“Somebody Done Told You a Lie“ is a series of vignettes written about community members who frequent Our Community Place, a community center and day shelter in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where the presenter works as a kitchen manager. “OCP” brings together a wide variety of people - from those who come for showers, free meals, and help meeting their basic needs, to those who come for a free dance class or a to gain a sense of camaraderie. Through collaborative meal-making, activities, and building maintenance, we learn about and to have compassion for one another across ethnic, language, class, and education barriers, even when we get on each others’ nerves. We are a diverse community in the Appalachian foothills that grapples with the childhood trauma, substance use, emotional instability, and poverty among our friends and neighbors, sometimes with grace and sometimes with chaos.
These vignettes, somewhere between an experiential presentation and performance, serve to educate the audience about the diversity within one corner of Appalachia, tease some of the causes of and various forms of poverty, explore one organization’s response to community needs, and elevate the humanity of all. It best fits in the conference sub-theme of Diversity and Inclusion. Two disciplines is intersects are Economic Conditions and Race and Ethnicity.