Oral History Gathering with the Clinch River Valley Initiative: Local, State, Regional, and National Partnerships to Build Community Capacity and Diversify Coalfield Economies in Southwest Virginia

In collaboration with the Clinch River Valley Initiative (CRVI), Radford University (RU) students are collecting oral histories from residents of towns along the Clinch River. This partnership exemplifies the ARC’s commitment to “achieve the greatest impact possible, leveraging ARC’s limited resources to bring more resources into the Region” (investing in Appalachia’s Future, 42) using three main frameworks. First, RU students will be engaging in place-based education. Second, they will be strengthening community partner relationships and contributing to innovative alternative economies. Helping augment CRVI’s downtown revitalization, tourism and economic diversification efforts, resulting oral history recordings will be transcribed and made into a book for sale to residents and tourists in the area; audio clips will be incorporated in kiosks along the river for use by outdoor recreation businesses and customers; other partnerships and programs may evolve from the project. Third, students will be historically contextualizing the river’s environmental health and cultural importance as evidenced by residents’ relationships to the river. A participating RU student expresses the project in this way: “These stories will contribute to a much larger cause that is very exciting to be a part of.”