ROOT DEEP, GROW TALL

About The Project

How do we value and celebrate a region that has been tremendously undervalued and devalued in the larger cultural conversation? That is the core mission of our project and that process of discovery is central to our healing as a nation.

Root Deep, Grow Tall is about empowering a little Appalachian kid who only sees negative representations of her family, friends, and neighbors in mainstream media to recognize the powerful magic of mountain roots. Root Deep, Grow Tall is about empowering a little Appalachian kid who believes that culture only happens on the coasts or big cities to celebrate the culture that echoes in his blood and bone. Recognizing the value and power of our “postage stamp of native soil” starts with the teacher and the student discovering the value of the culture and history in their own backyard from the food they eat to the music they sing while preparing it.

Mountains insulate and isolate their people which has left eastern Kentucky historically disconnected and left behind, and yet our story is the story of our nation. Our national ethos of independence and self-reliance, family and faith, and identification with and connection to the land is the story that eastern Kentucky poets, songwriters, and artists have been sharing since before our nation was born. Our nation is rich with diverse and unique cultural stories and our proposed project would weave our local stories into that complex tapestry to help Americans from plains to lakes to mountains see their stories in ours.

This self-perpetuating archival project has the potential to ripple out exponentially from Hindman to the nation as artifacts that tell our national story inspire storytellers in other regions. From folk art to traditional music to heirloom seeds, this project will create an army of archivists to spread out and dig into the history and culture of eastern Kentucky. We will build an infrastructure to support future cohorts of educators and community leaders who create their own inquiry programs and artifacts. This foundational cohort will electronically preserve and publish their units and curriculum. The public humanities programming developed by this proposed project will provide Hindman and its surrounding region with an evergreen resource for a diverse population, including teachers, students, community members, and researchers for years to come. The online archives of support materials and completed projects will provide other undervalued and underrecognized communities around our nation with inspiration and examples to celebrate their own heritage. This is how we build a more perfect union - seeing ourselves in others.
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