The 1,500-mile Appalachian Mountain range stretches so far that those on the northern and southern sides can’t agree on what to call it: Appa-LAY-chia or Appa-LATCH-ia. The outside perspective on the people who live there might be even more mangled. Stories about Appalachia tend to center around subjects like poverty, the opioid epidemic and coal, but since 1966 a series called Foxfire has been sharing food, culture and life as it’s actually lived in the mountain region.
Foxfire started as a class project at a Georgia high school — students interviewed neighbors and wrote a series of articles, which turned into a quarterly magazine and then a book, in 1972, with other books to follow soon after. (The name of the series comes from a term for a local form of bioluminescence caused by fungi on decaying wood.) Within the first decade, more than 9 million copies of Foxfire were sold. Today, there are specialized Foxfire books that focus on cooking, winemaking, religion and music.
What she means:
In Hollywood A.D. movie Mulder and Scully reference the bee incident and real Mulder and Scully look at each other horrified. How did anyone else know about the bee? Were they interviewed for the movie and one of them told? Did they interview neighbors and one saw? Or have Mulder and Scully talked about it and it came up when they were being followed around? How did they know?!
From the end of the Civil War to the mid-20th century, the breadth and detail of information collected by [credit] reporting agencies only increased. Control over the access to that information, however, did not seem to keep up. “People do not realize, for example, that their own credit files are accessible to virtually anyone who understands the workings of credit bureaus and has a few dollars to spend on a report,” said one study in 1969. And those credit reports contained personal information ranging from the deeply prejudicial to the utterly inane.
The reports were compiled using information from retailers, from the public record (court records, newspaper clippings), and from interviews with friends and neighbors. In 1972, a Senate aide testified before a committee about the type of information that was collected by the automobile insurance industry: “If they, in any way, have some deviant behavior characteristics, they wear pink shirts, or have long hair and a mustache, they read Karl Marx … They can look in your library and see what books you read, what magazines you subscribe to…”
I’m off to NewTinyTown (I’m working on a good name for tinytown, I promise).
I’ve already been called and Facebook friended by the town’s self-proclaimed social coordinator, who would like to hold a reception for me at her house. She has offered to find me a place to get my hair done and tell me the town secrets. I also have three newspaper interviews (in NewTinyTown and 2 neighboring small towns) lined up for the week.
This week will be all about introducing me to the office and its procedures and policies, and meeting the town. Did I mention I’m horrible at meeting new people and at public speaking?