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robertogreco : appalachia   7

Hollowed Out | Tarence Ray
“Over the years, this effort has become a bit of a sick joke: it’s attracted more and more grant funding, while the building itself has sunk deeper into a state of disrepair. In 2017 the town council got half a million dollars from the Appalachian Regional Commission to fix it up, and one year later the roof caved in. It now looks like something you’d see in Dresden, 1945.

That hasn’t stopped regional technocrats from using it as an example of what “downtown revitalization” could look like, if done properly. This is because the push to develop sites like the Daniel Boone Hotel is largely an effort in narrative-building, bolstered by grants and strategic media coverage. If you can sell the resurrection of the Daniel Boone Hotel to people who want a brighter future for their deindustrializing region, you can get more grants for that effort, which gets you more press, which gets you more grants. It’s a feedback loop in which you never really have to do anything. A local write-up of that half-million-dollar grant reported that stabilization of the hotel would begin by summer 2017. All that’s happened since is the caved-in roof.

Staring up at the building’s crumbling edifice, I wondered what kind of fantastical grant narrative had justified those half-million dollars. After all, I used to write grants for a living, and I’ve developed a bit of an eye for the tricks of the trade. I found this on the ARC’s website:
The hotel is a central component of Whitesburg’s economic development future and revitalization plans. After the structure is stabilized and renovated, it will be a regional destination and economic driver. The project will create 23 jobs, leverage $2,000,000 in private investment, and will attract 9,900 additional visitors annually to the area. [Emphasis mine.]

These metrics are how you determine the ambition of the project: 9,900 additional visitors annually to the area. How’d they get that number? Well, they either made it up, or some consulting firm gave it to them, and they probably made it up.”



“It’s clear how the POWER Initiative benefits Appalachia’s new managerial class, disaster capitalists who are forward-looking only in their desire to exploit resources in Appalachia which don’t yet exist. But it certainly hasn’t benefitted the people at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, who don’t have the capital to start their own entrepreneurial “ecosystems” or run countless feasibility tests with no discernable purpose. I realize I’m missing the point here; the eminently wise technocrats of the ARC would tell me that of course poor and working people aren’t going to start their own businesses. The point is to get middle- and upper-class gentrifiers to start those businesses, and then they’ll employ everyone in a community, and their wealth will trickle down. Even if that were possible in a rapidly depopulating region, many people would remain trapped in violent, backbreaking, dead-end jobs.

But training poor and working people for different jobs is equally unpromising. The majority of the tech skills that that POWER grantees have promised to teach are in some of the most replaceable jobs in the industry: app development, web development, and dataset management. And even if those jobs aren’t easily replaceable by fellow low-paid workers, in a few years they will be, by machines. One POWER project in Pennsylvania got over half a million dollars to train former coal miners to become pipeline workers in oil and gas, an industry that automates and mechanizes at hyperspeed.

Of course people will still be needed to run and monitor the machines, but there isn’t much manufacturing going on in the Appalachian interior, and there never will be, simply because it’s not profitable to put your factory in a remote county in eastern Kentucky, far away from all major ports and transportation corridors. The very people who love capitalism so much that they’d base their entire Appalachian revitalization project on its inerrancy constantly forget its basic premise: things must be profitable in order to matter.

All of this is to say that we can identify several themes in the Obama administration’s grand Appalachian economic development initiative. First: never meet peoples’ material needs directly or encourage them to organize. Rather, study the feasibility of giving them things, or throw some money at a community college, which can train people in the art of being a well-behaved and productive worker, so that they can then get things themselves. Second: if you absolutely must build any infrastructure, make sure that it’s in service to something else, like a wildlife viewing facility or a prison. Third: use as many fancy words as possible to make it sound like you’re keeping busy. Target and deploy your dislocated coal workers to maximize creative potential so that we can create a thriving and diverse restorative economy in the mountains.

And finally, the fourth and most important thing: remember that you don’t actually owe anybody anything, that the government has ceased delivering people even their most basic needs, that it has in fact altogether stopped caring if they live or die. Remember that agencies like the Appalachian Regional Commission exist first and foremost to facilitate industry, and that the grant they’ve given you is meant to be deployed for that purpose. Remember that the story you tell is more important than the work you do, which should never amount to more than attending conferences and joining conference calls. And through it all, don’t forget to tell your friends and family that you’re helping the poor people of Appalachia who are too dumb and broke and demoralized and addicted to help themselves.

Right now, the hillbillies are a rich seam of grant money. Capitalists, being opportunists, will always flock when they see one.”



“In rolling out the POWER Initiative, the Obama administration rarely mentioned poverty; the rhetoric was all about the middle class and their well-paying, skilled jobs. The elite no longer have to manage the lower classes through ambitious national political projects; their single-minded obsession with preserving the middle class does that for them, because it provides a bulwark against working-class solidarity.

Those of us who do want a better world often find our efforts stymied by projects claiming to be progressive. The single most important legacy of the War on Poverty is the creation of a massive nonprofit industry in poor, rural areas like Appalachia. As Goldstein writes, “For a select few, antipoverty programs were a means toward political mobility and professional advancement as representatives or intermediaries for the poor. Funding made possible the development of a new class of local political leaders and nonprofessional social workers habituated to the routines of the political process.”

These leaders and nonprofessional social workers have never gone away. They tell us every day that the way to turn around our prospects is to work within the system, to be nice to our politicians and oligarchs so that they’ll give us nice things in return, to work out and eat right so we might deserve those nice things. Meanwhile, infrastructure continues to crumble and working people struggle to put food on the table. But at least, thanks to the POWER initiative, we can work out our abs on the walking trail to liberation.”
charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  waronpoverty  nonprofit  nonprofits  2019  rural  appalachia  revitalization  loops  powerprogram  funding  class  solidarity  ideology  capitalism  poverty  inequality  statusquo  workingwithinthesystem  kentucky  westvirginia  tarenceray  management  disastercapitalism  gentrification  profit 
16 days ago by robertogreco
Finding the Future in Radical Rural America | Boston Review
"It's time to rewrite the narrative of “Trump Country.” Rural places weren't always red, and many are turning increasingly blue."



"Rural spaces are often thought of as places absent of things, from people of color to modern amenities to radical politics. The truth, as usual, is more complicated."



"In West Virginia, what is old is new again: the revival of a labor movement, the fight against extractive capitalism, and the continuation of women’s grassroots leadership."



"Appalachia should not be seen as a liability to the left, a place that time and progress forgot. The past itself is not a negative asset."



"To create solidarity in the present, to make change for the future, West Virginians needed to remember their radical past."



"West Virginia’s workers, whether coal miners or teachers, have never benefitted from the state’s natural wealth due to greedy corporations and the politicians they buy."



"It matters that workers are rising up, and it matters that women are leading. It matters that the fight against extractive capitalism is fiercer than ever."



"The 2016 election still looms over us. But if all you know—or care to know—about Appalachia are election results, then you miss the potential for change. It might feel natural to assume, for example, that the region is doomed to elect conservative leadership. It might seem smart to point at the “D” beside Joe Manchin’s name and think, “It’s better than nothing.” There might be some fleeting concession to political diversity, but in a way that makes it the exception rather than the rule—a spot of blue in Trump Country.

If you believe this, then you might find these examples thin: worthy of individual commendation, but not indicative of the potential for radical change. But where you might look for change, I look for continuity, and it is there that I find the future of the left.

It matters that workers are rising up, and it matters that women are leading. It matters that the fight against extractive capitalism is fiercer than ever. And for all of these actions, it matters that the reasoning is not simply, “this is what is right,” but also, “this is what we do.” That reclamation of identity is powerful. Here, the greatest possible rebuke to the forces that gave us Trump will not be people outside of the region writing sneering columns, and it likely will not start with electoral politics. It will come from ordinary people who turn to their neighbors, relatives, and friends and ask, through their actions, “Which side are you on?”

“Listen to today’s socialists,” political scientist Corey Robin writes,

and you’ll hear less the language of poverty than of power. Mr. Sanders invokes the 1 percent. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez speaks to and for the ‘working class’—not ‘working people’ or ‘working families,’ homey phrases meant to soften and soothe. The 1 percent and the working class are not economic descriptors. They’re political accusations. They split society in two, declaring one side the illegitimate ruler of the other; one side the taker of the other’s freedom, power and promise.

This is a language the left knows well in Appalachia and many other rural communities. “The socialist argument against capitalism,” Robin says, “isn’t that it makes us poor. It’s that it makes us unfree.” Indeed, the state motto of West Virginia is montani semper liberi: mountaineers are always free. It was adopted in 1863 to mark West Virginia’s secession from Virginia, a victory that meant these new citizens would not fight a rich man’s war.

There are moments when that freedom feels, to me, unearned. How can one look at our economic conditions and who we have helped elect and claim freedom? But then I imagine the power of people who face their suffering head on and still say, “I am free.” There is no need to visit the future to see the truth in that. There is freedom in fighting old battles because it means that the other side has not won."
rural  westvirginia  politics  policy  us  economics  future  history  democrats  republicans  progressive  race  class  racism  classism  elizabethcatte  aaronbady  nuance  radicalism  socialism  unions  organizing  environment  labor  work  capitalism  inequality  appalachia  coalmining  coal  mining  coreyrobin  grassroots  alexandriaocasio-cortez  workingclass  classwars  poverty  identity  power  change  changemaking  josemanchin  2019 
february 2019 by robertogreco
The Legendary Language of the Appalachian "Holler" | JSTOR Daily
"Is the unique Appalachian dialect the preserved language of Elizabethan England? Left over from Scots-Irish immigrants? Or something else altogether?"



"The AAVE Connection
Many have noticed strong similarities between white southern speech and AAVE, although AAVE isn’t necessarily tied to the south. For example, Wolfram highlights language from a KKK pamphlet which reads “Look out liberals: Wallace power gonna get you” showing a similar grammatical construction to AAVE with a missing copula be (e.g. you ugly).

If it’s true that the two dialects have slightly different linguistic sources as their origins, how did they come to be so similar? As we’ve seen, white southern speech has a Scots-Irish origin, sharing some of unusual grammatical structures yet is missing many other distinctive features of those dialects. Meanwhile, though most linguists agree that AAVE originated from the same British dialects as white southern speech, some argue that there was some linguistic influence from an English-based creole formed when millions of Africans speaking many different languages were forced, through slavery, to communicate with each other.

Wolfram suggests that the missing copula is a characteristic sign of creole influence from AAVE. The question is, how did this feature get into white southern speech, especially if the grammar was inherited mostly intact from its monoculture immigrants? It seems likely that while both dialects came from similar sources, AAVE had a significant impact on how the white southern evolved. White southern speech could have adopted and assimilated certain features of AAVE through white children spending formative time with slave caregivers and their children, for example. In a social context where white southerners and black southerners were closely interacting, many elements of African American Vernacular English, from grammar to accent, were likely to have been major influences on how southern speech developed into its own distinctive dialect. The writer of the KKK pamphlet might could have been driven plumb crazy had they known that.

So the theory of the poor, white, rural Appalachian mountain men going it alone, preserving a pure and unchanging strain of archaic British English, isolated in a hardscrabble place far from civilization, could not be further from the truth. Without the influence of diverse communities of other Appalachians such as African American Appalachians, the southern Appalachian speech and culture simply would not be what it is today. To ignore their contributions to culture and language means Appalachia will always be a distant story, burdened by the myths and legends written by others, left half told."
language  us  english  appalachia  chiluu  2018  dialects  linguistics  srg 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Association for Cultural Equity
"The Association for Cultural Equity (ACE) was founded by Alan Lomax to explore and preserve the world's expressive traditions with humanistic commitment and scientific engagement. ACE was registered as a charitable organization in the State of New York in 1983, and is housed at New York City's Hunter College.

OUR MISSION

Inspired by the example set by Alan Lomax, our mission is to stimulate cultural equity through preservation, research, and dissemination of the world's traditional music, and to reconnect people and communities with their creative heritage."

[Sound recordings: http://research.culturalequity.org/home-audio.jsp ]
[Video recordings: http://www.culturalequity.org/rc/videos/video-guide.php ]
[Photographs: http://research.culturalequity.org/home-photo.jsp ]
[Geo archive: http://www.culturalequity.org/lomaxgeo/ ]
archives  culture  music  us  alanlomax  video  audio  spain  italy  appalachia  photography  caribbean  europe  africa  russia  centralasia  afghanistan  anguilla  armenia  azerbaijan  bahamas  dominica  dominicanrepublic  england  france  georgia  guadeloupe  ireland  kazakhstan  kyrgyzstan  martinique  morocco  netherlandsantilles  romania  scotland  españa  tajikstan  stkittsandnevis  stlucia  trinidadandtobago  uzbekistan  wales  turkmenistan  mississippidelta  neworleans  cajun  louisiana  johnsisland  fieldrecording  nola 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Highlander Research and Education Center
tennessee  appalachia  grassroots  sustainability  collectiveaction  collectivism  justice  equality  history  highlanderfolkschool  leadership  newmarket  civilrights  myleshorton 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Appalshop
"Appalshop is a non-profit multi-disciplinary arts and education center in the heart of Appalachia producing original films, video, theater, music and spoken-word recordings, radio, photography, multimedia, and books.

Our education and training programs support communities' efforts to solve their own problems in a just and equitable way. Each year, Appalshop productions and services reach several million people nationally and internationally.

Appalshop is dedicated to the proposition that the world is immeasurably enriched when local cultures garner the resources, including new technologies, to tell their own stories and to listen to the unique stories of others. The creative acts of listening and telling are Appalshop's core competency."
appalshop  rural  education  music  culture  documentary  video  film  media  art  activism  appalachia 
august 2012 by robertogreco
The Foxfire Fund, Inc.
"Foxfire (The Foxfire Fund, Inc.) is a not-for-profit, educational and literary organization based in Rabun County, Georgia. Founded in 1966, Foxfire's learner-centered, community-based educational approach is advocated through both a regional demonstration site (The Foxfire Museum & Heritage Center) grounded in the Southern Appalachian culture that gave rise to Foxfire, and a national program of teacher training and support (the Foxfire Approach to Teaching and Learning) that promotes a sense of place and appreciation of local people, community, and culture as essential educational tools."

[See also: http://foxfire.schoolwires.com/ ]
foxfire  folklore  learner-centered  simplicity  anthropology  art  books  gardening  georgia  culture  diy  education  environment  homesteading  history  teaching  sustainability  appalachia  unschooling  deschooling  magazines  learning  studentdirected  student-centered  tcsnmy  lcproject  schools  eliotwigginton 
october 2010 by robertogreco

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