Having traveled last week to Huntington with a side trip to New River Gorge, I was enlightened by seeing the southern part of West Virginia through the eyes of my 15-year-old daughter. Traveling US Highway 60 through some coal country, she was immediately observant of the differences between here and there.
"They don't have any big houses here," she pointed out. Indeed they didn't. Their "towns" were small with few businesses. Often, on that main highway, we didn't spot a school or even a grocery store.
Added to this trip was my jaunt to Washington, D.C. Tuesday to view portions of the documentary, "Hollow" that was done about McDowell County, our state's southernmost county.
The pictures and film showed what was once the richest county in the state during the heyday of coal production to modern-day where the county is now the least populated and probably poorest of the 55.
What a phenomenal difference between the folks in McDowell who simply want some way to keep their youth from leaving and not coming back; who want to end the cycle of drug abuse and who want to revitalize their economy.
Those phrases are all things we hear right here in our own Jefferson County, but somehow the meaning is so different when you compare all that we have and all that the folks of McDowell don't.
We complain about what we are lacking and we take for granted all that is available to us. While we would like to have additional economic opportunities here, those folks would like to have any economic opportunities. While we want bigger houses, larger businesses; those folks want homes free from two consecutive years of flood damage. They want businesses in their county seat that will encourage their citizenry to stay.
The aesthetics of our county; the wealth and all that we have-we take that for granted. Visit the interactive website at hollowdocumentary.com to listen to these folks from the other side of the same state we live in and hear their stories. You won't take for granted what you have for much longer.