the voices of Appalachia residents themselves—in order to create a representation of the experiences residents had growing up in the town and its surrounding coal camps. In addition, both the collection and sharing of these oral histories have the potential to facilitate community visioning and collaborative community development. Drawing on an array of 22 participants who grew up in Appalachia, we relied on oral history interview techniques to collect and document the stories of the town and the diverse experiences represented by its community members. Emerging themes uniting many of our participants include the value of hard work and resilience, the binding nature of community, and the effects of cycles of change. Moreover, several of our participants spoke candidly about the proliferation of negative stereotypes of the Appalachian region perpetuated in media and their adverse effects on local residents and communities. This project will allow for examination of the characteristics of a subsection of the Appalachian region and the visions that local residents have for the future of their community as well as facilitate the creation of a community play to showcase the collective, lived history of the town.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #1

Meredith is a doctoral student in Curriculum & Instruction at the Curry School of Education. Her academic interests include place-based service learning, elementary education, and teacher education.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #2

Tessa is an undergraduate student in Communication studies at the University of Virginia's College at Wise. Her academic interests are rhetorical criticism and oral histories.

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Voices from Appalachia: Oral History as Community Visioning

All too often, the story of Appalachia has been told by outsiders. As yet another instance of resource extraction, journalists and scholars have harvested the stories of the region to serve their own ends. The purpose of this project is to document the stories of the town of Appalachia in southwest Virginia—in the voices of Appalachia residents themselves—in order to create a representation of the experiences residents had growing up in the town and its surrounding coal camps. In addition, both the collection and sharing of these oral histories have the potential to facilitate community visioning and collaborative community development. Drawing on an array of 22 participants who grew up in Appalachia, we relied on oral history interview techniques to collect and document the stories of the town and the diverse experiences represented by its community members. Emerging themes uniting many of our participants include the value of hard work and resilience, the binding nature of community, and the effects of cycles of change. Moreover, several of our participants spoke candidly about the proliferation of negative stereotypes of the Appalachian region perpetuated in media and their adverse effects on local residents and communities. This project will allow for examination of the characteristics of a subsection of the Appalachian region and the visions that local residents have for the future of their community as well as facilitate the creation of a community play to showcase the collective, lived history of the town.