WOUB’s ‘Our Ohio’ Provides Snapshot Into Lives Of Young Appalachians

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Cameras are a profound tool for authentic self-expression. In taking a photo or recording a moment of time, we’re not only capturing images – we are also distilling our vantage point for others, often in the hope that we’ve communicated something about our experience that words just can’t articulate.

Throughout the ‘70s, educator and photographer Wendy Ewald brought this basic understanding to the students she taught at three different elementary schools in Letcher County, Kentucky, arming the young Appalachians with cameras so that they could share their experiences of growing up in the mountains with their own voices. Ewald’s collaboration with the students culminated in Portraits and Dreams: Photographs and Stories By Children of The Appalachians.

Portraits and Dreams served as the inspiration for the American Documentary/POV “Our America: Documentary in Dialogue” grant, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, that WOUB applied for last fall and received earlier this year. WOUB used the funds for a documentary project entitled Our Ohio that, just like Portraits and Dreams, equipped young Appalachians with the means to document their own experience.

Our Ohio

Over the course of the past year, WOUB Producer/Director Evan Shaw worked with high school students at Meigs High School, South Gallia High School, and Logan High School to craft short documentaries that give the viewer insight into what the world looks like from the perspective of an Appalachian high school student in 2021. Some of the resulting films will be aired on WOUB-TV Thursday, August 26 starting at 9 p.m. ET.

WOUB Culture spoke with WOUB Community Engagement Manager Cheri Russo about the significance of the Our Ohio documentary project in the feature embedded above.