Re-stitching the Seams: Appalachia Beyond Its Borders
The 41st Annual Appalachian Studies Association Conference will be held outside the official borders of Appalachia for the first time in more than a decade. As we move beyond the third generation of Appalachians living in urban migrant centers, and cities within the region’s traditional boundaries continue to grow, what it means to be Appalachian is evolving to encompass these communities, as well as rural areas and small towns. We find common ground and purpose in shared geographic origins, values, and similar challenges to life and livelihood. Even as we emerge onto ever changing landscapes, our seams line up. How might we best work together, regardless of our location, to address the larger issues facing the region’s extended family and to develop the social, cultural, and economic resilience necessary for future generations to thrive? For the first time in ASA history, a community organization, the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition (UACC) will be the stand-alone host for the conference. The coalition is an outgrowth of the groundbreaking Urban Appalachian Council, a key nucleus for urban Appalachian services, research, and advocacy. Its members believe strongly that the Appalachian spirit can be a positive and powerful force in making progress toward individual and community health, transformation, and empowerment. UACC welcomes this partnership with ASA as they continue their long collaboration with Appalachian people to improve quality of life and foster research and creative expression related to regional identities and heritage. It is thus only fitting that the 2018 ASA gathering will have community as its focus and will highlight in particular six essential themes key to Appalachians’ future: Diversity and Inclusion, Economic Sustainability, Education, Environmental Sustainability, Health, and Migration We hope to draw on the diverse voices and experiences of artists, youth, educators, researchers, workers and business owners, health care providers, and grass roots movers and shakers to share creative expression, important historical insights, useful data and studies, richly textured ideas, inventive plans, and workable solutions that will strengthen our connections and foster mutual support.