Having Fun While Changing the World

New River Boys

As illustration of the depth and strength of relationship between the communities and the students, witness the example of the New River Boys. The Boys were a distinguished bluegrass band in the early 1970s. They played in venues around the South, yearning for fame and fortune (and even enjoyed the occasional foray into Nashville–Music City, …

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SOCM’s and the SHC’s culture of ‘family fun’

Maureen O’Connell and Charles “Boomer” Winfrey reflect on the value of having fun, highlighting the Student Health Coalition (SHC) as an especially stimulating group of people to be around. Their commitment to collective recreation ultimately facilitated a stronger sense of togetherness and positively impacted their work in both community organizing and healthcare. Recorded on May …

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“Liberté, Egalité, Frivolité”

[Story contributed by John Emmeus Davis, 2015] At one emotional pole of the Coalition experience was the gravity and ferocity of the organization’s founder, Bill Dow. He usually displayed little patience for peers whose personal commitment to the SHC’s Appalachian mission was less focused, less serious than his own. (For good reason did we call …

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“I don’t think I could have made up the memory of crawling through barbed wire with 40 pounds of squealing, snapping, struggling pig in my arms”

[Story contributed by Neil McBride] Ok, I’ll join with the two stories that suggest Bill‘s conversion from radical mountain agitator to organic farmer was not as sudden and distinct as some might think. They also address the sense that when Bill asked someone to do something, they usually did it. I am sure that given …

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“I remembered all of those weekends we spent camping.”

[Story contributed by Betsy Scott Metzger] I was hiking in the Smokies recently and it started to rain heavily. Some of the group started complaining, but I welcomed it. I remembered all of those weekends we spent camping. One night in particular, a group of us were huddled under a tree staring each other down …

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“We lived with a coal burning stove and kept our provisions in gallon glass jugs against the mice.”

[Story contributed by Margaret Ecker, RN, MSN] Sometime around 1975, local friends in Lake City offered us newly minted community organizers this abandoned house for a dwelling. We lived communally, our numbers fluctuating with the season. We lived with a coal burning stove and kept our provisions in gallon glass jugs against the mice. We …

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