Catherine V. Moore — Writer & Producer

Archive for the ‘Appalachia’ Category

Cedar Grove Radio Documentary

In Announcements, Appalachia, Audio, Black History, Cedar Grove, coal, Economic Transition, Mary Lee Settle, Multimedia, Photography, West Virginia History, Women's History on August 30, 2016 at 10:45 am

Cedar Grove is a story about transition–bridging the past and the future. The hour-long radio documentary reveals surprising hidden histories through the work of renowned novelist Mary Lee Settle and the voices of women from her hometown of Cedar Grove, WV. The piece was co-produced by me, Allegheny Mountain Radio, and West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

Settle is the author of 21 books, including her five volume fictional opus, The Beulah Quintet, which spans two continents and 300 years of Appalachian history. Beulah Land is a fictional place grounded in the reality of Settle’s family homeplace at Cedar Grove, a town in West Virginia struggling amid coal industry decline. West Virginia native Catherine Moore visits Cedar Grove and interviews the “real” residents of Beulah Land, searching for stories of survival and resiliency in the face of enormous challenges.

The scenes and characters that emerge take us through wilderness, Underground Railroad operations, the coal mine wars of the early 20th century, and John F. Kennedy’s visit to the Cedar Grove in 1960.

A collaboration with photographer Roger May also produced a robust visual document of life in present-day Cedar Grove. Original music by Caleb Samples. Funding provided by the West Virginia Humanities Council and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

For audio, photos, and more, visit the project website. 

VICE’s Appalachia Series

In Appalachia, Multimedia, Photography, Print on May 2, 2016 at 10:04 pm
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Dental care is by far the busiest section of the Remote Area Medical clinic. Photo by Stacy Kranitz.

Last year I teamed up with photographer Stacy Kranitz and several other writers from the region to do a series on Appalachia for VICE focusing on the effects of the declining coal industry, the struggle against strip mining, the drug epidemic, the history and meaning of terms like redneck and hillbilly, and systemic problems with health care.  The pieces just went live, including  my piece on Remote Area Medical’s yearly mountaintop mash unit in southwest Virginia.

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It is impossible to avoid the irony of the truck advertising Mountain Dew parked next to the clinic’s dental tent. Photo by Stacy Kranitz.

Two New Projects

In Announcements, Appalachia, Audio, Black History, Cedar Grove, coal, Economic Transition, Fayette County, Mary Lee Settle, Multimedia, Paint Creek, Photography, Uncategorized, West Virginia History, Women's History on February 9, 2016 at 2:04 pm

The studio is really humming these days as I prepare to launch TWO new projects this spring…

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.00.59 PMThe Paint Creek Audio History Project is a geo-located series of radio stories featuring the voices of people who live on beautiful Paint Creek, WV. These ten stories became the basis of an audio driving tour delivered via mobile app, as well as a new website for the Paint Creek Scenic Trails Association. Look for info soon on a fun launch event we are planning for this spring!

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And, finally, (FINALLY!), I released my hour long radio documentary, Cedar Grove. Drawing from the writing of Mary Lee Settle and a chorus of voices from her hometown of Cedar Grove, WV, I search for a viable future for my home during a time of deep transition. The project includes a beautiful website by Drew Tanner of Odd Boat Studio, featuring a photography collaboration with Roger May. Gibbs Kinderman is the executive producer, the editor is Ben Shapiro. Cedar Grove was co-produced by Allegheny Mountain Radio and West Virginia Public Broadcasting, and me. Air dates coming soon!

These projects would not have been possible without the financial support of The West Virginia Humanities Council, the National Coal Heritage Area Authority, the Fayette County Commission, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

PRI’s Living on Earth

In Appalachia, Audio, coal, Economic Transition on June 10, 2015 at 9:55 am
Art “Bunny” Hayes, rancher – Tongue River (Montana) (Photo: Clay Scott)

Art “Bunny” Hayes, rancher – Tongue River (Montana) (Photo: Clay Scott)

Earlier this year, I collaborated with producers Clay Scott of Mountain West Voices and Reid Frazier of Allegheny Front to produce a half-hour radio doc about the state of coal in America today. Portions of it recently aired on PRI’s Living on Earth:

Living With the Rise and Fall of King Coal” — Coal was a vital industry in Appalachia for a century, but its environmental effects and economics have undermined its power, leaving many once employed by the industry floundering. In a special team report from West Virginia Public Radio, the Allegheny Front, and High Plains News produced by Clay Scott, we explore the past and future for coal mining areas and the people that live there.

The story I contributed to the documentary, about an East Kentucky strip miner turned farmer, spurred this piece on PRI’s main news site, about the mourning of coal’s gradual decline in Appalachia.

BBC’s Digital Human

In Appalachia, Audio, Photography, West Virginia History on May 6, 2015 at 9:17 am
Diane Schou of Green Bank, WV, pictured with her catalogued list of the symptoms of electrosensitivity.

Diane Schou of Green Bank, WV, pictured with her catalogued list of the symptoms of electrosensitivity.

I recently collaborated with the BBC show Digital Human to produce a piece about the electrosensitive community in Pocahontas County, WV. I traveled to Green Bank to spend some time with Diane Schou, who moved to the mountains to escape health issues she says are related to the electromagnetic radiation we’re all exposed to in our daily lives. Green Bank is a designated Radio Free Quiet Zone because of a radio telescope located there, so cell phones and wireless technologies are banned. Diane and about 50 other electrosensitive people have sequestered themselves in its protective zone.

The Digital Human episode is called “Magic,” and it’s a pretty thoughtful reflection on all the ways we treat technology as a supernatural force:

Arthur C. Clarke’s 3rd law goes “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” So does that apply to the modern digital world? Aleks Krotoski asks the question with some surprising results. From people living under the ‘curse’ of electro-sensitivity to the rituals we all go through to ward off evil spirits like updating our anti-virus software.

Listen here.

View a gallery of my photos of Green Bank here. 

Building Barns Out of Coal Tipples: Appalachia’s shifting economy

In Appalachia, Audio, coal, Economic Transition on March 16, 2015 at 10:49 am

Since the days when mules carted coal and miners were paid in company credit, coal has certainly been king in Central Appalachia. But now, in a trend not widely noted outside the region, far fewer people make a living in mining there. West Virginia, for example, had 132,000 miners in 1950. Today there are fewer than 20,000, and that number is falling. Nearly every day, Appalachians awake to news of mass layoffs and mine closures.

It’s no one thing. There is cheap and newly-abundant natural gas. Limits on coal-burning power plants. Increased competition from Wyoming, where coal is cheaper to mine and lower in polluting sulfur. And finally, after over 100 years of intensive mining, Appalachia’s coal seams are simply becoming mined out.

Producer Catherine Moore has witnessed this moment. She travelled the back roads of West Virginia from county to county, like Logan, where about 130 laid off miners from Patriot Coal gathered with their families for an emergency meeting held by the state’s workforce development program. Each miner was given a booklet called Surviving a Layoff. Inside, how to write a resume, give a good interview. But something else caught Catherine up short.

EXCERPTED FROM “Moving On But No Way Gone: Coal in America,” A 30-MINUTE RADIO DOCUMENTARY COMMISSIONED BY HIGH PLAINS NEWS, AIRING NATIONALLY SPRING 2015.

Looking @ Appalachia

In Appalachia, Photography on January 12, 2015 at 3:48 pm

Psyched to report that a photo I took of my friend Tyler Cannon in Fairmont, WV, was chosen to be included in the Looking at Appalachia archive for 2014. If you haven’t checked out this project, go there right now!10437688_10205662065289366_8515135045890447589_n tyler

The Road That Howard Built

In Appalachia, Audio, Current Projects, Fayette County, Paint Creek on October 10, 2014 at 11:32 am

Excited to present the first rough cut of the first piece of The Paint Creek Audio History Tour–a collection of tales about a storied place called Paint Creek, WV, from the voices of people who live along its banks. The history tour will be available via a GPS-activated mobile app and a website, coming in summer of 2015. The project is supported by the WV Humanities Council and the National Coal Heritage Area Authority.

In this segment, Pax native Howard Hughes–one of the founders and leaders of the Paint Creek Scenic Trails Association–tells of the bane of his youthful existence. Howard’s great-great grandfather, a surveyor, founded Pax. Howard’s grandfather was an accomplished stone mason who built many beautiful structures still standing today. His father was a hard-working coal miner who helped fuel American industry during WWII. And Howard, well, Howard built something too.

Produced by Catherine Moore & Jessie Wright-Mendoza. Edited by Catherine Moore.

Coal Layoffs and the Future of Southern WV

In Appalachia, Audio, coal on October 10, 2014 at 11:27 am

Boone County, WV, has lost more coal mining jobs than any other county in the nation, according to a recent analysis by SNL Financial–that’s a fifth of the county’s total labor force. Reporter Catherine Moore went in search for the human side of these staggering figures at the WV Coal Festival, held every year at the end of June in Madison. She talked to residents about how the layoffs are affecting everyday life in Boone County, and how they’re thinking about the future of their home.

This short radio doc for WV Public Radio about the human impacts of coal layoffs in Boone County aired regionally on Inside Appalachia and Appalshop’s WMMT, as part of my work as an Appalachian Transition Fellow working with What’s Next, WV?.

 

“O Beulah Land” in Oxford American

In Appalachia, Audio, Black History, Cedar Grove, coal, Mary Lee Settle, Multimedia, Print, West Virginia History, Women's History on October 10, 2014 at 11:23 am

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O Beulah Land,” my wandering longform essay about writer Mary Lee Settle, the women of Cedar Grove, and Appalachian transition, was published in the summer issue of Oxford American: The Southern Magazine of Good Writing. Here’s their introduction to the piece:

There are many gorgeous passages in “O Beulah Land” by Catherine Venable Moore, an homage to Central West Virginia published in our summer issue.

Struggling to reconcile a landscape of paradisiacal beauty with its history of unheeded extraction since settlers arrived, Catherine—with the works of Mary Lee Settle as her guide—goes to Cedar Grove, that writer’s small hometown on the Kanawha River. She writes:

“Like Mary Lee, I went to the town digging for some present truth in the past, and knocked on the doors of ten women, up to a century old, who agreed to talk about their lives in Cedar Grove. All of them pay their hearts to the town in some way or another, filling their lives with service to a place where community ties are being severed by a fading industry that once drew its people close in solidarity. These women are and were the societal glue of Cedar Grove, the storytellers, the visionaries, the caretakers, and the advocates for the powerless. I asked them about home. I needed to know how we got here, and how we get out of wherever “here” is, without having to leave.”

The essay is a remarkable, holistic dive into the Transmontane of West Virginia, the land beyond the mountains—one of the first American frontiers and still a misunderstood region. “Recorded history is wrong because the voiceless have no voice in it,” said Settle, explaining the motivations behind her sweeping historical fictions. In “O Beulah Land,” Catherine takes up Settle’s mantle—the writer died in 2005 at eighty-three—reporting untold histories and interviewing women whose stories are essential to the identity of their homeplace yet seldom shared with a wide public. It’s an elegy for a lost time when “Everyone was a part of everything.”

They also published a companion web-only piece–an audio teaser to my forthcoming hour-long radio documentary and some photographs of Cedar Grove by my pal, the photographer Roger May.