3 Ways to Talk About Money & Poverty in Appalachia


Today, more than 45 million Americans live in poverty. After decades of widely publicized campaigns with names like “the War on Poverty”, living on low income often comes an extreme sense of shame and self-doubt. On this episode of Inside Appalachia, we hear different ways of reporting on financial security, or lack thereof. From a coal miner who lost his job, to a long-time welfare director, how do we talk about folks who are good at making do with what they have? How do we react when we hear these stories? 

Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle is a personal memoir of Jeannette Walls’ childhood. Throughout the book she explains the incredible hardships that her family experienced due to little or no income. She spent her life moving from place to place, avoiding authorities and taxes, leaving nothing but sparse memories behind. On this episode of Inside Appalachia, she speaks with Jeannette Walls about why she wanted to write this book, and what it really means to her. Learn more about her inspiration and hopes for her new book and movie here.

From Miner to ‘Manny’- The Struggle to Stay

In our series, The Struggle to Stay, we’ve been following several people as they try to find a way to support themselves here in Appalachia, or elsewhere if they decide to leave. 

Dave Hathaway is a former coal miner in the very southwestern corner of Pennsylvania. Back in 2015, he lost his job. Now, he and his wife Ashley have a new baby. And the job hunt isn’t going so well.

Hear how Dave feels about being a stay at home dad, and what he and his wife plan on doing when the money runs out. 


Credit Reid Frazier/ The Allegheny Front
Dave Hathaway with his son Deacon

Athens Poverty Tour

Jack Frech is a reporter who has taken the time to create a series of “poverty tours” that show what sends American cities into poverty. In this episode of Inside Appalachia, Jack Frech is joined by Brooke Gladstone, host of WNYC’s On the Media. Together they discuss Appalachia’s economy and why negative stereotypes about poverty in this region continue

“We’ve gone so far in this country as to actually say that sharing with them hurts them. We overlook the fact that the average length of time for people on welfare is about two years,” said Frech.  

We had help producing Inside Appalachia this week from The Allegheny Front, and WNYC’s On the Media podcast.

Music in this episode was provided by Marisa Anderson, Dinosaur Burps, Michael Howard, and Ben Townsend.