Self Evaluation

Self- Evaluation

              Over the semester, I have grown in knowledge and as a person because of Appalachian Studies. As a freshman, I wasn’t allowed to create my schedule, so my advisor did it. Appalachian Studies fills a CLE 2, so that is why she placed me in it. Even though this was just put in my schedule to fill a certain CLE, it benefited me in many more ways than just allowing me to stay on track for my degree. Through this class I learned skills such as: analyzing readings, public speaking, research, properly questioning, and finding truth without judgement. The flexibility and casual feeling of this class allowed for me to feel comfortable reaching out and expanding my learning. My learning was constricted to how I could perform on tests and quizzes, but it was measured by how I could participate and bring about new knowledge through projects and blog posts. This class is like no other I have ever taken before, and I am so glad that I was placed into it.

One of my favorite parts about this class was how much in class discussion there was. Rather than having the professor give a lecture the entire class, it was more of a discussion from the students. The readings outside of class were challenging, but after having many, I mastered the skill of analyzing them and finding important information. It was extremely helpful to then go to class and talk about what I read with my peers. I can honestly say that at the beginning of the class I was shy in the way that I really did not want to speak up and participate. After a while I soon realized that it was much more beneficial for me to throw in a comment or two because it kept me engaged with the discussion occurring. My intellectual journey wasn’t necessarily a drastic one, but it changed with this class. I now want to question things, do more research, find the truth in stereotypes, and engage myself in the stories of others.

An interesting thing that I can take away from this class is the change in relationship with place. Visiting Smith Mountain Lake since this class just hasn’t been the same because now I pay attention to small details and I observe things. I witness the actions of people and traditions and I fully think about them and relate them back to the things I have learned. I also think I could go as far to say that I am less judgmental. I have learned that there can be many stereotypes, but only a grain of truth could be within them. It is better for me to be more considerate of what others are facing or what situation they could be living in.

I remember at the beginning of this semester I had to write down some goals for myself to try and meet by the end of this semester. I recall one of them being “I would like to be able to hold a conversation with someone relating to something I have learned in Appalachian studies”. I am happy to say that I have achieved that goal in the way that I feel confident and informed enough to be able to do that. Also, over Thanksgiving Break my aunt was asking me about some of the classes I was taking, and I was able to fluently speak about the many things I have learned from this class, and she seemed impressed. Overall I grew greatly as a thinker in this class, and I hope that many people in the future will continue to take it and have just as influential of an experience as I had.

Anna Fowler, Freshman, Environmental Science major, Green Engineering minor, Fall 2016, Richmond, Virginia, APS 1704

Experiential Learning #2

Anna Fowler

October 17, 2016


Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia

Experiential Learning #2

My second piece of Experiential Learning also comes from an area around Smith Mountain Lake. For the many years that my family has owned our lake place, we have always gone to the same gas station whenever we need to fill up our boat and our jetskis. We drive across the water to get to it rather than driving in the car over land since it takes longer. We go to Smith Mountain Dock which is about fifteen minutes from our house, and it’s one of the most unique places I have ever been. In the winter and fall season it is very empty, since many people won’t return until the summer or have already winterized their boat.

When you first pull up you see rickety docks off to the side where people can park for overflow parking. As you continue to glide your boat across the deep green water you see the main dock with a big sign saying “Smith Mountain Dock”, and a large carp next to the words. There are plastic tables with umbrellas and a few fake palm trees. Children, dogs, and adults walk along the red dock carrying their food, enjoying the view, or watching their gas get pumped. When you walk into the very small store part of the dock you then get to experience more of Appalachia. The people who work in there are some of the nicest I’ve ever met, and year after year they still remember who I am. They make some basic foods that many people would enjoy, but they also have a selection of some amazing home cooked foods. One of the main reasons that we don’t go to a closer dock is because of the hospitality and family like feeling that the people bring about. Even the visitors and other people there to enjoy the dock are extremely friendly. Everyone who works in the shop is a local living in the surrounding area. Most of them have very southern accents.

My personal favorite thing about the dock is their call to fame: the toe sucking carp. When you walk around the backside of the dock you are overwhelmed with the view of at least 200 gigantic carp swarming around as people throw in popcorn or even go as far to put peanut butter on their toes just to have it sucked off. Anytime I bring a friend to stay with me I always try and persuade them to buy some peanut butter and take part in the tradition. That is probably one of the weirdest and craziest experiences I’ve had, and I am so thankful for it. The dock has been so welcoming to all who come and especially my family. It serves as a wonderful part of Appalachian history, and can really give people a good sense of what the community is like.

Even when I visited this fall I still got to see the carp, and some of my favorite employees like Ricky. The Appalachian community feels very inclusive and almost more friendly than Richmond city. It is never hard to hold a conversation or feel like you are a part of what is going on.  I would highly recommended that everyone at some point in their lives goes to Smith Mountain Lake even if it is to just visit Smith Mountain Dock.

During my last visit in October I forgot to get a picture, but the ones below are from past years and visits.


Introducing Appalachia

Dear President Smith,

Welcome to the University! We are extremely honored and please to have you join our team and community. Now that you are a part of our Appalachian community, there are a few things that we would like to inform you of and make known. As I’m sure you know it is quite crucial to be aware of your surroundings and what does and has taken place in it. Appalachia is full of deep rooted history that has grown and evolved into what it is today. If you were somewhat familiar with the region, then you might have known about some of the many stereotypes that Appalachia faces. These include: Appalachia as mountainous, premodern, predominantly white, rural, and impoverished. While some of these stereotypes hold small grains of truth, most of them are false. It is important to see the truth the lies within the rumors that have been created, and see your people for who they are. It is important to be sensitive to the realities of the region and what people are going through.

Appalachia’s history began with the settlement of the Cherokee Indians in the southern region. To their despair their rein and freedom ended once the Spanish colonized and took over many of their settlements. After the Spanish had settled a few small groups of random people with random talents gathered in the region. The large spurt of population growth mainly came with the industrial revolution. One of the major money makers during that time were the coal companies. You should know that coal is a huge influencer and part of the region, but it is also very controversial. Extracting coal is a very invasive and devastating process that destroys the mountains, and the communities in which many people live. Many people though must recognize that coal is a vital source, and there is no secure alternative to replace it yet. You should know and come to understand two remaining important issues in the region: mining and its negative effects and drug abuse. I can only hope that drug abuse isn’t an issue at your University, but if it is then I strongly suggest that programs are set in place to help and assist students with addiction. The most common drug used in the Appalachian region is pain killers.

I have created a few ideas that I think would be greatly helpful in forming an influential atmosphere for your institution. Your university should do its best to get out into the Appalachian community and make a difference. By going out and participating in the community it will help to bring students together with locals, while also improving and creating a more beautiful and safe place for people to thrive. Another suggestion would be to hold seminars once or twice a semester. These seminars could be about Appalachian history, stereotypes, truths, issues, and more. They would serve as a great way to keep students informed and maybe even get them to want to go out and do some experiential learning in the region. Appalachia is one of the most unique, biodiverse, and history rich areas in the United States. My last and final idea is what I would consider to be a fun activity. Once or twice a year I think it would be a great idea to bring in Appalachian musicians and put on a concert for the school. I hope that you take some of these ideas into consideration. I look forward to seeing and hopefully experiencing the many amazing things that you will create for this university and the region.


Best wishes,


Anna Fowler



Family & Relationships

Jack Wilkinson, Hannah Sandwith, Anna Fowler, and Trish Liller

  1.     Intersectionality: a variety of people and events or circumstances that come together/cross over in order to develop a character.
  2.     Dawn
  3.     Mamaw –
  • “Mamaw said, ‘You want some milk?’ She brought me a glass of chocolate milk and sat back down. She put her hand on my hair. Her hand weighed a thousand pounds.” (p.57)
  • We got in the Escort and went to the filling station where the river road hit the four-lane. She filled a gallon can with gas. When we got back to Denny’s truck, I got out with her to put the gas in. She’s so short, I had to help her balance the can. When she finished, she handed me two twenty-dollar bills. “Go on,” she said. “What do you mean?” I said. “Keep going.”“I don’t have my license.” “I don’t see no police.” “I aint got my glasses.” “You come this far.” (p.47)
  • It was too cold for a root beer float on the porch. The wind sliced us, first from one direction and then the other. Someone was cutting up wood in the trees below us. Their saw rang like a crying baby. The smell of mold come up from the plastic cushions when we set down on Mamaw’s glider. I set the jar down on the dirty table. (p. 286)
  1.     Momma –
  • “There was a spot of color on my mother’s cheek, just a spot of the way she was before daddy died, seeping through like blood seeping through a rag. I wanted to ring my mother out from the rag her body had become.” (p.39)
  • “Momma shook her head. ‘She don’t follow no pattern. Can’t count on her for nothing.’ ‘hunh.’ I said, thinking pot kettle black.” (p. 111)
    • Intergenerational pattern, from Mamaw to Momma to Dawn. Having an unreliable or non affectionate parent.
  1.     Albert –
  • “Even though Albert spent all his time with Hubert, the mainest source of Momma’s problems- actually, I considered Hubert the total source of all our problems- I couldn’t deny Albert cared for Momma. Albert was a walking menstrual cramp, but Momma brought the sweetness in him. He tried to keep it hid. But everyone could see it.” (p.83)
  1.     Dad (not there) –
  • “I got lightheaded and saw Daddy in a tree stand above me, bow season. Daddy lifted out of the tree stand and began to run across the sky. I hollered but he couldn’t hear me” (p. 34)
  1.     Willett-
  • When the helicopter came back to the ballfield, there was a big yellow dot next to Mamaw I couldn’t figure out until we got closer. The dot was Willett in a yellow track suit made him look like a giant canary, like the magic pop can. And so I took a picture of Willett from the helicopter. And when I got the picture back, there were giant words on the ground beside him, and the words were inside an arrow pointing right at his big yellow dot self. And the words said: YOU ARE HERE. And I was. And I am.
  1.    Hubert – Trish
  • I could see his face in the blade. He still had the rope around his neck. I asked him to take it off. “You sure?” he said. (p.300)
  • “I failed your daddy,” Hubert said. “And I tried to make it up with you and your brother.” “What about Momma?” I said. Hubert looked away from me. “I tried to do things different with you. Act like I learned something from Delbert.” Hubert shook his head.
  1.     Families are large and typically located fairly close to one another. Everyone knows everyone and there is always a constant reminder of the past.
  • Mamaw and her ex-husband are next door neighbors
  1.  Discussion Questions
  1. Who has helped Dawn Jewell? Who could have helped her?
  1. Could Mamaw have been better at raising Dawn?
  1. Did the fact that the family was split between miners and “tree huggers” affect the project to save Bear Mountain?
  1. What kind of person would Dawn be if her father had not died? What events in the book do you think would have still occurred regardless, and which ones would not?
  1. Do you think Dawn’s relationships would be different if the author had been a female? Or do you think the story would have been different if Dawn’s character had been a boy?
  1. Discuss how our majors relate to family. How do your majors or personal experiences relate to Dawn’s family dynamic?


Trampoline final review: Overall I felt that this book did an amazing job at capturing what life really can be like in Appalachia. The issues are all very real, and conveyed in actual realistic ways. The book is very entertaining while also providing informative informative and very real aspects. The drawings add something very unique to the book.

Reflection on the Week

I’ve gotten to watch the film “The Last Mountain” three times now. Once in my Environmental Science class, once on my own time, and now in Appalachian studies. Every time I watch it I can’t help but feel disgusted and conflicted at the same time. On one hand people are dying and children are dying due to coal plant emissions. On the other hand, people have jobs, and we need energy, and coal is our precious source. The part in the movie that never fails to make me cringe is when the man who lives next to the coal plant is discussing his car he loves. The coal plant pays every 1-2 years to have his car repainted because the emissions eat through it often. I just can’t even imagine what that must do to the human body if it can eat through car paint in such a short amount of time. I personally believe that all coal plants need to have proper emission regulations enforced. Even though this may not make too much of a difference, it will be cutting down the types and amount of pollution. People don’t deserve to die and get sick just because they live in a certain region and can’t help it. My specific category in my major is the Land Water and Air Quality part. Learning about the coal plants and their emissions relates directly to my field of study. I will be taking one or two classes in the future specifically on air quality.

I have enjoyed our discussions this past week. From talking about coal to discussing oxytocin it has been very riveting. Also, our coal flower project was cool. It was a very interesting recreational craft that incorporated some science along with a creativity aspect. I left the lid on my jar for a day which is probably why nothing has happened yet, but I am hopeful now that I have taken the lid off that something will grow. This week has been a lot of discussion on some of the major tragedies in Appalachia, and how they are effecting the people and the reputation of the region.


Works Cited:

Appalachian Organization

The group that I found that actively works in the coalfields is The Alliance for Appalachia. Their description under their title states, “a regional coalition with the goals of ending mountaintop removal coal mining, putting a halt to destructive coal technologies, and supporting a sustainable, just economy in Appalachia”. They have a total of 17 member groups in states including: Alabama, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and more. They each share the common goals listed, but they also have other specific goals of their own. They are made up of a work committee, a staff, and a coordinating committee. People in these are all people in the local communities and societies who want to be involved in making a difference. They include in a description that states, “we strive for the Committee to include at least one representative from each state impacted by mountaintop removal and coal industry abuses, as well as one person from a regional group”. Their group started to prevent strip mining abuses all the way back in the 1960’s. I find it funny that on their website that they have a section that is called “What is Appalachia?”. The website is very informative and the organization seems to have great values and views.


Internal Colonization


The above quote is a great example of how coal industries were constantly controlled by many factors. While the companies faced many issues themselves, this control also effected every individual involved in the coal industry. Coal made slight changes such as in the way it was being minded, but industry was evolving and changing. WWII was a large factor that increased mechanization even in the industry.

In High Mountains Rising they also discuss the passing of time and that effect of the coal industry and business itself. The creation of many organizations such as ARC contributed to this development.

Moatize (Tete), Moçambique, 12/06/2013 - Mina de Carvão Moatize. Na foto: empregados Felipe Cristiano Lagares (Supervisor); Inoque Draiva Meguigo (Operador de pátio), na área de estocagem. Foto: Marcelo Coelho
Moatize (Tete), Moçambique, 12/06/2013 – Mina de Carvão Moatize. Na foto: empregados Felipe Cristiano Lagares (Supervisor); Inoque Draiva Meguigo (Operador de pátio), na área de estocagem. Foto: Marcelo Coelho

Discussion Question: What must the ethics have been like of those working in the industry? Why weren’t there more restrictions from the government of the treatment of coal workers?

Mozambique Mining Industry: Vale reports increased production in Moatize operations in 3Q

More than washboards and fiddles

Before even reading Malone’s chapter in the book I had a very specific perception of what Appalachian music sounds like. I picture in my head a bunch of older, unshaven men sitting around in a circle. One plays the fiddle, one holds a wash board, one holds a fiddle, and another a banjo. Blue grass and classic folk music fill the air while a small crowd of somewhat intoxicated people in a bar enjoy it and socialize. That’s exactly the picture that occurs in my mind. Where I got this image and mountain-music

perception? Most likely from movies and the media who portray it as something very diverse, unique, and almost grungy. When discussing the genre of Appalachian music Malone states, “The values evoked may be negative (feuding, moonshining, violence), or they may be positive (family solidarity, a simple life lived close to the soil), but they are appealing because they stand in short supply today or because they provide dramatic relief from the boredom that many find in our society and in the homogenized sounds of popular music (Malone 114). He points out how our modern society has lost originality in music. The classic Appalachian folk music brings something new yet timeless to the table that many people can get enjoyment from. Another sentence from Malone that stood out to me was, “The music is diverse because the culture in which it evolved is diverse” (115). The music isn’t just notes on a sheet of paper, it’s a story made from the experiences of thousands of different people. As large events such as the Civil War and Restoration occurred, the music was telling the story of the events. It’s almost as if the music is a history book itself. During the rest of the chapter, Malone goes on to highlight specific pieces of history that held great influence, and people who made a large difference in the development of the music. One last quote that stood out was, “…they were aware of the allure of Appalachian imagery, whether positive or negative. They knew that Americans hungered for old songs. And they knew that the words ‘Appalachian’ and ‘mountain’ carried romantic, almost mystical connotations for most people” (120). In my mind this excerpt relates back to stereotypes almost and how American’s would crave something to gossip about and find entertainment from. I didn’t necessarily agree or disagree with the point he was making, I more so explored it and drew my own innocent observations from it.

Discussion Questions:

What genres of music that our “modern society” listens to today create the same romanticism and mystical connotations as Appalachian music? Why do we idolize and continue to publicize certain famous artists even when they bring about negative messages within their music? Why do older generations feel that music younger generations listen to lacks realness and roots?

Music Link:

Works Cited:

Malone, Bill C. “Music.” High Mountains Rising: Appalachia in Time and Place. By Richard Alan. Straw and Tyler Blethen. Urbana: U of Illinois, 2004. 114-34. Print.

Truth within Misrepresentation

I was born and grew up in the lovely city of Richmond, Virginia. Being in the South and being the former capital of the confederacy leads to many assumptions about the city and its surrounding areas. One of these being that we are still stuck in the past and obsessed with our confederate history. Some of the main images that stand out in my mind are Monument Avenue photos, and photos taken outside of the VMFA. On monument avenue, tall statues of proud confederate leaders and soldiers stand high and line the entire avenue. Along Monument is the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Until a few years ago they would fly the confederate flag out back on a flag pole, but when they took it down a group of people began to stake out every Saturday in protest. People are able to drive down this one road and get a complete misrepresentation that Richmond is still all about its Confederate history.


In “Merchandising the Mountaineer”, the importance of pictures and what they can display was discussed. A certain picture can be portraying one thing, but people can interpret what is really happening and what it means in a totally different way. People who have no background information on these pictures can look at them and create stereotypes and negative thoughts about what is happening in Appalachia. The photographer Wootten even continued the stereotype by only showing the “pre-modern” aspects of Appalachia in his photos rather than the newer modern additives. In “Whose Agenda is it Anyway”, the quote that stood out to me the most was, “Connecting to “something larger than ourselves” by definition requires the consideration of people in a particular place, so documentary work cannot be practiced or understood without responding to various interactions in the field. In this sense, documentary expression is fundamentally community-based, played out in response to dynamics present in the place where the lens is focused” (McKnight). McKinght seems to have a more honest and realistic approach when it comes to displaying documentaries than Wootten had with his photos.


Works Cited:

McKnight, By Lynn. “Whose Agenda Is It, Anyway? Documentary Burdens,           Community Benefits.” Whose Agenda Is It, Anyway? Documentary                          Burdens, Community Benefits. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2016.

How the Civil War influenced Appalachia


“The Civil War and Reconstruction” by Gordan B. McKinney, highlights some of the economic, cultural, and political shifts that occurred due to the Civil War. The first major point that McKinney references to, is that these changes were the ones that brought about many of the stereotypes involving Appalachia, especially when it comes to violence. The financial lose that ensued also gives way to the stereotype of poverty. I find it very interesting how these stereotypes started all the way back in the 1800s, and even before, but still remain today. Mckinney adds, “A general weakening of the social and political loyalties of the region further eroded civil peace. The result was a growing level of violence and despair in the mountain areas by 1864 and the disintegration of the social order by 1865” (Mckinney 49). People in the direct community may have sided with something that their neighbors didn’t agree with, thus creating a barrier. The Civil War didn’t just affect “overall Appalachia”, but it had direct effects on each community and each individual.

One way that the economy and jobs shifted, was when skilled workers were drafted. McKinney writes, “With many of the men now in the military, the roads and bridges in the mountains fell into disrepair. Vital goods could no longer reach their destinations. For some of the more remote areas in Appalachia, this transportation failure brought hardship and intense suffering” (50). With the workers deployed somewhere else, and transportation failing, Appalachians were left with no help. Salt was extremely sought after, and due to the skilled workers being drafted, those who weren’t near the mines or immediate railroads could not have access to it.

Another issue that the Appalachians faced was inflation. Inflation caused many issues surrounding families, and when things got too tough, families would flee and leave. McKinney states, “For essential goods, prices increased rapidly, placing them beyond the reach of many families. Much of this distress fell on the members of the family remaining at home, usually women and children” (51). The government realized these challenges that families faced and attempted to help, but most of the time, that wasn’t enough. The option of fleeing also didn’t prove to be the greatest one since many of the individuals and families that tried to escape ended up being murdered by Confederates.

Along with inflation and fleeing, there was the dilemma of lack of social stability. Many important and daily buildings such as churches and schools closed down. When talking about schools McKinney says, “Many schools were forced to close, and, for the first time, women were employed extensively as teachers. When the disappearance of these institutions was combined with the economic hardships found in the mountains, serious social dislocation resulted.” (52). Overall the closing of important social buildings and guerilla warfare in the area led to very little political structure.

Actions taken to improve and reconstruct were abortive. McKinney states that this was because, “Many European Americans were hostile to African Americans and resisted the extension of political and civil rights to the recently freed people” (53). The Civil War greatly affected Appalachia in many negative ways. Unfortunately, the region is still dealing with the aftermath through the employment of stereotypes that derived all the way back from that time period.

Works Cited:

McKinney, Gordon B. “The Civil War and Reconstruction.” High Mountains                  Rising: Appalachia in Time and Place. By Richard Alan. Straw and                     Tyler Blethen. Urbana: U of Illinois, 2004. 46-58. Print.