100 Days in Appalachia

An experimental project designed to burst the filter bubble of social news and to candidly narrate the first 100 days of the new administration from within the heart of Appalachia

100 Days in Appalachia is published by West Virginia University Reed College of Media Innovation Center in collaboration with West Virginia Public Broadcasting and The Daily Yonder. For more on the project, follow along on FacebookTwitterInstagram.

 

Broadband Analysis: Scrappy Wireless ISPs Get the Job Done

Sep 25, 2017
A wireless internet transmitter on the right cell tower beams data to subscribers in Whitesburg, Kentucky
Shawn Poynter / The Daily Yonder

Rural areas don’t need to wait on expensive and hard-to-build fiber-to-the-home networks to start using broadband. In many cases, fixed wireless can provide a fast and affordable last-mile connection in underserved areas. And some communities are building the system themselves.

WISPs – Wireless Internet Service Providers – are the un-song heroes closing the digital divide in rural communities. New technology makes WISPs faster than ever, much more affordable than fiber, and a great option in areas where terrain and population density make wired systems problematic.

Rural Populations Decline, Regional Patterns Shift

Sep 14, 2017

The number of people living in rural areas continues to slide, according to the latest population estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau. People have left rural America in decades past. The big difference now is that the number of births in rural areas isn't keeping pace with the number of deaths.

A 40-year-old Federal Law Literally Changed the Appalachian Landscape

Aug 5, 2017
Kara Leigh Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Forty years ago, President Jimmy Carter signed a law that literally changed the face of Appalachia.

The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) was intended to replace a state-to-state patchwork of rules for strip-mining with a uniform federal standard. Four decades later, however, environmentalists say the law has fallen far short of its potential.

“Massive destruction, massive explosives -- and only 300 feet away from someone’s home,” said Thom Kay, legislative associate at Appalachian Voices. “What is SMCRA doing if that’s still allowed?”

The Associated Press

Reddit is a modern day canary in the coal mine for the people of Appalachia — a region of the United States being disproportionately affected by the opioid epidemic.

Since the presidential election, Reddit’s r/opiates has transformed into a lifesaving map for people with addiction navigating a minefield frequently filled with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid nearly 100 times more potent than morphine.

Job-spurring Grants in Appalachia are Targeted in Trump’s Budget. Here’s What is on the Line

Mar 22, 2017
Courtesy Cassidy Wright-Hubbard

In 2015, Cassidy Wright-Hubbard was a seventeen-year-old sophomore at Southeast Community and Technical College in Cumberland, Kentucky. Raised in Harlan, she was dually-enrolled in high school and college studying for her art degree. But she needed an income and jobs in the area are few and far between. 

F. Brian Ferguson / The Charleston Gazette-Mail

Despite hailing from Vermont, former Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders attempted to shine a light on poverty in middle America this weekend with a stop in West Virginia. Sanders held a town hall in McDowell County for an MSNBC taping of “All In with Chris Hayes.”  

Courtesy: Violet Gathalee Pavkovich

Violet Gathalee Pavkovich stands on the small back porch of her powder blue, turn-of-the-century farmhouse, an orange cat meandering around her legs. White wicker furniture contrasts the rusty railroad tracks that border her back yard.

“Trains hauling coal come through here two or three times a day,” she remarked casually. As I thank her for her time, she asks if she can give me a hug.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Wilbur Ross to serve as President Trump’s Secretary of Commerce on a 72-27 vote Monday night -- with U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, voting against the billionaire businessman, citing Ross’ business dealings in the state.

Nancy Andrews / West Virginia University

The stories of the hardworking, blue collar West Virginians who looked to Trump as an outsider willing to change the political order in Washington have been told by both local and national media outlets, but the question now is whether he will stick to his word.

In Clay County, Trump's Inauguration Brings Hope of Coal's Revival -- Even for Youth

Jan 22, 2017
David Smith / 100 Days in Appalachia

Tears of hope welled in the young eyes of Dakota Vaughan as he watched Donald Trump officially become the 45th President of the United States.

Nancy Andrews / West Virginia University

It's clear many of the adults living in Appalachia are focused on what the new president can do for the economy here, but they're not alone. Young people also have their own concerns about Trump.

Students from Frankfort High School in Mineral County marched in the inaugural parade Friday in Washington, but before they left, they shared their thoughts about President Trump and their role in performing at his inauguration.