Thursday, February 26

Snow Day....'til Spring Break

It's so nice when it snows, and you needed it most. To finish out this week, I had 2 assignments, 2 speeches, 2 exams, 3 papers, a traffic ticket to appeal, and camera equipment to pick-up and shoot with, at a local Underground Railroad house (name of which is in dispute, but we'll call it Bell-Herrin-Gilliam, for short, for now). I could've done it all, but it'll sure be nice to have that extra Spring break to finish everything.

The down side, if ETSU isn't open tomorrow, no camera-stuff. But the is good news about equipment....The countdown on my computer parts is now 10:12 (anxiously awaiting RAM and monitor). Luckily they deliver in the snow, but we may see if that holds true in a blizzard.

Today's projections range from 4" to 14". It's not the size, but the distance that scares me. We haven't had a March blizzard in a long, long time, I hope this holds on for just a couple days. Unfortunately, it's melting a little right now, but there's no decrease in snowfall (predicted for hours, yet). Yeah! -- for all those who don't have to go anywhere....And good luck! -- to all those that do.

Monday, February 23

ETSU Pride

Brag, brag, blah, blah, proud, proud, yaddah, yaddah, etc, etc.....

Just in case you didn't get today's copy of the Johnson City Press, maybe this will help.

As excited as I am, I still must complain. The article doesn't make a request for local help (which we could really use) or list my number as a contact. Also I'm misquoted, not pictured, and my comments are out of context. But our names are spelled right, so, I really ought not complain. ETSU was so proud, they bought stacks of today's paper (so that all the poor college students wouldn't be left out).

Saturday, February 21

Give it back, a little bit deeper....

I never knew how exciting the Underground Railroad could be. I'm probably assuming too much, but I think every time we find a little more substance to our documentary, I feel empathy -- like a slave finding the next station, perhaps. It's so hard, yet so exciting. It almost doesn't matter that Hypoglycemia has left me no energy -- just the excitement behind this story is enough to keep me going (at least that what I keep telling my self). Anyway, today's point....I was following a lead on a safe house (a station on the UR where slaves were hidden -- usually during the day, waiting for nightfall to escape). This lead ended quite abruptly, as it also turned into a whole new avenue. I began at the local paper, the Elizabethton Star , then was transferred to a larger, also local paper, the Johnson City Press . My documentary group had been discussing listing a PSA (free article) with the Press, but I hadn't had time to finish or deliver it. One reporter, and then another, and another....And they loved it! They wanted to do an article on us. I think representing ETSU is a big enough deal, but this added personal research and newly uncovered local history to a simple little story.

The moral of the tale: no matter how much I've done so far, there's always more to be found. My hope with the article is that it will turn up more leads, allow more secret history into the public, and just maybe, help change a few attitudes. My concern, however, is the negative response....Our documentary is focused on the positive aspects of relationships between blacks and whites in east TN, and not the usual behavior. Although I'm learning that east TN may have been one of the most slave-friendly areas in the south (of course, not including Erwin), there's certainly still some confederate-attitude leftover. All I can say is that, I hope this article doesn't generate burning crosses for my lawn, but rather a healthy response including mostly substantiated claims, rather than mainly family stories. From Jonesborough, Elizabethton, Johnson City, Telford, we found the most leads, but now I think we're about to find out just how big the distribution is for the Press . So, check the paper on Sunday, and call me if you can help. Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 7

O.K., here it is...

The holidays were different, but great. Hypoglycemia has subsided, but is not subdued. ETSU has consumed my time, and worn out my mind, body, and soul....I'm just tired. With merely 75 hours left, I have go, I have to finish, it's so close. My house has radically changed...none of the original room-mates still live here. It's kinda weird, yet really nice. Some things will always be missed, but mostly not.

And most interesting of all: I'm finally making a documentary (for those who don't know, that's like my dream, and stuff). It's not the subject matter for which I'd planned, but something completely different. It's quite local, yet still quite diverse. The working title: Tour Appalachia on the Underground Railroad (doesn't leave much up to the imagination, but gimme a break, it is a working title). So, now the problem: researching local turning into hearsay land. It's easy to find rumors/leads, but mostly they have no real ending. Most locals don't seem to want to help us with our research, but it's that supposedly liberal east-TN spirit that is main focus of this documentary. I guess these people were just plain good at hiding. Everyone's got a story, but no one's got the address or phone number. But all that complaining aside, I'm loving it -- every minute of it. Even when I find a frustrating end, it's still so satisfying just doing the work. It's the best class ever!

So, if anybody know about the underground railroad, especially in Appalachia, then lemme know. And, if anyone needs to rent a room, lemme know that, too. Otherwise, hablamos luego...hasta pronto.