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Reshaping Appalachia while Remembering the Past — from Coal Mining to Culture

A man on the train tracks. Near the scene of the miners' protest in Harlan Co., KY.
CURREN SHELDON

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’ll look at how our history is intertwined with our future. We’ll hear from coal miners and children about how they are reshaping Appalachia, while remembering the past. Also in this episode, we’ll hear from a woman who found recovery, and a job, after struggling with drug addiction for more than two decades.

And we’ll hear from some of the miners in Harlan County, Kentucky who are protesting their employer, coal operator Blackjewel LLC. We’ll talk about what the protest says about the state of organized labor in the mines.

In this episode: 

Monster Movie Camp:

This summer, a group of nine students in Pocahontas County took telling ghost stories a step further, by learning how to make short, animated films at Monster Movie Camp.

Here are some of the short films they made:

https://vimeo.com/349443143","_id":"00000174-a7c2-ddc3-a1fc-bfdb4be30003","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">https://vimeo.com/349443143">https://vimeo.com/349443143","_id":"00000174-a7c2-ddc3-a1fc-bfdb4be30003","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">https://vimeo.com/349443143

What’s a Crankie?

 

And students in Morgantown learned a storytelling art form rooted in Appalachian tradition called crankies. Crankies are also sometimes called moving panoramas, as they are a drawing or painting that can be manually moved and is portrayed within a box.

Watch the students with the crankies they made:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ohwr1QhxQZ4

Blackjewel Miners Draw On Labor History While Facing Uncertain Future

A quiet moment for miners and their supporters.
Credit CURREN SHELDON

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In the 1930s, union miners in Harlan County, Kentucky demanded better pay and working conditions. They fought against coal company owners and police officers. During the conflict several people were killed on both sides. 

Now, almost 100 years later, another group of miners is protesting their employer. It’s been peaceful, but the miners have been camped out, blocking a railroad, for more than two months. They still say they’re not going home until their employer gives them their paychecks. Sydney Boles reports. 

 

Recovery

Across the country, some people in recovery from drug addiction are finding employment and support on farms and in restaurants that specifically hire people recovering from addiction. Brittany Patterson and Liam Niemeyer have that story from the Ohio Valley ReSource. 

https://www.wvpublic.org/post/growing-recovery-food-service-and-farming-jobs-provide-path-out-addiction#stream/0

And we hear from WMMT’s radio show Restorative Radio features several women who are employed at Black Sheep Brick Oven Pizza, another business that hires people who are going through recovery from addiction.

We had help producing Inside Appalachia this week from WMMT in Whitesburg, Kentucky, the Ohio Valley ReSource, and Report for America. 

Music in today’s show was provided by Matt Jackfert, Dinosaur Burps, and Spencer Elliot. 

Inside Appalachia is produced by Roxy Todd. Eric Douglas is our associate producer.  Our executive producer is Jesse Wright. Kara Lofton edited our show this week. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. You can find us online on Twitter @InAppalachia

 

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Roxy Todd is a reporter and producer for Inside Appalachia and has been a reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting since 2014. Her stories have aired on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Marketplace. She’s won several awards, including a regional AP Award for best feature radio story, and also two regional Edward R. Murrow awards for Best Use of Sound and Best Writing for her stories about Appalachian food and culture.
Eric is a native of Kanawha County and graduated from Marshall University with a degree in Journalism. He has written for newspapers and magazines throughout his career. After completing the certificate program with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, he began producing documentaries including Russia: Coming of Age, For Cheap Lobster and West Virginia Voices of War.