Beyond Statistics: Appalachia's Stories Reveal Resilience & Perseverance

Oct 20, 2017

Too many times, when stories of Appalachia are in the national spotlight, we hear shallow, shocking and grim stories. But they miss some of the most inspiring aspects to our realities: the struggle, the perseverance and the resilience.  On this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia we’ll meet storytellers who work to help Appalachians tell their own stories, and capture the true Appalachian spirit behind the statistics.

We hear from filmmakers and writers who strive to tell the real story about what it’s like here.

We’ve invited guests with some impressive talent to this week’s show, including filmmakers John Sayles and Maggie Renzi, whose film Matewan, about the West Virginia Mine Wars, was made 30 years ago.

“And I do think that the more that people can speak for themselves and not have other people interpret their own story and their own history, then there’s an opportunity to educate people around you and show what the real story is,” Renzi said.

How Three Huntington Women Are Fighting the Opioid Crisis

We’ll also hear from filmmaker and West Virginina native Elaine McMillion Sheldon. Her new film Heroin(e) is about three women in Huntington who are working to help people suffering from the Opioid Crisis. There will be a special screening of Heroin(e) on Thursday, Oct. 26, in Huntington West Virginia, and another screening on Thursday, Oct. 27, in Whitesburg, KY. The screenings will be followed by a discussion with filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Huntington's Fire Chief, Jan Rader, one of the women featured in Sheldon's film.

Huntington fire chief Jan Rader is one of three women profiled in Heroin(e), a new film that takes a look at the heroin crisis in Huntington, West Virginia.
Credit Courtesy of Netflix / by Rebecca Kiger

Novelest Wiley Cash

Author Wiley Cash’s newest novel, The Last Ballad was set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in 1929 and was inspired by actual events related to the labor movement in that region. We'll hear him talk about his newest book. 

Larry Dowling Wins W.Va. Filmmaker of the Year

Credit Katherine King

WVPB's own Larry Dowling recently won the W.Va. Filmmaker of the Year award. We'll talk with him about how he approaches telling West Virginia's story, how he perceives the national media and what filmmakers often miss when they depict Appalachia.

The Struggle to Stay

And we’ll meet the next person in our Struggle to Stay series, Kentucky native Derek Akal, whose mother and grandparents instilled a desire in him to leave Appalachia. “I got it in my head that I could make it out and actually be somebody for myself.”

But a football injury put Derek’s plans of leaving on hold, at least for now.

Special thanks to WMMT in Whitesburg, Kentucky, and the Ohio Valley ReSource.  

Music in in this show was provided by Marisa Anderson, Dinosaur Burps, Andy Agnew Jr., Michael Howard and Ben Townsend.

Inside Appalachia is produced by Jessica Lilly and Roxy Todd. The executive producer is Jesse Wright. Glynis Board edited our show this week. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Claire Hemme helped with our digital correspondence. You can find us online on Twitter @InAppalachia.

You can e-mail us at feedback@wvpublic.org.