Final Project: Drug Abuse in Appalachia


Why are drugs so common in Appalachia and what effect does that have on the region?


While volunteering at my local hospital in the labor and delivery department, I saw many instances where mothers who had abused drugs when pregnant got to take home their babies. A classmate of mine also died in a car wreck while under the influence of drugs.


The prevalence of drug addiction and abuse in Appalachia has been an increasing problem. This timeline will take you through the sequence of drug-related events in the region from the late 1990s to 2014 and give you an overview of the intensification of this issue.

1990- In the late 1990s, Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, aggressively marketed the pill to doctors in Appalachia, where injuries from hard-labor jobs often produce chronic pain.

1996- In 1996, OxyContin was at $48 million in sales.

1999- Over one fifth of America’s opiate-related deaths since 1999 have been accounted for by the seven states of Appalachia; Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania,Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

2000- In 2000, OxyContin sales grew from $48 million to $1.1 billion. After the epidemic was ignited, opiate abuse spread to far more drugs including methadone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and heroin.

2000- Since 2000, the national drug overdose death rate has increased by 137 percent.

2004- In 2004, OxyContin became the most abused drug in the U.S.

2008- In 2008, Wilkes county in North Carolina tried Project Lazarus. This treatment program changed the way professionals went about educating and treating their residents. They provided free naloxone which is a drug that reverses the effects of opioid and heroin overdoses.

2009- West Virginia saw 9 deaths due to heroin overdoses.

2010- In Portsmouth, Ohio, nearly 1 in 10 babies tested positive for drugs.

2011– 42 deaths in Kentucky were due to heroin overdoses.

2012- In Kentucky, heroin overdoses accounted for 129 deaths in 2012.

2012- West Virginia saw 67 heroin overdose deaths in 2012.

2014- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the death rate due to drug overdose was the highest its ever been in 2014 weighing in at 47,055 deaths. 61percent were related to opiate abuse. Appalachia accounted for 22 percent of those opiate related deaths. This is shocking considering the fact that during this time Appalachia represented only 20 percent of the U.S. population.


These hard hitting facts provide backing for the common stereotype that Appalachia is a region with serious drug addiction. With that being said, new treatment facilities are being built and action is being taken to put an end towards the devastating epidemic so that people can see past this issue and appreciate the hardworking, dedicated people of Appalachia


Getting To Know the Problem

Disease, war, famine, poverty, depression, ruts, emptiness. These issues are not selective. They do not apply to a certain race or gender. Americans, Europeans, Africans, and anyone who is a member of today’s society can attest to having to withstand the hardships of daily life. With the pain that accompanies these hardships, an outlet seems necessary. But what is the degree to which these outlets are considered necessary or even legal?

For some, they rely on coffee as an outlet from the fatigue that they experience through the daily stress of work and relationships. For others, they take a healthier route and rely on exercise, while some people rely only on fatty foods for comfort. Video games, religion, soda, social media, and sugar are all addictive outlets that humanity resorts to as an escape from daily adversity. What about the more serious types of outlets that people use and abuse?

Sometimes, coffee and fatty foods just don’t cut it. Every so often, the stress of life requires a little more edge than just a sugar rush. Alcohol and drugs become a last resort before suicide to take away the pain of everyday life and provide an alternative world to escape to.

Opiate prevalence entered this region at the turn of the 21st century. Opioids are psychoactive substances derived from the opium poppy, or their synthetic analogues. Around 69,000 people die each year from abusing the substance and over 15 million people suffer from addiction. The majority of that number are dependent on prescribed opioids. These drugs affect a part of the brain that regulates breathing, so overdosing on these can send one into respiratory distress and even death. If combined with alcohol or sedatives, there is an increase in the possibility of overdosing. Naloxone is an antidote for opioid overdose and directly reverses the effects of the drugs. In order to limit the amount of deaths involved with these substances, it is important for a region to have treatment centers. It is also important to monitor the prescription from health care facilities.

In 1996, OxyContin was at $48 million in sales. That number grew to $1.1 billion in sales in 2000. In 2004, OxyContin became the most abused drug in the U.S. After the epidemic was ignited, opiate abuse spread to far more drugs including methadone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and heroin. But drugs do not come cheap. As a result, people have resorted to prescription painkillers in order to satisfy their addiction for less money. One state has had success in repairing this epidemic; North Carolina. In 2008, Wilkes county tried Project Lazarus. This programmed changed the way professionals went about educating and treating their residents. They provided free naloxone which reverses the effects of opioid and heroin overdoses.

Some areas of the world seem to have more problems with addictions to these substances than others. For example, Appalachia is a case of extreme drug and alcohol abuse. Specifically, in West Virginia, drug abuse is a resonating concern. The state has the highest rate of overdose deaths in the U.S. The national number of overdose deaths per 100,000 is 13.4, but West Virginia’s does more than double that number. The overdose death rate is 34 per 100,000. These astonishing numbers are disheartening. With these hard-hitting facts, it is no surprise that Appalachia is stereotyped as a region with major drug addiction problem.

Over one fifth of America’s opiate-related deaths since 1999 have been accounted for by the seven states of Appalachia; Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The national drug overdose death rate has increased 137 percent since 2000. The numbers continue to get worse: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the death rate due to drug overdose was the highest its ever been in 2014. 47, 055 people were killed and out of those deaths 61 percent were related to opioids. More devastating for Appalachia was the fact that the region accounted for 22 percent of those opiate-related deaths. This is shocking considering the fact that during this time Appalachia represented only 20 percent of the U.S. population. This issue only seems to be heightening. So finding the push factors that lead people to drug abuse is necessary to discontinue the sticky trend. Many researchers believe that Appalachian addiction stems from poverty and lack of education.

Not only do drugs put one’s health in distress, they also put the economy in quite a predicament. People who have a history of drug abuse are haunted by their past for the rest of their lives and unable to find businesses that will employ them. This is a problem because those people rely heavily on government funds to stay afloat. They may also feel useless due to the fact that they cannot provide for their family, leading them to a state of depression and channeling them back to drugs in order to escape their dark period of life. Drugs also affect other parts of the economy such as the criminal costs and the treatment costs associated with addiction. In West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky the total loss of revenue due to criminal justice costs, loss in worker productivity, and treatment weighs in at a whopping $2.72 billion annually. To me, it seems as though we could not only help our economy, but help our citizens by building treatment centers instead of losing so much money per year.

Obama recognized West Virginia’s problem with opioid addiction and decided to take action. He allotted $1.7 million across the state to go towards treatment centers and helping Appalachia. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is investing $94 million in the health clinics, and expects to help them hire about 800 providers to treat nearly 124,000 new patients. This small glimpse of hope gives Appalachia a stronger future in fighting the common drug problem.

There are four steps in the treatment process: intake, detox, rehab, ongoing recovery. In the first step, intake, one has to decide if rehab is the right option for them. It is important to know that different treatment programs and facilities work better for some than others. There is no one-size-fits all solution and as a person grows their treatment plan is open to change. Addiction not only affects behavior, it affects the brain. Mental health conditions often lead to addiction, so those issues also need to be addressed in treatment. The second phase, detox, is part of the treatment where one gets rid of all traces of drugs in the body. Sometimes medication is used to make this process easier and to help one experiencing withdrawals. Withdrawal symptoms include, but are not limited to headaches, seizures, heart attacks, agitation, sweating, and hallucinations. This step is only part of the treatment and does not ensure that the patient will be clean without continuing through the whole process. Rehab, the next step, is where patients pick apart the reason behind addiction. This step assures that the patient can return to life without having their background draw them back into the world of addiction. Recovery, the final step of the process, is lifelong and ongoing work. This step offers assistance with the transition of being thrown back into their “normal” world. There are both inpatient and outpatient services provided by treatment programs. There are also different types of therapy including group, family, and behavioral therapy.

An Appalachian woman named Ashley who is also a recovering heroin addict shares her story about getting clean and remaining sober for her three children. She gives the perspective of an Appalachian woman experiencing this issue first hand. She says that state and federal officials refuse to pay for treatment even though it is more effective and less expensive than jailing addicts. She contributes the problem to drug companies that market their products heavily in the region and to employers who pay for worker’s compensation and provide cheaper drugs instead of physical therapy for injured workers. She also places the blame on drug dealers and others who give people drugs to “help” them. Last but not least, she adds that there is a general sense of hopelessness in the region and that lost sense of hope is replaced with drugs. But what about personal responsibility? Can we really blame others or is it something that one does to themselves? With this insider’s look on the foregrounds of drug addiction, will Appalachia ever become clean?

Creative Portion

On poster


Raby, John, and Jonathan Matisse. “Report: West Virginiahas highest drug overdose death rate.” The Washington Times 17June 2015. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.<>.

Cart, Samantha. “The Cost of Addiction: An EconomicBurden for West Virginia.” West Virginia Executive 25Feb. 2015. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.<>.

Nuzum, Lydia. “WV clinics get funding for substanceabuse treatment.” West Virginia Hospital Association. N.p., 14Mar. 2016. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.<>.

Mekouar, Dora. “This Troubling Epidemic Is KillingPeople in Appalachia.” Voice of America25 Jan. 2016, 9 Nov. 2016.

“VisualizingOverdoses.” Appalachian Opiate Epidemic 9 Nov. 2016.

“Management ofSubstance Abuse.” World Health Organization Nov. 2014, Accessed 9 Nov. 2016.

Watkins, Meredith. “TheAddiction Rehab Process.” The Nation’s Best Rehabs, edited byMaria Gifford 9 Nov. 2016.

Fin, Scott. “The FrontPorch: Who’s to Blame for Appalachia’s Drug Addiction?.” WestVirginia Public Broadcasting29 May 2015, Accessed 9Nov. 2016.


Blog #10

At the beginning of class, I showed up ready to take notes and be quizzed regularly on factual matter about Appalachia. I soon realized it was not that kind of class. It was a much more interactive one where we didn’t just learn facts, we put our opinions and feelings into discussions and readings. I found this much more appealing and overall a much more effective way to learn. Instead of memorizing things I actually learned them in this class.

Speaking of learning things, I learned a great deal about the region that I am from. From stereotypes and addiction, to internal colonization and coal mining, we covered it all. I especially liked reading trampoline. In all honesty, I waited until the last minute to read the book, but when I started I couldn’t put it down and I read every word. I am planning on rereading it over thanksgiving when I have more time to really pick it apart.

I also really enjoyed the fact that we did not just cover the history of Appalachia, we talked about present day concerns and issues. I feel that a lot of classes fail to recognize the present, but we are the generation who can fix the coal mining problem and the addiction problems because of professors like you who provide us with thought provoking new material making us question how we can help.

In previous years, when I thought about things politically or deeper questions about our society, I saw things as black and white. After this class, my ways of analyzing social problems has drastically changed. For example, coal mining in Appalachia may be seen as a process that destroys our mountains and landscape or as a source of global warming due to the products that it emits into the atmosphere. But it is much more than that. Coal mining supports millions of families in Appalachia. It is a livelihood for some people. Without coal mining they would have no other jobs to fill. This has made me consider both sides of every argument and realize that not everything is black and white. There are always grey areas.

I also found myself wanting to learn more. I would go home after class and research a little further because it pertained to me since I live in Appalachia. I was able to connect to the things we learned about and relate my personal experiences to that. For example, people in my town don’t work at the coal mines, they work at the plants. I thought about how people would react if a “stranger with a camera” showed up in my town. I really enjoyed comparing my life to the lives we read about and discussed.

Overall, I loved the style of learning in this class and I loved how I could relate to all the topics. I have yet to participate in a college class where we have discussions and I really enjoyed them. It was very different from discussions in high school classes. I learned so much instead of memorizing and that will stick with me for a long time.

Trampoline: Project

Trampoline Group Project

Theme: Drugs, Group 1: Emma Bennett, Grant Leonard, Matt Jehnke, Carly Reynolds

Our Personal Experiences

Emma Bennett – I am from a small town in central Virginia and recently there has been a big drug issue in my county. Personally, my county has been affected by the drug heroin and its addictive side effects. In my county alone there have been 8 deaths in the past 6 months due to heroin overdose and a bad batch going around. Seeing this drug abuse and addiction has given me an interesting insight into drugs and its affects on people.


Grant Leonard – Although I have not directly been exposed to drugs or the effects of drugs. I am a Forestry Business Operations major in the College of Natural Resources and Environment. Many forestry jobs are very labor intensive and can include the abuse of painkillers. Through this issue, I will most likely be exposed to drugs in my future employment.


Matt Jehnke – Drug addiction, specifically heroin,  is an ongoing crisis in my hometown, so I have seen it impact a lot of people’s lives. With young people constantly losing their lives and families being broken apart, it is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed and prevent it from spreading any more.


Carly Reynolds– Coming from a small town, I have seen a lot of incidents involving drug abuse. For example, my fall semester of my senior year, I did an internship at my local hospital in the labor and delivery floor and saw a lot of instances where drug abuse kept mothers from having their babies. Even more times I saw where drug abuse should have kept mothers from keeping their babies, but social services failed to recognize their addictive traits. One sad story involved a mother who abused drugs while she was pregnant and her newborn baby was addicted as well. The chain is hard to break and we see that a lot in Trampoline.



Addiction:  the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.

Marijuana: cannabis, especially as smoked in cigarettes.

Disease: A condition featuring medically significant symptoms that often have a known cause

Drug Misuse: One’s use of a drug not specifically recommended or prescribed when there are more practical alternatives; when drug use puts a user or others in danger

Habit: An outdated term for addiction/physical dependence

Synergism: The greater effect that results when one takes more than one drug simultaneously

Withdrawal Symptoms: Severe and excruciating physical and emotional symptoms that generally occur between 4 to 72 hours after opiate withdrawal (e.g., watery eyes, yawning, loss of appetite, panic, insomnia, vomiting, shaking, irritability, jitters, etc.)

Withdrawal Syndrome: Combined reactions or behaviors that result from the abrupt cessation of a drug one is dependent on

Withdrawal: The abrupt decrease in or removal of one’s regular dosage of a psychoactive substance

Depression: One of the most frequent types of distress resulting from addiction; an ongoing state of sadness involving the inability to concentrate, inactivity, etc.

Denial: One’s failure to either admit or realize his or her addiction or to recognize and accept the harm it can cause

Age at Onset: The age at which one’s addictive behavior began; an important factor in addiction assessment

Addiction Treatment: Aims to reduce addiction


Personally, I really enjoyed reading trampoline. While the subjects covered were uncomfortable at times, they were also eye-opening. I am the type of person who likes to analyze and pick apart books to find the meaning of certain subjects and this book really challenged me in that way. I would recommend this book to my family and friends.


Experiential Learning #2

August 24, 2016

11:00 a.m.

Local Farmer’s Market

My sister Allison, graduated from Virginia Tech in 2015. Before she moved to Wisconsin for her new job, she wrote me, her little Hokie sister, a personal bucket list of things that she did or things she wished she had done. Included in that list was a visit to the farmer’s market every Saturday morning to buy freshly cut flowers to spruce up my apartment or dorm. I completed this item on her bucket list my freshman year, but if you ever visit the farmer’s market in downtown Blacksburg, you’ll find that you can’t just visit once.

The first time I went was in the spring of my freshman year. I was not too thrilled about waking up early on my Saturday to sleep in after a week filled with 8 a.m.’s. Reluctantly I rolled out of bed and found my way to the quaint downtown area. I went with my hall mates and fell in love with the local people of the New River Valley. They were so interesting and had so much passion for the things that they were selling and presenting to the public.

Of course I had to go back. I go every now and then, but I want to talk about the morning of August 24th when I revisited with my mother who was visiting that day. We talked to the venders and got to see the amazing products that they had put such hard work into. My favorite kiosk at the farmer’s market was the man selling homemade soaps and lotions from Birdsong Farms. These soaps and lotions were made out of beeswax and worked especially well. I also loved Blacksburg Bagels because who doesn’t love baked goods? One of my hall mates took advantage of a deal and bought a shirt from them. Now she can go to the farmer’s market every Saturday and Wednesday and as long as she wears her t-shirt she can have a free bagel. It was also interesting to see how many venders sold produce that was all organic and had obviously been tended to with the best of care. The venders explained how they bought and sold locally in order to keep the money in Appalachia and increase the economy. I also found a woman who made her own earrings which I fell in love with. It was not a chain which meant no one else would have them.

I loved visiting the farmer’s market with my mom because we were able to talk to a lot of venders and see a different side of Appalachia. I saw people who cared a great deal about the region and also about the product that they were selling. It amazed me how they knew so much about produce, beeswax, and bagels. They were also so passionate and were in no hurry to answer our questions and talk to us on a personal level. It was really nice being able to shop there instead of at a crowded grocery store where the employees are so busy that they don’t have time to show you where the bagels are. It was also a nice change of pace to be able to hear to where my food was coming from. The venders were straightforward and made me feel at home.

I was able to connect this to Trampoline on a different level by the passion behind each story. Dawn and Mamaw cared a whole lot about Blue Bear Mountain just like these venders care a whole lot about their products. This just reinforces that the people of Appalachia are hard workers who put passion behind their beliefs.




Experiential learning #1

Floyd Country Store

October 21, 2016

8:00 p.m.

At the start of my freshman year, two of my older sisters who graduated from Virginia Tech, wrote me my own Hokie bucket list. Included in this was spending one of my Friday nights at the Floyd Country Store. I figured that this was a waste of a Friday night. Instead I could spend my night at another fabulous frat party, crowded in a dirty basement with a bunch of people I don’t know, listening to too loud of music with lyrics that no one actually understands.

A couple of weekends ago though, my sisters came to visit for a game and were disappointed that I had not already pursued Floyd. That Friday night they took me down windy back roads to an actual store. I had no idea that this place would be a real store with barrels of candy, a popcorn machine, and Hershey’s ice-cream. The place had it all. You could even get dinner there, which I’ve heard is amazing by the way. There were hand carved walking sticks, t-shirts, and Carhartt jackets and vests. I even found candy cigarettes. I spent my childhood “smoking” candy cigarettes and pretending to cough my lungs out after blowing my make-believe smoke out slowly through my lips. The atmosphere felt like a movie almost, maybe even something at Disney World that would try and mimic the old-time, country store feel. But this wasn’t a movie or Disney World, it was real life and I felt so honored that I got to experience that feeling.

As we walked in you could hear the tapping of the flat footer’s shoes as they danced to the live band playing bluegrass. I felt right at home. People were either dancing or watching, but I never felt uncomfortable. If you weren’t dancing, you were tapping your feet and clapping along with the music. Immediately my sisters and I went to the front and began throwing our feet around and pretending we had some knowledge as to what we were doing. It was pretty obvious we didn’t though. Among the crowd were old women who I would not have expected to be throwing down that hard, old men who had obviously done this for years, and then us three inexperienced college girls.

The old men got a kick out of seeing such young women and they had no trouble with asking me to dance. I could never say no so I spent the evening being thrown around by the seasoned vets to the humming of the fiddle and the banjo. The aroma of liquor on their breath told me that they had “pre-gamed” their big night out. One particular man was wearing a Trump t-shirt. When it came to the do-si-do, I tried my best to listen to the directions, but the heavy accent of the announcer had me confused at some of the parts. The older people had no problem letting me know that I was doing it wrong. They even got slightly offended. It showed me just how important dance and music is to them and how Friday nights at Floyd are not to be taken lightly.

We talked in class about stereotypes of Appalachia and I felt like a lot of them were hardened when I went flat footing at the Floyd Country Store. The majority of people were white. I did not notice any other ethnicities there which I find strange because Virginia Tech is right down the road with plenty of diversity. I could also smell the alcohol on the breath of some of my dancing partners which can relate to moonshine in Appalachia. The music was all bluegrass and nothing else. I did not expect anything else, but I could imagine the riot that would’ve taken place if the bands played Taylor Swift or even a modern day country song. That reinforces another stereotype of Appalachia.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Floyd Country Store. It was far better than any frat party I’ve ever been to. I would recommend it to those who are not shy to jump into a new activity that they have never tried and do the activity in front of others. I am definitely going back soon!



Blog 8: Coal Flowers

Instead of turning into a pretty flower, my mixture of ammonia, salt, water, and laundry bluing basically just disintegrated the twigs, paper, and paper shavings that I put into my bowl. I had no idea that those common household items had the capability to destroy those everyday items. If this mixture reeked such havoc on my 24-hour project, imagine what they are doing to our environment. It seems like common sense to me, that coal companies would be banned from doing this with all the destruction that it causes. The effects that coal mining has on waterways is explained in the article “Show Me Where to Put My Fishing Pole”. Not only does it destroy the beauty of nature, but it causes structural problems as well. Biodiversity is decreased among species of plants and flooding is a common problem since the plants are broken down and there is nothing to contain the rivers during heavy rains. This reminded me of a documentary we recently watched in class, “Harlan County USA”. The people of Harlan complained that the mountain top removal had caused a great deal of flooding in their region. If plants are affected this much, I am lead to believe that mountain top removal has an impact on human health as well. One trailer park in Harlan had six cases of brain tumors. That is a remarkable amount for one neighborhood. As we do these activities I wonder how much evidence it is going to take to get the idea through to the governors and coal companies that coal mining is detrimental to our environment and ourselves?


Blog 7- question 2

United Mountain Defense is a nonprofit group fighting the coal industry in Knoxville, Tennessee. They are committed to stopping the mountaintop removal coal mining that has been going on in Tennessee. UMD also helps coal impacted communities. They conduct their activities in three ways; through scientific monitoring and data collection, community organizing including outreach and education, and data collection and analysis from federal and state agencies. These ways focus on protecting Tennessee’s watersheds, air, mountains, and people. Their mission is carried out primarily in the counties of Campbell, Claiborne, Scott, Fentress, Bledsoe, Knox Blount, and Roane.

UMD is composed of a workforce of long term and short term volunteers as well as an eight-person volunteer board. The board supplies a diverse background and over 30 years of combined experience working on environmental and social justice issues and non-profit management.

Why might these people put their extra time into protecting these counties? Some of the volunteers live in the counties while others may know people who live in the counties. Others who do not associate with Tennessee personally, may care immensely about the environment and want to persuade the coal companies to consider our future rather than the profits. Anyone who takes a look at the beauty of Appalachia and sees the destruction that is happening may join this committee.


United Mountain Defense. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2016. <>.

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Blog #6

“Appalachia is a good example of colonial domination by outside interests. Its history also demonstrates the concerted efforts of the exploiters to label their work “progress” and to blame any of the obvious problems it causes on the ignorance or deficiencies of the Appalachian people. We believe that there are peoples all over the world who have experienced this sort of “development” and consequently live in conditions similar to those found in the mountains.”

At first, I was a little unclear of internal colonialism so I began to research it and found a lot of interesting things that correlate with the quote above. Relating Appalachia to slavery might sound somewhat extreme, but in all honesty, there isn’t much of a difference. Internal colonialism is directly related with segregation and separation. As I continued to think about it more, I began to realize how Appalachia was blamed for its poverty because the people of Appalachia were “ignorant mountain folk”.

In reality, part of the reason that Appalachia was so far behind had to do with internal colonialism. The success of the country at this time owed a lot of its “hard work” to Appalachia. The region had been exploited all the way from coal production down to its coalminers and factory workers. Without the region, the rest of the country’s success would not have been attainable.

This is the same thing that took place with slavery. White men exploited African Americans so that they could have prosperity and in return blamed their lack of success to the color of their skin. Without the African Americans, white men never would have been able to have success because they could not have afforded to pay men for the amount of work that their slaves were doing. In this sense, Appalachia go hand in hand.

“Even in fantasy, if Appalachia could put up fences, take over resources, and operate them by the people of the area, one questions whether it is better to be dominated by homegrown enterprises than by New York or Philadelphia based corporations?”

While Appalachia was being exploited it is hard to determine if they could attain success on their own. So many big businesses had come to take over coal mines and make money on cheap labor. They had set Appalachia up for failure. What the rest of the country had yet to think about was what would happen to the structure of America without Appalachia. When it comes down to it, the fact of the matter was that Appalachia had been unappreciated for all that they had put forward for the making of America.

Going back to my discussion on slavery, I want to know why Appalachia did not take this as offensively as slavery was taken? I agree that slavery was far more extreme, but I have never read anything in a text book about internal colonialism in Appalachia and I would like to know why it has not been taken more seriously?

Lewis, Helen. Colonialism in Modern America: The Appalachian Case. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Web. 5 Oct. 2016. <>.


Blog #5

Typically, when I think of Appalachian music, bluegrass comes to mind. I’m not sure why this type of music is associated with Appalachia considering the fact that Bill Malone stated in his article “Music” that “Bluegrass is neither Appalachian nor very old. Bluegrass received its name from the music made by Bill Monroe’s string band, the Bluegrass Boys, between 1944and 1948. No one in that seminal band came from Appalachia (p. 125, Malone).”

I attribute this thought process of considering Appalachian music as bluegrass to the stereotypes previously mentioned in class. I believe that this thinking occurred due to a similar reason discussed in the way photographs represent Appalachia. We talked about how people took photographs of only the impoverished parts of the region partly because that is how the public wanted to perceive Appalachia and the photographers wanted to make money. Bill Malone also references how people played “hillbilly” music because that was the music that record companies wanted to associate with Appalachia.

Before I read this article I was unaware of all the different types of music in the region. There was such a variety of music that appealed to the different eras such as ballads, folk, protest songs, and many more. I didn’t really picture the way mountain folk produced their music either. I always imagined it to be at community events, church gatherings, and home, but Malone also stated how the artists were published and played at professional venues.

My thoughts toward the stereotypical Appalachian music also might stem from my past. Living in a small town in Appalachia, we often had community events where a bluegrass band would provide the entertainment. One day at school we even had a bluegrass band come in from our area. It urges me to believe that even though the music might not be native to Appalachia, it may be growing on the region and becoming the new face of the region’s music.

This song never fails to remind me of Appalachia and my hometown, the Shenandoah Valley. Most likely, because John Denver specifically speaks about the Shenandoah Valley. Although, this hit was very popular it was also very stereotypical in categorizing Appalachia. John Denver, who was a co-writer of this song, admits that he had never even been to West Virginia before writing this song. With this information, Bill Malone seems to have a good point in saying that “hillbilly” music and bluegrass should not be the face of Appalachian music.

This leads me to my discussion question… Why do we have the common misconception that bluegrass originated and is the dominate form of music in Appalachia and do you think there are other regions that have stereotypes in the music area like these?

Malone, Bill. High Mountains Rising; Music. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 114-34. Print.

Denver, John. Take Me Home, Country Roads. N.p.: n.p., Web. 26 Sept. 2016. <>.

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Blog 4: Images and Industrialization

I recently learned about the term “sense of place” in my Human Geography class and was able to make the connection to the readings “Whose Agenda Is It, Anyway?” by Lynn McKnight and “Merchandising the Mountaineer” by Charles Watkins. Sense of place is a term that defines how we view a region or area through our experiences, our smells, our tastes, music, and all of our other senses. It gives places a more distinct spot in our memory because we put a piece of ourselves into the equation. I thought about this immediately when I read these two articles and realized that many times when I look at a picture on Facebook or Instagram of a certain landscape, that picture might be showing a false depiction of what actually goes on in that place.

This reminded me of what people think of when they pass by my town. Note how I said pass by. There is a difference between passing by and actually submerging yourself in the culture. Most of my relatives live in Virginia Beach and only know my town from what they’ve seen when they visited for Thanksgiving and Christmas or from pictures like the one attached below. They joke about driving our tractors to school and not being able to drive to 7-eleven without seeing a cow. But little do they know about my town. They don’t really have a sense of place. All they picture is back roads with corn fields and boys in jacked up trucks, but there is so much more to my town than that.

I know they will never truly understand until they actually spend time here and get to know the men who sit outside of the grocery store and the owners of the Donut Shop. They will never understand how busy a little town like mine can be and how not everyone here wears “camo” everyday.

It doesn’t make me angry that people judge my town based on what they’ve seen from passing through; I cherish it because I feel like it’s my own little secret. I get to live in this beautiful place and also get to have all the modern amenities that they have. Yes, I have access to a Vineyard Vines and a Starbucks. They might involve a slight drive, but in a city you have to drive to see sights that I see everyday. This is why it is important to submerge yourself in a place and actually develop a sense of place before you can make assessments based on pictures.


McKnight, Lynn. “Whose Agenda Is It, Anyway? Documentary Burdens, Community Benefits.” Reading Room. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2016. <>.