Oral History Gathering with the Clinch River Valley Initiative: Local, State, Regional, and National Partnerships to Build Community Capacity and Diversify Coalfield Economies in Southwest Virginia

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Leggett, Caroline; Chorniak, Celeste; Landreth, Lauren
lecture / presentation description
In collaboration with the Clinch River Valley Initiative (CRVI), Radford University (RU) students will be interviewing residents who have grown up along the Clinch River. This partnership exemplifies the ARC’s commitment to “achieve the greatest impact possible, leveraging ARC’s limited resources to bring more resources into the Region” (investing in Appalachia’s Future, 42) using three main frameworks. First, RU students will be immersed in place-based education. Second, they will be strengthening community partner relationships and contributing to innovative alternative economies. Helping augment CRVI’s downtown revitalization, tourism and economic diversification efforts, resulting oral history recordings will be transcribed and made into a book for sale to residents and tourists in the area; audio clips will be incorporated in kiosks along the river for use by outdoor recreation businesses and customers; other partnerships and programs may evolve from the project (such as UVA Wise student animation creations to visualize audio recordings). Third, students will be historically contextualizing environmental health as evidenced by residents’ relationship to the river. A participating RU student expresses the project in this way: “I am interested in what these people have to say and I want to see how their experiences fit into the greater context of life in Appalachia. These interviews may also give the people a chance to reflect on aspects of their life that they normally might not be asked about, and it makes them feel valued and important.”