Sustaining the Community Mind for Long-term Community Resiliency: Appalachian Values Assessment in Floyd County, Virginia
The 2013 ATP partners are the Floyd County, Virginia Office of Community and Economic Development and the non-profit Floyd Story Center of the Old Church Gallery. The County's Land Policy Task Force found that "What Matters Most" to Floyd County residents was "preservation of rural character, Appalachian heritage, and community identity." The ATP students used qualitative research methods to learn what resident farmers want to preserve and their perceptions of potential threats to the valued way of life. Echoing recent social science research that finds "narrative" and the identification of "core values" as critical elements that help sustain communities affected by cultural and economic change and persistent negative stereotyping, the Development Director noted that having these data "would allow for going beyond simply reacting to outside stressors as they arise. From a land planning and economic perspective, it is valuable to know these answers."
Students collected data by audio recording interviews with 14 Floyd County farmers and transcribing the interviews verbatim. They analyzed the data by constructing topic logs, time diaries, material culture inventories, and by conducting content analyses. Using linguistic analyses the students discovered the words most frequently used in the interviews and topics which produced an elaboration of vocabulary. Using these methods the students gained insight into the dimensions of rural character, Appalachian heritage, and community identity that resident farmers valued.
Dr. Melinda Bollar Wagner
Professor of Anthropology and Appalachian Studies
P.O. Box 6948
Radford, VA 24142
Telephone: (540) 831-5157
Previous Conference Participation: 2011 2010 2009
Alfred State College