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Changing the Narrative: Stories of Place Spring 2024 Recap


Left-to-right: LiKENeers Karen Rignall, Madison Mooney, McKensi Gilliam, and Jamari Turner worked with around 90 students during LiKEN’s Stories of Place residency at Martin County High School in April 2024.
Left-to-right: LiKENeers Karen Rignall, Madison Mooney, McKensi Gilliam, and Jamari Turner worked with around 90 students during LiKEN’s Stories of Place residency at Martin County High School in April 2024.

LiKEN completed a strategic planning process for its Stories of Place program, directed by Mary Hufford. The program consists of five initiatives, including County-based Story Catching projects, for which Martin County Stories of Place, directed by Karen Rignall, is a model. The other four initiatives include: Communities Telling Their Stories Through Art; Naturecultures and Ecologies of Care; Revitalizing Green Infrastructures, and Collaborative Reworlding in the wake of disaster. Details will soon be posted to the Stories of Place web pages, now under reconstruction.


Hufford gave the closing keynote at the "Appalachia, Betwixt and Between: Folkloristic Perspectives on a Region in Flux" conference, held in April at Harvard University. The conference convened folklorists whose research is focused on the Appalachian region. Hufford’s talk, entitled “Appalachian Forest Farming, Then and Now,” explored the relationship between the historical practice of forest farming in the coalfields and the present day forest farming movement.  Historically, in coalfield communities, the integration of field and forest in an annual round of gardening, fishing, hunting, and foraging ensured access to forest commonables by many who did not own land. A crucial legacy of that commons-based forest farming system survives in living collective memories of forest composition and cycles of succession and renewal.  In the present time of post-industrial transition, Hufford asked, how might folkloristic perspectives support community-led documentation of collective memory to guide ecological restoration and planning for sustainable livelihoods in Central Appalachia’s headwater communities?


LiKEN Community Engagement Coordinators Madison Mooney and McKensi Gilliam worked with around 90 students at Martin County High School during their normal school day for a weeklong Stories of Place residency. Dr. Karen Rignall and research assistant Jamari Turner joined the first day. During the residency, Madison led a program adapting George Ella Lyon's "Where I'm From" poem, resulting in 88 unique poems reflecting the students' connections to their home, Martin County. The team is now compiling these poems into a book, which Jamari is typesetting for publication. Copies will be available in the high school library and the LiKEN office in Martin County.

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