HOLLOW’s second community workshop took place over the weekend. We were happy to welcome some new residents to the mix, along with a few local participants from the last workshop.
In this workshop, we focused more deeply on the themes we see emerging as we collect footage, reviewed progress on the Balloon Mapping project and spent much of our time together working on individual stories written by the residents.
Residents made suggestions for some footage to capture that suggested “community”. Their ideas ranged from small businesses and the Welch Community hospital to homecoming days and protests.
For the storywriting exercise, we chose three key questions from the longer list of themes to focus:
- What makes you feel like you’re home?
- How do you see your community changing?
- What do you see in the future?
The storytelling exercise offered an opportunity for residents to share their rich personal histories with one another while wrestling with their visions for the future. Elaine Long talked about the Gary of her youth and pondered how to maintain a clean, vibrant community today. Linda McKinney’s story focused on the way her work with the community during the floods of 2001-2 changed her forever—infusing her with a sense of mission to help as many people as she can. Both Marie Dockery and Alan Johnston wrote stirring personal narratives about their sense of home. Marie reflected on traveling around the world and coming back to McDowell County to raise her young son so he would experience the same community and family that she did. Alan talked about the elements of home—the mountains, the coal trucks, the people and the music that mean so much to him and are such an ingrained part of who he is.
And Ruth Brown discussed how, in the wake of battling cancer, she feels the warmth, kindness and strength of her community helping her raise her bright daughter Marla. Marla herself talked about a home filled with not only her parents but aunts, uncles and cousins as well as she suggested a vision for a recreation center in the old Heilig Meyer building. Woven into these more personal narratives were discussions about access to an updated fitness facility, investment in the talents of local people who could run small business, county-wide access to clean water and the impressive work of McDowell County’s solid waste department over the past few years.
This past Saturday offered a deeper glimpse into the complexities of life in McDowell. Participants relished the opportunity to write, reflect and share their love for the county. These stories will help shape and guide shooting over the upcoming month as we prepare for our final workshop on August 18. We hope to see you there!