Catherine Venable Moore — Writer & Producer

Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

Searching for Mary Lee

In Appalachia, Audio, Current Projects on May 1, 2012 at 2:01 am

The Beautiful Mary Lee Settle

When I first read prolific WV novelist Mary Lee Settle‘s memoir, Addie, I felt kind of like I felt after reading Denise Giardina’s Storming Heaven (Denise has called Mary Lee her “literary mother”). Like someone had spun out in beautiful, poetic language the answers to all my questions about home.

Set in Settle’s ancestral land of Cedar Grove, WV, the book weaves together the story of Settle’s childhood, the life of her mythic grandmother, and the waves of resource extraction that have surged through the Kanawha Valley since it was first settled by whites.

I had never read Settle before (how could I have missed her?), but thanks to Gibbs Kinderman over at Allegheny Mountain Radio, I am now embarked upon what we hope will become a series of hour-long audio documentaries based in her work.

The first installment will be an audio treatment of Addie that will include interviews with those close to Settle, thoughts from present-day inhabitants of Cedar Grove, readings from the book, archival tape, ambient sound, and narration.

Right now I’m contacting potential interviewees, reading a lot, and getting a handle on what kinds of archival tape might be available. I’m contracted to have a treatment for the documentary done by July.

I’m dying to talk about this with someone else familiar with Addie, so get in touch if that’s you!

Farm to Youtube

In Appalachia, Current Projects, Multimedia, Past Projects on May 1, 2012 at 1:59 am

This spring, I’ve had the good fortune to work with two organizations that aim to strengthen West Virginia’s local food economy and support the farmers who make it all happen.

I helped the fine folks over at the WV Food and Farm Coalition put together “Fresh Ideas in Action,” a series of audio slide shows highlighting what’s already working in our food system. From schools to veteran’s hospitals, more and more West Virginians are seeing the benefits of growing and eating fresh local produce, and these videos prove it! The organization’s director, Savanna Lyons, says she’s heard a lot of positive feedback from the project. Sometimes people need to be reminded of their successes! See the complete series.

I’ve also been helping the Collaborative for the 21st Century Appalachia transcribe, edit, and catalog their video collection. The Collaborative runs–a website that connects farmers to consumers–as well as several other initiatives, like the yearly Cast Iron Cook-off at the Greenbrier. They are working to expand their catalog of video training modules so that a new generation of young farmers can understand the benefits of sustainable agriculture.

I’m proud to be working with both of these organizations on projects I believe in.

Rural Journalism

In Announcements, Appalachia on May 1, 2012 at 1:58 am

Exciting news came last month, when I was awarded a fellowship to the Rural Computer Assisted Reporting Investigative Mini-Boot Camp, sponsored by the Institute for Rural Journalism at the University Kentucky and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. The three day training will teach me how to more efficiently analyze large amounts of data in my work as a reporter for a daily newspaper.

From my essay of interest:

Fayette County, West Virginia, is a dissonant mix of rural tradition and impinging development. It is distrust of outsiders coupled with an influx of outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world, who come for our unrivaled white water. It is resource extraction and national parklands. It is a community on the rise, treading a hesitant path forward, stumbling, sometimes more comfortable digging its heels in than going further into the unknown. Sometimes it surprises itself by its own openness.  It is a jumble of contradictions and intricacies with a history as rich as the metallurgical coal in its hills. And it is my privilege to witness every day the growing pains, setbacks, and successes of my home community, all the while trying to reflect it back to itself.

Stay tuned for a report from Boot Camp!