At the bottom of this article of “Wheels of Change”, you can register to get a free copy of “It’s not My Mountain Anymore”, written by this same author!
When I was a high school student working on Foxfire magazine back in the 1970’s, I was blessed to know most of the elders in our surrounding Southern Appalachian communities. If these gracious ones had not opened their hearts and homes to share their wisdom, experiences, tears and thrills, hopes and fears, there would not be nine million Foxfire Books in print today.
Foxfire had done little to call attention to social and environmental issues occurring in the ever- changing mountains until a government grant launched Foxfire’s first and only environmental research team. I, along with two fellow students Laurie Brunson and Mary Thomas were hired and began a year-long study of a local community experiencing great change.
In the early seventies a few savvy land developers came into our county smiling, with money in their hands. They sought to buy the land of families like mine, seventh generation Appalachians who were vulnerable for many reasons. Some needed the money to pay ever increasing taxes; some thought that money would be easier to split among children than land; and some saw the glitter of gold that developers were offering in exchange for land that they were too old to farm. There were also those who refused to sell and grieved at the thought of losing not just the ground, but a rich, deep way of life that was responsible for forging America’s first frontier.
I listened intently to the words of Foxfire contact Maude Shope describe concern for her homeland. “I’ll tell ye what I’m afraid of. You may live t’ see it; I won’t. There is s’ many more people being born and have to have a place to live. We’ve got land here. In a few years they’ll cut it up and they’ll take off so much and sell it. That worries me.” I sensed she was placing the destiny of the mountains into our young hands.
Miss Maude did not live to see her fear come to pass, but when I recently journeyed back to her home place more than forty years later, I beheld with my own eyes the reality of what she foretold. I recalled her last words to me. “I’d not swap my little shack for the finest house in New York. I’d just not do it.”
Currently, I can’t count the number of developers who have bought and sold mountain land to the elite whose garage is worth more than our homes. Erosions and scars on the land don’t heal but deepen, and when the leaves fall from the trees in autumn, we are reminded of the rape of the mountains.
Change is inevitable. It promises offer in equal measure the light and life of renewal and the darkness and tragedy of destruction. I can only hope the future of the mountains are shaped by those who love and respect the great beauty. I hope those who read my book, “It’s Not My Mountain Anymore” will gain some insight and become a bit more sensitive to the things that draw millions of visitors here each year.
Perhaps when new eyes behold these mountains a voice from the past will encourage them to remember and respect our dying culture.
Sometimes we just have to push through man-made progress to grow and bloom anyway.
This article on Wheels of Change by Barbara is inspirational as usual! Don’t forget to register for her book below!
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It’s Not My Mountain Anymore
Reviews for Barbara’s Book!
“What a VOICE!“…Andrea Robinson, Random House
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“Your writing is truly eloquent. It transports me back to my mountain. I cherish my copy…” Earl Hamner, creator of The Waltons series
“Some books are the real deal, this is one of them…” Gwen Mansini, VA
“A book full of passion, soul and powerful writings…” Appalachian Voices Magazine
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