by Jenny Totten and Build it Up! West Virginia Participants
As a born and raised West Virginian, I can say that my state has gotten some pretty bad raps in the past. Sure, we’ve been last in a lot of things, we’ve been first in some others like obesity rates and unhappiness, but the recent release of the interactive documentary Hollow has ignited a passion and a fire in several of our Build it Up! West Virginia participants to design and create community and economic development activities across southern West Virginia. Below are their comments about the future of this state, the future of McDowell County, and their place in it. I hope you feel inspired, I know I do.
McDowell County Build it Up! WV Participants Learn About Financial Literacy
One of Build it Up West Virginia’s program coordinators says it best when he describes community development in West Virginia: “I eat more hot dogs than any other vegetarian I know.” Some of the things that make organizing in central Appalachia so special are also what makes it so frustrating. The above quote from Joe references the fact that much of what you do here is centered around food. Church dinners, little old ladies inviting you in for cookies and tea, going to do a presentation in a school and being “treated” to school lunch- it’s all building community through FOOD. And if you are a vegetarian, then just prepare yourself emotionally to get used to the taste of a slaw and chili hot dog- to not eat this delicacy is considered blasphemy and will get you tossed out of a community meeting faster than anything else.