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Peabody Award-winner Trey Kay brings us stories exploring all sides of the cultural issues that too often divide us.

Reimagining A Region

Reimagining A Region

Imagining the future is at the core of this episode of Us & Them.

Earlier this fall, we held a day-long workshop to hear ideas and talk about what can make the future a reality. The Civic Imagination Project based at the University of Southern California works with cities across the country to get residents thinking about new directions and possibilities for their communities.

We invited people from the Upper Kanawha Valley in West Virginia with a range of backgrounds and experiences to discuss their hard-hit economy and consider fresh approaches and alternatives. Considering the future can offer people some control about what’s ahead and as the conversation develops, there can be inspiration for more citizens to get involved.

In this episode, we learn that many things are possible if we can just imagine them.

This episode of Us & Them is presented with support from the West Virginia Humanities Council, the CRC Foundation and the Daywood Foundation.

Subscribe to Us & Them on Apple Podcasts, NPR One, RadioPublic, Spotify, Stitcher and beyond.

Downtown Montgomery
The center of the town on Montgomery, West Virginia. Montgomery and its sister city Smithers, located just across the Kanawha River, has been hit by an “economic tsunami.” The WVU Tech campus relocated from Montgomery to Beckley, after years of job losses from the coal and petrochemical industries. Buildings up and down Route 60 are skeletons of what they used to be.
Vining Library
The Vining Library on the campus of the former WVU Tech has sat virtually empty since the institution closed in 2017 and relocated to Beckley.
Trey Kay with a Memory Object
Amy Eddings
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Us & Them host Trey Kay tells the Upper Kanawha Valley residents about his memory object. Civic Imagination Project leader Sangita Shrestova watches from her white board. Local resident Terra Muncie watches from her motorized wheelchair.
Johnna Wills with Memory Object
Julie Blackwood
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Johnna Wills, who has lived in the Upper Kanawha Valley all of her life, gets emotional when sharing her memory object and reflecting on WVU Tech moving away from Montgomery. Local business owner Jay Gould seated behind listens.
Wanda King with Memory Object
Julie Blackwood
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Upper Kanawha resident Wanda King speaks about her memory object. Montgomery Mayor Greg Ingram, Henry Jenkins from the Civic Imaginations Project and Montgomery historian Les Moore listen.
Memory Object Table
Amy Eddings
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This table displays all of the memory objects that participants from the Civic Imagination workshop brought to the gathering. Included are: photos, pop bottles, musical instruments, bricks, a cookie jar/cremation urn and a West Virginia Tech band uniform.
Johnna Wills and Gretta Hairston
Amy Eddings
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Johnna Wills and Gretta Hairston do the work of imagining a new future for the Upper Kanawha Valley.
Les Moore, Greg Ingram and Terra Muncie
Amy Eddings
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Les Moore, Montgomery Mayor Greg Ingram and Terra Muncie in a focused conversation imagining a new future of the for all of the little towns that hug the shores of the Upper Kanawha River.
Dr. Carl Kennedy, Wanda King, Sky Dexter and Jeanne Smith
Julie Blackwood
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Us & Them host Trey Kay listens to Dr. Carl Kennedy, Wanda King, Sky Dexter and Jeanne Smith imagine the Montgomery of the future.
Henry Jenkins
Amy Eddings
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Henry Jenkins speaks to the participants of the Civic Imagination Workshop in Montgomery, West Virginia. Jenkins has spent his career exploring the intersections between participatory culture, participatory learning and participatory politics. He founded the Civic Imagination Project, which is part of the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. West Virginia Public Broadcasting Executive Director Butch Antolini and Us & Them host Trey Kay listen in.

Host of Us & Them/Independent Producer, tkay@wvpublic.org, @Trey_Kay

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