Thursday, September 1, 2011

American Hollow

Way back when, 1999 to be exact, I had seen a documentary by Rory Kennedy called American Hollow. I was blown away by the standard of living the family has pretty much stayed in for about 100 years. If I recall correctly, one of the family members had "escaped" and came back to try and get one of the young men to go with him, back to Ohio I think, but the kid could not hack it.
Having just come back from North Carolina and Appalachian country, it made me think of this documentary again and I found it on You Tube. Unless someone from the area was to tell me different, I would say it is pretty accurate in showing how welfare can be detrimental to a rural family. Instead of offering them job training or help to get out. Then again, this LA Times article puts a different spin to it:

Why, despite more education, more opportunities, and more exposure to the outside world, do so many younger men and women--including all of Iree's children--venture out to more prosperous regions, live and work there a while, and then return to the hollow, to lives of welfare dependency and disappointment?

The question is sensitive because it suggests the plight of Appalachia's poor, and perhaps the poor in other places, is not entirely a matter of innocent individuals crushed by social injustice and uncaring outside forces. It suggests an element of personal choice.


So seven generations have stayed where they are, content to just be. In a way they are survivalists and impressive ones. Living off the land, canning, hunting, practicing skills from days gone by, but they could not survive without the welfare checks. Makes me wonder how they are all doing now considering the economy is pretty much in the tank.

Cheers!
MissFifi

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