Arts & Culture

Hands holding Oxheart tomato
Rachel Greene

In Appalachia, organizations like seed libraries and community gardens are helping to save traditional heirloom vegetables from being lost. Sometimes, the seeds are found in unexpected places like when Travis Birdsell visited the barn of an Ashe County farmer in 2017.


There, he found tomato seeds smeared on the side of an old grocery store sack.

 

“All the words said were 'Big Red,'” Birdsell said.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we talk with psychologist Carol Dweck on building resilience in ourselves and our neighbors. She compares the tradition of barn raising to emotional support we can offer each other, to not lose hope. We also take a look at the newly created West Virginia Narcotics Intelligence Unit and we bring you this week’s Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

The latest round of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductions were announced today, and Whitney Houston is the only woman honored.

Caitlin Tan/ WVPB

A new grant program is taking applications for economic development projects in coal-impacted areas of Appalachia. 

Opportunity Appalachia is a collaboration between multiple non-profits and philanthropic organizations across central Appalachia. Project organizers expect to select 15 projects; each awardee will be coached by experienced business and development professionals. They value the support at an average of $50,000 per project.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, as we transition into 2020, we consider where the Ohio Valley has been in the last decade, what to expect this election year, and what it took to get here. We also hear how recent and upcoming elections are playing out in states across central Appalachia, and we hear a story on the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, West Virginia’s Mountaineer heritage hunting season begins this week, two weeks after most hunting seasons have closed. It’s the second year since its conception. And, most notably, it’s limited to primitive weapons -- like recurve bows and flintlock muzzleloader rifles. 

It’s meant to memorialize the state’s settlers, using similar hunting techniques and weapons. 

Our folklife reporter, Caitlin Tan, spent time with hunters who still make the vintage rifles.

Courtesy photo

Sometimes creativity requires breaking away from the normal routine and focusing on one’s work. Now in its sixth year, the New River Gorge Creative Residency at Lafayette Flats in Fayetteville, W. Va. allows writers and visual artists a quiet place to stay and make art. 


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, sometimes creativity requires breaking away from the normal routine and focusing on your work. A boutique hotel in Fayetteville allows writers and visual artists a place to get away in the winter. 

Eric Douglas spoke to the owners of Lafayette Flats, Shawn Means and Amy McCloughlin, about the New River Gorge Creative Residency.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the Ohio Valley has been known for having some of the highest rates of fatal drug overdoses in the nation for years.

Now, a nonprofit group is trying to shift the focus toward the region’s innovative solutions to the addiction crisis. The Ohio Valley ReSource’s Aaron Payne reports on programs using collaboration to expand addiction treatment and recovery.

One of the photos featured in WVU’s traveling exhibit, Appalachian Futures, featuring Nick Bowman’s study on Fallout 76. The screenshot shows two players playing a banjo and a steel guitar in the video game.
Bethesda Game Studios


Updated on Jan. 10, 2020 to include an extended version of the interview. Scroll below.

It’s been more than a year since the video game Fallout 76 was released. The game — one in a popular series created by Maryland-based Bethesda Game Studios — takes place entirely in a post-apocalyptic West Virginia. Players from around the world play together online to reclaim the land. 

New research finds the game may help forge new connections between those playing it and the Mountain State.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, it’s been more than a year since the video game Fallout 76 was released. The game takes place entirely in a fictional, post-apocalyptic West Virginia, and players from around the world work together to reclaim the land. The game is part of a series of popular video games created by Bethesda Game Studios based in Maryland.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we explore the concept of the West Virginia mountaineer. We’ll learn why the term isn’t just a sports mascot. We also bring you this week’s Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, floodwalls, earthen levees and pump stations in the Ohio River basin protect more than $120 billion in property and about 720,000 people from the prospect of rising waters. Yet many of these protection systems are more than 50 years old. Some are in deteriorating condition and rely on archaic equipment. Liam Niemeyer reports scientists predict climate change will increase the severity and frequency of future flooding. And Ohio Valley communities have little means to prepare for that future.

Empty CSX rail cars derailed on the morning of Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019 near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
Courtesy Washington County, Md.

Updated on Jan. 2, 2020 at 1:30 p.m.

The pedestrian footbridge remains closed, according to the National Park Service. However, all areas that were temporarily closed, such as John Brown's Fort and The Point, have now reopened.

Wetzel County Workshop Keeps Folk Toys Alive

Dec 20, 2019
Zack Harold / For Inside Appalachia

  When I was a kid, the thing that intrigued me most about Santa wasn’t the beard, or the flying reindeer, or the repeated breaking and entering. No — I was fascinated by his workshop. I loved to imagine the elves working tirelessly to make toys that would end up under Christmas trees around the world.

But you know, I never once imagined the elves making the season’s hottest toys. 

Gov. Justice's Chief of Staff Mike Hall announces the agreement with Maryland to continue the MARC train service in W.Va. at a press conference in Martinsburg on Dec. 19, 2019.
W.Va. Governor's Office

 

Gov. Jim Justice has agreed to provide the remaining funding Maryland officials requested to keep the Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) in the Eastern Panhandle at its current service. The governor is also hopeful to expand the service to promote tourism in the region.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, toys are a big business across the country. Even though big, brick-and-mortar stores like Toys R Us are closed for business, Americans buy billions of dollars’ worth of toys each year. Most of the toys we buy are made in China. And while video game sales are expected to rise, a different trend in toys is also on the rise -- eco-friendly toys, made of simple materials that use no plastic.

Inside Appalachia’s folkways reporter Zack Harold found out there are still some businesses here in Appalachia that make those old-style wooden toys, like Mountain Craft Shop Company in Wetzel County, West Virginia.

Courtesy Connie Bailey-Kitts

There is a tradition in Appalachia of observing “Old Christmas” on January 6. Folklore suggests that animals speak in the middle of the night on Old Christmas.

But it turns out, you don’t have to wait till January 6 to hear goats singing to Christmas carols. 


Two kittens lounge on bean bag chairs at “Give Purrs A Chance” in Berkeley Springs, W.Va.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


Every year for Christmas, cats are often given as gifts. But many end up in animal shelters. In fact, 3.2 million cats enter animal shelters every year in the United States, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

And every year, about 860,000 are euthanized in shelters. But places like “cat cafes” may be helping more cats find forever homes.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, every year for Christmas, cats and dogs are given as gifts. But many end up in animal shelters. About 3 million cats enter animal shelters every year in the United States, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA. And every year, about 860,000 are euthanized in shelters. But as Liz McCormick reports, places like “cat cafes” may be helping more cats find forever homes.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, celebrations in the Northern Panhandle have been ongoing this year in the town of Wheeling – where the state of West Virginia was born. Also, in this show, we bring you a report from StateImpact Pennsylvania on shale gas imports to Scotland.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, mountaintop removal coal mining has profoundly changed Appalachia’s landscape and people. The controversial practice blows the tops off mountains to get the coal below, and it sparked a wave of protests from affected communities. One group in the heart of West Virginia’s coal country recently marked 20 years of activism against mountaintop removal. Reporter Brittany Patterson visited Coal River Mountain Watch as the organization takes stock of two decades of work.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear about one of the world’s earliest energy drinks that was manufactured right here in Appalachia. We also bring you this week’s Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

Bill Beatty

 


Volunteers are needed across West Virginia to help count birds this holiday season. This Saturday marks the start of the National Audubon Society’s 120th annual Christmas Bird Count. 

Caitlin Tan / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Flea markets are a common feature across rural landscapes, especially in Appalachia. If you have never been, there is typically something for everyone, and one West Virginian artist is turning the unique finds into art. 

“Sometimes it’s the imagery. A portion of my work has an industrial aspect to it, and I don’t mean just the materials, but the imagery,” Robert Villamagna said.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Feast of the Seven Fishes is a new movie set in Marion County. The comedy is adapted from a graphic novel by the same name and follows an Italian-American family on Christmas Eve. Cast members have played in productions like Jumanji, The Righteous Gemstones and The Sopranos.

Jeff Tinnell is one of the film’s producers, while his brother, Bob, wrote the graphic novel. The two grew up in the area where the movie was shot. Our news director, Jesse Wright, spoke with the Tinnell brothers about the project. We hear part of that conversation.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear about a 70-year-old music festival serving a different kind of Christian music. Also, we hear the latest on the debate over the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and a new study on the risks of black lung disease.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, flea markets are a common feature across Appalachian landscapes. Maybe you even remember going as a kid with your family. There’s usually something for just about everyone. 

Well, one West Virginian artist mines flea markets regularly to find material for his work. Old photographs, children’s toys and tin cans of all kinds become elements in his abstract art -- art that is uniquely Appalachian. Our folklife reporter, Caitlin Tan, brings us the story.

Eric Douglas / WVPB

For many people in Appalachia, the lakes, rivers and creeks are the first places we swam, played in the water or caught crawdads. For many adults, our waterways are some of the best places to get outdoors and cool off in the summer. We have whitewater rafting, swimming, boating and even scuba diving to choose from (yes, scuba diving, you read that right.)  

It may be December, but we wanted to take another listen to this episode to imagine the fun we will have this summer. And as a reminder that the rivers and waters of Appalachia are an important, vital resource all year long.


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