Appalachian Artisans Share Thoughts, Concerns About Coronavirus Impact

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear from artisans from across Appalachia coping with the coronavirus. And it’s been about nine months since coal company Blackjewel suddenly declared bankruptcy. We check in on a father and son who are moving forward.

For the past two years, our Inside Appalachia team has been working on a folkways project, which focuses on artisans and craftsmen within Appalachia.

For many of these people, their art or craft is their primary income and a lot of them depend on social events, like concerts, farmer’s markets and craft fairs. And in the time of the coronavirus and social distancing, that’s proving difficult.

So, we circled back with some of the artists, craftsmen and local business owners you’ve heard on our air the past couple years, and a few new voices as well to see how they’re doing. Our folkways reporter Caitlin Tan put this together for us.

The bankruptcy of coal company Blackjewel last summer turned all eyes to eastern Kentucky, where laid off coal miners blockaded a railroad to demand unpaid wages. The protest lasted 59 days, and it called attention to the shift away from coal taking place in the Ohio Valley. Reporter Sydney Boles covered the protest, and she stayed in contact with some of the miners after it ended. Today she brings us the story of a father and son who were both laid off by Blackjewel, and whose lives have changed dramatically because of it.

The Ohio Valley ReSource is made possible with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

West Virginia Morning is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting which is solely responsible for its content.

Support for our news bureaus comes from West Virginia University, Concord University, and Shepherd University.