Posts Tagged ‘The Appalachian Voice’
In February 2016, the Appalachian Voice publication turned 20 years old. Help us celebrate!
The first issue of The Appalachian Voice was published in the early months of 1996, initially a product of the Sierra Club’s Southern Appalachian Highlands Ecoregion Task Force. Started by Harvard Ayers, who headed the task force and acted as publisher, and Nathaniel “Than” H. Axtell, an experienced journalist who served as editor for eight years, the publication was immediately supported by a stable of freelancers and friends spread across the region from West Virginia to Georgia.
“It was just the two of us, me and Than,” Ayers says. “We would make long trips from Boone all the way up to Front Royal, Va., delivering papers. We would drop them off all along [Interstate 81] in many places, and then drive down south to Asheville. It was a lot of fun.”
Along with their editorial board, the pair devised a storyboard that not only celebrated the biodiversity and culture of Appalachia, but also shed light on injustices affecting the environment and people of the region — topics generally avoided in mainstream local media at the time, and still underrepresented today.
“I have to give Than the credit,” Ayers continues. “He really put in [massive amounts] of time to making it happen. He is the reason the paper is here today.”
In the first year, the publication established the model we use to this day — relying on science and facts to tackle difficult and often contentious subjects such as chip mills, controversial road projects, water and air pollution, acid rain, logging and mountaintop removal coal mining, an environmental issue that grew into a national advocacy movement in the early 2000s.
“Our goal was in being able to get the word out, and to establish a pride in the Appalachian area,” Ayers says.
Birth of the Appalachian Voices Organization
During the first year of publishing, members of the Voice’s editorial board began to recognize a need for an advocacy organization that could focus exclusively on local issues related to Appalachia. Out of a series of brainstorm sessions, the organization Appalachian Voices was born, receiving its official nonprofit charter in July of 1997.
Originally starting with just two staff members in a small office in Boone, N.C., today Appalachian Voices has offices in North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee and employs 25 full-time staff working on eight campaigns related to energy and the environment. The team utilizes legislation, community organizing and litigation to address the negative impacts of mining and burning coal for electricity, and to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency and new economic opportunities for communities struggling from the decline of coal.
The organization continues to maintain The Appalachian Voice as a cornerstone of its communications outreach, distributing over 62,000 papers in a nine-state region and publishing online at appalachianvoices.org/thevoice. Though some of the environmental problems in the region have changed, the mission of The Voice remains the same — to bring to light the vital and often unheard stories of Appalachia’s land and people.
Since The Voice’s inception, five editors including myself have managed the helm, putting in long hours and late nights to edit freelancers, fact-check stories, and search for the perfect photograph for the cover, all while dreaming up ideas for the next issue. Since 2013, our Managing Editor Molly Moore has taken on the daily aspects of running the publication, ensuring that each issue makes it to the printer and on to our readers. It’s a labor of love all the way around, and each of us have enjoyed every minute of it, in our own way.
Throughout it all, we have been assisted by hundreds (if not thousands!) of writers, photographers, proofreaders, volunteers, distributors and friends — more than we could ever hope to repay — who have helped make each issue possible. Not to mention the donors, subscribers and advertisers who help us keep The Voice free.
To celebrate our 20th anniversary, in each issue throughout the year we will include small glimpses into the past, to stir memories and inspire the future.
Thank you for reading. Here’s to another 20.
Editor, The Appalachian Voice
Six years ago, when I took on the incredible task of heading up The Appalachian Voice publication, I was promptly amazed by the volume of positive support and feedback from our readers. Story ideas, kudos to writers and offers to help deliver the publication steadily came in the mail or through email, all helping us to continually hone the publication and ensure we were staying on top of covering the most pressing environmental issues in our region.
Now I am delighted to report that the same great access to our content that you find in the print edition is now available on our website, through our newly revamped online presence.
While we have always posted our story content online, a small nonprofit budget and an even smaller staff for years kept us from being able to develop a fully interactive and surfable web presence for the newspaper. But this past year we embarked on a journey to update The Voice Online, a process that included a survey seeking more of that wonderful feedback from our readers. And you responded!
Thanks to your ideas and suggestions, our small web team — most notably AV’s IT technician, Toby MacDermott, and our outstanding summer intern and graphic designer, Jared Peeler — has designed a more enjoyable, and most importantly, a more substantial web presence for The Voice.
Now, as any proud parent would want to do, I’d like to brag about our new features for a moment. The new Voice Online now has:
- a visually appealing new look;
- each issue packaged for easier online reading “cover-to-cover” (see the latest issue);
- a special landing page for our Hiking the Highlands column, so readers are able to scan back through the archives more easily to find hikes you want to try;
- ditto for our other regular sections, including Naturalist’s Notebook and This Green House — all located in our new sidebar to provide you with hours of material to read about favorite critters or gather ideas for improvements to your own home;
- a new online Subscription tool for instant email notifications when each latest issue is published online;
- a more fully automated back-end system to aid our staff in uploading new content;
- and real-time updates from our Front Porch Blog, so you can click through to the very latest information on the topics you care most about.
Of course, a great work is never complete, and we still have much work to do to enhance the interactivity and surfability of our content. Plans for the future include updating our past issue landing pages to the new design, providing online-only expanded content and special features to complement the print edition, adding an interactive map to our Hiking the Highlands page, and much more.
None of this would be possible without feedback from our readers, and we once again welcome your comments and thoughts on the new design to help us improve access to the news you find important. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you think!
And as always, thanks so much for supporting the mission and team behind The Appalachian Voice. You are the reason we are here.
Jamie Goodman, Editor
By Amber Ellis
Editorial intern, Summer 2014
I joined The Appalachian Voice crew at the beginning of June for a summer internship, and the staff immediately had me out getting my feet wet — literally and figuratively. I hopped on the issue just in time to start work on a piece exploring mountain bogs for our Naturalist Notebook page, so dipping my toes into journalism meant getting my boots muddy in some of Appalachia’s most unique ecosystems.
I wasn’t the only young-gun working on this issue, though. In it you’ll also hear from my fellow intern Carvan Craft about ways in which colleges and students across Appalachia are pushing toward environmental sustainability through campus projects and initiatives such as fossil fuel divestment, renewable energy and friendly competitions.
Writer Rachel Ellen Simon also focuses on educational institutions in her profiles of five colleges in Appalachia and the smart ways they save energy.
The New Opportunity School for Women and the High Rocks Academy for Girls, however, demonstrate that education is never restricted to the walls of the university. Writer Kimber Ray showcases the numerous ways in which these organizations are revealing educational and economic opportunity for females in rural Appalachia through innovative academic courses, summer camps and training programs.
Also in this issue, Matt Wasson, director of programs for Appalachian Voices, breaks down the recently-published U.S. Geological Survey study on lower fish populations in streams near mountaintop removal mines. Additionally, Eric Chance, water quality specialist for Appalachian Voices, explains selenium pollution and why it is so harmful for our streams, and writer Molly Moore tackles fracking and points to ways in which it is and is not being regulated.
Don’t forget our regular features! Hiking the Highlands presents Camp Creek in West Virginia, a wonderful park to explore in late summer. This issue’s politics page covers states’ reactions to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon emissions rule and provides a summary of how our representatives voted on environmental issues in the 113th Congress. The Energy Report page covers some hopeful news of the court ruling that favored the EPA on mountaintop removal and the local opposition to a West Virginia surface mine near a state forest. It also covers the unfortunate updates to Kentucky’s coal general permit processes, and the N.C. coal ash bill that is still pending due to the inability of the Senate and House to find a compromise.
Regular readers of our online edition might notice a new format, designed to make years’ worth of quality content more accessible than ever. Read the online version here! Or, if you prefer to read it in print, round off the summer by picking up a copy of The Appalachian Voice from a newsstand near you, or join Appalachian Voices to receive a one-year subscription in your mailbox.
Questions or comments? Email email@example.com, or submit a letter to the editor!
You don’t need to travel far to experience a summer rich in laughter and discovery. In this issue of The Appalachian Voice, we scope out some of the region’s most lively farmers markets and showcase the natural beauty of the “Heart of Appalachia,” a region in southwest Virginia hailed as among the most biodiverse in the country.
Writer Megan Northcote explores the growing phenomenon of “destination farmers markets,” which host events and activities that lead Northcote to dub them “more than a market.” Visitors can enjoy cooking and artisan demonstrations, hands-on kids activities, live music and dancing -‒ all while enjoying fresh and delicious food from the surrounding community. And access to this healthy, locally-sourced produce is expanding. From a mobile farmers market in eastern Tennessee to a program in West Virginia where children grow and sell food from their school garden, the way that communities think about food is being transformed all across Appalachia.
At the same time, ecotourism is continuing to gain momentum as a way to promote and protect the natural features that shape a community’s unique identity. In the Clinch River Valley of southwest Virginia, the recent opening of a river tubing outfitter, as well as the development of driving, biking and hiking trails, have been attracting tourists from across the nation. Visitors are enticed by the region’s astounding biodiversity ‒ the crystal-clear waters of the Clinch River are home to more endangered and rare aquatic species than anywhere else in the country ‒ and the famous voices of the region’s musical history steeped in the origins of bluegrass.
Residents, organizations and businesses of the Clinch River Valley are banding together to preserve these assets by working towards the creation of a new state park. The state legislature is still working through the process of funding the park, but in the meantime the issue’s regular Hiking the Highlands column explores some of the trails that already traverse the area. The ability to discover and interact with the outdoors in the Clinch River Valley is further aided by several phone applications ‒ introduced throughout the articles ‒ that provide visitors with guided tours and wildlife interpretation.
Potential threats to our food and environment are also investigated in this issue. Valerie Bruchon analyzes some of the issues surrounding genetically modified food and what it could mean for Appalachia. You can learn more about which food labels exclude genetically modified foods and other controversial components from our “What’s in Your Food” chart.
You can also read about some of the continued difficulties associated with fossil fuel consumption. In “At What Cost?” residents of Belews Creek tell their stories about how coal ash ‒ the toxic byproduct from burning coal ‒ has endangered the health of their community. Brian Sewell examines the need for federal rules to regulate the practice of using coal ash as fill material for abandoned surface and underground mines. And in “Confronting Carbon Pollution,” Molly Moore investigates the Obama administration’s plans to implement carbon pollution regulations for new and existing coal-fired power plants.
Be sure to check out our regular features too. This issue’s Naturalist Notebook takes a look at the Eastern grey treefrog, whose mating song can be heard in Appalachia from April to August. Our This Green House column checks out the European Solar Decathlon, an energy-efficient home design competition. Appalachian State University has teamed up with a French university to compete in the decathlon this June.
Wherever your plans take you this summer, make some time to get outdoors! And while you’re out there, be sure to read this issue of The Appalachian Voice. You can pick up a copy from a newsstand near you, read the online version here or join Appalachian Voices to receive a one-year subscription in your mailbox. Questions or comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or submit a letter to the editor!
In this issue of The Appalachian Voice, we explore the struggle to balance health and economic concerns, and where our decisions have taken us. Protecting the natural environment — whether it’s a rare flower, a wild natural landscape, or the river that feeds them both — also protects our communities.
The aftermath of the Elk River chemical spill in West Virginia and the Dan River coal ash spill in North Carolina and Virginia is explored in “Toxic Warnings.” From stories of the people affected by these spills, the dramatic consequences of lax regulation are laid out alongside the community’s resulting determination to take action. And from the broken policies that allowed these failures to occur, we see that the issue of water contamination in our country runs much deeper than any would like to imagine.
Writer Molly Moore investigates the origins and achievements of the War on Poverty through the lens of Appalachia where, even 50 years later, the region remains among the most impoverished in the country. Yet Patsy Dowling, who considers herself a success of the War on Poverty, is quick to point out that continued progress takes commitment. Today, Dowling is the executive director of an anti-poverty nonprofit, and one of many who remains dedicated to the success of Appalachia.
Some achievements flourish best undisturbed, as the Dunaways observe during the blooming months of spring. While walking together through their eastern Tennessee property, they stumble on a delightful surprise. A burst of yellow displayed against the medley of leaves covering the forest floor, an elegant, three-petaled wildflower, turns out to be an undiscovered species of Trillium tennesseense. On the Dunaways’ land, the trillium has evaded the rising threat of sprawling development.
You can also read about some of the creative approaches being used to secure a bright future for our communities, and even get involved yourself! This issue’s regular Hiking the Highlands column follows Matt Kirk’s 350-mile hike along the nearly complete Southern Appalachian Loop Trail, which has been developed to foster a healthy environment and economic growth. You can volunteer to help maintain the route, or check out our special section on volunteer opportunities in Appalachia. The listing includes caring for rescue horses, fixing bikes to donate to low-income residents and residential environmental service programs. We’ve also posted our online exclusive summer camp listing, for all ages ranging from five to 18 years old.
Be sure to check out our election coverage too. Whether it’s through voting, volunteering, or your everyday work, there are many ways to get involved in your community. We only provide a small sampling of how you can help, but we hope to inspire you to stand up for your community and stand for a solution.
Read the online version here, pick up a copy on a newsstand near you, or join Appalachian Voices to receive a one-year subscription in your mailbox. Questions or comments? Email email@example.com, or submit a letter to the editor!
As the cover photo indicates, the latest issue of The Appalachian Voice features coverage of the ongoing water crisis in West Virginia, which began in January when coal-processing chemicals spilled into the Elk River and poisoned the water supply of 300,000 West Virginians in nine counties.
In this issue, you’ll hear directly from folks affected by the spill, learn more about the event from the perspective of Appalachian Voices Water Quality Specialist Erin Savage, and read about the underlying problems with water privatization that allowed one spill to put so many residents in jeopardy.
We usually plan our stories for the print publication months in advance, thinking about seasonal ways to enjoy the beauty of Appalachia, such as snowshoeing in West Virginia’s Canaan Valley, or dates such as the five-year anniversary of the destructive coal ash spill in Kingston, Tenn. Writer Kimber Ray researched the unprecedented Kingston coal ash disaster, outlining its lingering effects and describing how little has been done to prevent future spills. Unfortunately, that story turned out to be more timely than we realized — about 30 minutes after we went to press we received word that tens of thousands of tons of coal ash were spilling into the Dan River near Eden, N.C. (For more about the Dan River spill, click here.)
In this issue, you’ll also hear from residents of southwestern Virginia about the Coalfields Expressway, a partnership between the state and coal companies that could lead to publicly subsidized mountaintop removal mining disguised as a highway project. Adam Hall, an energetic and determined West Virginian, shares his story of opposition to mountaintop removal coal mining. And in North Carolina, volunteers and homeowners-to-be are working with a Habitat for Humanity chapter to bring energy-efficient, sustainable housing to families in need.
We also invite you to shake away preconceived notions about Appalachia’s ethnic and cultural diversity with a couple of special stories that explore Melungeon identity and put the region’s current rise in ethnic diversity in historical context.
You can read the online version here, pick up a copy on a newsstand near you, or join Appalachian Voices to receive a one-year subscription in your mailbox. Questions or comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or submit a letter to the editor!
The Appalachian Voice
171 Grand Boulevard
Boone, NC 28607