SSU to host free 3 day symposium

(Re)covering Appalachia, a three-day symposium on Appalachian Studies in the Digital Age, will be held Oct. 31 – Nov. 2 at Shawnee State University. With discussion panels, workshops, paper presentations, documentary screenings, spoken word, musical, and dance performances, this year’s program explores the varied meanings of “recovery” in an Appalachian context.

“This how we grow, learn, and change the world,” Shawnee State University President Jeff Bauer said, “through open dialogue, shared ideas, and education. We’re proud to host this conference and are grateful to the faculty, presenters, and panel experts who are sharing their expertise and unique perspectives.”

The conference includes free, public sessions for local residents, in addition to professional development workshops for conference attendees. The cost for those attending the professional development workshops is $40. Registration for all workshops is free for students from area high schools and Shawnee State University. Advanced online registration is available at

Public Sessions:

Public sessions will examine the current state of economic development and recovery in Appalachian Ohio, the War on Poverty today, and common Appalachian myths and stereotypes that need busting. Ohio Lt. Governor John Husted will provide opening remarks and Elizabeth Catte, author of “What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia,” will deliver the symposium’s keynote address. The program includes over 30 distinct sessions, including local music and performance sessions open to the public.

Thursday, Oct. 31 at 2 pm in the Flohr Lecture Hall — Ohio Lt. Gov. John Husted will give opening remarks followed by a public panel discussion of economic development and recovery in Appalachian Ohio, moderated by Jeremy Burnside of the Friends of Portsmouth. This free and public session brings together local entrepreneurs and economic development leaders to discuss what’s working and how a community-wide recovery from the opioid crisis is part of the larger economic recovery of Portsmouth and the surrounding Appalachian region. Eric Braun, Vice President for Advancement and Institutional Relations at Shawnee State University, Luanne Valentine from CAO of Scioto County, and Tim Wolfe of eFlow Development Group will be part of the discussion panel. Burnside notes that his organization continues their support of events that “bring not only the local community together, but also attract visitors from outside the area. We hope the (Re)covering Appalachia symposium will demonstrate why you should ‘dream, build, and live here.’”

Thursday Oct. 31 (Halloween) evening, at 5:30 pm off-campus at Patties & Pints — the Boneyfiddle Project will host a public music session, “Music from the Hills,” featuring Kentucky Memories, Sasha Colette, and the Boosh Hawgs.

Friday, Nov. 1, at 9 am — David Bradley, Executive Director of the National Community Action Foundation (NCAF), will conduct a workshop on the history of the War on Poverty. Bradley is one of the nation’s premier authorities on poverty and the author of the Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) legislation passed by Congress in 1982. For more than 30 years he and the NCAF have represented the funding and policy interests of the nation’s 1000 community action agencies before Congress and the Executive Branch. Bradley’s participation in the symposium is made possible through the support of the Community Action Organization of Scioto County.

“We believe the symposium’s program will be greatly enhanced by Mr. Bradley’s participation and will add a national perspective to the event. Our hope is the conference will highlight the new partnerships and strategies being created in Southern Ohio to continue our regional resurgence,” said Steve Sturgill, Executive Director of the CAO of Scioto County.

Friday, Nov. 1 at 2:30 pm in the Flohr Lecture Hall — David Bradley will join Steve Sturgill to lead a public panel discussion on the status of the War on Poverty Today. They will be joined by John Carey, the Director of the Ohio Governor’s Office of Appalachia, and Prof. Tom Kiffmeyer of Morehead State University.

Friday, Nov. 1 at 4 pm — the Bone & Fiddle Dance Collective, directed by Summer O. Logan, will perform “Up Hollow,” an original dance performance inspired by the music and culture of the region.

Friday, Nov. 1 beginning at 6:30 pm — the public is invited to a free, double-feature documentary screening in the Clark Memorial Library at SSU. The screenings begin with “Till the Wheels Fall Off,” a recently released film that examines the role of semi-professional football in the lives of Portsmouth residents, some of whom are recovering from addiction. “These players and this team saw hope and possibility where others saw none. It was an inspiration to tell this story,” said Doug Swift, the film’s director. With Portsmouth as a backdrop, this film by Swift and producer Jack Shuler, will be paired with a screening of “Heroin(e),” the award-winning Netflix documentary that focused on the opioid overdose epidemic in Huntington, West Virginia. The double-feature is being hosted by Lisa Roberts and the Portsmouth City Health Department. Director Swift, Producer Shuler, and Jan Rader (one of the real life heroines of the Netflix film) will join Lisa Roberts and the audience for a discussion, following the screenings.

Saturday, Nov. 2 at 2:30 pm — Dr. Elizabeth Catte will join other noted Appalachian scholars – Prof. Lou Martin of Chatham University and William Isom, Jr., the Director of Community Outreach at PBS East Tennessee (Knoxville) – along with Shawnee State University Professors Jennifer Pauley and Drew Feight for a panel discussion on “Appalachian Myth-busting.” The panelists will take up common myths and stereotypes that are held both in and outside the region and discuss how Appalachian studies programs and projects are helping push back against misinformation and misrepresentations of the people and the region.

Saturday, Nov. 2 at 6 pm — the symposium’s keynote address will be given by Dr. Catte and will be followed at 8 pm by a live music and spoken word session at the Port City Café and Pub. Local musicians and spoken word artists with the Women of Appalachia Project will highlight the diversity of Appalachian music and performance arts.

Shawnee State University’s new certificate program in Digital Appalachian Studies will host the events. Prof. Drew Feight, the director of the symposium, notes that the academic conference “is an example of the spirit of community collaboration that is making a difference both in Portsmouth’s economic recovery and that of the larger Appalachian region.”

The symposium’s program is made possible thanks to local sponsors and grant funders — the Community Action Organization of Scioto County, the Portsmouth City Health Department, the Friends of Portsmouth, the Scioto Foundation, ServeOhio and the Ohio History Service Corps (AmeriCorps), Dr. George and Sandy White, the Shawnee Fund and the Jane M.G. Foster Distinguished Lecture Series of the SSU Development Foundation, Patties & Pints, the Port City Café and Pub, and the Boneyfiddle Project.”

For more information and full listing of symposium sessions visit