The Homeplace Restaurant #experientiallearning

10/1/16, Homeplace Restaurant, Catawba, Virginia


On October 1st, I had the opportunity to go to the Homeplace Restaurant in Catawba, Virginia.  The Homeplace Restaurant is seemingly a person’s house that has just been opened up for a family gathering.  When you go in, there are a ton of people from allover the region as it is a highly respected restaurant for its quality and environment.  Aside from getting a great meal, we were able to talk to a few people while we waited to be seated and see where they were from and what brought them to the restaurant.  I am typically a very quiet person myself, so I would say by putting myself out there to talk to these strangers was in a way, challenging myself.  I always try to keep to myself, but I was interested in what attracted others to drive the distance for this restaurant.

Something that you can only experience by going yourself is the food and atmosphere offered.  The restaurant is very welcoming and truly doesn’t feel like a business and more like you were invited to a family gathering.  The food is no different.  Everything was delicious and had that homemade touch to it that made it a special occasion rather than going out to any other restaurant.

I wouldn’t say my perception of Appalachia had changed from the experience, but it certainly reinforced my expectations.  As someone from outside of the region, you always hear about a proper southern home cooked meal, but I never experienced it prior to going to The Homeplace Restaurant.  Although I certainly felt out of place as I usually do since I do not have the stereotypical southern accent and people can quickly tell I am not a local, the atmosphere helped change that.  The staff and the restaurant itself were very welcoming and everyone was generally in a good mood.  There were also a few other people who seemed to also be from outside of the region, which was helpful in getting comfortable myself.

I would assume most of the people in there were from relatively close by, but there were certainly others who had traveled for the occasion.  The Homeplace Restaurant has garnered a reputation in the region, and it doesn’t take long to hear about it once you enter Virginia.  Surprisingly, it came up in conversation prior to this course, but I never thought I would actually attend until this assignment gave me a push to finally go. homeplacehouse

As previously stated, the outside of the restaurant looked completely identical to any house you would see in the region.  The inside was also fairly barren, unlike most restaurants you see today that flood the walls with trinkets to take up space and try to look appealing.  The Homeplace Restaurant decided to go a different route and rather than putting in a bunch of objects and pictures that remind you of Appalachia, they went for a traditional styling that made you feel like you were in someone’s home from the region.  As you would expect, the only sounds you heard were mostly people talking, but the smells in the restaurant were overwhelmingly of fried chicken and mashed potatoes.  It was certainly a welcoming scent when you first walked into the door, hungry after waiting to be seated.

I would say the people working at the restaurant held the power over the customers, as expected, but it was different from any other restaurant. It was as if you were showing respect to someone hosting a house party that invited you over for a gathering rather than you respecting a figurehead in a business.

I am fairly happy with the overall experience I had at The Homeplace Restaurant.  I would say I would have liked to talk to more people to hear more stories while I was there, but there’s a certain aspect of trying to let people naturally enjoy themselves and experience things for yourself.  With that being said, I don’t think I would have changed anything about the trip and I’m glad I got the opportunity to go.


Floyd Country Store #experientiallearning


9/30/16, Floyd Country Store, Floyd County, Virginia




On September 30th, I went to the Floyd Country Store to hear live music.  Floyd itself was a great town that I was happy to experience.  It was built close like a city, but it still had that southern charm that Appalachia is known for.  One of the things that brought me to the country store was my professor was actually performing there.  Professor Barton plays the banjo for the Happy Hollow String Band, which is a group of locals that play high energy blue grass for everyone to dance to.  Not only was I interested in seeing her perform out of curiosity, I wanted to expose myself to a different culture and style of music.

As someone from New Jersey who listens to metal music, this was clearly something out of my comfort zone.  We arrived 45 minutes prior to the Happy Hollow String Band and was able to hear a few other locals perform.  All of the music was in the genre of Blue Grass, but all had a very different feel to them.  The first band had played a few happy songs which had lyrics sort of fantasizing about Appalachian culture and land, which I believe played to the nostalgia of the crowd.  They finished with a very personal song to the singer about the hardships her and her family had faced in recent times and how they were overcoming it.  It was clearly an emotional experience for her and the crowd was very supportive and appreciative of her sharing her experiences in a way that can benefit and be experienced by the community through song.

The mood certainly changed when the Happy Hollow String Band came on stage because they played strictly dancing music.  For over an hour straight, nearly everyone in the room crowded onto the dance floor and danced the night away.  The music was incredibly high energy and put a smile on everyone’s face in the room including myself.  As I said, this certainly isn’t my generally preferred type of music, but in that moment it certainly spoke to me and I enjoyed myself much more than I had thought I would going into the night.  Although the environment was filled with joy and certainly not judgmental, I did not participate in dancing because it is not something that I have ever found enjoyable and I don’t think I ever will.  Just because I didn’t directly participate doesn’t mean I didn’t get to enjoy it and feel the energy of the room though. floydcountrystorepic

The aesthetics of the room were mostly trinkets, toys, and clothing that were relevant to Appalachian culture and past.  Everything had been pushed to the side to make room for all of the people enjoying the show, but was still visible for us to go around and look at everything.  There were the standard shirt and books with the Floyd Country Store branding on it as you would expect, but there were also books about the regions past and traditional toys along with the selection of overalls for purchase.  It gave the building a sense of looking into the past rather than a cheap knock off novelty store, which was beneficial to the experience.

One of the things that did not surprise me, but was sad to see nonetheless, was that nearly the entire crowd was filled with elderly people.  It seemed like the same locals went to the shows every time to try and relive their past, while the new generation was leaving it behind.  It was sad to see what appeared to be a dying out of a practice and community gathering.  There were the occasional teenagers or grandchildren who were brought in to experience the atmosphere and dance, which I found to be refreshing that the traditions were staying alive in some families.

Although the crowd was generally older, that certainly did not stop them from having a great time when the Happy Hollow String Band came out.  For the first 45 minutes I was at the show, the crowd was quiet and applauded when performers finished a song, but there was a general level of tiresome in the audience.  Once they came out, the entire crowd jumped up, got their dancing shoes on, and didn’t stop dancing for over the hour that they performed.  I could see the excitement and general happiness in the eyes of every person in that room and it was definitely an experience I won’t soon forget.  I’m happy that I got the opportunity to go out to the show and see a bit of Appalachian culture straight from the source rather than just the stories that you hear.

None of the readings specifically spoke out to me from the experience.  What stuck out was the general sense of hardship that the readings portray of the locals and it puts them off as people being down on their luck and unable to enjoy themselves.  This experience proved that wrong to me and made me realize even with everything they have been through, they are able to put it all to the side and have a good time.

My perception of the people of Appalachia certainly changed after that night.  My only experience is with the younger generation of people from the region, and with the popularity of social media, it seems as though the generation has become one in the same across the country and lacks the diversity of the older generations.  I got to see the side of Appalachian people which I consider to be the true life experiences of the region and see what they were truly like.

One of the great things about the show was that everyone seemed to be on the same level.  Normally at shows, the performers are on a sort of pedestal and are thought to be above those they are performing for.  At the Floyd Country Store, everyone seemed to be just a part of the community in the region and was there to have fun with each other and enjoy the night which was a nice change of pace from my experiences.

Blog 10 Overview




As someone who is not originally from the region either, all of my advice comes from my experiences over the past few years and the information gathered from this semester.  One of the biggest aspects I would say is important to keep in mind is that not everyone will come from the same background.  Excluding the people from outside of the region, even everyone within Appalachia will have a different upbringing due to the vast differences between areas.  One of these differences that stand out to me the most, is the difference between Northern Virginia and the rest of Virginia.  I had known that the northern part of the state was wealthier, but the way everyone portrays the north from the rest of the state, it seems like they don’t even consider themselves to be from the same background.  This was surprising to me considering the frequency in which it came up and how people from Virginia refer to where they’re from by the part of the state and not just from the state of Virginia as a whole.

Another skill you need to learn is how to provide help and support to the community at the school without assuming everyone is on the same side of the discussion.  A recent example of this is the election.  Although college campuses are typically liberal, there are still many republicans in the south specifically, and with the recent outcome of the election, it would not look good to act as if Trump winning were the end of the world.  It is important to show support to those who need it without making the people who are happy with the results feel as if they made the wrong choice.

One of the best things I feel a person in a position of leadership can do is make themselves personable and relate-able.  Especially with the upcoming generation, it is important to make that distinction that you are just a person who is trying to do their best and people will respect that.  It is a different time where people are no longer looking for the censored and secretive figurehead, they want someone who is open about their intentions and their thoughts.

Appalachia is like anywhere else and requires you to get to know people before you fit right in.  These points will help to start off on the right foot, but making your own connections to the community is vital in earning the trust of the people in the region.

Trampoline Group Project

Trampoline Group Project

Theme: Drugs

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


I’m personally not much of a reader and try to avoid it typically, but Trampoline was different than most books.  It provided a context, although stereotypical and someone degrading, to the region which I have come to know in the past few years at Tech.  I am from New Jersey, so it is not a part of Appalachia, but we struggle with some of the same issues.  This mainly coincides with the drug abuse in the book and the dynamic of family relations and how that is affected as a result.  We also don’t have the same divisive issues in New Jersey as Dawn’s family had their problems with miners and mountain top removal, but there are qualities or opinions that divide families in the area.  These typically include political stances which do make it difficult to get along sometimes, because although it is best to discuss your differences and get the opinions of an opposing view, sometimes the discussion gets out of hand and people are hurt.  Dawn’s family certainly felt the strain of this family conflict and was divided as a result.

Blog 8: Coal Flower Project

Over the week we have discussed the protests and changes made to people’s lives due to coal mining in the area.  What surprised me was the overwhelming amount of evidence pointing to the harsh effects of coal mining and blasting in the towns, yet the people were ignored at every turn.  Through the regulation that was put in place for miners, it seemed as though it were a more closely monitored practice considering its significance for the country.  What confuses me is the overwhelming negativity towards mining as a whole.  Considering it provides the materials we all need to live our day to day lives and keep the power going, I feel people should be arguing for reform of the system and not the end of it entirely.  Although the amount of jobs is not as overwhelming as it has been in the past, mining is still responsible for employing many people in Appalachia and the sudden end of the job would be a large issue for the region.

As far as our coal flower project, mine had not bloomed.  Below I will include a picture of the intended product, along with what had actually come of mine.  coalflower goodcoalflower

Blog 7: MTR

Response to question 2.


The National Mining Association is a group that gives a voice to its members that consist of coal and mineral miners.  They speak for them so they have a political presence and can fight for policies and regulations that allow the miners to continue their job while remaining safe.  With a constantly changing work environment with the advancements of technology, there are also policy changes that need to occur.  If my memory serves me correctly, an example of this is with a piece of equipment known as a total station. This is essentially a ruler that uses lasers to measure the distance from two positions.  This piece of equipment is currently illegal to use in underground operations as it is classified as being dangerous.  This clearly isn’t true, but the policy was written prior to the technology, so miners constantly break the law when using this important and harmless tool.  There are more pressing concerns that require policy changes than this, but it is an example that I am familiar with from my time in the Mining Engineering department.  Without the presence of organizations such as the NMA, miners would be left on the sidelines and wouldn’t get the attention in policy reform that they need.



Blog 6: Eller and Lewis

One key point brought up in Colonialism in Modern America: The Appalachian Case was “Despite the tremendous out-migration from the area, the rapid technological changes in a one-industry area left a large number of unemployed miners and destitute families.”

This is a critical point in the examination of the economic standing of people in Appalachia in my opinion.  The region is commonly described as having growth without development.  Since Appalachia had so much invested in strictly mining and did not expand to make better infrastructure or varying sources of income, the lack of demand for miners put much of the people in the region in a tough financial position.  While technological development improved the working conditions and speeds of workers in mines, it meant there was less demand for individual workers because the machines allowed less workers to do more.  minetown

Since so many people relied solely on the success and demand for workers in mines, when this fell through it cost many people their jobs and their only source of income.  Temporary camps that were set up for workers were also discussed, but these were exactly that; temporary and not meant to be long term.  There was no serious development in terms of making a permanent town or village for people to stay in which resulted in many abandoned or run down mine towns throughout Appalachia.

With the topography of the land and the workforce available in the area in mind, what other businesses or jobs do you think could have been introduced to Appalachia to help diversify its economic dependencies?



Blog 5: MUSIC

In High Mountains Rising, Bill Malone discusses the role and portrayal of Blue Grass and music from the Appalachian people.  Malone states, “Although many mountain-born musicians performed in the first two decades of the country music business, they could not have presented an “Appalachian” image, even if they had wanted to do so.  Mountain and rural scenes, or representations of them, easily meshed in the public mind.  It was hard to play mountain roles without resorting to caricature or stereotype, the result being a depiction drawn from vaudeville or popular culture of the feuding, moon shining, jug-toting hillbilly.”

Although I can see the stance that the general public may find it harder to distinguish the difference in subtle details within a song to categorize the region as the south or specifically Appalachia, I don’t believe it takes a complete selling out of depicting stereotypes.

To me, Blue Grass is incredibly different in sound, style and lyrically from traditional country music or music attributed to the south.  Blue Grass is much more related to Appalachia as a whole and plays to a different style including different instruments such as banjos, harmonicas, accordions, lap steels, fiddles and mandolins.  While some of these instruments are used in other musical styles, they way they are introduced to Blue Grass makes them unique and an easily distinguishable sound and style.  An easy example of the style that Blue Grass music follows is shown in the link below.

The fast paced music with high energy singing are common characteristics among the Blue Grass genre that will get anyone from Appalachia thinking of home.

What feelings and thoughts are provoked when listening to Blue Grass for you and how does it differ when listening to Country music?

Blog 4: Images and Industrialization

As discussed in Merchandising the Mountaineer, a picture can completely alter the perception of an area without context.  The author talks about the photos chosen for the cover of their book which contained old men with long beards and kids in overalls and torn shoes.  Accompanied by a woody theme and a trig style font, the cover of the book had become completely misleading and had put off the impression that Appalachians were not modernized.

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ - JULY 2: The cast of MTV's Jersey Shore (Season 6) hosts a party/bonfire on the beach July 2, 2012 in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Picture Group for MTV)
SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ – JULY 2: The cast of MTV’s Jersey Shore (Season 6) hosts a party/bonfire on the beach July 2, 2012 in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Picture Group for MTV)

This perception relates to the way my hometown is now viewed as a result of what was shown to the public.  A big influence of the perception of Toms River and Seaside in New Jersey was from the show Jersey Shore.  The show gave off the impression that everyone in the area would exclusively do drugs and go to clubs while dressing and acting like a “Guido”.  The show went as far as to attract that demographic and influence it within the area and completely changed what it was like.  seaside-heights-pre-hurricane-sandy-james-enos

When I was growing up, Seaside was a family place where you could go to play games and go on rides.  You could go over the weekend with your family, get some food, win prizes, and generally enjoy yourself.  The environment has completely changed as a result of the show and perception to what is acceptable in the area and it has become less family friendly as a result.  Now there is a large demographic of people who come from out of town that feel it is allowed or accepted to be drunk or under the influence of drugs while there and act as if the entire town and shore were a club.

The image of Seaside spread so quickly because it was a time where the country was obsessed with reality television and watched shows like the Jersey Shore religiously.  People would think their actions were typical for the area and would visit Seaside and perpetuate what was displayed in the show.  Although each area will be perceived differently and have different consequences as a result, this goes to further the point made by Merchandising the Mountaineer that a false image can quickly become the narrative for a region.


Blog 3: Violence in Appalachia

As discussed in “Ghosts, Boundaries and Names,” the ghosts of an area can be directly related to the violence within the region.  On page 8, Williams says “This is appropriate, for Appalachia, more than most of the regions into which the United States is customarily divided, is a territory of images – a screen upon which writers, artists, and savants for several generations have projected their fears, hopes, regrets, and enthusiasms about America present and past.”  For this reason, we can see where the past and present social violence and rivalries between different regions have erupted.

Just as in schools, there are stereotypes which speak negatively about certain groups, such as athletes being dumb, there have been stereotypes that have come up between states which create social violence between them.  An example of this is between Virginia and West Virginia.  It is clear that talking to any local in Virginia, West Virginia is seen as the worse state that has even worse poverty issues and other personal attacks that probably shouldn’t be mentioned here.  The same goes for even different regions within Virginia.  Northern Virginia is seen as the rich kid area where everyone out of there comes from a wealthy family and is spoiled to no end.  These are all narratives created from the regions ghosts that continues to split them to this day.  stereotypes-virginia-3

We’ve seen here the rivalries that have come within a state, and neighboring states, but these stereotypes are prevalent regardless of the distance from the area you are discussing.  We can see this through the general public’s perception of the Middle East or areas in Europe even if they haven’t been there themselves.  We also see generalizations coming from the northern states that anyone from the south is less technologically progressive and if someone has a southern accent then they are a “hillbilly” or less educated than themselves.  These are clearly unjustified claims to be made in a blanket statement for a region, but the narratives were set by the ghosts of our towns and have resulted in these social conflicts and violence from distant places.