In this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we explore how our cultural traditions change over time and evolve as they get passed from person to person.
How does foklife fit into our already busy, and frankly, quite stressful lives?
“Henry Glassie, another folklorist, says that folklore is the creation of the future out of the past. So in order to know where we're headed, we have to know about these traditions in the past,” explained West Virginia state folklorist Emily Hilliard.
Can Art Help Revive Small, Appalachian Towns?
Greensboro is a small town in southern Pennsylvania, just across the West Virginia border. In years past, the town has weathered the boom and bust of a pottery industry, river trade and coal. Lately, it’s been more bust than boom. But now, some artists are trying to stimulate the local economy using what they know best: creativity.
“Our goal is to preserve the past, but promote the future. Through using what the past has given us, we can create really beautiful art in our small Appalachian towns, which in my opinion is diminishing,” co-op founder Shane McManus said.
Folkways Corps Reporters
Ten people recently joined what we’re calling the Inside Appalachia Folkways Reporting Corps. Some are journalists, others are folklorists, and a few are storytellers in their own way. They live in North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia. Everyone came together recently for a training in southern West Virginia.
Journalists do things differently than folklorists, and vice versa. As the two styles got together for training, we discovered that folklorists and journalists also have some common ground.
We also went over the techniques for recording interviews and producing them from the field. We talked a lot about why we all do what we do, and why storytelling matters.
The inaugural class of the Folkways Reporting Corps includes reporters from four different states. In West Virginia, corps members include Lexi Browning, Zack Harold, Chris Williams, Jordan Lovejoy, and Heather Niday.
We also welcome Mason Adams and Jeremy Farley from Virginia; Rachel Greene and Saro-Lynch Thomason from North Carolina; and Nicole Musgrave from Kentucky.
In addition to the Folkways Corps, we’ve also recently hired a new folklife reporter. Caitlin Tan has already produced several stories for Inside Appalachia since she moved from Wyoming to West Virginia last December to work with us. In this episode, we hear why she made the decision to move across the country to work with Inside Appalachia.
Modern Business Re-Imagines Traditional W.Va. Folklore
We also visit the home studio of Liz Pavlovic, a graphic artist in Morgantown who has built a successful design business by reinterpreting some beloved local treasures with a modern, cartoonish flare.
One of Pavlovic’s designs features two West Virginian monsters. Below the illustration are the words "not all who lurk are lost."
“That’s a new poster I’m working on. It’s Mothman and Flatwoods Monster – I have them hanging out a lot. They’re kind of the best friends of the group I guess,” Pavlovic said.
“I love that she draws on these almost inside jokes that we have as West Virginians and turns it into something beautiful,” said Candace Nelson, one of Pavlovic’s fans. “I like that it’s almost as though you have to be in on it. You have to know West Virginia culture to really truly appreciate it.”
For more stories of local lore, check out these Inside Appalachia stories:
- Pepperoni Rolls
- Appalachian Ghost tales, including The Greenbrier Ghost, and The Dingus Tunnel
- What’s in a Name? Learn how some Appalachian towns, including Big Ugly, Hell for Certain, and Sweet Lips got their name.
Roxy Todd is our producer. Eric Douglas is our associate producer. Our executive producer is Jesse Wright. Catherine Moore edited our show this week. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Zander Aloi helps us with promotions.