Yes! Magazine

Provided by the Uppercue Family

The front porch is well known across much of Appalachia as a gathering place for conversation and sharing. During the coronavirus, those front porches have become a lifeline, for some -- in more ways than one. 

For YES! Magazine, in partnership with 100 Days in Appalachia, reporter Alison Stine explored how the ethos of the front porch as a connection point is being used to help keep students and families fed during the COVID-19 pandemic. She spoke with West Virginia Public Broadcasting reporter Brittany Patterson. Here’s an excerpt of their conversation.

 


The Front Porch Network Is A Lifeline In Appalachia

May 8, 2020
Brian Ferguson / 100 Days in Appalachia

A traditional gathering place where the public meets the private becomes the critical point of contact for Appalachian families.

On any day in Appalachia, you can find gifts in front of houses, left on porches for the people inside: mushrooms just foraged, cookies freshly baked. The porch is an extension of the home in Appalachia—not only a gathering spot for conversation, but a traditional sharing place. If you want to exchange tools, plants, or hand-me-downs with your neighbor: you put them on the porch. In times of struggle, porches are the vessel to deliver food: frozen meals to new parents, casseroles for grieving families.

A guard tower at the United States Penitentiary, Big Sandy, stands as a sentinel along Kentucky Route 3 in Martin County.
Roger May / For Yes! Magazine

Big Sandy hides on a big hill. If you’re not looking for the federal prison, you’ll miss it easily. At first, all that can be seen above the soaring Kentucky cliffs, jagged granite dotted with green scruff, are lights. They look like the lights for a high school football field, or maybe a mall. Then the guard towers loom into view. You can’t see the razor wire from the road.

Appalachia’s Deep History Of Resistance

Sep 27, 2019
Becky Crabtree sits chained in her 1971 Ford Pinto, suspended over a trench at a Mountain Valley Pipeline construction site on her property in Monroe County, W.Va..
Appalachians Against Pipelines

When a group of Kentucky miners decided to block a coal-laden train from leaving a bankrupt mine in July, they weren’t just laying claim to missing paychecks.

The miners in Harlan County won attention across the United States for their willingness to put their bodies on the line for their beliefs. In doing so, they’re invoking the long-entrenched spirit of civil disobedience and direct action in the Appalachian Mountains. The mine wars of the early 20th century led to the rise of American unions in the 1930s and 1940s, but it’s not just coal miners who have laid claim to a history of activism.