Mead Kicks off First Appalachian Presentation
Mead gave the first in a month-long series of Appalachian presentations.
March 14, 2012
BC kicked off its first event in a month-long series of Appalachian cultural presentations on Feb. 28.
Marsha Mead, assistant professor of psychology, gave a presentation on Appalachia values and attitudes. Mead was born in California but calls Appalachia home.
Artwork of the Appalachian Mountains
Mead covered a wide range of topics. She talked about different speech patterns as well as different types of foods like ramps and chocolate gravy. Her main focus was on the core values of the Appalachian people, which include being family-oriented and person-oriented and having a love of place and religious worldviews.
Mead said the Appalachian culture places high value in family and home. Most households contain extended families with parents, children and grandchildren often living in the same home, she told the audience of more than 50 people. If families do not live together they often live close by, often on the same plot of land. They are ill at ease with strangers and non-kin, she said, adding that socializing is mostly done with relatives. It is devastating, she said, if there is ever a falling out with a relative.
Appalachians also have a strong connection to their home and land, according to Mead. The mountains are home to Appalachians, who often feel a mythical or spiritual bond with the land. They are well-versed with their territory and are expected to be able to identify wildlife and plants, she said. Hunting, fishing and gardening are also a large part of their culture.
Mead played the song “Country Roads” by John Denver to convey the strong sense of place felt by those who call the Appalachian Mountains home.
Appalachians also have close communities where everyone knows everyone and has a desire to get along with everyone, Mead said. They avoid conflict as much as possible by not giving advice and not criticizing someone face-to-face. However, Appalachians also have a strong sense of honor, and if their reputation is challenged they will stand up for themselves to prove they are not weak.
Along with these close communities comes cautiousness to outsiders, Mead said. Often people who are new to the area will not be welcomed right away, she said, and this is often because locals wonder why outsiders would move to Appalachia in the first place.
The Appalachian people are also modest, Mead said. They avoid being labeled a “big shot” or “uppity,” and they consider everyone as equals. They value a good education and a steady job, she said, but they feel people shouldn’t brag about these things. They are genuine people who believe in good manners, honesty and fairness, Mead said.
Appalachians also have strong religious views, she said, even if they do not attend church. Most of them own a Bible, they prefer gospel and country music, and they rely strongly on prayer and religion,” she said.
During the presentation, guest speakers shared stories about Appalachian people. Mead also played a short documentary clip about the legendary feuding families, the Hatfields and the McCoys. Questions and discussion were held afterwards.