Inside Appalachia Launches The Struggle to Stay

Apr 14, 2017

It’s not always easy to live in these mountains, but some of us are determined to stay. In this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we'll explore the deep roots to the region in a new series called The Struggle to Stay.

Appalachia isn’t alone in watching its young people fight with the decision to stay or go from their homeplace—it’s a conversation happening all over the country. But people are leaving parts of Appalachia at a rapid pace. 

It’s also true that some cities in Appalachia are gaining population- but rural areas, especially coal-dependent communities in southern W.Va. and eastern KY are seeing young people leave in droves.

In this episode, we hear from several young Appalachians working to create new opportunities in their communities. They joined us on stage at Virginia Tech at the annual Appalachian Studies Association Conference (ASA) in March 2017. 

"If the dominant trend is to leave, we have so much out-migration, I really see those of us who stay in Appalachia, or who come back, as an act of resistance."- Beth Nardella, WVU Professor

In this episode you'll hear:

  • Cassidy Wright and Cheyenne Coogle, two young people who help with Higher Ground- a community theater group that started back in 2002 when young people in eastern KY wrote a musical, based on interviews from people in their local community. Their play discussed the opioid epidemic.
  • Izzy Broomfield, with the STAY project- which stands for stay together Appalachian youth.
  • Elyssia Lowe, currently a student at Morehead State University and an alumni of the Appalachian Media Institute at Appalshop. She also helped produce a short film about what young people in Appalachian Kentucky are doing to stay: 
  • Dave Walker, who works with Beginning Farmers at Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture in Boone, North Carolina. The program that helps women and their families obtain the skills related to sustainable food and agriculture.
  • Beth Nardella, a professor at West Virginia University who’s been studying why people stay in Appalachia.

This week we also hear the first in a new weekly series called The Struggle to Stay. In this first story, we meet 20-year-old Colt Brogan

"If you want to stay in West Virginia, then I believe you’re doing something right. I mean, cause it's hard to want to stay here in my opinion. Cause it is so rough."- Colt Brogan

Music in today’s show was provided by Marisa Anderson and Darrell Scott.

Jesse Wright is our executive producer. He also helped to edit our show this week. Patrick Stephens is our audio mixer. Roxy Todd helped produce. And a special shout out to Nathan Thomas- who helped us by recording our panel at the Appalachian Studies Conference - thanks Nathan for jumping in to help us at the last minute.

We’d love to hear from you. You can e-mail us at feedback@wvpublic.org. Find us on Twitter @InAppalachia or @JessicaYLilly.