It’s election time in Appalachia, particularly in my home region of Southwest Virginia and I’m not very thrilled.
While I value and treasure the right to vote, voting in Appalachia is not all its cracked up to be. In fact, voting on this end of the state just doesn’t seem to carry much weight anymore.
Three things occurred last week that raised my frustration level to a high point when it comes to Appalachia, politics, and our future in Southwest Virginia.
After spending part of the weekend at the Breaks Interstate Park for the “Tales of the Cumberlands” event, I came away with an even greater love for my roots in Appalachia.
I got to spend Friday with my wife for nearly the entire day and then on Saturday, I made the return trip to the Breaks by myself but taking a different route than the traditional Wise to Clintwood to Haysi to the Breaks route. I decided to take the Kentucky route this time.
The Kentucky route is scenic, eye opening, depressing and forces you to be reflective, all in the same journey.
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” – Winston Churchill
Appalachia has a problem and if you haven’t already thought it or said it, change is needed for the area to prosper and get back on its feet.
Winston Churchill once said that attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. Here in Appalachia, you could say that we have an attitude and that little thing called attitude makes a big difference. You can also add that some people need an attitude adjustment in Appalachia.
The thing is, I didn’t use those words “attitude adjustment” nor have I been listening to Hank Williams, Jr.’s Greatest Hits. The words “attitude adjustment” were words used by business owners in Martinsville and Henry County, VA recently at a community forum focusing on getting their region to thrive again.
Sadly their region is facing the same obstacles and attitudes that we are in Appalachia.
As I was going through my Facebook news feed this morning, I found an unexpected surprise.
No, I didn’t receive a friend request from a girl that liked me when I was in elementary or high school and no, not a request from a Nigerian ambassador telling me that I had inherited a room full of stock in a worthless, non-existent oil company.
It was something much better.
It has been an extremely tough week looking at the news concerning Appalachia and in particular, Southwestern Virginia, its future, and the dwindling population numbers for the region.
The headlines have been attention grabbing. The Roanoke Times with op-ed pieces entitled, “Should we just let Appalachia go?” and “Population loss in Virginia’s coalfields region projected to continue for decades”, have been enough to rattle me and plunge me into depressionary depths this week and for that matter anyone else when seeing headlines like that or diving into the figures.
It’s enough to make anyone put their hands to their head, start running and screaming to get me out of Appalachia.
After reading the articles, I decided to sit down and put a positive spin on the population loss from Virginia’s coalfields. One of my hobbies include designing logos and things for friends or projects, so I decided to develop a logo and a campaign for the Commonwealth of Virginia to use as their next big economic endeavor at, ahem, saving Southwest Virginia or better yet, pushing the entire region off the cliff.
And here it is:
You can’t blame the Dickenson County Historical Society for trying. What’s the old saying? If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again.
Somewhere, Abraham Lincoln who did not succeed in a number of his attempts in life has to be smiling.
Smiling that the historical society is not only persistent but determined to reach their goal of getting DMHS and doing something with it.