Sunday, January 14, 2007

Weekend Five: Saint Paul, Virginia

St. Paul, Virginia's (Old) Railroad Station
(Image from one of Appalachia's greatest cultural resources, the Virginia Tech Imagebase - donate money and visit often)

Well, I'm back. After the most insane couple months of my life (my wedding, my brother's wedding, at least five days in four states, creating a new class and dare we forget it, the dissertation), some regularity is beginning to dawn on me. Crossing fingers, knocking on wood, and so forth, forever. Combine that with my work to switch us here at the ol' HS over to Blogger 2.0 and throw up our third redesign (pretty good for being around since last spring) and I have been AWOL. Apologies and no more excuses.

Well, over my interminable insanity a self-described "Appalachian ex-pat," currently living in the capital of the Old Dominion has been writing me, sending me posts that warrant real attention here. So, after only a month of hemming and hawing, well, I'm gonna' post 'm. Her name is April Cain, she's originally from one of my favorite little towns (St. Paul, Virginia) and we've invited her to be a contributor, though she is a busy woman - she already posts regularly at two other interesting blogs - Mothers With Attitude and The Women's Post. Regardless, April, keep sending the links - for all our procrastination, we really are listing.

Clinch River Festival
: This is one of those sites which describes itself better than I ever could. . . and so, the quote:

Every year on the first Saturday in June, the town of St. Paul, Virginia comes alive with the flavors of the region during Clinch River Days.

The ninth annual Clinch River Days Festival will be held on June 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, 2007.

Located along the scenic Clinch River, St. Paul shows off its uniqueness, blending River and Railroad Lore and History, Art and Photography, Carnival Rides and Games, Symphony and Bluegrass, Samplings from Local Vineyards, and Regional Appalachian Cuisine.

Most of all, Clinch River Days is a weekend of fun in the mountains, celebrating a Scenic River that is home to rare and endangered fresh water mussels, more varieties of fish than any river in Virginia, and miles of free-flowing canoeing.

And on the first Saturday in June, St. Paul is home to festival-goers who come to celebrate the Clinch River!
I think I'm free that weekend. . . hmmm.

Wetlands Estonoa: Appalachian wetlands, like wetlands everywhere, are, to be frank, under siege. They're difficult territories to manage properly, in part because even slight imbalances in their ecosystems leads to the profusion of life forms hazardous to humans (e.g. mosquitos), not to mention the fact that they are highly dependent on the quality of their surrounding biomes. Without them, however, water quality drops radically, not to mention issues of biodiversity as both a practical concern and a moral issue. Thus, I take my hat off to anyone who's willing to take on the often dirty and difficult jobs of helping maintain our wetlands. One such group of folks are the people over at Wetlands Estonoa. I want to quote you their history . . . consider:
During spring 1999, Appalachian Ecology student, Stevie Sabo chose to investigate a forgotten lake, Lake Estonoa. His project encompassed the lake’s history, present condition, and his desire to return it to its pristine self. During the fall of 1999, Nikki Buffalow adopted the project and identified the lake as a wetlands through the process of the Corps of Engineers. Based upon these findings Estonoa could not be returned to the pristine lake of the past. Nikki’s quest to restore the newly named wetlands began to gain interest and soon became a project undertaken by the entire Appalachian Ecology and Physics class. Our goal as a team is to enhance our little corner of the world.
Cool enough, right? Well, perusing the grants and awards these folks have garnered, well, your eyebrows raise a little more - not bad for for a teeny town in the hills. If you're in the area and looking to volunteer, I say give 'm a holler.

St. Paul, Virginia
: St. Paul is tiny and it is fantastic. . . . some of the nicest people I ever met (including one of my roommates in college) are from there. If you're headed to deep southwestern Virginia (Lebanon, Big Stone Gap, Wise, or Norton, for instance), it is definitely worth an hour of your time for a drive or a walk. All that said, this site drops serious knowledge about St. Paul - specifically it has a series of links to government, religious, business, educational, and NGO sites

"Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word": An essay The Women's Post on the issue of formal racial reconciliation in the South . . . food for thought and particularly interesting to me, having read quite a bit lately on the effectiveness of formal reconciliation efforts in former British and German colonies of southern Africa.

I wanted to add one more site to April's suggestions. . . it's a doozy.

A River Runs Through It: St. Paul, Virginia: Revitalizing a small community through economic development and environmental awareness: This review of St. Paul (provided by the Urban Affairs & Planning program at Virginia Tech) is specifically a brief examination of St. Paul's efforts to renew its local environment while economically developing, specifically as an example for other communities.

1 comment:

J. Michael Mason said...

Thanks for posting this. My dad's father was born & bred in St. Paul, with this parents owning the town's hardware and jewelry stores. My grandfather died years before I was born so my ties to that side of the family are non existent. The rumor is that my gradfather's brother moved to Marion and had something to do with the start up of the Miller Brewing Co. distributor near Atkins and his sister moved to eastern Kentucky. So, I don't think that I have any distant relatives left in St. Paul but it's always nice to learn more about where your family started.