My friend, the superb Appalachian photographer and visual storyteller Roger May, is now doing writing, photography and audio for ‘100 Days in Appalachia,’ a must-read for anyone who cares about this amorphous, challenging and—pay attention international media—routinely lovely place designated by the word ‘Appalachia.’
In an email from his new posting, Roger cites an essay by American scholar and Kentucky native bell hooks, which, in turn, quotes a passage from Scott Russell Sanders’ essay “Local Matters.” In this age of disconnection and social media estrangement, the quote speaks to two things right now:
- The community of people who’ve decided to root themselves in Appalachia and help make the place its best self.
- The surprising grace notes amid the otherwise devastating losses and turbulence from the current Covid-19 pandemic. These are the counterintuitive grace notes of daily connection and increased community via social media, at this time of social distancing we’re all experiencing. And, dare I say, treasuring?
Here’s the quote:
It is rare for any of us, by deliberate choice, to sit still and weave ourselves into a place, so that we know the wildflowers and rocks and politicians, so that we recognize faces wherever we turn, so that we feel a bond with everything in sight. The challenge, these days, is to be somewhere as opposed to nowhere, actually to belong to some particular place, invest oneself in it, draw strength and courage from it, to dwell not simply in a career or a bank account but in a community … Once you commit yourself to a place, you begin to share responsibility for what happens there.” — Scott Russell Sanders