Remaining Challenges

The Student Health Coalition (SHC) had a healthy effect on most of the rural and mountain communities it served, but never came close to solving all the problems afflicting them. Chronic conditions were too entrenched and pernicious to be remedied with the limited treatments at the SHC’s disposal. New maladies arose long after the SHC’s departure and many challenges remain unresolved.


The “Appalachianization” of rural America and around the world

John Gaventa discusses the “Appalachianization” of rural America, a trend of rising inequality, poverty, environmental damage, and deficit of public services across the U.S. No longer the exception, Gaventa emphaszies injustice in the Clearfork Valley as being relevant to the… Continued

The Elliot’s cement picnic table, a neighborhood fixture

Howard Elliot III, grandson of Howard and Elsie Elliot from St. Charles, Va., discusses the region’s declining population and its effect on housing. He shares the story of his efforts to salvage his grandparents’ front yard cement picnic table, which… Continued

Population decline and water runoff in southwest Virginia: Bonnie Blue

Howard Elliot III, grandson of Howard and Elsie Elliot from St. Charles, Va., elaborates on how steady population decline in southwest Virginia has created barriers to his work relocating rail lines. He names Bonnie Blue as a good example of… Continued

The Elliot’s in southwest Virginia today

Howard Elliot III, grandson of Howard and Elsie Elliot from St. Charles, Va., shares about his own work in the coal mining area of southwest Virginia 50 years later. Follow this link for access to the full-length interview. Recorded April… Continued

On the coal mining legacy of southwest Virginia

Howard Elliot III, grandson of Howard and Elsie Elliot from St. Charles, Va., discusses the coal mining legacy of southwest Virginia, namely in and around Big Stone Gap coalfield. He touches on various logistics of the work 50 years ago… Continued

On the evolution of treatment and maintenance for opioid addiction in St. Charles, Va.

Art Van Zee discusses the evolution of treatment for opioid addiction, including monumental shifts particularly valuable to rural communities such as St. Charles, Va. He explains that access to methadone maintenance treatment is extremely restricted for many people in isolated… Continued

Did we make a difference? Margaret Ecker and Rosie Hammond reflect.

Margaret Ecker and Rosie Hammond grapple with the question: did we (the SHC) make a difference? Margaret shares how, in reflection of Art Van Zee’s insight to ongoing addiction throughout southwest Virginia and the Appalachian region, there are new challenges… Continued

Differences between West and East TN core injustices and approach to community organizing

Sharon Roberson describes community organizing work over time and the growing tension that transpired among Vanderbilt students from one summer to the next, particularly in light of apartheid in South Africa and the ongoing domestic fight for civil rights. Many… Continued

Art Van Zee on the opioid epidemic in southwestern Virginia

Art Van Zee was among the first physicians in the U.S. to warn people about the dangers of OxyContin and take a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical company head on for its marketing blunders. He describes his witness of the problem rapidly… Continued

Where can the SHC go from here?

Charles “Boomer” Winfrey and Maureen O’Connell ruminate on work left to be done in the eastern Tennessee region of Appalachia. Their focus pertains mostly to the ongoing need for augmented healthcare resources, drug education and reform, and meeting the needs… Continued