James and Vivian Leva at Monkey House in Blacksburg Sunday December 7 3:00 PM

Food and socializing starts at 3:00 pm at The Monkey House.  Concert at 3:30.  All money goes to James and Vivian Leva ($10-15 suggested.)

If you want a ticket contact Jim and Robyn or leave a note on fb.


Claudia Emerson

Scott Elmquist's photo of Claudia Emerson accompanied Peter Galuszka's February 11, 2014 story, The Power of Place, in Richmond's Style Weekly.


I was a great fan of poet Claudia Emerson ever since I started readying her body of work when she won the Pulitzer in 2006.  She was kind about letting me reprint her poems here and then I got to hear her read her poems at the 2008 Virginia Festival of the Book.  She returned in 2011, but I didn't make it that year.

So, I was sad to learn of her death today via facebook from her fellow UNC-G alumni Kathryn Stripling Byer.

I wrote about Claudia Emerson back in 2006 when she won the Pulitzer and created a Wikipedia article that I spent four hours today (starting at 3:22 p.m) restoring and updating.  (Someone saw fit to delete a bunch in September 2011, rather than take the time to update broken links.)  Which is unfortunate, because I DIDN'T get to add these links to new pieces or catch up on reading her new poems.  But there will be time for that.

Emerson had joined the VCU faculty in 2013 and there's an interview from the Spring 2014 issue of Poictesme by Hannah Morgan with an illustration by Megan Goldfarb, in addition to the one above by Peter Galuszka.   And then there's the  interview by Sarah Kennedy from the Winter 2006 of Shenandoah, reprinted on Poetry Daily.


#GivingTuesday: SAMPLER (Southern Appalachian Media Project for Literacy on Environmental Renewal)

Photo quilt I design from individual photos on SAMPLER entries 


What's Giving Tuesday?

Black Friday,
Cyber Monday...

After two days of shopping, December 2nd is a day to give back. It's #GivingTuesday.

In 2012, 92Y joined with the United Nations Foundation (“UNF”) to create an annual global day of giving that helps raise funds and awareness for important causes everywhere.

How can you help SAMPLER?

You can donate on Razoo and/or help spread the word....

Here's a post on facebook
Here's the tweet...

Our projecthe audience for of this project will be regional and national consumers of legacy, online and social media. The users will be citizens in South Central Appalachia and journalists. Our challenge is that our region is covered only occasionally by the national media, often when there is a mining disaster or a release of poverty statistics. The authors of this coverage often lack a feet-on-the-ground understanding of the complexity of local issues. Regional papers that provide balanced coverage tend to cover one state, although the problems are endemic. Citizens often don’t understand the difference between public relations, spin and good journalism.

We believe our crowd source approach to good journalism will build skills needed for users to raise awareness of the issues facing our region and provide citizens citizens with the information they need to meaningfully evaluate those issues and participate in the civic arena.

Our partners

We are partnering with the Appalachian Community Fund (ACF) to build an alliance of journalists and citizens working to strengthen in-depth reporting on a sustainable transition from coal's mono-economy in Southern Central Appalachia (West Virginia and the areas affected by coal mining in Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina.) We especially plan to cover the practice of mountaintop removal. Other topics include the proposed introduction to the region of other extractive carbon-based energy industries (fracking and natural gas pipelines) with an analysis of their their possible effects on climate, water, land and/or air quality.   On November 1, we submitted an application to the Knight Foundation's Prototype Fund to help develop the project.  OVEC serves fiscal sponsor and is accepting our crowd-sourced donations until we achieve own non-profit status.

Here's how I described the project to Knight:

SAMPLER will use a website, twitter, facebook and other social media to provide content to national media and teach citizens to critique our coverage and that of others.

We take our definition of reporting from the Society of Environmental Journalists. Our goal is to help citizens gain the skills to create and publish stories, photos and videos of their communities and to help journalists cover topics they could not address as meaningfully alone. Our users will gain knowledge that they need for meaningful civic engagement to improve quality of life through a transition from poverty and environmental degradation to environmental justice and sustainable development.

The assumptions we will test if we get the grant:

*Citizens can build skills needed for users to raise awareness of the issues facing our region
*Journalists will use our content to deepen their own content

We will know if the project has worked or not by metrics such as:

*number of participants
*participant evaluations
*consumer evaluations
*number of blog posts
*number of articles on other media
*number of comments websites of other media linking to our posts
*number and variety of supporting organizations

What we've done so far:

*we've use this blog as a prototype to publish photographs (Paul Corbit Brown, Vivian Stockman, Roger May, Antrim Caskey); journalism (Rachel Parsons, Sarah Verkasi, Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, Ted Boettner, Mary Anne Hitt, Jon Foley)
*Sue Sturgis and Chris Kromm of Institute Southern Studies provides advice, offer to syndicate through Facing South
*Margo Miller of the Appalachian Community Foundation has offered to syndicate content in its regional blog
*established relationships with MIT Center for Civic Media, Looking at Appalachia Project, Cir.ca, Carnival of Journalism
*Darryl Fears, Washington Post environmental reporter wants background information to cover mountaintop removal
*Blacksburg Glade Road Growing syndicates posts on sustainable agriculture, cooking with local ingredients
*New Organizing Institute and Energy Justice Network underwrote social media training
*Newstrust added coal as news archives category
*Alliance for Appalachia provided a travel grant for me to attend the 2012 Knight Media Learning Seminar
*Washington and Lee provided scholarship for its Poverty Journalism Workshop
*developed logo
* provided description to local and regional foundations
*set up google alerts on related news topics
*set up data base on scientific research on mountaintop removal
*Newstrust will share material on how to think like a journalist in evaluating quality of journalism
*started data base of environmental, poverty and political reporters; civic groups