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Recovery, Reinvention And Why It’s Never Too Late To Begin Again

Prior Five
The group Prior Five performing in 1968.

This week on Inside Appalachia, we begin our journey throughout Appalachia in Rainelle, West Virginia, at a farm called Fruits of Labor. Fruits of Labor is part farm, part cafe and bakery, and part training program that consciously hires people in recovery or at risk.

Then, we’ll make a stop in Wetzel County, West Virginia for a look at another recovery program. Take Action Wetzel County has seen success, but faces an uncertain future as its funding is set to expire soon.

Next, we’ll head to East Liverpool, Ohio -- a place once known as the pottery capital of the world for its dishware and ceramics factories. While that industry is mostly gone now, pottery remains central to the town’s identity.

Along this journey through the region, you may see a quilt block painted on the side of a barn or house. Despite their name, barn quilts can be found on almost any building. There are at least 300 in Western North Carolina alone.

We wrap up our journey in Randolph County, West Virginia, where we meet The Prior Five -- a music group that formed in 1968 and disbanded after a few months. The members of The Prior Five met at West Virginia University in Morgantown, and are reuniting now to discuss their lives and music.

In This Episode:

  • Reaping The Fruits Of Labor In Greenbrier County, W.Va
  • Nonprofit In Wetzel County, W.Va Taking Action Despite Uncertain Future
  • Crockery City: The Famous Past And Creative Future Of East Liverpool, O.H’s Pottery Scene 
  • Western N.C. Barn Quilts Represent Community, History
  • Cleaning Up The Bloody Mingo Tug Fork Water Trail In W.Va
  • The Prior Five Reconnecting, Sharing Memories Of Music Making At W.V.U. 

Reaping The Fruits Of Labor In Greenbrier County, W.Va. 

Fruits of Labor in Rainelle, West Virginia is part farm, part cafe and bakery and part training program that consciously hires people in recovery or at risk. Students in the Fruits of Labor program have the opportunity to earn Associate’s Degrees, learn culinary arts and agriculture. It’s a business getting national attention for its work in the community, as more than 125 students have completed the program. Jessica Lilly has that story.

Nonprofit In Wetzel County, W.Va. Taking Action Despite Uncertain Future

Take Action Wetzel County is a non-profit in New Martinsville, West Virginia that consists of community members providing resources to anyone seeking help with substance use disorder. Despite the program’s effectiveness, Take Action is looking at a financial dilemma in the months ahead. The three year grant that helped create the program ends on June 30th. Program staff and the New Martinsville City Council are looking for new funding sources. Liz McCormick brings us the story.

Crockery City: The Famous Past And Creative Future Of East Liverpool, O.H.’s Pottery Scene 

East Liverpool, Ohio, sits on the banks of the Ohio River where West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio meet. For decades, this small town was known as the pottery capital of the world after immigrants from Stafforshire, England settled there and brought their pottery-making expertise with them. By the beginning of the 20th century, more than half of all dinnerware in America was made here. Today, only two major dinnerware manufacturers are left. But pottery is still central to the town’s identity—so much so that even the school mascot is inspired by the industry. Potter Pete is actually a giant kiln with a face and feet. Folkways reporter Capri Cafaro brings us the story of the city’s famous past.

Western North Carolina Barn Quilts Represent Community, History

When Candace Wingo and her husband moved to Haywood County, North Carolina from Texas a few years ago, Candace knew she wanted a barn quilt to become a fixture of her farm. Driving around the mountains and foothills of Appalachia, you may have come across a quilt block painted on the side of a barn or a house. Despite their name, barn quilts can be found on just about any building -- not just barns. There are at least 300 in Western North Carolina alone, and many of them give insight to the people and places around them. Folkways reporter Rachel Moore has the story.

Cleaning Up The Bloody Mingo Tug Fork Water Trail In West Virginia

TugFork.jpg
Jessica Lilly
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The Tug Fork River on a cloudy day in Sept. 2021.

The Tug Fork River straddles the border between Kentucky and West Virginia. The Mine Wars were fought nearby, leading local tourism groups to dub the river the Bloody Mingo Tug Fork Water Trail. Visitors are invited to kayak, float or fish. The Tug Fork River recently earned the designation of a West Virginia Flatwater Trail. But tourism relies on the river staying clean. Jessica Lilly recently spoke with the people who are cleaning up the Tug Fork, one tire at a time.

The Prior Five Reconnecting, Sharing Memories Of Music Making At W.V.U.

Prior Five 2021
The four surviving band members of The Prior Five in Nov. 2021

As we get older, people tend to fall into patterns, and it feels like we’re faced with a dwindling number of possibilities. But our next story shows that it’s never too late to reconnect with old passions — and start something new. Jean Snedegar shares the story of a band that formed in 1968, only to disband a few months later. But after more than a half century, and lives that took them in different directions, the four surviving bandmates found each other again.

Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Prior Five, Blue Dot Sessions, Wes Swing and Dinosaur Burps. Our executive producer is Eric Douglas. Kelley Libby is our editor. Alex Runyon is our associate producer. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Zander Aloi also helped produce this episode. And a warm welcome to the newest member of our team: Bill Lynch is our new producer.

You can send us an email: InsideAppalachia@wvpublic.org.

You can find us on Twitter @InAppalachia.

Stay Connected
Inside Appalachia Co-Host/Folkways Reporter, mason.j.adams@gmail.com, @MasonAtoms
Former Reporter/Producer for Inside Appalachia, @RoxyMTodd
Alex Runyon is a proud Huntington, West Virginia native. She attended Marshall University and earned degrees in creative writing and literary studies, dabbling in journalism, photography and women’s studies along the way. She worked as a freelance photographer and social media strategist before joining the Inside Appalachia team as Associate Producer. Alex enjoys writing and performing stand up comedy, hiking, screenwriting and playing board games. She lives in Huntington, West Virginia with her cat, Waylon Kittings. Follow her on Twitter @_AlexRunyon.