Experiential Learning #2

Brooke Taylor


Blacksburg Farmer’s Market

3:00 PM

For an experiential learning, I visited the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market.   They had a bagel/baked goods booth, a jewelry booth, a booth with homemade tea, eggs, and different kinds of meats, a vegetable booth, and a pastry booth.  While there, I spoke with some of the vendors, tried different foods and drink, and even bought a couple bagels.  At one booth, an older woman and her husband were selling homemade organic tea, eggs, jams, and a few different kinds of meat.  She gave me samples of the three teas she had, green, black, and ginger tea, and explained to me the process of how it was made.  She told me all of it was made on their farm, and they made it with live probiotics for freshness.  I loved the fact they her and her husband did it all together, because they seemed to love it.  I ended up buying some of the green tea, which came in a glass bottle that could be brought back and refilled for only $3.  I enjoyed talking to this woman so much because she was extremely passionate about her work.  I asked her how long she had been making her own food and coming to the farmer’s market, and she told me she had been making her own food, drinks, jams, etc. for years.  I was amazed at how much each booth actually had to offer.  Even though I only briefly spoke with a few of the vendors, each had their own story about their products and why they were there.  I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with each of these people because they made me feel included in the community.  They were not cold or unfriendly, they all wanted to share their knowledge and share what they had with the community.  I think it is special that the market is located right next to campus, because it gives students a chance to be involved in an aspect of the Blacksburg/Christiansburg community.  It made me feel at home to know how friendly and caring some of the locals are.  This experience reminded me of multiple readings from class.  In many of our readings, we learned about how a lot of Appalachian citizens live off the land, grow, and produce their own food.  I knew it was a fact, but I had never seen it in action at a place like the farmer’s market.  While there, I noticed that many of the people there were college students.  I think this is due to the fact that it is located so close to campus.  In this particular setting, it didn’t seem like any one person or booth had a majority of the power.  It was more like they were a small community, because they each had their own personalized hand made product to offer.  I had to “unlearn” my ideals about buying food.  Any time I need groceries, I just go to the grocery store, grab whatever brand or kind they have, pay and leave.  At the farmer’s market, it was much different.  When I got to the vegetable stand, I was surprised to see all the food covered in dirt with roots and stems still attached, just sitting in buckets.  This is something I was not used to seeing, because at the grocery store it is usually cleaned and set out, or packaged into bags.  Also, I wondered if any of the foods were not up to “food regulation” but then I realized, each of the products were hand made with hand grown products, most likely without all the chemicals and pesticides used by chains.  This was a very unique experience for me, nothing like I have ever experienced before.  I am looking forward to being more involved in the Blacksburg community, like at the farmer’s market, now that I know more places around the area.

Experiential Learning #1

Brooke Taylor

Experiential Learning

Saturday, October 8th

7:00 PM at Clementine’s Restaurant

Harrisonburg Virginia

One weekend, I went to visit my sister who attends JMU in Harrisonburg.  We went to a local restaurant named Clementine’s to see a band.  The band was called “Girls, Guns, and Glory” and they were a blues rock band.  The band members were all relatively young, probably in their twenties or thirties.  While there was a fair share of college students there, I was surprised to see a lot of locals watching the band.  This event was sort of out of the ordinary for me because I do not usually listen to blues or rock, and I have never attended a restaurant/bar with a live band.  I began talking to some people sitting next to us and they were about in their mid fifty’s.  They said that Girls, Guns, and Glory was one of their favorite bands and they drove about forty minutes from their home to see them.  Almost immediately after they began playing people of all ages were up and dancing to the music.  This reminded me of the reading “Music in Appalachia” from High Mountains Rising. This chapter talked about how influential music is in Appalachia and how there are multiple types of music in the region.  Many people think of Appalachia as only playing “hillbilly” country music, but this is not true at all.  All different types of music are played and listened to.  My perception of Harrisonburg culture changed after attending this show because I always just thought of it as a college town without much Appalachian influence.  I did not necessarily feel like an outsider while I was there because there was plenty of college students there listening.  I learned a lot about the Harrisonburg culture while I was at Clementine’s.  While observing, I noticed that most of the people there were seeing the band and not just eating.  Clementine’s usually has an event or band playing on most nights, so a lot of times the crowd can just be there to eat.  I also realized that as soon as the band began setting up, the restaurant became packed.  Before, it was just a normal sized group of people, and then it grew into a huge crowd standing in between tables, filling out the whole place.  The atmosphere of the restaurant changed when the band came on.  They turned the lights down, added colored lights, and the band was playing the music very loudly.  This made it more of a rowdy “party” like scene.  Every person in the place seemed to be enjoying themselves.  Even if they were not dancing, people were bobbing their heads or tapping their feet to the music.  I was surprised to see the different age ranges there.  While it was a college restaurant/bar, people of all ages were there from children to older adults.  I think that music is an amazing aspect of Appalachian culture.  Not only does it serve as a source of entertainment, it brings people together and creates a social event.  I watched people that clearly did not know each other dancing, laughing, and engaging all because of the band/music.  It was the kind of music that made you want to get up out of your chair and be a part of, even if it is not something you’re used to.  Personally, I haven’t really ever listened to any kind of blues or rock music, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching this band play.  Music plays a huge role in Appalachia by uniting the community and giving people who may not have much in common something to share.

The Band: Girls, Guns, and Glorypicture1

Issues in Appalachia

Appalachia is a very influential and important region in the United States.  Through agriculture, mining, music, etc. Appalachia has created a very unique culture.  Although Appalachia has been very prosperous, there are some issues.  Coal mining has been a huge industry throughout the entire region.  It has helped create and sustain many jobs, but has detrimental effects on the environment and the people living in it.  Many reports of cancer in specific locations have surfaced in the area.  The coal companies do not seem to be taking the environmental acts seriously, so they dump toxic waste into waterways.  The heavy metals from the blasting remains in the waste, poisoning the water Appalachians drink.  Over time, multiple people have gotten sick and even died directly due to the hazardous waste coal companies are dumping.  There is a large issue between coal miners and other citizens of Appalachia.  On one hand, the coal industry has created jobs for people in the region, paying them just enough to live.  Since rural Appalachia does not contain many big business companies and opportunities that larger cities have, mining is the only available option for many people.  People opposing coal mining have seen the horrible effects on the land, as well as on health.  Many Appalachian’s live in extreme poverty, barely able to support themselves and their families.  In some areas of Appalachia, education is not strongly encouraged and school systems are underdeveloped.  With no strong incentive to go to school, many people lack an education.  Also, some people cannot afford to go to college or even high school, and they have to begin work as soon as they are of age.  I believe Appalachia could be improved in many different aspects to help solve these issues.  For example, improving education systems could help children get involved in school at an early age, increasing their chances of continuing their education.  If more jobs are brought into Appalachia, more people would be able to work elsewhere other than in the mines.  I think Appalachia should place heavy importance on finding a renewable energy source, so other jobs can be brought in and mining can be reduced.  Offering job training programs could help out of work people learn skills to allow them to work outside of the mining industry.  Appalachia has a multitude of resources and people to offer, they just need programs to be implemented to help.

Trampoline Group Project- Music

Music and Media

  • Freedom of music

o   Dawn was happy when her parents left so she could go to concerts (pg. 139)

o   Dawn talks about Willet for the first time (pg. 3)

  •  “Willet Bilson sounded about my age. He sounded like someone I would like to talk to” (Gipe 3).

o   Why was music such a release for Dawn? How did her relationship with Willet Bilson affect her interaction with music?

  • Generational

o   Dawn’s Grandpa likes an older kind of music (pg. 142)

  • Types of music

o   Hippie music or punk

o   Hippie music: John Lennon, the Beatles, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Neil Young

  • How music affects culture

o   How does music affect Dawn?

Key Theme: Dichotomy between commercial and local music

Local music has a larger focus on connecting people through experience. Dance halls and folk instruments create an extremely kinetic environment that serves to establish social ties between individuals. It’s tied into religious gatherings as well as secular meetings. It is very much ingrained into the social fabric of the Appalachian region.

Commercial music is not necessarily tied to social gatherings. Therefore, it often seeks to create feelings of nostalgia for folk music or completely deviate from local mountain music.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does music become an influential part of Dawn’s life?
  2. What effect does music have on the Appalachian culture?
  3. How did Dawn use music as an escape from the negative parts of her life?
  4. What was the effect of local music in the novel? Do you see the effects of local music in Blacksburg or your hometown?
  5. Why did Dawn enjoy punk music?

Our presentation is about how music is important in Trampoline and how it effects Dawn.  Music had a big influence on her by being her escape.  She listened to Willett Bilson’s radio station whenever she got a chance, and got lost in the music.  I think music was one of the things that kept Dawn grounded.