Chained to Appalachia, we all have a story to tell

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Mark Linkous aka Sparklehorse

Recently, my thoughts focused back to an Appalachian whose roots were firmly planted in Appalachia despite being born in Northern Virginia and how he came to “embrace” Appalachia in his music and his roots.

His journey brought him, his mother and brother back to far Southwestern Virginia for a time then back to Northern Virginia. Eventually, his love for music led to success locally, then regionally and he traveled outside Appalachia before coming back to settle in the western North Carolina mountains, eventually moving across the mountains to East Tennessee, battling personal demons and then leaving us by taking his own life in an alley in Knoxville, TN on March 6, 2010.

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Shall we play an escape game?

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:

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When does a memorial cease to become a memorial? When it involves money

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Dickenson Memorial and Industrial High School in Clintwood, VA

(Previous blog post on DMHS and a recent podcast)

It’s Thursday, June 22nd, and I am preparing myself to head to my hometown of Clintwood, in the heart of economically depressed Appalachia, what was once “Coal Country” and the home of “King Coal”, to report on a county board of supervisors meeting.

Tonight, the agenda will discuss many topics, including taking a vote on a 2017-18 FY budget of 25 million dollars. A no-frills budget with room for very little spending in a county that has little or no economic growth or motivators at present, nothing going for it because either the people are so set in their ways or the political leaders that make decisions that don’t want change.

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