The Daily Yonder is a web publication that is aimed at the 55 million people who live in the rural United States. It’s been published on the web since 2007 by the Center for Rural Strategies, a non-profit media organization based in Whitesburg, Kentucky, and Knoxville, Tennessee.
I started writing for the Yonder in August, with stories that included reactions to white supremacy rallies in small towns and rural areas, as well as a preview and recap of how rural areas played into the 2017 Virginia governor’s race.
Here are some recent stories, all of which have been subsequently re-published at 100 Days in Appalachia:
– How #NoHateInMyHoller became a war cry for Appalachia: An interview with Eastern Kentucky artist Lacy Hale
– Policing white-supremacist rallies: Lessons from small-town America
– “Margins matter”: How rural voters could tip the scales in Virginia’s governors race (spoiler: they didn’t)
– GOP’s rural numbers in Virginia slip only slightly from 2016
West Virginia’s 3rd congressional district went 73/23 for Trump over Clinton last year, but Democrat Nick Rahall held that seat up through 2014. With the seat open again (Evan Jenkins is running for Senate), I wrote about how Democrats are trying to engage voters and address the real challenges of poverty & economic disruption there (including at least two who are doing so by running for the Republican nomination).
My story for the New Republic looks at several present and past Democrats in the district (including some current Republicans) who are now maneuvering for the open seat. The story focuses largely on Richard Ojeda, a veteran and state senator who supported Trump in 2016 but is building a campaign that combines his brawling anti-establishment style with a generally progressive platform.
Donald Trump dominated Appalachia on Election Day, 2016, and he wasted no time in loosening regulations on the region’s coal industry. In the big picture, however, the regulatory shifts mean an extension of the status quo.
His proposed budget, however, which would gut the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Economic Development Administration, the USDA’s infrastructure budget and other programs crucial to economic development efforts, may well wipe out any job gains from the coal industry.
For Vice, I tried to sort out the impact of federal actions on Appalachia under Trump. Read it here.
Donald Trump’s 2016 election win put an exclamation point on two decades worth of political shift from Democrat to Republican in Appalachia. Except for urban centers and a few notable exceptions, Democrats have essentially been wiped from the map in the region.
Now, in an ever increasingly polarized political environment, can they make up ground by using the new president as a foil?
I looked at the early signs in 2017 for 100 Days in Appalachia. Read it here.
Donald Trump’s election as president shocked and electrified America. But what does his election signify for America’s wildlands?
Environmentalists predict disasterous consequences for public lands and beyond. But outdoor sports groups are surprisingly optimistic.
Find out why in my story at Blue Ridge Outdoors.
When the billionaire entered the primary, longtime politicos scoffed. He had no political experience, had switched parties repeatedly over the previous decades, and had a spotty track record in business. Yet he vanquished his establishment candidates in the primary and headed into the general election running an unorthodox campaign based around his personality.
It’s not Donald Trump, of course, but Jim Justice, West Virginia’s only billionaire and owner of the Greenbrier Resort and the largest privately held coal company east of the Mississippi River. Justice stands as a figure simultaneously beloved—he coaches high-school basketball and bailed out the historic Greenbrier when it faced potential closure—and reviled, as his coal company has developed a reputation for not paying debts, taxes or environmental obligations.
Read more about Justice, his Republican opponent Bill Cole, and what may be the weirdest undercard election in America at Politico Magazine.
Growing up 20 minutes from Lexington, Va., and its numerous links to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, I’ve always had a fascination for the mutable meaning of the Confederate battle flag and its convergence of ancestry, race, history, politics & more.
That meaning has shifted again in the year since Charleston, those right on the edge of the flag debate have escalated the conflict, heightening contradictions and putting the flag back in the news on numerous occasions around the South & the rest of the country.
In this story for Politico Magazine, I tried to take a meaningful look at how the past year has changed the fight over the rebel flag, as well as how that all slots into an already crazy election year.
Read the story here.
The May 2016 election marked the end of an era in Roanoke politics, and the start of something new.
I wrote about the election for Blue Ridge Outdoors within the context of Roanoke’s transformation over the last couple of decades, from a deteriorating industrial center into the next great outdoors city.
Read “Roanoke Reinvented” in Blue Ridge Outdoors.
As Super Tuesday approached, voters prepared to cast their votes in presidential primaries around the South as analysts struggled to understand the appeal of Republican frontrunner Donald J. Trump.
My story for Politico Magazine, “Why the South Is Rebelling Again,” examined the role of globalization and the loss of factory jobs in generating small-town and rural anger that has propelled Trump’s rise. It features John Bassett III (hero of the upcoming HBO series “Factory Man”), Beth Macy (who authored the book that inspired it), former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder, former Southside Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode and more.
Read it here.