How are we to preserve what is worth saving about Appalachian culture?
Maybe that isn't the proper question, maybe it should be "how can we showcase or share true Appalachian culture in the essence of all that it is (people, place, way of life, art, craft, food--both past and current)"?
I think we have to find a way to form sustainable economies that showcase "Appalachia" in order for any culturally accurate views of Appalachia to reach the U.S. as a whole, and especially for the following generations.
Is setting up partially accurate historical tourism going to get us there, full of stereotyping to fill in the gaps? Absolutely not.
Is adventure tourism going to be the big money maker? Maybe so, but without proper handling our mountains can get shorthanded in the deal. Pollution. Noise. Erosion. No thanks.
I could go on about how so many different concepts will not be entirely successful while still being protective of Appalachian culture, but I won't.
What I will say is that we as Appalachians need to highlight what is unique, what is natural, what is worth sharing with the world. We as Appalachians need to stop selling out and using our treasures as a money making scheme. We as Appalachians need to support the local businesses that are in it because they love what they are doing and want to be in Appalachia doing it. They are using the economy to help bring more value into the area, not using the area to bring more money into their pockets like many we have seen.
If you just look around you, there are some fantastic opportunities to discover places and ideas you never knew existed in the area.
(I will admit that my two examples are rather non-tradional for Appalachia, maybe I will get into some more traditional examples at a later time.)
Take for example a lavender farm (in Scott Co.) and a vineyard/winery (in Wise Co.)...who would ever have guessed treasures like these existed in southwest Virginia without the support and publicity of us, the locals.
Scott County Lavender
-I'm unsure if the farm is still operational. I need to check on that.
- a lovely experience, even for those clueless about vino
Go search out the awesome local businesses like these (and proudly support them) so Appalachia can make money and be able to kick those crazy guys wanting to sell hillbilly and Indian memorabilia as far away from here as possible.
OK, I'll step down from my passion podium now ;)