Appalshop News

Happy New Year!

1 month ago

Happy New Year! As we look forward to the coming year, we thought we’d share a bit about ourselves and what we are hoping to accomplish in 2024.

If you don’t know us well, we are an organization of storytellers founded over 50 years ago in the coalfields of Eastern Kentucky. We uplift Appalachian voices by offering them space to tell their own stories in their own words through documentary film, theater, community radio, community development, an archive, and more. 

Within Appalshop, we have many different artistic programs, each doing amazing work—often across programs. 

All Access EKY is entering a new phase in their work to ensure all people have access to the full range of contraceptive methods throughout fourteen Appalachian Kentucky counties. In the next year, they will be increasing social media outreach and emphasizing youth empowerment and community engagement activities as they advocate for increased reproductive well-being among eastern Kentuckians.

Appalshop Archive's mission is to preserve, make accessible, and facilitate engagement with the creative output and extraordinary history of Appalshop. In addition to legacy collections, the Archive cares for both newly created and donated materials that help enrich understanding of the history, art, culture, and social issues of the region. In 2024, the Archive will continue cleaning and digitizing items that were damaged in the July 2022 flood. Support from Iron Mountain's Living Legacy initiative will also enable us to make these rescued materials newly accessible through a revamped website and searchable catalog. 

Appalshop’s Community Media Initiative (CMI) is preparing for a busy new year. In a project supported by the Kentucky Office of Community Health Workers, through the Department of Public Health, Division of Prevention and Quality Improvement, CMI will be producing short audio and video stories from Community Health Workers around Kentucky who are working in a variety of settings and communities to increase awareness and understanding of their unique role and positive impact across the state. CMI is also continuing work on Prevent Diabetes EKY, a series of radio stories and PSAs that share stories of eastern Kentuckians who are making lifestyle changes to prevent or control this deadly disease, which has such a high rate in this region. In addition, the Kentucky Department for Public Health has contracted with CMI to carry out the Appal Health Project, designed to increase health equity for Eastern Kentucky’s African American communities through the collection and sharing of oral histories, community story circles, health forums, and other related information on WMMT and other media outlets. And finally, CMI is pleased that the short documentary Calls From Home is now available for community screenings and will be available for viewing through Appalshop Films in 2024. The film shares the stories of families and friends who use WMMT to connect with their loved ones incarcerated in the region’s many state and federal prisons, and it highlights the painful distances and racial biases created by our system of mass incarceration.  

Our Appalshop Fellow, Kyra Higgins, is working on learning how to do a radio drama called “Word on the Street,” exploring recording, soundscapes, sound effects, script work, and casting. She is excited to have her radio show listeners along for the ride. During practice stages, she’ll be sharing over-the-air the hiccups, triumphs, discoveries, and testing ways to have listeners weigh in on the process. Kyra would like the final show to be a choose-your-own adventure, with the main points of the story influenced by interviews with people of color living in mountainous places over the topic of spirituality from the mundane to the spectacular. Tune in for the journey, and become a part of the process at WMMT 88.7 FM in our neck of the woods or from anywhere at wmmt.org

The Making Connections News Storybank, a project of CMI, continues to grow. It currently holds over 275 audio stories focused on the ideas and challenges around making a just transition from fossil fuels to a more sustainable economy and healthier communities in Central Appalachia. 

Roadside Theater is a professional ensemble of storytellers and theater makers hailing from the mountains of Central Appalachia. They draw inspiration from our area’s rich history as well as the histories of cultures and communities they’ve come to love since starting this journey in 1975. In 2024, Roadside is looking forward to creating a larger network of place-based artists, both near and far, and continuing to show the rich creative energy and enthusiasm existing and expanding here in Appalachia as they build toward their 50th anniversary.

WMMT 88.7FM is Real People Radio now and forever moving forward. Their small paid staff along with a community volunteer staff of over 50 people are currently operating out of a converted Winnebago at Appalshop’s Whitesburg property on the North Fork of the Kentucky River. They offer a wide variety of musical programming, public affairs and news both produced by their station and partner stations, and quality syndicated programming. They believe in training up community members to engage in the art of human-centered radio programming, audio production, and the local and regional music scene. In 2024, WMMT is looking forward to expanding original audio production offerings, conducting a listening survey to hear more from their audience, and hosting live community events.

We have so much to look forward to!

If any of this work resonates with you, you can support it directly by choosing the program in the drop-down menu at appalshop.org/donate. Or if you have collaboration ideas, we’d love to hear from you! Shoot us an email at [email protected]


Appalshop in the News

Poets & Writers: Weathering the Storms

Salvation South: Fight From Away

Grist: How to Sell Solar in Coal Country

Daily Yonder: Commentary: In New Poll, Rural Americans Point to Unheard Economic Urgency

KRNL Magazine: ‘It's Who We Are': Appalshop Rebuilds Their Community

The Ford Foundation: Creativity and Free Expression: The Latest

Clay County News: OPINION: Coalition of Organizations Launches Public Education Campaign: Kentucky Has the Money for a Budget that Delivers

Next City News: American Democracy Is At A Low Point. We Need To Strengthen It At The Local Level

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