This week Evergreen 8th graders begin their very own Appalachian Journey.
This is a learning adventure unlike any other here at Evergreen, one that is equal parts expansive and grounding in its experience. This first expedition of the year weaves together all of the academic disciplines, and many of the enrichments, creating a tapestry of learning that enriches the mind, the spirit and the pallet.
This past Tuesday, we began the 2015 Appalachian Journey expedition kick off with a hike, storytelling and silent reflection at Craggy Gardens along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Craggy Gardens offers 360 degree views of the mountains which allows an opportunity to really take in the landscape- to set the stage- as you will, for where our Journey takes place. It is here that we begin telling the story about how these mountains were formed and how natural and human forces have shaped them over time.
Understanding the unique topography and ecology of this place sets us up to better comprehend the lives of the Native American who lived in harmony with this landscape, as well as the lives of the European settlers who came after them, rooting themselves into the hollers and valleys, and who called this place home.
Students were asked to consider the resources, knowledge, and tools they would need to be successful as a settler in this region. Alone with their notebooks, they recorded their thoughts, as well as sensory observations from their experience of being alone in this place.
Upon returning to school, students were welcomed by a spread of amazing food. This was no ordinary potluck- it was a FAMILY FOOD HISTORY potluck! Students were asked to prepare/bring a dish that told a story about themselves or their family. The dishes were prepared by the students (thanks for your help parents!) and accompanied by a six word memoir.
After dishing up plates of AMAZING food, students sat together, family style, and shared their food stories. This experience was created to make the connection between the importance of food as a pathway to understanding culture. It is true for cultures around the world that in the kitchen or around the table is where we can most often authentically and a naturally share our stories. The table is a unifying place and eating is a unifying experience.
It is through the experience of oral history and food pathways that our 8th graders will explore more deeply the culture and traditions of early and emerging Appalachia.
The 2015 Appalachian Journey Food Storybank Project gives our students an opportunity to meet, interview and deeply consider the lives of people in our community who have a lived rooted in this landscape. We will interview, transcribe then write biographies of the people we meet. Then, we will share these stories with our participants, their families and the North Carolina Cultural Resources Western office.
If you know someone who has stories to tell from a life lived rooted in the Appalachian landscape, please nominate them for our project! Follow this link to our Nomination Form:
2015 Appalachian Journey Storybank Project Nomination Form
Along the way, we will continue to reach into our community to meet amazing folks like Sara Lynch, who wrapped up our kick off beautifully, sharing traditional Appalachian ballads sung and played on the dulcimer. Sarah introduced us to the complexities of the mining and forestry industries of early 1900's and how people shared their experiences of hardship, love for this land and political activism through music.
Thank you Sarah for sharing your voice, your music and your stories!
Thank you students for participating so fully in this experience...welcome to your Appalachian Journey!