I was reading The Wonders Of: Leanne has a post about an ABC special airing 2/13/09 at 10pm eastern time called " A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains." Like Leanne, I am trying not to judge this show before I watch it- but I can't help but to be leary. I can already see the drama unfolding. Talking to poor toothless, barefoot children that have nothing to eat and live in shanties in the woods- yea something like that.
Now my husband and I have lived the mountains our entire life as have our ancestors before us. I can assure you that we both have all our teeth as do our children. We do not live in a shanty nor do we live in a McMansion. If we go barefoot it is because we choose to because we like to feel the earth between our toes.
Here are some stats from Wikipedia about Pocahontas County WV - the county I live in:
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 942 square miles (2,439 km²), of which, 940 square miles (2,435 km²) of it is land and 2 square miles (4 km²) of it (0.17%) is water.Now if you look at the above statistics it looks pretty grim: However, we are the diamond in the rough. Most people here live below the poverty level in a financial sense but we are rich in rural self sufficient living.
As of the census of 2000, there were 9,131 people, 835 households, and 527 families residing in the county. The population density was 10 people per square mile (4/km²).
The median income for a household in the county was $26,401, and the median income for a family was $32,511. Males had a median income of $26,173 versus $16,780 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,384. About 12.70% of families and 17.10% of individuals were below the poverty line, including 20.20% of those under age 18 and 14.60% of those age 65 or over.
We live in a small community (see above 10 people per square mile) Our county seat is the only part of the county that has actual stop lights; and we only have 3 of them. We 2 grocery stores, no movie theaters.
We live a simple but humble life. There is a strong sense of community because everyone knows everyone. If they don't know you chances are they will ask who your parents or grandparents are and they will know them. We don't try to keep up with the Jones, because we are all the Jones.
There are some who still do not have electricity. Our state auditor's mother- in-law and father-in-law still do not have power because they choose to. I know because they are my aunt and uncle.
We cling to the simple ways of life because we choose to. Our Appalachia children grow up knowing where their food comes from because they help to raise it. They know that milk comes from a cow and eggs from a chicken not from the grocery store.
We lead the best lifestyle if you think about it:
- We eat organic food (because we raise it ourselves)
- We know how to treat people and come together as a community and share with each other and barter.
- We breath fresh pollution free mountain air all the time
- The economy doesn't affect as much because we aren't as dependent on money as most people are.
- Our wisdom to live off the land is tried and true not a fad. We know what works and what doesn't.
- Our children know how to entertain themselves. We have small town entertainment: old time music jams, dances, football games, hunting, fishing fairs and festivals etc.
- We don't have to worry about drive by shootings. We encourage our children to learn how to shoot a gun and handle firearms correctly.
- We respect our elders and listen to them. We don't stick them into a nursing home for someone else to care for - the family/community comes together to care for them - cooking, cleaning, shopping etc.
It seems to me that in the city you are surrounded by people yet you are isolated; in the mountains you are not surrounded by people you are surrounded by freedom and the people you love.